Visual Communication Design

The practice of visual communication design at The Ohio State University includes exposure to the many areas of specialization offered by this complex and dynamic profession. Students learn to employ human-centered research approaches to inform development of brand identity, environmental way-finding, publication, packaging, interactive, web/mobile, and data visualization systems. Courses integrate a variety of advanced computing and digital media tools that enable students to develop highly-refined visual communications that meet or exceed professional standards. The program culminates in final projects that demonstrate students' abilities to develop solutions that address four design themes: education and learning; health and wellness; history, culture, and technology; and social impact. Projects are displayed in our annual spring exhibit that includes events to acknowledge the achievements of our graduating students.

First Year Experience: Design Foundations

All students in Design start in the interdisciplinary first-year Design Foundations program. This 18 credit hour sequence begins with a highly competitive selection process to become a Design Foundations student and concludes with a competitive portfolio-based major admissions review process. Major specific course work starts in the second year of the program. 

Apply the to Design Foundations Program!

Curriculum and Course Sequence

Required Courses

Subject Course # Title Credits Term
DESIGN 2110 Design Fundamentals I 3 Autumn
DESIGN 2310 Visual Principles and Techniques I 3 Autumn
DESIGN 2700 Introduction to Design Practice 3 Autumn or Spring
DESIGN 2130 Design Fundamentals II 3 Spring
DESIGN 2330 Visual Principles and Techniques II 3 Spring
DESIGN 2750 Design History 3 Spring

Required Courses

Subject Course # Title Credits Term
DESIGN 3103 Introduction to Visual Communication Design I 3 Autumn
DESIGN 3200 Design Research I 3 Autumn
DESIGN 3403 Design Media I for Visual Communication Design 3 Autumn
DESIGN 3503 Typographic Design 3 Autumn
DESIGN 3153 Introduction to Visual Communication Design II 3 Spring
DESIGN 3453 Design Media II for Visual Communication Design 3 Spring
DESIGN 3553 Materials, Process, and Production for Visual Communication Design 3 Spring

Required Courses

Subject Course # Title Credits Term
DESIGN 4103 Intermediate Visual Communication Design I 3 Autumn
DESIGN 4200 Design Research II 3 Autumn
DESIGN 4403 Design Media III for Visual Communication Design 3 Autumn
DESIGN 4153 Intermediate Visual Communication Design II 3 Spring
DESIGN 4650 Collaborative Design 3 Spring
DESIGN 4750 Professional Practices 3 Spring

Required Courses

Subject Course # Title Credits Term
DESIGN 5103 Advanced Visual Communication Design I 3 Autumn
DESIGN 5203 Design Research III for Visual Communication Design 3 Autumn
DESIGN 5803 Design Seminar for Visual Communication Design 3 Autumn
DESIGN 5453 Design Media IV for Visual Communication Design 3 Spring
DESIGN 5650 Advanced Collaborative Design 3 Spring

Major Requirements and Sample Schedules

Students who started at Ohio State Summer 2022 or earlier should follow requirements for the Legacy GE. 
Students who started at Ohio State Autumn 2022 or later should follow requirements for the New GE. 

Technology Requirements

Students in the Department of Design at The Ohio State University are required to have their own laptop computers after being admitted into one of our major programs. We do not make recommendations of specific computers, but students pursuing a major in Visual Communication Design will need a machine that is capable of meeting the technology specifications of the following softwares:


woman in white shirt using smartphone. Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash.

Students should check with The Office of the CIO prior to purchasing software for site licensed software that is available at discounted prices for students.

Students should check Tech Hub for prices.

Tech Hub is the Ohio State campus computer store. Get software and hardware at or below academic discounted pricing. They work with students, faculty and staff for personal and departmental orders. A variety of Apple, Dell and HP hardware is available including laptops, iPads, tablets, desktops, accessories and add-ons. A variety of software is available including Microsoft, Adobe, EndNote/Reference Manager and more. Tech Hub prices extended to students, faculty and staff with a valid Ohio State BuckID.

