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If you’re interested to learn the finer points of how to make powerful visual advertisements, a visual communications degree is right for you. A bachelor of arts in visual communication teaches learners how they can effectively convey messages through visual arts.
Additional Resource: Best Online Bachelor’s in Art and Design with a Concentration in Multimedia Design
Visual communications degrees are aimed to produce graduates with extensive knowledge, professional attitude, and appropriate creative strategies in the practice of this field. But visual communication degree programs are always misunderstood.
So, what exactly is visual communication? Is it photography? Yes! Is it graphic design? Yes, it is! Is it audiovisual studies? Definitely. Or digital media? It is that too! Visual communications degrees tend to be confusing because visual communication is a very broad field composed of different method people share information and how audiences receive this information.
Visual communication degrees, popularly called VisCom degrees, are extensive blends of areas like photography, graphic design, digital design, and journalism. Undergraduate students with degrees in visual communications can either take up a bachelor of arts or science, although the most common one is the former.
Some visual communications major focuses on making images communicate effectively, while others focus more on how it affects culture and the audience.
Each of the online Bachelor’s in Art and Design with a Concentration in Visual Communications made it to this list based on the following factors:
- The program format, whether a synchronous or asynchronous program, is an important factor when choosing an online visual communication degree. Some schools also offer an accelerated bachelor’s degree option that allows fine arts students to complete their visual communication degree in less than four years.
- Location plays a major factor when choosing a visual communication design program. Even if it is an online degree, the school’s location matters. For example, attending in your home state means you qualify for in-state tuition rates on top of financial aid. There are also schools that require online students to report on campus for the completion of specific requirements.
- Excellent professors make up the teaching personnel, guaranteeing that students learn only from the best and most seasoned Visual Communications specialists.
- The online degree program in Visual Communications must be offered by an independently accredited school. This will ensure that students only get the highest standard of education. In case students decide to transfer, many schools only accept transfer credits from regionally-accredited institutions.
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10 Best Online Bachelor in Arts and Design – Visual Communications
Southern New Hampshire University
Location: Manchester/Hooksett, New Hampshire
Southern New Hampshire University offers more than 200 programs, from certificates to doctoral degrees, including education, business, social sciences, liberal arts, and STEM. It was named The Most Innovative University in the North by the US News and World Report in 2020. The school is noted for its affordable and accessible education that learners can pursue on campus or over its innovative online platform.
SNHU offers an online degree in graphic design with a concentration in web design or user experience design. This online program can help students build a number of major skills, including:
- Design Thinking
- Digital Media
- Brand Identity
- Professional Practice
Students with this online degree have the optional chance to earn certificates through AIGA, a professional association for design in areas like digital marketing, client relations, and project management.
In some selected courses, students can further hone their core skills in the field and earn up to six Certificates for Creatives of AIGA. This is a perfect way to show the skills students learned during their BA in Graphic Design classes. They can also pursue advanced degrees and master design software like Adobe Creative Suite.
This online program from SNHU has 120 total credits and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Students can apply with no SAT/ACT scores.
The University of Maryland Global Campus
Location: College Park/Adelphi, Maryland
The University of Maryland Global Campus was founded to provide accessible education to service members and working adults. Today, this state university offers affordable online programs and the best student services to help students advance their education and pursue careers they’ve always wanted to pursue, even under the toughest circumstances.
UMGC offers more than 30 undergraduate programs- including online bachelor’s degrees and certificates. One of its most popular programs is the online Bachelor’s in Graphic Communication program, designed with inputs from industry experts, employers, and scholars.
Courses in this online graphic communication degree will have topics that include:
- Introduction to Graphic Communication
- Introduction to Drawing
- Design I: Arrangement and Color
- Intermediate Drawing
- Typography and Layout
The University of Maryland Global Campus is duly Middle States Commission on Higher Education-recognized.
Location: Wilmington Manor/New Castle, Delaware
Based in Wilmington Manor, Delaware, Wilmington University is a private university that offers almost 100 degree and certificate programs. These programs are offered online, at its main campus in New Castle, and six more are located in Delaware.
The school offers an online Bachelor’s in Communication with concentrations in Public Relations, Digital Journalism, Strategic Communication, and Visual Communications.
Students in this online visual design concentration may work as art directors, who design the vision of a product like advertising, video games, publications, theater, video games, and film; as multimedia artists and designers, combining visual art with different forms like storytelling, sound, or animation and work as special effects artists or game animators; or as graphic designers who visually communicated messages and ideas for promotional or commercial purposes.
