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Visual Communication Design - B.A.

Unleash your creativity with the Visual Communication major. Experienced faculty will help you develop a portfolio of professional design work for print, motion, video and interactive media. With a focus on design and illustration, this degree offers the flexibility to succeed in a wide variety of career fields. Enroll now and turn your passion for graphic design into a successful future.

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Visual Communication Design is more than layout and graphic design. It's about conveying a feeling, information and a message through the design choices made. 

Design surrounds us everywhere we go. Look around you wherever you are. The phone in your hand, the computer in front of you, the magazines, signs, products, packaging -- all of it crafted and created with design in mind. The Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication Design will help you develop and learn to effectively use your design skills and prepare you for the design jobs of the future.

Students can also develop their talents and network with other designers through extracurricular opportunities.

Explore Ways to Get Involved, Get Experience, Get Designing

IdeaBase: Student-Powered Agency

IdeaBase is a Kent State student-powered design agency located in Franklin Hall. IdeaBase bridges the gap between classroom and career by bringing together top-performing Kent State students to tackle real-world client problems. The team represents a variety of backgrounds, including visual communication design, public relations, advertising, digital media production, computer information systems, emerging media and technology, marketing and communication studies students.

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STUDENT MEDIA

In Student Media, students create content for our six print partners (five magazines and one newspaper) as well as for TV, radio, websites and social media. Together, they reach thousands of people every day, delivering original reporting, information, entertainment and advertising. 

Starting "Day One" of freshman year, students can work for these independent, nationally recognized, nationally award-winning student media outlets. In doing so, students gain relevant exposure to the communication industry, strong peer and faculty relationships and opportunities to launch meaningful careers. 

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Glyphix Research Laboratory

Glyphix began as a full studio experience for students, and the student staffed studio was one of the first such programs in the U.S. and the prototype for many student work-study design groups now existing on university campuses. Now Glyphix is a Research Laboratory in the School of VCD. Students gain studio experience as they conduct research, develop concepts and produce design materials for clients and other stakeholders. 

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AIGA Kent State

Meet other students studying visual communication design and all things graphic design as part of Kent State's American Institute of Graphic Arts student group. Network with area designers and businesses, be part of the monthly meetings with the Cleveland chapter and participate in extracurricular learning opportunities that can help you develop as a designer. 

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Program Information

Program Description

Full Description

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Communication Design prepares students for the graphic design and illustration professions. Students develop technical understanding and design skills in the organization of imagery and typography to communicate information in two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms. Students produce work for print, motion, video, screen displays and interactive experiences, as well as package design, exhibition design and environmental wayfinding.

This program focuses on design and illustration in the context of a broad liberal arts program, giving students the flexibility to choose 20 percent of their coursework (with guidance). This provides the opportunity for students to take a variety of courses to complement their design degree. Students learn at the intersections of communication, information, and technology. The B.A. degree program is for students planning to attend a graduate program or plan to pair their visual communication design degree with another field of study.

Through a core of diverse theory- and practice-based courses, students learn basic concepts that apply across the range of college programs and develop a sense of professional expectations and build toward interdisciplinary thinking and application.

Students may apply early to the following master's degree programs and double count 9 credit hours of graduate courses toward both degree programs. See the Combined Bachelor's/Master's Degree Program Policy in the University Catalog for more information.

There are many study abroad/away opportunities. For more information contact the Office of Global Education or coordinator of the college's International Study Programs.

Admissions

Admission Requirements

The university affirmatively strives to provide educational opportunities and access to students with varied backgrounds, those with special talents and adult students who graduated from high school three or more years ago.

First-Year Students on the Kent Campus: First-year admission policy on the Kent Campus is selective. Admission decisions are based upon cumulative grade point average, strength of high school college preparatory curriculum and grade trends. Students not admissible to the Kent Campus may be administratively referred to one of the seven regional campuses to begin their college coursework. For more information, visit the admissions website for first-year students.

First-Year Students on the Regional Campuses: First-year admission to Kent State’s campuses at Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Geauga, Salem, Stark, Trumbull and Tuscarawas, as well as the Twinsburg Academic Center, is open to anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalent. For more information on admissions, contact the Regional Campuses admissions offices.

International Students: All international students must provide proof of English language proficiency unless they meet specific exceptions. For more information, visit the admissions website for international students.

Transfer Students: Students who have attended any other educational institution after graduating from high school must apply as undergraduate transfer students. For more information, visit the admissions website for transfer students.

