Bachelor's degree programs offer instruction in the fundamentals of visual communication through courses and hands-on experience in topics such as print production, technical writing and graphic arts; a master's degree program builds on the knowledge gained from an undergraduate degree. In these design programs, students focus on an area of concentration such as print design, advertising, graphic design, mass communication, media arts, Web design or illustration.
For admittance into a bachelor's degree program, students should have strong English language, communication, and creative skills. Applicants are also required to have a high school diploma or GED. For master's degree programs, most schools prefer to accept students who have an undergraduate degree in a design-related field. Some schools require applicants to submit a portfolio of previous work.
Bachelor of Arts in Communication Design
Bachelor's degree programs in communication design are intended for students wanting to learn how to communicate through text, video, and graphic art. Students gain an understanding of how to best reach out to an audience by applying the fundamentals of visual communication, print production, technical writing, copywriting, advertising and graphic visualization. Core courses include:
- Visual communication principles
- Introduction to communication design
- Electronic media and typography
- Technical writing and digital imaging
- Graphic visualization and advertising principles
- Publication layout and design
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Animation, Video Graphics, and Special Effects
- Computer Typography and Composition
- Graphic and Printing Equipment Operations
- Prepress, Publishing, and Image Design
- Printing Management
- Printing Press Operation
Master of Arts in Visual Communication Design
Students enrolled in a graduate-level communication design degree program complete advanced seminars, studio sessions, and independent research to further their skills in digital illustration, print design, web design, information graphics, or motion graphics. Core courses cover design research and history, while specialized classes focus skills needed to succeed in a specific form of visual communications. Students are required to develop individual portfolios and thesis papers. Course topics include:
- Elements of visual communication design
- Design methodologies
- Typography and narratives
- Message hierarchy
- Image making
- Audiences and contexts
Popular Career Options
Communication design is a broad field that can incorporate several specializations and can lead to several potential careers. Some career options for graduates include:
- Magazine layout editor
- Graphic designer
- Electronic media producer
- Broadcast news producer
- Package designer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment in the field of graphic design will increase by about 1% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). In 2015, graphic designers held about 204,850 jobs across the country. They worked primarily in the industries of specialized designs, advertising, public relations, and printing. Graphic designers earned a median annual salary of $46,900 in 2015, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Continuing education is important in the field of communication design, as new technologies and software programs are constantly changing the shape of the industry. Organizations such as the Professional Association for Design offer educational resources and continuing education opportunities to communication design professionals.
Bachelor's and master's degree programs in communication are highly interdisciplinary, training students to apply technology to a wide range of multimedia applications. Graduate degree programs offer more advanced versions of core courses found within bachelor's degree programs and require independent research in the field.