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Graphic Communication

College of Liberal Arts

Graphic communication is the study of how we convey meaning through visual design. This includes the creation, production, management and distribution of advertising, marketing, websites, mobile apps, books, packaging and other media in printed and digital form.

San Luis Obispo, California

The program pairs graphic communication with general education courses providing you with a broad understanding of content management and production workflows with modern digital media processes. Our laboratory and classroom experience is unequalled in the nation.

Graphic Communication Curriculum

Book and Magazine Design Technology Labs

Experience the process of creating beautiful and functional books and magazines including book typography, printing and bookbinding. The magazine course starts with ideas and ends with the production of a complete magazine.

Consumer Packaging and Prototyping Labs

The fastest growing segment of print, this lab will teach you about structure, materials, color and imagery as it relates to branding and the consumer experience. Consumers have mere seconds to make a decision on a product in store, so a new packaging design needs to be right the first time. Learn software, decoration techniques and prototyping to deliver beautifully and sustainably marketed packages.

Management, Quality, Marketing and Sales Labs

Learn how to effectively and efficiently run design and printing businesses by applying best practices in management to the specific needs of the graphic communication industry. You can also gain entrepreneurial experience in our student-run printing enterprise. Sales, strategy, estimating and data analytics are all covered in depth. This is the real world of Graphic Communication.

Printing Technology Labs

With over 30,000 square feet of laboratories, you will gain hands-on experience with all printing processes from screen printing on garments to production printing on our Heidelberg press. Our flexographic printing course also allows you to work with label and packaging presses. Toner and ink-jet technologies are included in our digital printing curriculum.

User Experience and User Experience Design Labs

Gain the design skills to develop structurally-sound and user-friendly websites and mobile applications. Experience practical user experience design for real-world products and services.

Design Reproduction Technology

Course work includes graphic design, typography, branding, color theory, color management and quality control. You’ll also learn about design for packaging and for the publication of books, magazines and websites.

More about Design Reproduction Technology

Graphic Communication Management

A practical program that includes business management courses for those interested in management careers in publishing, design, printing, packaging and web commerce firms. The management concentration includes teamwork development, organizational management, estimating, quality analysis and human resources for the graphic arts.

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Graphics for Packaging

This concentration provides you with the opportunity to learn graphic design for packaging, including package design, prototyping and production. You will experience the best practices of design thinking, structural design, consumer marketing, package quality and safety. Consumer and industrial packaging are also addressed.

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User Experience/User Interface exposes you to the processes of website development, user experience and user interface design. You will get to experience the production and distribution of digital media, digital audio, animation, digital photography, interactive entertainment and digital video. You’ll be exposed to a broad array of technology and management topics, graduating with a solid foundation for a career in this field. Our graduates in this concentration are employed in many of the world’s leading digital services firms.

More about Web and Digital Media

About the Program

Group of students work together at a hackathon event.

The field of graphic communication represents an industry that embraces change and requires its members to continuously learn new and varied skills in an increasingly diverse and globalized population.

We prepare you for careers in all facets of the industry, from traditional printing and publishing to mobile app development. You will learn color management, digital typography, user experience design, web development and more — there are classes for every graphic communication interest. Courses will provide you with a broad understanding of both traditional printing processes and cutting-edge digital imaging. This is why we are one of the best-known programs in the nation.

California Impact

From developing and managing a project budget to designing packaging for new products, your education will allow to engage in real-world scenarios. You will have opportunities to design packaging for new products or develop a website focusing on user experience design, site structure and information architecture. The modern resources of the department and the vast knowledge of the faculty provide you with the best possible education in graphic communication.

Our Graduates

The graphic communication department has built relationships across the printing, packaging, media and tech industries over many years. Our graduates are in high demand by leading national and international corporations and our alumni have gone on to work at major companies across California and around the world.