Former Students: Former Kent State students or graduates who have not attended another college or university since Kent State may complete the reenrollment or reinstatement form on the University Registrar’s website.

Admission policies for undergraduate students may be found in the University Catalog.

Some programs may require that students meet certain requirements before progressing through the program. For programs with progression requirements, the information is shown on the Coursework tab.

The director of the School of Visual Communication Design may impose additional requirements considered reasonable and necessary. Each transfer student will be evaluated individually in terms of his or her ability to perform within the program. A transfer applicant’s strengths and deficiencies will be considered and his or her transfer credits will reflect that consideration.

Learning Outcomes

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the ethics (and legal issues) closely associated with fields of visual communication.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of traditional hands-on skills relative to craftsmanship.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the basic use of digital technologies as they relate to their areas of study.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to create visual response to communication problems, including understanding of hierarchy, typography, aesthetics, composition and construction of meaningful images.
Coursework

Program Requirements

Major Requirements (couses count in major GPA)
VCD 13000VISUAL DESIGN THINKING 3
VCD 13001INTRODUCTION TO VISUAL COMMUNICATION DESIGN STUDIO (min B- grade)3
VCD 20010INTRODUCTION TO DESIGN RESEARCH 3
VCD 22000DESIGN/ILLUSTRATION TECHNIQUES I 3
VCD 22001DESIGN/ILLUSTRATION TECHNIQUES II 3
VCD 23001TYPOGRAPHY I (min B- grade)3
VCD 25000DESIGN HISTORY AND THEORY 3
VCD 33000GRAPHIC DESIGN I 3
VCD 33001GRAPHIC DESIGN II 3
VCD 34004VISUAL ETHICS 3
VCD 40182INTERNSHIP PREPARATION: DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION AND PHOTOGRAPHY 2
VCD 40192INTERNSHIP: DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION AND PHOTOGRAPHY (ELR) 11
VCD 44006MOTION DESIGN I 3
VCD 49198RESEARCH PAPERS AND PROPOSALS FOR DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION AND PHOTOGRAPHY (ELR) (WIC) 22
VCD 49199CAPSTONE PROJECT (ELR) 3
VCD Bachelor of Arts Guided Electives, choose from the following:9
CCI 12001
PHOTOGRAPHY
VCD 18002
PHOTOGRAPHY II
VCD 21000
INTRODUCTION TO WEB DESIGN
VCD 28003
DIGITAL IMAGING I
VCD 32000
ILLUSTRATION I
VCD 32001
ILLUSTRATION II
VCD 33101
INTERACTION DESIGN I
VCD 34005
INTRODUCTION TO 3D GRAPHIC DESIGN
VCD 38004
ADVANCED PHOTOGRAPHY
VCD 40053
GLYPHIX RESEARCH LABORATORY
VCD 40089
GRAPHIC DESIGN-TRAVEL AND FIELD EXPERIENCE (ELR)
VCD 42002
EDITORIAL ILLUSTRATION
VCD 42003
ADVERTISING ILLUSTRATION
VCD 42005
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN: THE HUMAN FIGURE
VCD 42006
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN: ANIMALS AND ENVIRONMENTS
VCD 42007
GRAPHIC NARRATIVE
VCD 43000
STUDIO PRODUCTION
VCD 43002
TYPOGRAPHY II
VCD 43003
IDENTITY SYSTEMS
VCD 43005
PACKAGING AND PROMOTION
VCD 43006
ENVIRONMENTAL GRAPHIC DESIGN
VCD 43007
INFORMATION DESIGN
VCD 43051
TYPE HIGH PRESS
VCD 43060
TYPEFACE DESIGN
VCD 43101
INTERACTION DESIGN II
VCD 44001
EXHIBITION DESIGN
VCD 46002
RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN
VCD 46003
TYPOGRAPHY III
Additional Requirements (courses do not count in major GPA)
UC 10001FLASHES 101 1
College of Communication and Information Core Electives, choose from the following:9
CCI 10095
SPECIAL TOPICS IN COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION
CCI 40089
BRANDING AND SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIES FOR ITALIAN LIFESTYLE (ELR)
CCI 40095
SPECIAL TOPICS IN COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION
CCI 40189
ITALIAN POP CULTURE
CCI 40289
ITALIAN CINEMA (ELR)
CCI 40389
DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING (ELR)
CCI 40489
MULTIMEDIA EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING (ELR)
CCI 45089
INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE IN THE COLLEGE OF COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION (ELR)
CCI 46089
INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE IN THE COLLEGE OF COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION (ELR)
COMM 15000
INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN COMMUNICATION (KADL)
COMM 35852
INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION (DIVG)
EMAT 25310
CREATIVE CODING
EMAT 33310
HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION
LIS 30010
INFORMATION FLUENCY IN THE WORKPLACE AND BEYOND
MDJ 20001
MEDIA, POWER AND CULTURE (DIVD) (KSS)
MDJ 21008
SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIES
UXD 20001
INTRODUCTION TO USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN
Kent Core Composition6
Kent Core Mathematics and Critical Reasoning3
Kent Core Humanities and Fine Arts (minimum one course from each)9
Kent Core Social Sciences (must be from two disciplines)6
Kent Core Basic Sciences (must include one laboratory)6-7
Kent Core Additional6
General Electives (total credit hours depends on earning 120 credits hour, including 39 upper-division credit hours) 324
Minimum Total Credit Hours:120
1

