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Visual Communication


The visual communication program provides an intellectually-based, professional education that focuses on graphic form and communication, cultural factors and design processes. Students graduate with creative, theoretical and interpersonal skills necessary to enter the graphic design profession.


See a suggested visual communication four-year plan.

Visual Communication Portfolio Admissions Requirements

Admission to the visual communication program is available to transfer and current students and is limited to applicants who successfully fulfill the following portfolio guidelines:

  • Obtain successful admissions to the university
  • Maintain a minimum overall grade point average of 2.50 on a 4.00 scale for all courses including transfer courses
  • Interview with the visual communication faculty selection committee
  • Submit a portfolio of work that meets the admission criteria for the program (for portfolio instructions, please refer to the portfolio section below for details)

The interview and portfolio will be used to determine which students are admitted.

Interview Dates and Process

  • 2018 dates are: Friday, March 23, Friday, April 27, Thursday, August 9, 2018.
  • During the interview, you will be asked questions to assess your interest, commitment and level of understanding of a career as a professional designer. Questions will be concerned with general cultural awareness, design fundamentals and your academic and professional goals.
  • During the interview, you are encouraged to ask the interviewers questions regarding the Visual Communications program.
  • The on-campus interviews will be held at Jack Arends Hall (Art Building) Room 314, of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.
  • You will be notified of an admissions decision by email within five business days of your interview.
  • Please come dressed for an interview.

To schedule an interview, please call 815-753-0291.

Your Portfolio

Be prepared to present a digital version of your design portfolio during your interview. Your portfolio should include design work, such as brochures, posters, logos, magazine layouts, typography work, web design or motion design.

All work must be submitted via USB flash drive at the time of your interview. All work must be formatted as JPEG, PDF or HTML for web design work. Note that websites or online portfolios are not to be submitted. All files are to be individual files.

You must present a minimum of 10 individual projects, but no more than 20. The selection of pieces in your portfolio tells us a great deal about you, so thoughtfully and carefully choose those pieces you think best show your design talent and potential for further development.

We recognize that some of the applicants will not have design work that is similar to the above design examples. Thus we are open to reviewing drawings, paintings, photography or other 2-D or 3-D creative work that we can evaluate for design sensibilities. However, we strongly encourage students that do not have design work to develop design projects on their own, if they have not had the opportunities to work on design projects in their schools. 

As a recommendation, the book Graphic Design School by David Dabner is very informative in introducing its audience to graphic design. You will find this book instructive, providing you with projects that will assist in building and strengthening your portfolio. 

Please note that the visual communication portfolio review process is repeatable. Because portfolios are works in progress, we appreciate the potential for improvement. You are encouraged to re-apply for admission to the program if initial reviews are not in your favor.

Questions on the portfolio review process?

Steve Quinn
Associate Professor, Visual Communication
Art Building 314