Visual Communications Design

Visual Communications Design (VCD) develops students as problem seekers with the capacity to plan communication strategies and form effective visual products. The curriculum is structured to prepare students for a profession that is evolving rapidly influences by computer technology advances.  Students are encouraged to master the technical skills involved in typography, image generation, visual structure, and composition, as well as to think conceptually, articulate ideas, and critically evaluate the form making process.  Students interested in VCD combine words, ideas and images in original ways to convey information and promote ideas to targeted audiences.

Points of Pride

  • VCD is one of the majors housed in the new Visual and Performing Arts Building, a state-of-the-art facility built specifically for the visual and performing arts at Purdue. The building includes computer labs built specifically for the VCD program.
  • Purdue has a student chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).

Special note regarding portfolio review: An art portfolio is not required to begin this major. However, students are required to pass a selective portfolio review in the spring of their sophomore year at Purdue to advance to upper-level design and complete this major. Selection is competitive and is based on the student’s work in Purdue art and design courses and development as a designer. Students not selected for upper-level VCD work with their academic advisor to change to their second choice major.


  • Graphic design manager
  • Brochure and graphic design associate
  • Video game graphic designer
  • Graphic designer for a publishing company

Plan of Study // Visual Communications Design Major Requirements (78 credits)

(F) Offered fall semester only
(S) Offered spring semester only

     AD 10500 Design I (F)
     AD 10600 Design II (S)
     AD 11300 Basic Drawing (F)
     AD 39500 Design History (F)

NOTICE: These courses must be taken in the semester indicated on the schedule below, as they constitute a sequence and are offered only in the semester indicated. (F) Offered fall semester only (S) Offered spring semester only.

     AD 20500 Design III (F)
     AD 20600 Studio in VCD (S)
     AD 22800 VCD Computing I (F)
     AD 22900 VCD Computing II (S)
     AD 31800 Intro Interactive Multimedia Design (F)
     AD 31900 Web Design for Visual Communication (S)
     AD 33200 VCD I (F)
     AD 36600 VCD II (S)
     AD 43100 VCD III (F)
     AD 43200 VCD IV (S)
     AD 43400 Prof. Practice (F)
     AD 52000 Student Visual Design Service (S)

     AD 22600 History of Art 1400
     AD 22700 History of Art Since 1400
     AD 23300 Electronic Media Studio
     AD 23400 Art & Design Internship Preparation
     AD 26700 Digital Media I
     AD 30400 Video Art
     AD 38300 Modern Art
     AD 38400 Contemporary Art

     AD 11400 Drawing II
     AD 20000 Beginning Painting
     AD 21300 Life Drawing
     AD 23600 Light Fundamentals
     AD 24200 Ceramics I
     AD 26200 Jewelry & Metalwork
     AD 26500 Relief Printmaking
     AD 26600 Silkscreen
     AD 27000 Constructed Textiles
     AD 27500 Beginning Sculpture
     AD 33400 New Media Culture
     AD 34200 Ceramics II
     AD 36200 Jewelry & Metalwork II
     AD 36500 Intermediate Painting
     AD 36800 Etching & Intaglio
     AD 37000 Woven Textiles
     AD 40000 Advanced Painting
     AD 41700 Variable Topics in ETB
     AD 44200 Ceramics III
     AD 46200 Metalsmithing
     AD 47000 Advanced Studies in Textiles
     COM 25600 Introduction to Advertising
     ENGL 41900 Multimedia Writing


Sophomore Portfolio Review

All Visual Communications Design students must participate in a mandatory portfolio review during the second half of the spring semester in the sophomore year. Students individually present their work to the collective VCD faculty on specified days by appointment. Work to be included in the portfolio is identified prior to the review period, but usually consists of projects from AD 10500, 10600, 11300, 20500, 20600, 22800 and 22900. Students should prepare for this review by preserving work as it is completed in these courses. Students must pass the portfolio review in order to enroll in VCD 33200 and all subsequent courses in the VCD concentration. Any VCD student who has passed the sophomore review but has not been enrolled and/or completed a 30000- or 40000- level VCD course for more than two consecutive academic years must retake and pass the sophomore review to enroll in 30000- or 40000- level VCD courses.

Senior Portfolio Presentation

A senior portfolio presentation is staged at the end of the senior year. Participation in the presentation, which is open to faculty, students, and selected guests from the professional community, is a program requirement in the VCD concentration. 

Program Course Requirements (54-56 credits): (See PDF for full list here)

ONE of the following:

ENGL 10600 First Year Composition
ENGL 10800 Accelerated First Year Composition

COM 1140 Fundamentals of Speech Communication
Other Language (12) (Proficiency through level IV in one language)
West Heritage
United States Tradition
Other Cultures
Aesthetic Awareness
Racial and Ethnic Diversity
Gender Issues
Social Ethics
Individual and Society
Global Perspective
Natural Sciences
Natural Sciences Lab

Electives (20-21 credits)

University Core Requirements

Courses selected above must meet the following University Core Requirements:

Human Cultures Humanities
Human Cultures Behavioral/Social Science
Information Literacy
Science Selective
Science Selective
Science Technology Society Selective
Written Communication
Oral Communication
Quantitative Reasoning

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Print Plan of Study

Visual Communications Design

Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

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