Undergraduate Studies

Goals of the School

The goals of the School of Visual Communication are (1) to equip students with the necessary skills to be successful in the visual communication industry, and to provide them with the background and motivation to enable them to compete for leadership roles in the field; (2) to provide assistance and professional guidance in visual communication to working photographers, editors, and other personnel, newspapers, press services, magazines, industrial photographic departments, trade associations, multimedia and educational media production units, and cultural and scientific visual communicators; (3) to set high standards for visual integrity and communication ethics; and (4) to foster and promote scholarly research and creative activities.

VisCom Student Learning Outcomes & Assessment

The Sequences


The Multimedia sequence combines the professional practice of interactive design, user experience, and web development. Students do their storytelling through interactive websites, mobile platforms, and other methods including motion graphics (animation), video, and informational graphics. Graduates of this program work as interactive designers, website developers, motion graphics designers and mobile app designers.

Information Graphics : Publication Design

The Information Graphics : Publication Design sequence tells stories through design, typography and infographics with the goal of creating dynamic and engaging publications that are online, in tablet form or in print* (see bottom of this page). Graduates of this sequence work as magazine, newspaper and tablet designers, information and infographic designers, corporate public relations communications designers, and art, creative and communications directors.

Commercial Photography

The Commercial Photography sequence focuses on advertising photography, product and still-life photography, fashion and portrait photography, architectural and interior design photography, and the business aspects of operating a photographic studio. Commercial photography graduates go on to become studio owners, magazine photo editors, digital retouchers and photographers within the advertising industry.


Students who are interested in using photography as a communication tool to show others interesting people and situations without staging or controlling the subjects are suited for the photojournalism sequence. Graduates in this major work in the news and communication field, and take on roles at magazines and newspapers. They also work as photo editors, event photographers, and multimedia and graphics editors.


In an effort to provide practical training, one advisor-approved internship is required for the degree in Visual Communication. Internships should be approximately 400 hours of paid and supervised work in your field. Any qualified student may compete for an internship. Many students have several before graduation. In recent years, Ohio University visual communication students have worked in paid internships at newspapers magazines and in advertising, commercial photography, fashion industry, and web design. Internships have been available in almost all states and several international locations. Many Ohio University visual communication students are active members of the Ohio News Photographers Association and other state photographer groups, and are student members of the National Press Photographers Association, the Society for News Design, National Association of Black Journalists, and the American Society of Media Photographers. Ohio University students have been highly successful in state and national competitions sponsored by these organizations.


Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication

The School of Visual Communication requires an informal interview for admission to the program. Learn more and sign up for the portfolio review/interview on Undergraduate Admissions. During this interview, we would like to learn more about your creative goals and review any examples of creative work you can provide. This is also an opportunity for you to learn about us. If you don’t have a portfolio or other examples of your work, we still want to talk to you . Don’t let that keep you from coming. For additional information about general admission guidelines please visit the Undergraduate Admissions page at https://www.ohio.edu/admissions.

It is highly recommended that all students in the school have their own computer and a portable hard drive with at least 1 TB of data storage for use in completing class assignments. The OHIO University Bobcat Depot (https://bobcatdepot.ohio.edu/main/home.aspx) offers a lineup of portable Apple computers at attractive prices. Students majoring in the Information Design (Publication and Interactive) sequences are required to have access to a computer with appropriate software by the time they enter VICO 1014, their first design class. Please contact the school for current hardware and software recommendations.
Photojournalism students entering VICO 2390, a photojournalism class (which is taken during the fall semester of one’s freshman year), must own or have full-time access to at least one professional-level 35mm DSLR camera, two lenses, and necessary accessories. One lens should have a 28mm or wider focal length (or digital equivalent) with an f/2.8 or faster aperture The second lens should be a 135mm to 200mm equivalent focal length, also with a f/2.8 or faster aperture. Zoom lenses are also acceptable if they meet the fixed aperture requirement of f/2.8. In addition, students must have a dedicated electronic flash and a suitable professional tripod. Commercial Photography students entering VICO 2221, (which is taken during the spring semester of one’s sophomore year), a commercial photo class, are required to have full-time access to a professional-level dSLR of at least 12 mega-pixels. In addition to the camera, one wide-angle lens, one telephoto lens, (or two zoom lenses that cover these focal ranges) an electronic flash meter, and a professional tripod are also required. It is highly recommended that students purchase a portable hard drive with at least 1 TB of data storage. Nikon USA, Canon and Mamiya Corporation of America, our professional partners, supply our equipment check-out room with new cameras each year. These cameras and lenses are available to be checked out on a 24-hour basis. Students are required to have their own cameras and computers by the second semester of their freshmen year, or fall semester of their sophomore year, based upon their sequence.

