Students work on computers during a typography class

Communication Design (formerly Graphic Design)

Program Description

Our communication design program has two interrelated goals:

  1. prepare students for the practice of design in the professional context, and
  2. provide the basis for their continued creative and personal growth.

With a problem-solving format, students develop visual communication skills, explore the integration of type and images through a variety of traditional and computer media, and imaginatively deliver messages responsive to the needs of the sender and the receiving audience. Students learn to be aware of the cultural context in which they work, keeping in mind the responsibilities inherent to a discipline that engages our society.

During the upper-level years, students participate in Highwire Brand Studio and the Interactive Media Studies capstone (Armstrong Interactive), nationally-recognized interdisciplinary programs where students work with profit and non-profit clients. Another opportunity for real-world work is during the required internship experience.

At Miami, Communication Design majors can:

  • Experience real world projects through interdisciplinary studios, special projects and study abroad programs.
  • Enjoy a small supportive environment (20 students per class).
  • Print to their heart’s content in a dedicated communication design printing and computer lab.
  • Work until wee hours of the night in their own recently-renovated studio.
  • Be inspired by visiting artist lectures and workshops.
  • Thrive in a liberal arts environment, leaving school a well-rounded, highly marketable individual.
  • Take advantage of innovative fabrication equipment —laser cutter, 3D printer, CNC lab, 3D visualization lab.
  • Co-major, minor or double-major in our unique Interactive Media Studies program or choose between Miami’s many other minor and double-major options.
  • Learn letterpress printing and bookbinding, mixing hand media with new digital approaches.
  • Gain valuable professional experience through paid internships within leading firms.

Check out our Design Miami Ohio blog to learn more about our projects and our people.

Portfolio Review

In addition to the entrance portfolio review required by the department, a communication design portfolio review is required toward the close of the first year, including work from the foundations program. Access to upper-level communication design course work includes portfolio submission and selective interviews with intention to major in communication design. A limited number of students are admitted each year. Probationary acceptance may be extended to some students; this means their work and performance is evaluated by the faculty at the conclusion of both semesters of the second year. The evaluations determine continuance in the program.


Program Requirements (as of Academic Year 2015-16)

Program requirements include 43 semester hours of basic art/design history and studio courses in the first and second years, including five courses specific to communication design.

Upperclass students must earn

  • 30 hours in communication design course work, with 18 in the third year and 12 in the fourth year;
  • 3 additional hours of studio at any level;
  • 3 semester hours in the history of art at the 300 or 400 level; and
  • 12 additional hours in one of the following eight focus tracks: Art and Architectural History, Business, Communication, Cultural Studies, Environmental Design, Interactive Design, Perception & Cognition, Studio Art and Technical Communication (see list below for specific course choices).
  • Students must also complete at least one summer internship.

The program requirements listed below incorporate all requirements in art and the Miami Plan (MPF). [128 semester hours minimum]

For earlier catalog years, please see your advisor.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design | First Year

First Semester (16 or 17hrs.)
ART 111 Design and Composition (3hrs.)
ART 102 Color Theory (1.5hrs.)
ART105 Technical Drawing (1.5hrs.)
MPF/ENG 111 College Composition (3hrs.)
MPF/ART 187 History of Western Art: Prehistoric to Gothic (3hrs.)
MPF (3hrs.)
ART 151 Introduction to Design (1hr.)
(offered both semesters, take once)
ART 281 Contemporary Art Forum (1hr.)

Second Semester (15 or 16hrs.)
ART 121 Observational Drawing (3hrs.)
ART 104 Problem Solving (1.5hrs.)
ART 103 Creative Technology (1.5hrs.)
MPF/ENG 112 Composition and Literature (3hrs.)
MPF/ART 188 History of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern (3hrs.)
MPF (3hrs.)
ART 151 Introduction to Design (1hr.)
(offered both semesters, take once)

Communication Design Portfolio Review in March

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design | Second Year

First Semester (18hrs.)
ART 251 Typography (3hrs.)
ART 252 Image (3hrs.)
MPF/ART 256 Design, Perception & Audience (Recommended, not Required, 3 hrs.)
ART 221 Drawing 3 (3hrs.)
MPF (3hrs.)
MPF (3hrs.)

Second Semester (15hrs.)
ART 254 Fundamentals of Interaction Design (3hrs.)
ART 455/555 Design History & Cultural Contexts (3hrs.)
ART 222 Drawing 4 (3hrs.)
MPF (3hrs.) (CFA 111 strongly encouraged)
MPF (3hrs.)

