Media Arts, Design, and Technology Department

BFA in Communication Design

The Department of Media Arts, Design, and Technology is excited to be offering the new BFA in Communication Design. This new professional degree will equip students with the deep skills and experience needed to enter the profession or pursue graduate level studies upon completion. The current BA in Communication Design with an option in Graphic Design, which is considered a liberal arts degree, is being phased out over the next two years in favor of this new professional degree. Students currently enrolled in the program may choose to complete the BA or switch to the new BFA.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Graphic Design differ from Communication Design?
Graphic Design refers to the traditional practice of design related to the graphic arts or printing industry. Today, a Graphic Designer primarily creates the graphics for published printed or electronic media, such as brochures or websites.

Communication Design is a broader and more current term that includes much more than the arrangement of the form and content of publications. Specialized areas such as Service Design, Interaction Design, and Motion Design, are among the new areas of design built on models of conversation and community that are broadly referred to as Communication Design. Communication Designers frequently collaborate with professionals from other disciplines to solve increasingly complex problems of society.

What is the difference between a BA and BFA?
A Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA) is considered a liberal arts degree because it provides a breadth of experience in general studies such as literature, history, etc. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree provides students with a greater depth of experience in their chosen major. The BFA is considered a professional degree and it prepares students to enter the profession or pursue graduate-level studies upon completion.

Will it take longer to get a BFA than a BA?
The BFA, like the BA, requires 120 units. Students can complete the BFA in four years. It will not take any longer to complete a BFA than a BA.

What is the focus of the BFA in Communication Design?
The new professional BFA degree has an emphasis in Strategic Design. Strategic designers are considered active partners in the problem-solving process rather than just stylers or makers who enter the problem space after all the major decisions have been made. Strategic designers combine their visual communication skills with problem-solving skills.


Coursework in the Graphic Design option integrates an understanding of the creative process of the designer with a concern for the context and experience of the user. Students learn to use traditional studio methods and contemporary digital communication technologies, producing projects for both print and screen media. Many students choose to participate in the national AIGA-affiliated student graphic design group.

Planning guide for BFA in Communication Design (PDF)

University Catalog Links

Major Specific Requirements

Portfolio Review Policy
The successful completion of MADT 285 Communication Design Portfolio Review is necessary for entry into upper-division Communication Design courses. The portfolio is comprised of work from ARTS 122, ARTS 123, ARTS 125, MADT 206, MADT 222, MADT 283 and MADT 284. Portfolios are evaluated by a committee of Communication Design faculty and design professionals. With instructor permission, transfer students may take some of the prerequisite courses concurrent with the review.

About the Process
Work is reviewed by a panel of judges consisting of both faculty and practicing professionals. Work is scored by each judge against a rubric which considers each students’ visualization skills, analytical skills, technical skills, creative abilities and writing skills. Demonstration of strong academic achievement and a solid work ethic is expected.

Students who pass the review go on to take advanced courses in Communication Design and receive a BFA. Students who do not pass the review may submit their work for reconsideration in subsequent semesters. Because successful completion of portfolio review is a requirement for the degree, all pre-portfolio Communication Design students are advised to have an alternate major in mind should they not pass portfolio review.

Contact your major advisor for more information about the portfolio review.
Nanhee Kim, Associate Professor-

Maria Barriga, Advisor (Last names M-Z)-

Shawn Brackett, Advisor (Last names A-L)- 

Laptop Requirement PolicyStudents in the Communication Design program are required to own a laptop computer. It’s recommended that students purchase a 14-inch Apple MacBook Pro-M1 (which is the industry standard),  but it is possible to get by with a PC if necessary. The university book store offers students a discount. If interested in finding out about assistance for your purchase, you can contact the Financial Aid Office for details. CSU Chico’s site license provides students with the Adobe Creative Cloud free of charge. This computer is expected to serve students for the entire four-year program.

gray Apple wireless keyboard beside black tablet computer and stylus pen