Visual Communication Design Program Description

The Department of Art and Visual Communication Design within the School of Design grants a B.S. or B.A. degree in visual communication design. This major is designed to prepare students for professional practice and graduate study in graphic design, advertising, marketing communications, electronic or print publishing, web and interactive design, digital imaging, motion graphics, or related fields. The program comprises five sequences of courses: materials and methods, art history and visual culture, digital design, communication design, and career development.

Materials and Methods: These seven courses develop students’ skills in the creation of visual forms. Five required foundation courses foster the development of design, drawing, composing, and problem-solving capabilities while building material and technical skills. Upon completion, students elect two additional courses to expand their material knowledge and capabilities based on career goals and personal preference.

Art History and Visual Culture: These three courses develop students’ abilities to research, think, and write critically about art history and visual culture. The first course in the sequence, Introduction to Art History, is required and offers a thematic overview of art history. Next, students select a survey course that is more specific in its focus to promote greater depth of research and critical analysis. Finally, students select a third course, which enables them to investigate a historical topic in depth.

Digital Design: These four courses build students’ technical skills in designing for print and electronic media. Emphasis is on both developing proficiency in industry-standard tools and learning the theories and standards that underlie their functionality. Students are expected to apply and build upon their technical knowledge in concurrent and subsequent design coursework.

Communication Design: These eight courses provide students with the opportunity to practice design problem solving in progressively challenging contexts working across media. The first two required communication design studio courses develop the creative and critical thinking process known as "design thinking," while the third course emphasizes the development of carefully crafted and produced prototypes that result from this process. Two required typography courses build essential skills in using type to enhance communication. Following these courses, each student has the opportunity to select two studio electives that provide real-world and case study problems and emphasize the development of portfolio-quality solutions. The sequence culminates with a capstone course where students conceive and produce a significant senior project. Upon completion of the communication design sequence, students will exhibit selected works.

Career Development: These eight required career development milestones engage students in the process of Career ArchitectureSM beginning in the first year. The first-year seminar course introduces career possibilities. The second-year internship preparation course enables students to explore career goals further while developing a basic portfolio and preparing to find an internship. While the required internship provides students with hands-on professional experience, the portfolio development course allows students to create professional presentations for entry into the visual communication design field.

Students participate in portfolio reviews. At the end of the first and second year, faculty review portfolios. In the third and fourth year, Art and Visual Communication Design Advisory Board members review portfolios.