Graphic Communications Majors and Undergraduate Degrees

Essential Information

Degrees in graphic communications are offered as both 2-year associate's degrees and 4-year bachelor's degrees. These programs prepare students for careers working in digital technology, printing, publishing and new media ventures. An individual interested in the technical side of digital media would gain more from a hands-on, graphic communications career training program, such as that offered in a 2-year degree program, while an individual interested in more creative graphic communications careers would benefit from a bachelor's degree program in the field.

Associate's degree programs focus on topics such as lithography, digital media publishing and imaging techniques. In a 4-year bachelor's degree program, students would learn graphic design and computer graphics, and would have the opportunity to focus on specific areas of graphic communications, such as 3-D animation, publishing, digital production or interactive media.

Both program levels require a high school diploma or equivalent for admission, along with an understanding of math, chemistry, keyboarding and computer software. Bachelor's degree programs may accept transfer credits from a 2-year program.

Associate of Science in Graphic Communications Technology

A 2-year Associate of Science in Graphic Communications Technology is the most common degree program for individuals looking to learn career-specific skills in the field of graphic communications. Classroom experiences and laboratory time provide students with the knowledge and experience to gain an entry-level position working on the technical side of a printing press or media development center. Students enrolled in these programs learn the practical skills necessary to operate CD-ROM publishing software, develop Internet sites, devise electronic page layout and work with digital media sources. These are the technical skills behind publishing newspapers, magazines, newsletters and other forms of mass graphic communications. Courses may include:

  • Applied typography
  • Specialty imaging techniques
  • Lithography
  • Digital media publishing
  • Product design
  • Image transfer techniques

Bachelor of Science in Graphic Communications

A bachelor's degree in graphic communications prepares students for careers on either the management or creative side of the graphic communications industry. For this reason, many 4-year programs allow students to focus on one particular specialization and focus more on the design and aesthetics components of graphic communications than the more technical-focused associate's degree in graphic communications technology. This program also incorporates subjects from other fields, such as history, mathematics, English and journalism, to give students a more well-rounded appreciation of the field of communications. Courses often include:

  • Graphic design and layout
  • Video and audio production
  • Project management
  • Computer graphics
  • Basic multimedia
  • Engineering graphics

Popular Career Options

Though job titles and responsibilities will depend on the place of employment, graduates of an associate's degree program in graphic communications program may find a job as a:

  • Digital prepress operator
  • Digital media developer
  • Press finisher
  • Page layout technician
  • Output technician

Upon completion of a bachelor's degree program in graphic communication, students may seek a career in a variety of industries. Possible career choices include:

  • Graphic designer
  • Video editor
  • Web designer
  • Production supervisor
  • Associate producer
  • Digital prepress operator

Degree programs in graphic communication are available at the associate's and bachelor's levels, and each provides fundamental skills needed for working in media and communications professions. Students are able to determine which program is right for them based on their unique goals and the specific areas of graphic communication they wish to study.

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