Students in visual communications programs are taught graphic design skills and are expected to represent their vision using mediums such as photography, painting and writing. Industrial and societal design problems are addressed, and graphic designers are taught to balance their creative process with a client's needs.
Undergraduate programs often include both lecture-based courses and hands-on studio or computer lab training with specialized graphic design software. Specialization options for these programs include art history, design software, digital photography and web design.
Undergraduate degree in Visual Communications
Students considering attending 4-year schools must present a high school diploma or GED. Some schools request a portfolio so they can review a potential student's work. Classes are art intensive and include techniques for designing for specific audiences. Traditional drawing and computer skills are utilized, and word content plays an important role. Programs may include the following coursework:
- Design software
- Digital photography and Digital imaging manipulation
- Drawing and Painting
- Media writing
- Printmaking and Typography
- Web design
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graphic designers find jobs freelancing or with design and media firms, advertising agencies, art studios or corporations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that graphic design employment would show little or no change in the 2014-2024 decade. Familiarity with website design is beneficial as competition increases. The BLS also reported that graphic designers earned a median annual salary of $46,900 in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
A master's degree in visual communications is offered at the graduate level. Some programs offer specialization in areas such as photography, graphics or design, and others include visual communications as a specialty within the communications department.
Graduates of visual communications programs have the skills necessary to work in the world of commercial art and graphic design. At the undergraduate level, students will learn how to produce content for a range of audiences and include practical art classes.