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Visual Communication Design

If you have an eye for design and a heart for art, then what are you waiting for?

Stevenson's career-focused Visual Communication Design program will teach you the technical and critical-thinking skills to position you for a successful career in today's design fields.

  • Overview


    Bachelor of Arts or Science

    Computer technology, video, art, and graphic design were once separate academic and professional areas. Today, these areas are integrated, and this integration is the focus of our Visual Communication Design program. The curriculum aims to refine your sense of design through a combination of courses stressing manual skills and applications of evolving technologies. This program offers you four years of progressive development in art, through cooperation with professionals, artists/designers, and, in the final years, outside firms. You can also choose from one of three tracks to further boost your educational experience: Interactive Design, Motion Graphics, or Photography.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Solve communication design problems by thinking creatively and critically.
    • Produce communication design solutions, considering audience, cultural, ethical, human, and market factors.
    • Create, compose, and critique visual forms as well as verbal and nonverbal messages in response to design problems.
    • Acquire material and technical skills necessary to realize designs solutions according to professional standards and practices.
    • Apply art history, visual culture, communication, and design research to visual communication practice.
    • Plan, execute, present, revise, and justify design ideas and solutions independently and as a collaborative team member.
    • Apply academic preparation to professional and cultural experiences both within and beyond the classroom.

    Why Study Visual Communication Design?

    The program is rigorous, rich, and engaging. You will begin working toward an art-related career from the outset by taking art courses and working on the computer during your first year. Portfolio reviews allow you to grow your skills. At the end of your freshman and sophomore years, you will present your work to a panel of art faculty. In your junior year, your junior project will be critiqued by a focus group. As a senior, your portfolio will be reviewed one-on-one by a professional artist or designer from Baltimore or a surrounding area. Finally, you can choose from one of three tracks to further advance your skill set: Interactive Design, Motion Graphics, and Photography.

    • Benefit by being taught by faculty who are fully engaged in the field, including accomplished designers, painters, printmakers, sculptors, and photographers.
    • Meet internationally known designers through the Artist-in-Residence program. These accomplished artists lecture at the University and will work with you in three-day workshops.
    • Take advantage of the career focus: The first-year seminar course introduces career possibilities. The second-year internship preparation course allows you to explore your career goals while you develop a basic portfolio and look for an internship.
  • Courses & Requirements

    Courses and Requirements

    The courses listed below are required for completion of the bachelor's degree in Visual Communication Design. Visual Communication Design majors may take the general course of study or may select the interactive design, motion graphics or photography track. Students must also complete the requirements for the Stevenson core curriculum.

    Specific pre- and co-requisites for each course are listed in the course descriptions. Some secondary requirements, which are noted by an asterisk (*) in the list below, can also be used to fulfill a core curriculum requirement.

    Major Requirements (all students)

    • ART 106 Introduction to Art History
    • ART 110 Fundamentals of Design I
    • ART 113 Fundamentals of Design II
    • ART 116 Drawing I
    • ART 117 Drawing II
    • ART 205 Art History Survey Topics
    • ART 390 Internship I
    • PHOTO 141 Basic Digital Photography
    • VCD 208 Web Design I
    • VCD 210 Communication Design I
    • VCD 211 Communication Design II
    • VCD 230 Typography I
    • VCD 256 The Moving Image
    • VCD 308 Web Design II
    • VCD 310 Communication Design III
    • VCD 410 Portfolio & Professional Development
    • VCD 450 Senior Capstone

    Communication Design electives

    Exact number of credits based on the declared track.

    • VCD 370 Relationship of Design & Business
    • VCD 380 Professional Design Studio
    • VCD 440 Designing for a Target Market
    • VCD 480 Design Studio: Exhibition Design
    • VCD 480 Design Studio: Creative Strategies
    • VCD 480 Design Studio: Packaging Design
    • VCD 480 Design Studio: Corporate Comm. & Branding
    • VCD 480 Design Studio: Special Topics

    Materials and Methods electives

    Exact number of credits based on the declared track.