Student Portfolios

This voluntary listing of digital portfolios represents our current students' professional preparation at varying levels of experience. It also provides insight into some of the learning experiences provided by courses in our program.


Looking to hire a Design student? 

Prospective employers may reach out to students directly about freelance employment opportunities. Employers seeking to hire for internships and/or full-time opportunities are encouraged to work with the Center for Career and Professional Success to post openings via Handshake.

Gain Experiences & Discover Your Passion

Opportunities to become fully engaged in an experience are instrumental to discovering your passion. Internships will give you the experience you need to differentiate yourself from other candidates, support your career goals, contribute to your skill set and determine how your career exploration process and focus may need to be modified to support your long-term goals. Employers are looking for graduates that have already taken the next step to becoming professionals in their field.

Career Prospects in Visual Communication Design

Students graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Design take positions with design consulting offices, corporate design departments, and government design agencies.

The work of design occurs in either the context of consultant design, where independent design firms provide services to clients, or in the context of corporate, governmental, or non-governmental/not-for-profit design, where design services are provided within an organization.

Consultant design offices can be as small as one person -- an office of 15-20 people is considered relatively large -- and the largest might employ 100 or more. Consultant offices may specialize in one design discipline, or even a subcategory of that specialty. Consultant offices can also be multidisciplinary, and employ designers from all categories, as well as engineers, researchers, marketing and human factors experts, etc.

Corporate design groups exist in all major industries, and employ designers of all disciplines. Organizations that place emphasis on public communications typically maintain a visual communication design department.

Design offers many opportunities for a challenging career. Many designers begin with project work, and advance to research, coordination and management. Planning activities often place designers in the role of analyzing business trends, and establishing strategic goals for design activities. Many organizations value the contributions designers make to their businesses, and provide good opportunities for advancement.

Who hired our graduates?

  • Push Digital
  • MKSK
  • Moen Incorporated
  • Esports Foundry
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Nonfiction
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • IBM
  • WillowTree
  • The Ohio State University Engineering Career Services
  • Publicis Sapient
  • Credera
  • Roto Group
  • Holden Ellis
  • The Pivot Group
  • RG Barry
  • Xfrost
  • Sketch Blue
  • ZoCo Design
  • Kinopicz American
  • Crown Equipment Corporation
  • Owens Corning
  • Keeco, LLC
  • ERM: Environmental Resources Management
  • Self-Employed Freelance
  • Wildflower Press + Paper
  • Ologie
  • Become Known
  • Continental Office
  • The Ohio State University College of Nursing
  • The New Jersey Digest
  • Next Day Signs
  • ArtCenter College of Design
  • Rhove
  • Sketch Blue
  • Destination Pet, LLC
  • National Low Income Housing Coalition
  • Corporate One Federal Credit Union
  • WD Partners
  • Financial Cornerstone Inc. 
  • Involve, LLC
  • American Electric Power
  • Gilbane Building Company
  • Rocky Brands, Inc.
  • IBM iX
  • Kolar Design
  • Creative Spot
  • designvox
  • Chepri, LLC
  • Impact Communications
  • The Walt Disney Company
  • Nonfiction
  • Chute Gerdeman
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • VividFront
  • Ikove Capital
  • Profashion Hair Styling Tools
  • Influenster
  • Esse Soap Co.
  • Binance
  • CrossChx
  • King Business Interiors
  • Walt Disney Imagineering
  • Ologie
  • Inst Study of Race & Ethnicity, The Ohio State University
  • Revolution Experiment
  • College of Arts and Sciences Marketing & Communications
  • Design Central
  • Make You, LLC
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro
  • ZoCo Design
  • Jump Goat Media
  • WD Partners
  • McGraw-Hill Education
Alumna K Koogan at Work
Alumn A Evans at Work

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations play an important role in the development of design disciplines and provide valuable resources to their student and professional members. The following organizations are all relevant to Visual Communication Design.

American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)
Columbus Society of Communicating Arts (CSCA)
Interaction Design Association (IxDA)
Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD)
Usability Professionals Association (UPA)

Learn more in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook