Visual Communication Design


The practice of visual communication design at The Ohio State University encourages students to explore a range of technologies that support the many areas of specialization offered by this complex profession. The use of digital tools, including advanced computing technology, to visualize and present translations of complex data and ideas is fundamental to our practices. Understanding the theories and practices of user interfaces supports the development of interactive design solutions for web and mobile applications. Students study and explore research-based approaches to the visual design of information, the development of brand identities based on present and future conditions, and the creation of way-finding systems for navigating complex environments. The production of printed materials such as books, brochures, packaging, and posters is also supported as a fundamental aspect of visual communication design. Our visual communication design program culminates in a final project that demonstrates each student's comprehensive knowledge and ability to work independently.


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Curriculum and Course Sequence


Design Foundations

All majors in Design start with an Interdisciplinary First-Year Design Foundations course sequence consists of 18 credit hours of coursework (9 in Autumn Semester, 9 in Spring Semester). This Design Foundations 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.



Autumn Semester

DESIGN 3103: Intro to Vis Com Design 1, 3 hours
DESIGN 3200: Design Research 1, 3 hours
DESIGN 3400.03: Design Media 1 for Visual Communication Design, 3 hours
DESIGN 3503: Typographic Design, 3 hours
GE Courses, 6 hours

Spring Semester

DESIGN 3153: Intro to Vis Com Design 2, 3 hours
DESIGN 3450.03: Design Media 2 for Visual Communication Design, 3 hours
DESIGN 3550.03: Materials + Processes for Visual Communication Design, 3 hours
GE Courses, 9-11 hours


Autumn Semester

DESIGN 4103: Intermediate Vis Com Design 1, 3 hours
DESIGN 4200: Design Research 2, 3 hours
DESIGN 4400.03: Design Media 3 for Visual Communication Design, 3 hours
Elective Course, 3 hours
GE Courses, 6 hours

Spring Semester

DESIGN 4153: Intermediate Vis Com Design 2, 3 hours
DESIGN 4650: Collaborative Design, 3 hours
DESIGN 4750: Professional Practices (weeks 1 to 7), 3 hours
Elective Courses, 6 hours


Autumn Semester

DESIGN 5103: Advanced Vis Com Design 1, 3 hours
DESIGN 5200: Design Research 3, 3 hours
DESIGN 5800.03: Design Seminar for Visual Communication Design, 3 hours
GE Courses, 6 hours

Spring Semester

DESIGN 5153: Advanced Vis Com Design 2, 3 hours
DESIGN 5453: Vis Com Design Media 4, 3 hours
Elective Course, 3 hours
GE Courses, 7 hours


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.

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.

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Student Achievement Data


2018-2019 Academic Year

  • Job Placement: 92%
  • Graduate Program Acceptance: 100% of students who applied.
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: TBD 
  • Retention: 100% of the students enrolled during the previous academic year returned.

2017-2018 Academic Year

  • Job Placement: 87%
  • Graduate Program Acceptance: 100% of students who applied.
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 80% 
  • Retention: 100% of the students enrolled during the previous academic year returned.

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.

Alumna K Koogan at Work
Alumn A Evans at Work
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According to Coroflot's latest Design Salary Guide, the median salary for a visual communication designer is $48,400.

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)


Alumni Spotlight


Amanda Buck

BSD - Visual Communication Design, 2008

  • Senior Designer at Ashton Design
  • Adjunct Professor at Maryland Institute College of Art
  • Designer at Studio of Amanda Buck

Amanda Buck is a designer and educator based in Baltimore, MD. She shapes brands and visually communicates stories through digital designs and printed matter. She strives to create timeless work with strong visual order, effective typographic details, and a forward-looking point of view. Whether it’s a web site or a book, she loves taking complex ideas and distilling them into intelligent, approachable, and straight-forward solutions. She believes in a human-centered approach to her work and enjoys collaborating with organizations with purpose to create positive social impact.

Amanda Buck

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Who hired our Visual Communication Designers after graduation?

  • Keeco, LLC
  • ERM: Environmental Resources Management
  • Self-Employed Freelance
  • Foliage Creative
  • Ologie
  • Pulse LTD
  • Continental Office
  • The Ohio State University College of Nursing
  • The Digest
  • Next Day Signs
  • 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
  • Freelance
  • Imagination Agency
  • Bloom Daily Planners
  • Ring
  • Orange Barrel Media
  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • American Electric Power
  • The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
  • Hart Associates
  • Ologie
  • Spacejunk Media
  • Jj Printing
  • CWT Interactive
  • MKSK
  • Upward Brand Interactions
  • Abigail Reeder Designs
  • Hail Studio
  • 90 Degree Labs, The Wendy's Company
  • Microsoft
  • The Ohio State University College of Nursing
  • CompleteSet
  • Lextant
  • SafeAuto Insurance
  • Loom
  • The Refinery Creative
  • Hartford Design
  • Interbrand
  • Bonfire Red
  • Lextant