Graduate Graphics Certificate

This certificate program enables students to develop a special competency in the use of visual symbols by combining theory with practical applications, and treating both computer-displayed and print graphics. Electronic design tools for the Web, multimedia, image-editing, page layout and illustration enable communicators to easily integrate text and graphics, but they also demand that communicators have command of both words and visual imagery. The Graphics Certificate program integrates design theory with in-depth studio work. It has been popular with both students and prospective employers.

This 4-course (12 credit hour) graduate graphics certificate may be earned on a non-matriculating basis or as part of one of C&M's graduate degree programs.  Up to 12 credit hours taken on a non-matriculating basis may be applied towards a graduate degree at Rensselaer.

Communication Design Certificate

The interdisciplinary shift in the profession of communication design brings about a high demand in the job market for graduates whose training and experience include a theoretical foundation coupled with practical knowledge of how to use the industry-standard software applications to create well-designed visual communication forms.

The Communication Design Curriculum differentiates itself from the typical art school's design curriculum in that it provides a theoretical foundation that students apply to the creation of meaningful and persuasive forms of visual communication. This curriculum also gives students the opportunity to study design within the context of historical, social, and cultural developments. As technology changes and the industry-standard software applications become more diverse, the students will have a foundation that carries them through the technological changes.

Undergraduate students who complete the B.S. in Communication, B.S. in Communication with a Concentration in Graphic Design, B.S. in EMAC, or B.S. in IT/Communication can also earn an Undergraduate Certificate in Communication Design. The American Institute of Graphic Design, the leading membership organization for professionals engaged in graphic design and visual communication confirms that "this form of certification in a four-year bachelor of science program will:

  • Provide valuable knowledge and skills relevant to the professional practice of graphic design
  • Provide a general foundation for graduate study in graphic design
  • Show students' level of interest in communication design"


It is imperative that students working in communication design demonstrate a competency that includes:

  • Knowledge of the basic vernacular of communication design
  • Awareness of exemplary visual signs and symbols that have made an impact on the profession of communication design (that includes graphic design and visual communication)
  • Ability to analyze a graphic design for meaning and implicit design strategies
  • Ability to determine appropriate visual treatments, typefaces and graphics in the creation of meaningful, persuasive forms of visual communication
  • Critical understanding of visual design in historical, social, and cultural context

To meet these objectives the communication design courses in C&M will teach students:

  • Communication design theory (i.e., visual design theory, color theory)
  • Critical thinking in communication design
  • Presentation skills
  • Technical skills (i.e., industry-standard applications for communication design)
  • Graphic design history and methods
  • Problem-solving skills in communication design (i.e., a methodology for the communication design process)
  • Typography
  • Interactive multimedia design for electronic communication
  • Organizing principles for layout, information hierarchy and aesthetics, type and image integration, graphics creation and manipulation