Mid/End of Second Year: Choice of Focus Track (see list below)

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design | Third Year

First Semester (15-18hrs.)
ART 351 Design System (3hrs.)
ART 353 The Business of Design (3hrs.)
ART 355 Applied Interaction Design (3hrs.)
Focus Track Elective(s) (3-6hrs.)
MPF (3hrs.)

Second Semester (18hrs.)
ART 352 Identity Systems (3hrs.)
ART 354 3D Design (6hrs.)
Focus Track Elective (3hrs.)
ART 300/400 Non-western Art History (3hrs.)
Thematic Sequence (3hrs.)

Summer Internship (3hrs.)
(one required, two recommended)

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design | Fourth Year

First Semester (12-16hrs.)
ART 453 Highwire Brand Studio (Take either fall or spring, 4hrs.) 
IMS 418 Social Media Marketing (Take either fall or spring, 3hrs.)
ART 451 The Professional Portfolio (3hrs.)
Focus Track Elective(s) (3-6hrs.)
Thematic Sequence (3hrs.)

Second Semester (12-16hrs.)
ART 453 Highwire Brand Studio (Take either fall or spring, 4hrs.) 
IMS 418 Social Media Marketing (Take either fall or spring, 3hrs.)
ART 452 Senior Degree Project (3hrs.)
Focus Track Elective(s) (3-6hrs.)
Thematic Sequence (3hrs.)

IMS 440 Armstrong Interactive (Recommended either fall or spring opposite Highwire)

Communication Design Focus Tracks

Minimum of 12 credit hours

Art and Architectural History
Any Language Course (100-400 level, must meet prerequisites)
Any Art History course beyond the 12 crhrs required for the Major in Communication Design
Any Architectural History course (100-400 level, must meet prerequisites)

Business
MPF/BTE 111 Intro. to Management or MPF/MGT 111 Intro. to Business
MPT/MGT 291 Organ. Behav. and Theory
COM 231 Small Group Communication
COM 259 Intro. to Public Relations
PSY 262 Business Psychology
ART 453 and/or ART 499 (beyond requirement)

Communication
Any Language Course (100-400 level, must meet prerequisites)
MPF/COM 135 Pub. Express. & Crit. Inquiry
MPF/COM 136 Intro. to Interpersonal Com.
MPF/COM 143 Intro. to Mass Com.
COM 146/FST 214 Media Aesthetics
COM 231 Small Group Communication
COM/ENG 257 Scriptwriting: Electronic Media
COM/ENG 258 Copywriting for Electronic Media
ENG 226 Intro. to Creative Writing

Cultural Studies
Any Language Course (100-400 level, must meet prerequisites)
MPF/AMS 101 Intro. to American Studies
MPF/ATH 155 Culture in Context
AMS 201 Approaches to American Culture
MPF/MPT/ATH 175 Peoples of the World
COM 337 Intercultural Communication
FST 250 History of Popular Culture
HST 250 History and Popular Culture
HST 252 Representation of History in Film and Video

Environmental Design
Any Architecture and/or Interior Design Studio (with permission of instructor)
ARC 211 Intro. to Landscape & Urban Design
MPF/ARC 212 Principles of Environ. Systems
ARC 225 Design & Human Behavior
ARC 309 Furniture Design & Construction
ARC 446 The Visual Manifesto
THE 200 Production & Performance Practicum

Interactive Design
Any IMS Course (100-400 level, must meet prerequisites)
COM146/FST146 Media Aesthetics
COM231 Small Group Communication
COM/ENG258 Copywriting for Electronic Media
CSA141 or MPF/CIT154 Personal Computer Applications
MPF/CSA151 Comps., Comp Sci. & Soc.
MPF/CSA163 Intro to Comp. Concepts & Prog.
MPT/CSA174 Fund. of Prog. & Prob. Sol.
CSA271 Object-Oriented Programming

Studio Art
Any art studio course not used to fulfill requirements for the Major in Communication Design
ART450 Alternative Design Media
PSE101 Intro to Paper Sci. & Engineering
PSE102 Paper Properties
PSE104 Paper Testing

Perception and Cognition
MPF/EDP101 Crit. Iss. in the Psych. of the Learner
MPF/PSY111 Intro. to Psychology
PSY221 Social Psychology
MPT/PSY231 Developmental Psychology
PSY241 Personality
MPT/PSY271 Cognitive Psychology
MPT/PSY273 Intro. to Perception
MPT/PSY453 Human Factors
MPT/PSY462 Work Space & Org.
MPT/PSY470 Seminar in Cognition

Technical Communication
Any approved Technical Communication course

The Miami University Bulletin series is the official source of information about the programs and courses of study offered at Miami University.