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 for Fall of 2020. 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.

University Catalog Links

Major Specific Requirements

Please review the laptop requirements (PDF) and portfolio review policy unique to the Graphic Design program. If you order your laptop through the Chico State Wildcat Store(opens in new window), be sure to ask if they offer an educational discount.

If you need more information on portfolio requirements, the review process and work that qualifies, please click here.

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