Department of Art

BFA Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design

Visual Communication Design at Cal Poly Pomona

Visual Communication Designers create images that may interpret, inform, instruct, persuade, or entertain. This work addresses audience, content, and context, while meeting functional communication needs. We are concerned with the physical, cultural, societal, and technological aspects of creating visual work, whether that work is print-based design, interactive media, or environments.

The Visual Communication Design program’s primary mission is teaching excellence and program quality. As part of the College of Environmental Design, the program is dedicated to challenging students with an awareness of the environmental, social, and ethical issues facing today’s society. The program is committed to teaching students about these issues through various projects and topic studios.

Furthermore, the educators of the Visual Communication Design program are committed to:

  1. Building a foundation of creativity to support self-expression and individual intellectual development while meeting career goals and curriculum structure for a competitive student body.

  2. Creating an awareness of the cultural diversity reflected in the learning experience and pedagogy.

  3. Fostering a global awareness that includes environmental, social, and ethical issues.

  4. Promoting a sense of community beyond the immediate creative environment.

  5. Creating a broad base of knowledge to support conceptual and technological developments.

In addition to the norm of classroom critiques in studio courses, the Visual Communication Design program provides opportunities for students to exhibit work, in accordance with our accrediting body, NASAD (The National Association of Schools of Art and Design). A juried exhibition is held each year, providing students a way to exhibit work in a competitive setting. In addition, the annual industry night event offers a venue to exhibit a culminating showcase of each graduating Senior’s work. Industry professionals are invited to attend with the goal of connecting graduates with job opportunities in the field of communication design.

Professional Practices in Visual Communication Design is the capstone course for the BFA in Visual Communication Design. To assist in assessing program outcomes, this course has implemented a consistently normed rubric, grading structure, and calendar. Assessment is provided through a midterm and a culminating portfolio review by alumni who are established design industry professionals and leaders in the industry.

Admission to the undergraduate program is possible either as a first-time freshman or as a transfer student from a recognized college. Undergraduate admissions are processed and managed by the University.

Recently, the University has been designated as an impacted campus, altering the admissions process by instituting required filing periods and giving priority to students based on their geographical proximity to campus. This has limited enrollment of students who would have previously been admitted to the University.

Admission to the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design, leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, is subject to the standard admissions requirements of Cal Poly Pomona.

For specific information, and application instructions, please refer to the Office of Admissions & Enrollment Planning.

Freshman Applicants

Generally, admission of undergraduate students from high school to the university is determined by a formula that combines the high school grade point average and ACT (American College Test) or SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) score. In general, students in approximately the upper third of the high school graduating class are eligible for admission.

Freshman applicants must meet the minimum California State University eligibility requirements to be considered for admission. If you meet the minimum CSU requirements, Cal Poly Pomona will consider your application using supplemental criteria that may vary depending on the academic major you have chosen.

For additional information visit Cal Poly Pomona's Freshman Requirements and Deadlines page.

Transfer Applicants

Admission of transfer students from community colleges is based on college grade point averages. As of fall 2004 admissions, the University is only accepting upper division transfers.

Upper division transfers must complete 60 semester (90 quarter) units of transferable coursework, including 30 semester (45 quarter) units of courses equivalent to general education requirements, with a grade of "C" or better by the end of the spring quarter to be considered for the next fall quarter.

For additional information on Transfer Admissions, please refer to:

International Applicants

Known for its outstanding academic programs, Cal Poly Pomona offers excellent education for international students who wish to pursue a degree in the United States.

Current and future International Students in Cal Poly academic programs must contact the International Center for information regarding visas, guidelines for maintaining academic progress, and procedures for internships and post graduation work.

For additional information on Incoming International Students and requirements, please refer to:


For more information regarding admissions to the BFA in Graphic Design, contact:

Patricia Martinez
Administrative Coordinator
(909) 869-3508

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design focuses on intensive work in art and design supported by a program of general studies. 

Visual Communication Design Roadmaps

Program Objectives

The Bachelor of Fine Art in Visual Communication Design consists of 120 units. Studio work begins at the freshman level and extends with progressively greater intensity throughout the degree program. There should be opportunities for independent study at the advanced level that includes appropriate supervision and evaluation upon completion.

According to the   NASAD Competencies Summary for a BFA in Communication Design, for Studio Courses, upon completion of the BFA in Visual Communication Design, students must demonstrate the following:

  1. Students must demonstrate achievement of professional, entry-level competence in the major area of specialization, including significant technical mastery, capability to produce work and solve professional problems independently, and a coherent set of artistic/intellectual goals that are evident in their work. 

  2. Students must demonstrate their competence by developing a body of work for evaluation in the major area of study. A senior project or final presentation in the major area is required.

  3. Students must have the ability to form and defend value judgments about art and design and to communicate art/design ideas, concepts, and requirements to professionals and laypersons related to the practice of the major field. They are able to work collaboratively as appropriate to the area(s) of specialization.

  4. Gain functional competence with principles of visual organization, including the ability to work with visual elements in two and three dimensions; color theory and its applications; and drawing.

  5. Present work that demonstrates perceptual acuity and conceptual understanding at a professional entry level in their chosen field(s).

  6. Become familiar with the historical achievements, current major issues, processes, and directions of their field(s).

  7. Be afforded opportunities to exhibit their work and to experience and participate in critiques and discussions of their work and the work of others.

Student Learning Objectives

The Learning Objectives for the BFA in Visual Communication Design are:

  1. Ability to solve communication problems, including the skills of problem identification, research and information gathering, analysis, generation of alternative solutions, and prototyping.

  2. Ability to describe and respond to the audiences and contexts including recognition of the physical, cognitive, cultural and social human factors that shape design decisions.

  3. Ability to create and develop visual form in response to communication problems.

  4. Ability to effectively use typography and typographic principles.

  5. Fluency with the elements of design and the principles of organization, including color theory, composition, perspective, etc.

  6. Understanding information hierarchy, symbolic representation, and aesthetics.

  7. Ability to create and develop meaningful and original imagery.

  8. Have an understanding of tools and technology, including their roles in the creation, reproduction, and distribution of vital messages. Relevant tools include but are not limited to drawing, offset printing, photography, and time-based and interactive media.

  9. Understanding design history, theory, and criticism from a variety of perspectives, including those of art history, linguistics, communication and information theory, technology, and the social and cultural use of design objects.

  10. Understanding the basic business practices, including the ability to organize projects and work productively as a member of teams.