Graphic Communication Arts Education and Training Program Info

Oct 25, 2019

Graphic communications arts programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels - though they may also be found as graphic design or visual communications programs. Details about these programs and related careers follow.

Essential Information

Design-intensive programs in graphic communication arts teach students to communicate ideas through art and include courses in drawing, 2-D and 3-D design, and photography. Associate's degree programs include beginning graphic design courses and introduce students to the computer programs used to develop graphics for publications or websites. Bachelor's and master's degree programs include courses allowing students to learn how to create designs for a specific medium, such as book design or motion graphics. It is possible to find online graphic design programs; however, they require students to meet specific hardware and software requirements. For instance, online students need to have Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Applicants to undergraduate programs -2-year associate's program and 4-year bachelor's programs - should have previously acquired a high school diploma or the GED equivalent. Some programs require a student to submit a portfolio of previous art or design work.

Master's degree programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree. Also, students are required to provide schools with transcripts from previous undergraduate work. Many master's degree programs require applicants to submit a portfolio of work related to the program.

Associate's Degrees in Graphic Communication Arts

Associate's degree programs in communication arts offer students fundamental information about communicating with visual design. Students undertake courses encouraging their creativity and develop their technical abilities to digitally produce art that is both visually appealing and communicative. Students are required to take courses like:

  • Design history
  • Graphic design
  • Photography
  • Figure drawing
  • 3-D design

Bachelor's Degrees in Graphic Communication Arts

A bachelor's degree program in graphic communication arts educates students on effectively communicating messages and ideas through digital and visual design. Students who pursue a bachelor's degree in graphic communication arts take courses in digital design and design concepts. Working with different mediums, programs and concepts, students also take courses like:

  • Design survey and issues
  • Web design
  • Typography
  • Editorial design
  • Corporate design
  • Design for marketing and brand identity

Master's Degrees in Graphic Communication Arts

A master's degree in graphic communication arts offers students advanced course options. They build on a student's previous knowledge and ability in visual communication and design. While developing a professional portfolio, students undertake courses like:

  • Design theory
  • Art history
  • Typography
  • Narrative
  • Research methods

Popular Career Options

Obtaining an associate's degree in graphic communication arts can provide individuals with the opportunity to pursue various career choices. With introductory knowledge in design principles, color theory and visual arts, an individual can find work as a:

  • Bookbinder and finisher
  • Digital imager
  • Desktop publisher
  • Photographer

A bachelor's degree in graphic communication arts can provide individuals with the skills to digitally create graphic images and messages for personal work or for a company's advertisements. An individual who obtains a bachelor's degree in graphic communication arts might consider work as a:

  • Graphic designer
  • Web designer
  • Industrial designer

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

This field offers several career options, including positions as graphic designers, video game designers, advertising specialists, animators, fine artists or art directors. However, salary varies depending on each career and job type. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the 2018 average annual salary of graphic designers was $54,680, whereas the 2018 average annual salary of art directors was $104,590 (

Overall, graduate communication arts programs train students in the visual expression of ideas. Depending on whether the student earns an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree, these programs can open the door to various art, business and multimedia-related careers.

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