Visual Communications Degree

We all know the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and this translates well to the importance of visual communications as an educational pursuit and career. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), visuals are important because they can provide relevant meaning to a message,  are often easier to remember than words,  stimulate the imagination and provide for a shared experience between audience members. Intrigued? Then a visual communications degree may be right up your alley. Check out our list of communications and journalism schools for examples of campus and online programs.

What is Visual Communications?

Visual communications is the transmission of information to key audiences via visual media, including pictures and other forms of visual art, television broadcasts, billboards, videos/films, animation and live performances. With continual advancements in the technological world, various forms of new media are a source for visual communications, such as website design, slideshow presentations, online advertisements, uploaded videos, designs created using software such as Illustrator or Dreamweaver, and more. As a visual communications major, you will learn about the various forms of media and how to use them effectively to convey intended messages.

Visual Communications Degree Programs

visual communicationsA visual communications degree may be pursued at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Whether you complete an Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Master’s, depends on where you are on your educational path and if you are seeking an entry-level position or wishing to advance your career. As a visual communications major you will complete an interdisciplinary array of courses, such as design principles, print and online publishing, drawing, the past/present/future of visual communications, digital imaging, interactive multimedia, journalism, website design, color theory and image editing. Depending on which college or university you choose (consult our list of journalism schools), you may have the option to specialize in an area that peaks your passions, such as illustration, web design, photojournalism, informative graphic design or multimedia. Most visual communications degree programs offer at least one internship – something that will allow you to have direct experience in your chosen field while networking with future employers.

Online Visual Communications Degree

The opportunities for visual communications professionals to create more innovative messages continue to increase with the evolution of new media. Universities and colleges are also keeping in step with technological advancements and offering opportunities for students, including visual communications majors, to complete part of or all of their degree online. No need to quit your job or change your personal commitments drastically to pursue post secondary education. Check out our list of schools for online visual communications programs so that you can study at a time and place convenient for you.

Visual Communication Jobs

Visual communications majors go on to pursue a variety of jobs. Examples include:

  • Photojournalist
  • Graphic designer (freelance or for an employer)
  • Art/Creative Director
  • Print Production Artist
  • Web Designer
  • Desktop Publisher
  • Web Programmer/Developer
  • Marketing Designer/Director
  • Illustrator
  • Communications Manager
  • Visual Artist
  • Film/Video Producer

A visual communications degree coupled with previous experience and a desire for continuous learning will help you secure one of these careers.

Salary/Job Outlook

 As follows are the predicted outlook (percent increase in number of jobs) and median salaries for some visual communications careers. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008).


Growth through to 2018

Salary (as of 2008)

Graphic Designers


$40,000 – 45,000

Art Directors


$75,000 – 80,000

Multi-media Artists and Animators


$55,000 – 58,000

Advertising (Graphic Designers)


$41,000 – 46,000

Photographers (BLS includes Photojournalists in this category)


$28,000 – 32,000

Film & Video Editors


$49,000 – 52,000

Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts (BLS includes Web Developers in this category)


$70,000 – 73,000

Schools Offering Communication & Journalism Courses

Ashford University LogoAshford University

  • BA Journalism & Mass Communications (Online)
  • Bachelors in Communication Studies
  • BA Social Science - Communications

Kaplan UniversityKaplan University

  • BS in Communication

Drexel UniversityDrexel University

  • Bachelor of Science in Communication
  • Bachelor of Science in Communications and Applied Technology
  • And More . . .

Colorado State University-Global CampusColorado State University-Global Campus

  • BS - Communication (Online)
  • And More . . .
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