Majors & Programs


Communication Design

Why the Sam Fox School?

The College of Art is a community of designers and artists. At WashU, you will learn to make things with many different materials; examine people, communities, and situations carefully and with empathy; communicate with diverse audiences; and create positive change in the world. Your studies will be rigorous and fun. Washington University is an internationally recognized research institution where you can take courses in art history, psychology, gender studies, computer science, literature, business, science, and everything in between. Our classes are taught by leaders in their fields, who are working on global challenges.

Why Study Communication Design?

In our program, you’ll have the chance to work with faculty in graphic design, illustration, motion graphics, information design, interaction design, and advertising. That means you can choose to:

  • Design interfaces for mobile devices and the web
  • Make pictures for games and motion graphics
  • Illustrate stories, create comics, and design printed posters and books
  • Apply design skills to social problems in the community in areas such as public health and urban education
  • Study the history of printed images, comics, and advertising through our Modern Graphic History Library

The BFA Fundamentals

In your first year, your required studio course work includes two semesters of drawing, two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, and a weekly lecture course. As a sophomore, you explore disciplines across art and design, taking a digitally oriented class and selecting from introductory courses in fashion design, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and typography.

Courses for Communication Design

In your sophomore year and the fall semester of your junior year, you take courses such as Word & Image, Typography, and Interaction Foundations. Starting in the second semes-ter of your junior year, you choose all of your own major courses; sample classes include:

  • Content to Cover: The Design of Books
  • Design for Social Impact
  • Illustration Concepts and Media / Visual Journalism
  • Interaction Design: User-Centered Applications
  • Studio Art Practice

As a senior, you pursue a capstone project in design or illustration that culminates in an illustrated book, zine, screen-based presentation, graphic novel/mini-comic, or digital experience. Your final project is displayed in a public exhibition and reviewed by external design professionals.

Courses Across Campus

Your WashU education brings together a strong liberal arts foundation with a major in communication design. This liberal arts base is built on a combination of required academic courses, art history and visual culture courses, and elective courses. There is time and space to explore fields across our undergraduate divisions: Architecture, Arts & Sciences, Business, and Engineering & Applied Science. Our BFA degree requires a total of 128 credits of course work, with a minimum of 39 credits taken in Arts & Sciences. With proper planning, you can pursue a minor or a second major. Dual degrees are also possible and typically take five years to complete.


Nationally and internationally distinguished, our faculty exhibit in galleries, have successful design and studio practices, publish articles and books, conduct human-centered research, create interactive media, consult, and participate in a range of other creative activities. You’ll get to know your faculty well. Their research and studio practices are often interwoven with the courses that they teach.

Study Abroad

We offer two study abroad options in Florence, Italy: a semester-long program and a nine-week summer program. Both programs make use of the rich artistic and cultural environment of Florence and the surrounding countryside. Studio work is supplemented by courses in Italian art lan-guage, Renaissance art history and Italian art and design culture.

Beyond the Studio

We provide numerous opportunities to apply lessons learned in the classroom to real-world situations, and to take advan-tage of St. Louis’ vibrant arts and culture scene:

  • At Island Press, WashU’s research-based printmaking workshop, students work with professional artists with everything from the conception of projects to printing.
  • The Public Lecture Series brings nationally and internationally recognized artists, designers, architects, landscape architects, urban designers, historians, and critics to campus to speak about their work.
  • Students, faculty, and alumni frequently participate in and attend exhibition openings and other art and design events throughout St. Louis.

Our students, faculty, and staff are committed to working with communities to address systemic social, environmental, and economic challenges. Our Office for Socially Engaged Practice provides a hub and resources to support these initiatives. Highlights include:

  • Elective courses — ranging from documentary photography and filmmaking to visual journalism and reportage drawing — that ask students to collaborate with community groups to tell their stories through visual narratives.
  • Programs such as WashUCity, in which WashU design students develop curriculum, teach, and mentor graphics students at Univesity City High School.
  • The University City Public Art Series, which provides students with hands-on experience in developing site-specific works for temporary installation in University City.
  • Design for America at WashU, which brings together students from majors across campus and challenges them to use human-centered design for local impact.
  • Interaction design courses that allow students to learn research methods and collaborative processes in design thinking, often while working on innovative, digitally delivered solutions for health care challenges.

Internships & Careers

The world needs visual thinkers, and your degree will help you impact your community and your profession. Starting in your junior year, our career development staff integrates professional programming into your course work. You will be guided through specialized programs and learn how to structure an internship and job search. In addition, you will have access to personalized career advising and resources to find prospects for the best internships, residencies, fellowships, graduate schools, jobs, or other professional placements. Our staff will also facilitate connections with leaders in the field, including our extensive network of alumni working worldwide.

Join us. Take the next step.

Visit campus Apply now