Visual Communications Design

The School of Communications Design (SCD) offers a NASAD-accredited, professionally-oriented, studio-based Bachelor of Design degree program. SCD students have a choice of two streams: Advertising and Graphic Design, and Character Design and Illustration.

Program description

In studio, students work closely with award winning, practicing professionals who bring years of industry experience and innovative teaching to the classroom. Frequent guest speakers, work experience and external partnerships, field trips, and student exhibitions enhance the student experience and bring depth and diversity to the curriculum.

Visual Communications Design graduates have the skills to become successful practicing professionals and design industry leaders – locally, nationally and internationally. They are capable of authorship, critical and creative thinking, and generate original content with an individual voice and an entrepreneurial understanding.

Successful graduates see the design profession not only as a means of a livelihood, but also as a rewarding career that can positively, ethically and meaningfully contribute to commerce and culture.

Advertising and Graphic Design Stream:

  • Advertising: prepares graduates to excel as ethically responsible and provocative designers, art directors, and creative directors in the vast and highly competitive advertising industry. Students study concept development, writing and storytelling, the power of craft, and design. The Advertising Stream focuses on original thinking, which entails conceptual inventiveness in mediums that speak to contemporary culture.
  • Graphic Design: prepares students to be clear and creative visual communicators who provide powerful strategic solutions for business and society. Students learn problem-solving methods and critical design thinking, typography, editorial and book design, and branding. Senior-year students research and develop design strategies and content, as well as graphic design solutions, for real-world projects including editorial, book projects, digital media, and information design. Students learn to see graphic design as a powerful strategic business tool and a positive and tangible contribution to industry and society.

Character Design and Illustration Stream:

  • Character Design: prepares students to excel in character design, storytelling, and sequential narrative. This field encompasses the creation of graphic novels and comics, children’s storybooks, and concept art for film and digital media such as video and online games. Students study traditional and contemporary narrative structure and are encouraged to write original scripts and create their own intellectual property.
  • Illustration: prepares graduates to create compelling ideas and images that communicate powerfully and clearly. Illustration engages the imagination, incorporating storytelling, psychological insight, problem-solving, analytical thought, and creative interpretation of information and ideas. The leading role illustration plays in visual communication, advertising, graphic design, storytelling and narrative structure is studied and supported by a breadth of pertinent studio and liberal studies courses, as well as interaction with industry professionals. Through this program stream, students learn to create and visually express their own unique voice and vision as illustrators and creators of their own intellectual property.

AUArts is now offering an Illustration minor, making it possible for students to diversify their degrees. Students who are in good academic standing and are not already majoring in Visual Communication Design can enroll in the Illustration minor. Minor degree students are required to complete total of 18 credits (6 courses) as outlined in the minor degree planning guide here.

AUArts’s VCD Program is a competitive entry major, and is part of the Bachelor of Design Degree stream.


VCD faculty members are leading figures in the international design industry and passionate educators dedicated to mentoring and developing Canada’s next group of award-winning design thinkers.

Permanent faculty & Limited Term Appointments

Charles Bell

Tivadar Bote

Ian Fitzgerald

Karl Geist

Scott Cressman

Paul Hudson

Naoko Masuda

John Gaucher (LTA)

Silas Kaufman (LTA)

Mike Kerr (LTA)

Suzanne Lemermeyer (LTA)

Sessional instructors

Jackie Bagley

Carole Beecher

Susan Casement

Kyle Chow

Bailey Copithorne

Bill Dyer

Loui Garcia

Greg Gerla

Mark Gervais

Lia Golemba

Kelly Hartman

Tyler Jenkins

Mark Kamachi

Karen Klassen

Whitney McCrary

Jenn Merio

Jamie Morris

Brent Mykytyshyn

Lyndon Navalta

Sandy Nichols

Darcy Parke

Guy Parsons

Neil Petrunia

Lynne Rennie

Cathy Simone

Johnny Talisman

Chandra Vermeulen

Ryan Von Hagan

Ken Wentz

Brad Yeo


View the Visual Communications Design degree program planning guides and Illustration Minor planning guide here.