Minimum 1 credit hour of VCD 40192 is required for the program. Students can apply a maximum 4 credit hours of VCD 40192 toward their degree program.

2

A minimum C grade must be earned to fulfill the writing-intensive requirement. 

3

A maximum of 4 credit hours of Physical Activity, Wellness and Sport (PWS) courses may be applied toward the degree program.

Progression Requirements

  • Students must earn a minimum B- grade in VCD 13001 before enrolling in VCD 23001. VCD 13001 may be taken a maximum three times until a minimum B- grade is achieved.
  • Students must earn a minimum B- grade in VCD 23001 before enrolling in VCD 33000.
  • Students must maintain a 2.500 major GPA in order to continue taking VCD courses. Failure to do so at the end of one semester will result in a written warning with the option of repeating certain VCD courses in order to meet minimum grade and GPA requirements to continue. Failure to do so at the end of two consecutive semesters will result in not being permitted to enroll in VCD courses. Students in this situation will be contacted by an academic advisor to create an alternative plan of study with a new major.

Graduation Requirements

Minimum Major GPA Minimum Overall GPA
2.500 2.000
  • A minimum B- grade may be required in some courses.
Roadmap

Roadmap

This roadmap is a recommended semester-by-semester plan of study for this major. However, courses designated as critical (!) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation.

Plan of Study Grid
Semester OneCredits
!VCD 13000 VISUAL DESIGN THINKING 3
!VCD 13001 INTRODUCTION TO VISUAL COMMUNICATION DESIGN STUDIO 3
UC 10001 FLASHES 101 1
Kent Core Requirement 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
 Credit Hours16
Semester Two
!VCD 22000 DESIGN/ILLUSTRATION TECHNIQUES I 3
!VCD 23001 TYPOGRAPHY I 3
VCD 25000 DESIGN HISTORY AND THEORY 3
College of Communication and Information Core Elective 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
 Credit Hours15
Semester Three
!VCD 20010 INTRODUCTION TO DESIGN RESEARCH 3
!VCD 22001 DESIGN/ILLUSTRATION TECHNIQUES II 3
!VCD 33000 GRAPHIC DESIGN I 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
 Credit Hours15
Semester Four
VCD 44006 MOTION DESIGN I 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
General Elective 3
 Credit Hours15
Semester Five
VCD 33001 GRAPHIC DESIGN II 3
!VCD 34004 VISUAL ETHICS 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
General Elective 3
 Credit Hours15
Semester Six
VCD 40182 INTERNSHIP PREPARATION: DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION AND PHOTOGRAPHY 2
VCD 49198 RESEARCH PAPERS AND PROPOSALS FOR DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION AND PHOTOGRAPHY (ELR) (WIC) 2
VCD Bachelor of Arts Guided Elective 3
College of Communication and Information Core Elective 3
Kent Core Requirement 3
General Elective 2
 Credit Hours15
Third Summer Term
VCD 40192 INTERNSHIP: DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION AND PHOTOGRAPHY (ELR) 1
 Credit Hours1
Semester Seven
VCD Bachelor of Arts Guided Elective 3
College of Communication and Information Core Elective 3
General Electives 9
 Credit Hours15
Semester Eight
VCD 49199 CAPSTONE PROJECT (ELR) 3
VCD Bachelor of Arts Guided Elective 3
General Electives 7
 Credit Hours13
 Minimum Total Credit Hours:120
Program Delivery
  • Delivery:
    • In person
  • Location:
    • Kent Campus
Accreditation

National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)

Examples of Possible Careers
  • Graphic Designer
  • Art/Creative Director
  • UI/UX Designer
  • Motion Designer/Animator
  • Illustrator
  • Exhibit/Wayfinding Designer
  • Package Designer
Camera Requirements

Photography in VCD is a digital-based program, and all work is done with digital cameras. As such, there are several camera options for you to consider. However, before deciding on your preferred camera system, consider your major or area of concentration and the extent of your future involvement in and with photography. 

