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Commercial Art Degrees by Degree Program Level

Commercial art is illustration designed for advertising purposes. Students interested in commercial art, also referred to as visual communication, may consider certificate and degree programs offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Essential Information

Students in certificate and undergraduate degree programs can expect to take courses in art design, illustration, computer graphics, drawing, color theory and Web design. Graduate degree programs could focus on more advanced topics in visual communications and the business aspects of commercial art. Graduates of these types of programs could explore career opportunities as graphic designers, illustrators and even photographers.

These programs generally take two to four years. Some online courses and programs are also available.


Certificate in Commercial Art

Commercial art certificate programs are typically offered in communication arts or graphic design programs. Students build on their natural artistic aptitude and develop the basic skills necessary to succeed in the field. Some certificate programs may include basic coursework in the technological and production sides of commercial art.

Community colleges, technical schools and other 2-year institutions have varying requirements for admission into their commercial art certificate programs. A high school diploma or equivalent is typically the minimum requirement; however, students who have not graduated may be able to test out of the remedial courses. Standardized test scores are not always a requirement for certificate programs, but students may submit them in addition to their official transcripts.

The curriculum for a certificate program in commercial art includes coursework that provides students with experience in the methods and knowledge of the equipment used in the field. Students may also complete general education courses, in addition to design and drawing courses, such as the following:

  • Illustration techniques
  • Introductory computer graphics
  • Composition
  • Internet art design
  • Keyboarding methods

Associate's Degree in Commercial Art

Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) commercial art programs are typically designed to prepare students for transfer to 4-year college or university commercial art degree programs. The associate's programs focus on further study in the commercial art field, as well specific areas of interest. Students who have completed a certificate program may be able to transfer their credits to an A.A. or A.S in commercial art program.

The requirements for an associate's degree program are very similar to those of a certificate program. Students may also need to complete general courses or submit an art sample prior to admission into a commercial art program.

Coursework can include required general education classes in mathematics and the sciences, as well as graphic design and illustration courses, such as the following:

  • Advanced writing composition
  • Art history perspectives
  • Introductory commercial art
  • Drawing
  • Art studio

Bachelor's Degree in Commercial Art

Bachelor's degree commercial art programs expand on the computer skills, artistic abilities and design talents that students have developed in 1 and 2-year certificate or degree programs. In addition to commercial art topics, students may also study in related fields, such as marketing, public relations and management. Bachelor's candidates may also complete a commercial art internship to develop first-hand training and experience in the graphic design industry.

Universities and 4-year colleges require students to submit official transcripts and standardized test scores. Some commercial art programs request sample portfolios and recommendation letters.

Commercial art programs include courses that help students develop the conceptual, artistic and technical skills necessary to succeed in the field. Foundation and intermediate courses can include the following:

  • Website design
  • Computer art
  • Introductory design composition
  • Color systems theory
  • Typography

Popular Career Options

Commercial art is utilized in many industries. Students who have successfully completed commercial art degree or certificate programs may consider the following careers:

  • Graphic designer
  • Commercial artist
  • Mechanical art designer
  • Animator
  • Photographer

Continuing Education

Many commercial art careers only require a bachelor's degree; however, students who are interested in further studies may consider master's degree programs in visual communications, art business, or commercial design. These programs can be beneficial for advancing in a commercial art career or future employment options.

Students interested in commercial art can find programs offered at the certificate, undergraduate and graduate levels. These programs may look at topics such as typography, illustration technology, art history, and more, and graduates of these programs often pursue careers in graphic design, animation, and photography, among others.

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