Visual Communication Design

The School of Visual Communication Design is nationally and internationally recognized for its engagement and outstanding achievements in visual communication design education, theory, research and practice with emphases in visual design, illustration, and photo-illustration. The school provides a comprehensive professional preparation, the development of conceptual and aesthetic skills, knowledge of design history and tradition as a basis for individual style and the transformation of theory into practice through professional example and experience. Uniquely positioned within the College of Communication and Information, the program’s curriculum encourages cross-disciplinary studies to meet the challenges of an evolving marketplace. 

VCD Highlights 

  • Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), an achievement that is gained only through a rigorous review process
  • Consistently cited as one of the top design programs in the United Sates
  • Has faculty members who are leaders in their fields of expertise and are practicing professional designers, illustrators, photographers and researchers
  • Has ideal class sizes with studio classes of 12 - 20 students meeting for five hours each week

All bachelor-level degrees in design, illustration and photography require a combination of visual arts and liberal arts courses. The School of Visual Communication Design offers the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.). The decision as to which degree is best for a particular student depends on the student’s educational and career goals, academic standing and performance in studio coursework. The School also offers the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Photo-Illustration.

Visual Communication Design (B.A.)

According to the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Bachelor of Arts is a liberal arts degree that focuses on design and illustration “in the context of a broad program of general studies.” To achieve this end, the School of Visual Communication Design’s B.A. degree program requires a secondary area of study in the form of a minor.

Visual Communication Design (B.F.A.)

According to the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Bachelor of Fine Arts is “the professional degree” and “focuses on intensive work in the visual arts supported by a program of general studies.” The School of Visual Communication Design’s B.F.A. degree program consists of approximately two-thirds of the coursework in the “creation and study of the visual arts,” with the remainder in general studies. Because of the greater emphasis on upper-level studio courses, the B.F.A. allows majors the opportunity to build greater expertise in a given area of the field.

Photo-Illustration (B.S.)

The Bachelor of Science degree in Photo Illustration provides the student with a comprehensive program of study balancing a liberal arts education with studio offerings in digital photography. Grounded in formal, technical and conceptual skills building, the Photo-illustration program focuses on the profession of photography as it relates to commerce. The School of Visual Communication Design’s B.S. degree program builds a photography professional through experiential learning opportunities, as well as through required courses in graphic design and multimedia.



Internships are an important part of our program, helping students make the transition to the workplace and creating excellent opportunities for students to network. All School of Visual Communication Design students are required to complete an internship before graduation. Most are paid positions with private businesses, individuals, organizations and government entities. Over the last 30 years, the school has forged hundreds of local and national relationships with some of the most prominent businesses in Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco and New York. Students have recently held internships at several well-known places, including: Discovery Channel, the Smithsonian Museum, MTV, American Greetings, Metropolis magazine and the Museum of Modern Art.

Admission Requirements 

The freshman admission policy at the Kent Campus is selective. Admission decisions are based upon the following: cumulative grade point average, ACT and/or SAT scores, strength of high school college preparatory curriculum and grade trends.


Visual communication design students may participate in specialized on-campus industry groups including the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and those of a related field like American Advertising Federation (AAF); National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ); Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA); the Society of Professional Journalists; and the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). Students are also very active in the production and design of 10 different media in the Office of Student Media as well as IdeaBase and Glyphix. Glyphix, a student design studio, produces award-winning, professional-level design work in an educational setting. It serves both on-campus groups and off-campus businesses, as well as providing design services for community groups, such as schools, libraries, nonprofit organizations and government. Created in 1973, Glyphix was one of the first such programs in the United States and the prototype for many student work-study design groups now existing on university campuses. Glyphix provides a truly professional atmosphere, both in philosophy and in physical space. Students in Glyphix have received the Interactive Media Award for Outstanding Achievement for excellence in the design, development and implementation of the School of Visual Communication Design site ( Glyphix regularly receives ADDY Awards in the student category and professional categories. The American Advertising Federation, a not-for profit industry association, conducts the ADDY® Awards through its 200-member advertising clubs and 15 districts.


Visual Communication Design students can compete for the Lewis & Dona Williams Endowed Scholarship, Creative Artist Award and the American Greetings Endowed Scholarship. The Lewis & Dona Williams Endowed Scholarship provides a scholarship for a junior visual communication design student of color. The Honors College Creative Artist Award is given to incoming Honors students in Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Communication Design. Minimum academic requirements include: 3.6 GPA and 27 ACT Composite (or 1210 SAT Reading and Math Total) and admission to the Honors College. Based on audition or portfolio review. The American Greetings Endowed Scholarship is granted to students who have demonstrated excellence in design, prior academic performance, and conclusions that a committee draws from a personal interview as to the student’s motivation, character, ability and potential. The Wallace J. Hagedorn Scholarship and the Christopher and Judith Everett Endowed Scholarship is awarded to photo-illustration (photography) majors.

Graduate Studies

The graduate program is one of only three programs in the state to offer the Master of Arts degree in visual communication design and was the first, and is still only one of two programs in the state of Ohio, to offer the terminal degree in the field, the Master of Fine Arts. Students come to the visual graduate program from a variety of backgrounds: advertising, industrial and graphic design, design education and undergraduate design programs around the world. This diversity of experience has created an ever-changing and enriching environment in which degree candidates strive to reach individual and group goals.

Faculty And Staff

Our dedicated faculty members bring knowledge and vision to our programs. They are practicing professionals – designers, illustrators, photographers and authors – engaged in their respective fields of expertise and keenly aware of industry standards and practices. Collectively their clients include, among others: The American Bar Association, The American Diabetes Association, American Greetings, Better Homes and Gardens, Boys Clubs of America, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Clinic, Coors Corp., HOW Magazine, McDonald’s Corp., National Geographic Society, Special Olympics World Games, and United States Postal Service. Faculty members have exhibited their works in galleries and museums nationally and globally. Several have won the Kent State University Outstanding Teaching Award, as well as grants for creative endeavor and curriculum innovation.