List of Cameras

If you plan to major in Photography or take Photography classes beyond Photo 1, your camera will need to be tetherable (hard-wired) to a laptop and able to fire an accessory flash and trigger devices (if not sure about this, send me an email, and I’ll explain).

The primary programs we tether with are Adobe Lightroom and Capture One Pro. Please research the camera before you purchase one to be sure which programs it will work with. [Note: Photo Majors are required to work with Capture One beginning with their second program year.] We recommend either Nikon or Canon cameras primarily for interchangeability with classmates, depreciation value, current state-of-art, and availability of rental equipment in the VCD Resource Room. If you already have another brand of camera, send me an email with the camera’s brand and model, and I’ll get back to you.

All cameras used in Photography in VCD classes must have interchangeable lens capability; feature a manual mode that allows for setting ISO, f-stop, and shutter speeds; allow manual focusing and can work in monochrome (black and white) mode. 18 megapixels is the minimum acceptable sensor resolution. Mirror-less cameras are acceptable but be aware of their limitations with inter-changeability with our inventory of cameras and lenses and fellow students, and there are certain issues with tethering in a studio flash environment. If you are uncertain about any of these points, please email your camera model along with your question.

DSLR cameras offer excellent technical and image control and allow the use of a broader range of Interchangeable lenses with a wide range of focal lengths. The cameras listed offer recommendations to allow for a spectrum of sophistication and price considerations while meeting the requirements for both photo majors and minors. Camera technology is advancing rapidly so please carefully research your decision.

Note: If you currently own a DSLR that is not listed but meets the requirements, it may be fine for this class. However, tethering is required to advance in the photography program. In all cases, if you are unsure or have questions, send me an email!

Notes: Tether-able means the camera will connect directly to a laptop. This is not required for Photo 1 but is for all other Photography classes.

The prices/specifications are for reference only. Please confirm pricing, specifications, and tetherability.

Technology Requirements

Fall 2023 and Spring 2024

All Design, Illustration, and Photography students are required to purchase a laptop computer for their classes. A MacBook Air, Chromebook, iPad, tablet, or a similar device is NOT sufficient for these classes.

We recommend purchasing your laptop computer in the summer before your first semester at Kent State AFTER you attend your orientation program to be sure that the requirements are up-to-date.

Laptop Computer – Minimum Approved Hardware

  • Apple MacBook Pro*
  • Apple M2 or M2 Pro Chip
  • 16GB unified memory
  • 512 GB Hard Drive

*Any size screen is sufficient, but larger screens will be better for design, illustration, or photography courses.

Photography Program Camera Requirements*

*This is only required for Photography majors or minors.

Our graduates find meaningful careers and internships everywhere. Here are just a few of the places where they've worked.

    • Abercrombie & Fitch
    • Aerie, American Eagle Outfitters
    • American Greetings
    • Aquent Studios 
    • Brokaw
    • Cassel Bear
    • Cigna
    • The Cleveland Museum of Art
    • CrossCountry Mortgage, LLC
    • Dick's Sporting Goods
    • Each+Every
    • Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
    • FedEx
    • FleishmanHillard
    • Giant Eagle, Inc.
    • IBM Watson
    • Jo-Ann Stores
    • Little Jacket
    • Marcus Thomas
    • Ohio Department of Natural Resources
    • Ologie Branding Agency
    • OverDrive, Inc.
    • PNC Banks
    • Progressive Insurance
    • Sherwin-Williams
    • Sunnyside Automotive Group
    • Threadless
    • Zillow

Student Work

Our students work through an iterative process of problem solving to complete each project. With both long and short term goals in mind, projects mimic real-world scenarios that allow students to create comprehensive and diverse portfolios in preparation for creative careers.

View a variety of student working, ranging from introductory level freshman courses to senior level work.