Transfer students

The School of Visual Communication will consider transfer students, both inside the school and from outside the school, twice a year, and only when openings are available. As a selective admission program, there are a limited number of seats available in each sequence. To accept a transfer student, an opening must become available. A very limited number of openings usually occur in each major sequence each academic year.

Transferring from outside VisCom

The following policy has been established by the School of Visual Communication as a means of selecting the best-qualified students for the program. The academic quality of the curriculum depends in part on maintaining enrollment at a number that may be effectively served by our faculty and our facilities. The school is dedicated to top-quality instruction, and this policy is one means to maintain that goal. Depending on the major, students transferring with over 60 hours of credit will find it difficult to complete the school’s curriculum in two additional years.

All students seeking to transfer into the School of Visual Communication must be interviewed by school faculty. The requirements to be interviewed are as follows:

• You are expected to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher at the time of transfer. If your GPA is lower, please submit a letter of explanation to consider with your DARS.
• All transfer students are expected to attend a transfer information session held at 10 a.m. on the 4th Friday of each term in Schoonover 250. (Fall: Sept. 20, 2019; Spring: Feb. 7, 2020)
• For Ohio University students, if there are openings in the sequence you are seeking, a sign-up sheet will be placed in the VisCom office, Schoonover 250, on the Monday of the 8th week of the term (Fall: Oct. 14, 2019; Spring March 2, 2020) for interviews the following Friday (Fall: Oct. 18, 2019; Spring March 6, 2020).
• Students must bring a current copy of their DARS or transcript, a resume, and a portfolio to the interview.

Transfer sequence requirements for students inside VisCom:

Students changing majors might find it difficult to finish in four years. Interested students should discuss with their adviser and provide a written request to the school’s faculty. A request to change sequence will only be considered on the 8th week of the term (Fall: Week of Oct. 14; Spring: Week of March 2).

• Requests will be reviewed by all VisCom faculty. Available openings in the requested major sequence are considered before students will be allowed to change major. For more information about transferring, or the status of transfer openings, contact VisCom Undergraduate Director Julie Elman.

Financial Aid

The purpose of financial aid is to help students and families meet educational expenses that cannot be met through their own resources. Financial aid can be either need-based or non-need-based. The results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) along with the cost-of-education will determine whether or not a student has financial need. There are several types of financial aid available. Grants and scholarships are considered “gift aid” because they generally do not have to be repaid. Loans and employment are considered “self-help aid” because loans have to be repaid and by working you earn money for educational expenses. Loans are by far the largest source of financial aid for the majority of students and families. Most grants, some loans (Subsidized Stafford and the Perkins Loan), and Federal Work-Study are need-based financial aid programs. The Unsubsidized Stafford and the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) are considered non-need-based. Scholarships can be based upon merit, financial need or both. There are four main sources of financial aid. These include the federal government, the state government, the institution and private entities. The federal government is by far the largest source of financial aid. Approximately two-thirds of all students attending Ohio University receive some type of financial aid from one or more sources. Ohio University Financial Aid

Program to Aid Career Exploration (PACE)

The Program to Aid Career Exploration (PACE) is an on-campus work program sponsored by and unique to Ohio University. PACE provides an opportunity for students to explore their career interests and to gain valuable work experience and skills before leaving college to compete in the world of work. This program, which began on a small scale in 1981, has grown and evolved to the extent that approximately 400 students each year are employed through PACE. PACE is coordinated by the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships and Career Services. Program to Aid Career Exploration

Federal Work Study

Federal Work-Study is a federal financial aid program. It is one of the three campus-based aid programs. (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Perkins Loan are the other two campus-based programs.) Work-Study allows you to earn money to help pay educational expenses and encourages community service work and work related to your course of study to the extent possible. The federal government stipulates that jobs available through the Federal Work-Study Program may not displace presently employed persons or fill regular job openings. Ohio University Federal Work Study

University Scholarships

University Scholarships must be applied for online at https://www-sfa.chubb.ohiou.edu/html/index.html. This is a separate application. Students must complete Ohio University’s online application and turn in the PDF of the School of Visual Communication’s application to be eligible for VisCom’s Scholarships.

VisCom Scholarships

The School of Visual Communication also offers a variety of scholarships that sophomores, juniors and seniors are eligible to apply for. These scholarships are awarded during the spring semester. Scholarship applications are available in the office of Visual Communication, Schoonover 250. Application for these scholarships are available in PDF form via the VisCom office. Fill out this application and return it to Professor Marcy Nighswander, Schoonover 261.   * Students interested in design might also want to explore the design program offered through the School of Art + Design in the College of Fine Art as well to ensure that they are selecting the program that best fits their goals.