Graduates of this concentration can find opportunities in the following:
- Business Communication and Management
- Graphic Design
- Special Effects
- Logo and Brand Development
- Visual Arts and Animation
- Visual Communications
Wilmington University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Savannah College of Art and Design
Locations: Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia
Dubbed “The University for Creative Careers,” Savannah College of Art and Design is a private institution that offers more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design university. The school prepares talented students for creative and professional careers through engaged learning and teaching in a positively oriented environment.
Savannah College of Art and Design runs a BA in Visual Communications program with a concentration in graphic design. Courses include:
- Drawing I: Form and Space
- Design I: Elements and Organization
- Drawing II: Composition and Media
- Visual Culture in Context
- Digital Communication
Students in this undergraduate program will start with a SCAD core, a series of general education courses, and foundation studies focused on developing each student’s communication, critical thinking, and practical skills.
SCAD is Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges-accredited.
Location: Athens, Ohio
Ohio University, is a public research university composed of nine campuses, nine undergraduate colleges, a graduate college, and a public affairs school, and has more than 250 areas of undergraduate study. It also has certificates, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
Ohio University offers an online Bachelor’s in Communication through the Scripps College of Communication, recognized as a Center of Excellence by the Ohio Board of Regents.
This online communications degree is designed to give students a virtual classroom experience that improves their learning experience. Some of the courses included in this online program include:
- Visual Communications
- Written Communications
- Oral Communications
- Web and Print Design
- Creative Research
- Creative Process
- Communication Studies
- Telecommunication Systems
This communication degree will provide students with practical communication skills that employers look out for these days. This also prepares them for careers in digital design, digital media production, social media production, public relations, brand strategy, event planning, crisis communication management, blogging, writing, producing, editing, and many more.
Ohio University Higher Learning Commission-accredited.
Location: Town and Country, Missouri
Located outside St. Louis, Missouri, Maryville University is a nationally recognized private institution that offers an extensive and innovative education focused on student learning, success, and outcomes.
Maryville University offers several online courses, including its online Bachelor of Arts in Communication. This program is designed to help students gain hands-on experience and advance their careers in advertising, education, business, and publishing.
Target audiences for this online program can choose between any of the concentrations:
- Strategic Communication
- Emerging Media Strategy
This online program helps students develop competence in providing dynamic communication strategies that can be adapted to changing audiences, situations, social movements, delivery modalities, and technology.
A strategic communication degree provides students with different opportunities in conducting research, portfolio development, internship, and the skills to use communication in actionable strategies for organizations.
Maryville University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
Liberty University is a private Baptist university and is one of the world’s largest Christian universities and the biggest non-profit universities in the United States. The school offers more than 550 programs– 366 on campus and 289 online. It also has 144 graduate programs and four doctoral programs offered on campus.
Liberty University offers a digital design degree with a concentration in visual communication. Offered online, this 8-week program takes 3.5 years to complete. Courses in this bachelor’s degree include:
- Digital Imaging
- Interactive Design I
- Fundamentals of Editing
- Digital Promotion Technology and Application
Through this online program, students are taught how to integrate business ideas with graphic design techniques and strategies so they can effectively reach their target audiences. This also helps students understand how they can improve user experience on websites, boost conversion rates of organizations, and create tastefully done content for use in a variety of settings.
Liberty University is SACSCOC-recognized.
Louisiana State University of Alexandria
Location: Alexandria, Louisiana
Louisiana State University of Alexandria (LSUA) is a public college that offers numerous undergraduate degree programs in different disciplines. LSUA is dedicated exclusively to undergraduate programs, with degree offerings in liberal arts and professional disciplines. It also has associate degree programs, as well as certifications.
LSUA offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies where students are taught how to master the art of written, mediated, and oral communication. This flexible online program is designed to prepare students to exude a vast knowledge of the communications field by studying human relationships, visual communications, and public relations.
Some of the topics covered in this online program include:
- Introduction to the design, critique, and creation of visual media
- Study of the legal restraints and legal rights on the mass media
- Study of research methods in the communication field
- Study of the dynamics of small group and public forums when mediated through technology
- Compliance gaining, exploration of persuasion, and social influence in communication
Louisiana State University at Alexandria is regionally approved by the SACSCOC.
Loyola University-New Orleans
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Loyola University-New Orleans is a private Jesuit university with an acceptance rate of 72%, the university offers 73 bachelor’s degrees delivered on campus and online.
The school’s online Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication helps students master their communication skills and launch their careers. Concentration includes:
- Public Relations
- Visual Communications
This is a 120-credit-hour degree that provides students access to world-class resources in the field of mass communication. By the time students complete this online visual communication concentration, they will have earned a digital portfolio that showcases their unique talents.
Loyola University-New Orleans is approved by the SACSCOC.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Simmons University is a private university divided into two campuses in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood. Students have more than 50 majors to choose from, whether they want to go on campus or enroll online.
