Branding & Visual Communication Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Info

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What will you learn in a branding and visual communication degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Branding and Visual Communication: Degrees at a Glance

Branding and visual communication degrees are most often referred to as visual communication degrees, with branding being part of the course of study. Degree candidates in these programs study marketing techniques, advertising methods and communication strategies and theory as related to corporate and product identity. Graduates of these programs can seek employment with publishing houses, ad agencies, video production facilities, corporate communication companies and other marketing and branding organizations.

Potential careers for this field of study can be anything from graphic designer to marketing manager. While employers may prefer graduates with a bachelor's degree, those with an associate's degree can continue their education or work as assistants. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that graphic designers should see an increase of 13% in jobs from 2010-2020 (which is about as fast as average for all occupations), while art directors can expect a lower-than-average increase of 9%.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in assistant positions in the marketing, advertising and visual communication fields Individuals looking to pursue careers in corporate and product branding or those seeking creative positions within advertising and marketing
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) Advertising assistant (salary not available) * - Multimedia artist ($68,000)*
- Graphic designer ($49,000)*
Time to Completion Two years full-time Four years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements None Senior capstone project
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED - High school diploma or GED
- Standardized test scores
Online Availability No Limited availability

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's Degree in Branding and Visual Communications

The goal of these programs is to equip you with the creative, technical and design skills you need to continue your education or work as an assistant. There are many programs that allow you to choose a concentration for your studies. The concentrations that offer you the biggest branding learning opportunities often come with names like communications or multimedia design. In addition to classroom instruction, you'll also spend time in labs working with graphic and other design software. Employers may prefer applicants with a bachelor's degree in the field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Two years will be all it takes for you to have your degree
  • Tuition rates at community colleges are often more affordable than other schools
  • Upon graduating, you'll be in position to pursue a bachelor's degree in a range of design fields

Cons

  • Many jobs in this field require a bachelor's degree
  • Career prospects for many jobs in this industry range from less-than-robust to average
  • Depending on your position, you may have to work for clients under strict deadlines, which can be stressful

Courses and Requirements

Along with your visual communication courses, you'll also enroll in a small number of electives. These courses cover topics in public speaking, English composition or social science courses. While completing your coursework, you'll be encouraged to tackle design projects that will add luster and presentation value to your portfolio. Below are some sample course topics.

  • 2D and 3D animation
  • Presenting design concepts
  • Web design
  • Typographic styles

Online Availability

There are currently no online associate's degree programs in visual communication. You'll need to attend a traditional campus-based program to take advantage of the design labs, software programs and instruction by industry professionals that are afforded by this type of program. There are a limited number of for-profit institutions that offer online degrees in related fields, such as digital graphics or graphic design. Make sure the program you choose is accredited if you think you might want to transfer your associate's degree credits to a 4-year program in the future

Stand Out with This Degree

An internship can be an excellent way of separating yourself from other job applicants. This type of 2-year program rarely offers internships. However, that doesn't mean you can't find one on your own. The summer between your first and second year might be an ideal time. Get your portfolio ready and start contacting the design, communication and advertising companies in your area. A summer spent getting valuable professional experience might just be what you need to kick off your career.

Bachelor's Degree in Branding and Visual Communication

Bachelor's degree programs in branding and visual communication are designed to acquaint degree candidates with the art and science of visual communication. Corporate and product branding are studied along with aesthetic principles, communication theory and art history. You'll study form, color and syntax as you learn to visually convey ideas to clients and customers.

These programs require you to choose a communication concentration to focus your studies; concentrations vary from program to program. Examples include interactive design, graphic design and multimedia studies, to name a few. These programs are offered in the Bachelor of Art and the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree varieties. Even with a degree, competition for jobs will be high, and graduates may compete with associate's and master's degree holders for jobs in the field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • This type of program will allow you to specialize in a visual communication sub-field
  • A bachelor's degree will prepare you for a broader range of careers than an associate's degree
  • You'll be eligible to pursue a Master of Fine Arts program

Cons

  • These programs attract many talented individuals so competition for jobs could be high
  • Job growth for many careers in the field, such as advertising manager or multimedia artist, may be average or slower than average (14% and 8%, respectively) from 2010-2020*
  • In some instances, you may be competing against job candidates who have an associate's or master's degree

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

In addition to core visual communication classes, you'll enroll in natural or social science, English and math courses. Some programs also feature a foreign-language requirement. In your senior year, you'll most likely have a capstone project as a degree requirement. This project may take the form of working as part of a design team to create a visual communication campaign related to a product or corporation. Listed below are sample course topics.

  • Color theory
  • Digital video
  • Web programming
  • Principles of design technology
  • Art history

Online Availability

Online bachelor's degree programs in visual communications are quite rare. Programs that do exist are generally offered at for-profit colleges and might not be accredited. Research your desired program carefully to be certain the outcomes of the program match your educational and career goals. Attending a campus-based program will most likely allow you to maximize the benefits of the school and program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Obtaining voluntary industry certification in the software tools you use when creating visual communication campaigns is one way to stand out from your peers. Companies, including Adobe, offer a range of certifications for their design software such as Photoshop. The certification process consists of proficiency exams. Once you successfully complete the exams, you'll have the credentials you need to show potential employers your digital media expertise.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts
      • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts
  • Valdosta, GA

    Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

  • Snyder, TX

    Western Texas College

  • Dallas, TX

    Wade College

  • Roanoke, VA

    Virginia Western Community College

  • Orem, UT

    Utah Valley University

  • Wells, ME

    York County Community College

  • River Grove, IL

    Triton College

  • Chicago, IL

    Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy

Featured Schools

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. General Studies - Fine Arts

What is your highest level of education?

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

Western Texas College

Wade College

Virginia Western Community College

Utah Valley University

York County Community College

Triton College