Visual Communication

graphic-design

Prepare for a successful career in graphic design with our visual communication program. You’ll receive a comprehensive education focused on graphic form and communication, as well as cultural factors and design processes. When you graduate, you’ll be equipped with the creative, theoretical and interpersonal skills you need to thrive in the field of graphic design.


Admission to the visual communication program is available if you are a transfer or current students. You must successfully fulfill the following portfolio guidelines:

  • Obtain successful admissions to the university.
  • Maintain a minimum overall grade point average of 2.50 on a 4.00 scale for all courses including transfer courses.
  • Submit a portfolio of work that meets the admission criteria for the program. For portfolio instructions, please refer to the portfolio section below for details.
  • Interview with the visual communication faculty selection committee.

Online Portfolio Submission Deadline Dates

Portfolio deadlines and interview dates will be forthcoming.

Your portfolio will be submitted online and will be reviewed by the faculty. If that is acceptable, then the next step would be the interview. If the portfolio submitted is not acceptable, then you will not be asked to interview, and you are not accepted into the Visual Communication program. You will be notified by email of your acceptance status.

Core Requirements

Foundation Art Requirements: 12 credits
Art History Requirements: 12 credits
Visual Communication Elective Requirements: 12 credits

  • ARTD 201 - Introduction to Visual Communication (3 credits)
  • ARTD 202 - Introduction to Typography (3 credits)
  • ARTD 211 - Intermediate Typography (3 credits)
  • ARTD 212 - Image in Visual Communication (3 credits)
  • ARTD 311 - Intermediate Visual Communication I (3 credits)
  • ARTD 312 - Visual Communication II (3 credits)
  • ARTD 313 - Beginning Photography (3 credits)
  • ARTD 318 - Interaction Design I (3 credits)
  • ARTD 401 - User Experience Design (3 credits)
  • ARTD 405 - Professional Practices in Design (3 credits)
  • ARTD 411 - Advanced Visual Communication I (3 credits)
  • ARTD 412 - Advanced Typography (3 credits)
  • ARTD 406 - Senior Project (3 credits)

B.F.A. in Visual Communication requires 78 semester hours. View a suggested Visual Communication four-year plan.


The selection of pieces in your portfolio tells us a great deal about you, so thoughtfully and carefully choose those pieces you think best show your design talent and potential for further development. Your portfolio is to include design work, such as:

  • Brochures.
  • Posters.
  • Logos.
  • Magazine layouts.
  • Typography work.
  • Web design.
  • Motion design.

Requirements

  • You must present a minimum of 10 individual projects, but no more than 20.
    • Note that one project can have multiple files associated with it, but that will count as one project in your portfolio.
    • Ideally projects with multiple components associated with it would be presented in one PDF file.
  • All work must be submitted online.

Online Portfolio Submission

Suggested Projects

We recognize that you may not have design work that is similar to the above design examples. If you do not have design work, do some design projects on your own.

As a recommendation, the book Graphic Design School by David Dabner is a very informative introduction to graphic design. You will find this book instructive, providing you with projects that will assist in building and strengthening your portfolio.

Some specific suggested projects that you can do from the book:

  • Chapter 1 assignments: Analyze and Visualize, Concept Development.
  • Chapter 2 assignments: Basic Composition, Page Design, Photography and Illustration.
  • Chapter 3 assignments: Typography and Meaning, Type as Image.
  • Chapter 4 assignment: Wayfinding.
  • Chapter 7 assignment: Create a Style Board.

Please note that the Visual Communication portfolio and interview process is not repeatable.

For questions about the portfolio review process, contact Perrin Stamatis, assistant professor, at pstamatis@niu.edu.


If your portfolio is accepted you will be notified by email, and the next step is an interview. Only students that have their portfolios accepted will be interviewed. The on-campus interviews will be held at Jack Arends Hall (Art and Design Building) in room 308. Please come dressed for an interview. You will be notified of a Visual Communication program acceptance decision by email within five business days of your interview.

During the Interview

You will be asked questions to assess your interest, commitment and level of understanding of a career as a professional designer. Questions will be concerned with general cultural awareness, design fundamentals and your academic and professional goals. You are encouraged to ask the interviewers questions regarding the Visual Communications program.

Student Work


View more visual communication student work in the 2018 and 2019 portfolios.