    • ART 215 Painting I
    • ART 216 Painting II
    • ART 217 Figure Drawing
    • ART 219 Printmaking
    • ART 250 Topics in Alternative Fine Art Processes
    • ART 315 Surface Design
    • PHOTO 241 Intermediate Digital Photography
    • PHOTO 242 Fashion and Portrait Photography
    • PHOTO 250 Topics in Alternative Photo Processes
    • PHOTO 341 Advanced Studio Photography
    • PHOTO 342 Documentary and photojournalism

    Secondary Requirements

    • ART 256 Commercial & Industrial Scriptwriting* (recommended)
    • CM 233 Writing for the Web* (recommended)
    • IS 125 Fundamentals of Digital Media*
    • CM 101 Public Speaking*
    • CM 211 Intercultural Communication*
    • CM 255 Small Group Communication*
    • CM 270 New Media Communication*
    • PHIL 320 Aesthetics* (recommended)
    • Students must also complete the courses for the general program or one of the tracks listed below.
      • Visual Communication (General Program)
      • ART 305 Topics in Art History
      • VCD 330 Typography II
    • Six credits of Communication Design electives. (See list above)
    • Six credits of Materials and Methods electives. (See list above)

    Interactive Design Track

    • IAD 380 Advanced Interactive Studio
    • IAD 381 Mobile and Responsive Design
    • IAD 480 Interactive Design Special Topics
    • ART 305 Topics in Art History: History of Moving Images & Art
    • CM 223 Writing for the Web (secondary requirement)
    • VCD 330 Typography II
    • Three credits of Materials and Methods electives. (See list above)

    Motion Graphics Track

    • ART 256 Commercial and Industrial Scriptwriting
    • ART 305 Topics in Art History: Moving Images & Art
    • MOGR 330 Typography in Motion
    • MOGR 331 Intermediate Motion Graphics
    • MOGR 431 Advanced Motion Graphics and EffectsThree credits of Communication Design electives. (See list above)
    • Three credits of Materials and Methods courses. (See list above)

    Photography Track

    • ART 305 Topics in Art History: Photography
    • PHOTO 241 Intermediate Digital Photography
    • PHOTO 341 Advanced Studio Photography
    • PHOTO 342 Documentary and Photojournalism
    • PHOTO 480 Photo Studio Special Topics
    • Three credits of Communication Design electives. (See list above)

    Students may seek a Bachelor of Art or a Bachelor of Science degree under this program. Bachelor of Arts degree students must complete at least two courses in a foreign language at the intermediate level or above.

    Visual Communication Design Resource Guide

  • Tracks & Minors

    Tracks and Minors


    Interactive Design Track

    The Interactive Design track within the Visual Communication Design major provides students with a solid foundation and in-depth experience in the theory and practice of producing design solutions for a variety of interactive media platforms including Web, social media, mobile devices, tablets, and emerging interaction technologies. Special emphasis is placed on effective information architecture, user interface, and user experience design, as well as the aesthetic role of quality universal design that impacts visual perception and choice in interactive digital environments.

    The Interactive Design track prepares future professionals by exposing them to contemporary and historic visual contexts, real-world projects, and industry-standard software and technologies. Graduates may pursue careers in a range of areas including web design and development, mobile and responsive design, social media strategy, multimedia and streaming media production, electronic publishing, digital prototyping and imaging, online advertising, interactive motion graphics, mobile applications and game design, and other interaction design related fields.

    Motion Graphics Track

    The visual communication design motion graphics track provides students who are interested in design, animation, and video with a solid foundation in the theory and practice of producing motion graphic design. Motion graphics are visible daily on television, movie screens, the Internet, mobile devices, and location-specific displays. This track prepares future graduates by exposing them to historical contexts, real-world projects, and industry-standard tools (software and equipment). Extra attention is devoted to narrative and visual communication structure through systems of sequence and arrangement. Motion graphics students may pursue a career in diverse areas including: television stations or networks, film production, advertising and design studios, video post-production, museum exhibition, education, or in-house production at private and public institutions.

    Photography Track

    Today’s visual communication designers must be creative problem-solvers and image-makers capable of working across a variety of media. Likewise, photographers must not only be able to take compelling images that communicate ideas or tell stories, but must also possess wide-ranging technical skills and the ability to market oneself. The Photography track is designed to expand the Visual Communication Design student’s capabilities in photographic processes and digital-imaging techniques. The photography track prepares career-oriented graduates to become professionals in commercial and advertising photography, portrait and fashion photography, photojournalism, graphic design, and image post-production, as well as for graduate study.


    A minor is available in Art. Please see an academic advisor for more information. For specific information regarding minor requirements, please consult the minors section of the catalog.

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What Can You Do With This Degree?

Graduates of our Visual Communication Design program embark on many rewarding career choices, including:

• Animator
• Art Director
• Commercial Artist
• Graphic Designer
• Product Illustrator
• Textile Stylist

Curious about internships and job placement after you graduate? Visit our Office of Career Services.

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