Graphic Communications College and School Program Overviews
Learn about undergraduate and graduate degree programs in graphic communications. Find out about career options in this field, as well as salary information and employment outlook.
Graphic communications programs focus on the design aspect of graphics as well as production techniques and technologies. Degree programs in graphic communications are offered at the associate and bachelor's levels; Master of Fine Arts programs in graphic communications are also available. Programs at all levels include a mix of didactic and hands-on coursework culminating in a final portfolio designed to help students secure employment or pursue further education. Graduates of these programs are poised for positions in the graphics industry as graphic designers, desktop publishers and multimedia designers.
Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Communications
An AAS in Graphic Communications program covers the basic knowledge that students need for careers in multimedia, design and print industries. Students in this program receive hands-on training working with digital imaging software, desktop publishing and printing media. Completion of the program requires students to create either a digital or traditional hard-copy portfolio, or perhaps both.
Prospective students are required to prove high school or equivalent completion by submitting transcripts or GED scores. Universities and 4-year colleges offering the program often require SAT or ACT scores as well.
Students in a graphic communications associate's degree program gain a working knowledge of software and technical skills needed for careers in the design and print industry. Undergraduates can expect courses in topics such as:
- Design and color
- Computer graphics
- Print and digital media
- Design fundamentals
Popular Career Options
Completing a degree program in graphic communications opens the door to entry-level positions in the graphic communications industry. Common career options for graduates of the program include the following:
- Commercial artist
- Graphic illustrator
- Desktop publisher
Continuing Education Information
With the competitive nature of the graphics industry, students are encouraged to obtain a bachelor's degree for more career choices. Those entering careers with an associate's degree will need to update their software knowledge every few years by pursuing continuing education courses or engaging in independent study of industry software updates.
Bachelor of Science in Graphic Communications
The bachelor's degree program in graphic communications offers focused training in print and multimedia design, as well as in the technical aspects of pre-press and production technology. Through hands-on training in creative software and desktop publishing software, students gain knowledge in computer and traditional layout, design, typesetting and pre-press operations. Additionally, after the completion of the core fundamentals, students can concentrate their program studies in digital design, multimedia and management.
Prospective bachelor's degree students must meet the university or college's minimum requirements, which usually include providing high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Certain universities also require an essay submission or interview to determine the student's success in the program.
Coursework includes general education requirements and the core graphic communications fundamentals needed for managing time and projects. Typical core graphic communications classes include the following:
- Digital applications
- Project management
- Publication design
- Graphics management
Popular Career Options
A bachelor's in graphic communications allows graduates to find careers in large advertising and Web design companies. Here are a few of the job opportunities available in the graphics industry:
- Graphic designer
- Interactive media designer
- Technical illustrator
A master's degree in graphic communications provides students with advanced research in the field, extending the student's knowledge and opening up upper-level management positions in the graphic communications industry.
Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Communications
Master's degree programs in this field provide participants with advanced training in both traditional graphics education and modern technologies in design and production. Throughout the program, students are expected, through research and exploration, to push the boundaries of methodological, technological and creative techniques in graphic communications. Upon completion of the core elements in the program, students can concentrate their research in a specific area for their portfolio and thesis.
Prospective graphic communications MFA students must hold bachelor's degrees and have taken introductory graphic communication courses. Applicants must also have at least one year of relevant work experience in the graphic communications field.
Students gain highly developed skills in visual presentation, printmaking and creative research. Students will learn advanced print media techniques and methods, as well as managerial expertise. The following is a list of typical courses that students will find in the master's degree program in graphic communications.
- Advanced graphic design
- Graphics communications management
- Printing operations
- Advanced printing methods and inks
- Color science
Popular Career Options
With a master's in graphic communications, graduates can find managerial positions in advertising, print and media companies, as well as scholarly positions in educational institutions. The following are a few of the careers open to graduates:
- Creative Director
- Communication Coordinator
- Assistant Professor of Graphic Communications
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