Simmons’ curriculum is customizable and interdisciplinary to allow students to explore new subjects. One of its most popular programs is the online Bachelor’s in Communications degree. Students will develop the skills they need to be progressive and innovative media makers– whether they see themselves editing or shooting a video, authoring digital publications, creating websites, or making social media strategies and content that make an impact.
Some core courses in this online degree in communications program include:
- Visual Communication
- Media Writing
- How Media Reflects and Affects Society
This online program is designed in a way where students will critically think about media and learn how they can share their stories with the world in a more meaningful way.
Simmons University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.
Jobs in Visual Communications Degree
Below are some of the best jobs you can get with your fine arts or visual communications degree.
Graphic design entails making visual elements to illustrate an idea or convey a message. Graphic designers use different software and graphic design techniques to create visual content like logos, advertisements, and marketing materials.
Just like in digital photography, graphic design reviews typography, colors, and layouts for different digital and print products like magazine advertisements, book covers, websites, or social media graphics. Graphic designers work with clients to understand their design concepts and brands to achieve their vision, that is, to convey a message through visual storytelling.
Visual designers make visual concepts for digital projects, like websites. They make sites with a friendly user interface for clients so that businesses can easily be identified. Fine artists like visual designers have a natural knack for artistry, and they can easily create designs to reflect the vision of a brand.
Visual designers have a good understanding of design principles and impeccable graphic communication skills. They use a specific brand’s style in conveying consistent messaging across different products like devices or mobile applications. These professionals work with clients to determine their project requirements and communicate with them to guarantee a successful project.
Armed with a major in communication and media studies, communication managers oversee a company’s image. They are the ones that promote the goals and mission of an organization. Communication managers, through their visual communication skills, are also the ones that find ways for how a company can boost its exposure, and this can be achieved through marketing campaigns and media opportunities.
Visual communications programs also equip communication managers with the necessary skills required to design and produce marketing materials, such as social media posts or interactive website content. These professionals are also very good at making promotional content for companies, like newsletters and press releases.
Visual communication degrees make good art directors. These professionals navigate project designs by giving input on the images, layout, or artwork. Art direction professionals identify ways to represent concepts visually and communicate these visions with a graphic designer to execute them.
Art directors usually work on different projects like video games, advertisements, or film or television magazines. They work directly with clients to discuss design ideas, assess a project with their digital design team, and present these recommendations back to their clients for approval.
A visual communication degree holder can work as a web designer, using programming and design skills and developing websites. Web designers are the ones responsible for the visual elements of a website, including typography, layouts, images, and graphics.
The ultimate goal of web designers is to create a website that is visually appealing and can function efficiently for users. Web designers meet with their clients to understand their common goals for the latter’s website. From there, they will develop crucial web design concepts that meet their objectives.
Aside from having a graphic design degree, web designers should have ample technical skills. These professionals are expected to have the necessary technical skills that go with their jobs, like programming languages, and they must understand media arts too.
A graphic design degree is a good background for those who wish to become illustrators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, illustrators make a median annual salary of $50,500. These professionals produce drawings or three-dimensional design artworks to represent an idea. Through an intermediate drawing course and expertise in color theory, they can manually create images or use digital tools with the help of design software.
Illustrators can work on a variety of products, including magazines, newspapers, online advertisements, packaging materials, or greeting cards.
A visual communication degree is a good start for those who plan on becoming photojournalists. These professionals use images, including videos and photos, to tell a story visually. They snap images of people, events, or places to document a news story.
Photojournalists must work in a way that maintains objectivity in news events. They even write captions and headlines that go with a photo or a video.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is Visual Communication a good degree?
For many undergraduate students, visual communication is a very good major. A lot of people find this field interesting because this allows for a high level of creativity. This major also teaches students how to use their creativity to effectively connect with others.
Who employs graduates of Visual Communications degrees?
Professionals holding degrees in visual communications can pursue a lot of positions in different industries. Most graduates work in public relations, advertising, and related services. Others, mostly art directors, prefer to be self-employed. They can also be employed by media publishers, motion video and picture industries, or specialized design services.
How long do online Visual Communications degrees take?
Traditionally, a bachelor’s degree program can take four years to complete. Online degree programs, on the other hand, have a wider range of scheduling options, like accelerated courses. Others offer asynchronous, self-paced courses. Because of these options, students can complete their online degree in less time with full-time enrollment.
Key Points to Ponder
- An online visual communication degree provides students with the needed skills to further their careers in media or visual arts.
- Visual communication majors are the best fit for those who wish to learn the finer points of creating visual advertisements and other media.
- Online degree programs in visual communications enable students to attend their classes from their homes or wherever they’re convenient. This also makes it easier for them to fit their classes into their present schedule.
Also, see: Best Online Bachelor’s in Art and Design with a Concentration in Film