Loyola University Chicago

Fine Arts

Department of Fine and Performing Arts

Vis Com Requirements

All upper-division visual communication graphic design students are required to own a laptop computer that meets the minimum system requirements specified below. As of Spring 2018, students will need the laptop before enrolling in FNAR 232: Visual Communication II. All visual communication majors and minors are strongly encouraged to purchase a laptop at the onset of their studies.

Why a laptop requirement?

The possession of a personal laptop will allow students to research, communicate and complete school projects on a flexible schedule. A laptop will also provide students with a tool necessary to a professional future in design.

The specifications below aim to assist students in obtaining the computer that will best serve their academic and professional needs.

Purchase Requirements

Computer: 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display, any current model

System RAM: 16 GB minimum

Processor: 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 minimum

Storage: 512 GB SSD PCle-based Flash Storage minimum, more preferred

Operating System: Mac OS X version 10.11 (El Capitan) or later


The above is the recommended minimum laptop requirement; if you are able to purchase an Apple laptop that exceeds the minimum requirement, then consider selecting that laptop.


Apple Macintosh computers are the industry standard for graphic design and remain the dominant platform in the print design, publishing, and multimedia design industries. The Visual Communication program uses Apple Macintosh computers exclusively for instruction.

Note: Processor speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz). Memory or RAM is measured in gigabytes (GB).

It is strongly recommended that students purchase the following:

  • Surge protector or uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to protect against power problems.

  • Carrying case.

  • Locks and/or cables to secure all computer equipment. (Students are responsible for the security of their own equipment.)

  • Thumb drive or flash-memory drive to transfer files between computers.

  • Extended warranty or service contract.

  • Data backup: An external hard drive or/and a subscription to an online backup service.

Backing Up Your Data

There are at least a few students each semester that lose their data somehow. An automated method using software and an external drive and/or an online service is vital to maintaining data in the event of hard drive failure.

Below are two common methods to back up your data:

  • External Hard Drive: Create a backup using the backup software (Time Machine) bundled with your computer. The drive should be 2–3 times the capacity of the computer's internal storage.
  • Online Backup Service: Commercial web-based services run continuously; cost begins at around $6/month. They can backup your computer continuously when you are connected to the internet.

Required: Adobe Creative Cloud Student and Teacher Edition

Students can subscribe to this extensive software suite at a 60% discount.

Strongly recommended: Adobe Font Folio Education Essentials

This package offers 500 OpenType fonts assembled in collaboration with AIGA, the professional association for graphic design, to provide depth, breadth, and value for higher education. This is a very reasonably priced package and students are urged to purchase this item, as the number of fonts included on MacBook Pro laptops is limited.

Recommended: Microsoft Office Student Edition

Loyola tudents are eligible for discounts on Microsoft Office Student Edition.

Note: New MacBook Pro laptops come with the following built-in apps: Pages for creating documents, Numbers for making spreadsheets, and Keynote for preparing presentations. These apps can be used instead of Microsoft Office.