Communication Design

Video produced in 2016.

The Sam Fox School offers a collaborative Communication Design program at the intersection of graphic design, illustration, and interaction design. Our faculty have backgrounds in illustration, information design, graphic design, social impact design, user interface design, and advertising, as well as writing and publishing. 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 D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library.

We offer both a BFA in Communication Design, which offers a more studio-intensive experience, as well as a BA in Design with an optional concentration in Communication, in which students can pursue more courses in other disciplines. Whatever degree path you choose, you can take classes in any area that interests you at WashU—environmental science, psychology, engineering, business, literature—all of which will enhance your creative work.

WashU's Design program is ranked #2 in Niche's rankings of Best Colleges for Design in America.

Did you know? Students enrolled in other schools at WashU can pursue second majors and minors within the Sam Fox School. Learn more>>

Socially Engaged Practice

You can participate in dozens of community-engaged courses and initiatives. Check out recent projects, and learn about the Minor in Creative Practice for Social Change.



Our faculty are nationally and internationally renowned illustrators, authors, and designers who are leaders in their field. See some of their recent work in these faculty portfolios.


Alumni + Careers

Your education here will uniquely prepare you for your career, whether that's as an illustrator or designer, or as an entrepreneur or attorney. See where our alumni have landed.



Degree Paths

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design (BFA)
- Provides a studio-intensive experience
- 65 credits of studio courses (about 1/2 of your total coursework)
- Informal concentrations in Illustration, Narrative Design, or Interaction Design
- Capstone experience (required): A public exhibition of your work at the annual BFA in Communication Design show

Bachelor of Arts in Design (BA)
- Provides a broader liberal arts focus and greater flexibility in pursuing second majors and dual degrees
- Option to pursue a concentration in Communication, taking foundational courses in communication complemented by a wider range of courses in other areas of study
- 30-36 credits of studio courses (about 1/4 of your total coursework)
- No capstone experience

Did you know? Students enrolled in other schools at WashU can pursue second majors and minors within the Sam Fox School. Learn more>>

The College of Art subscribes to the standards for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree and Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree as set forth and accepted by the College Art Association of American (CAA) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). For students entering the College of Art in fall 2020, a BFA degree requires a total of 121 credits of course work, and a BA degree requires 120 credits of course work. Detailed degree requirements for the BFA and BA degrees can be found here>>


Undergrad Communication Design Work

In your first year, you'll take core studios, including drawing, 2D design, 3D design, digital studio, and a weekly seminar. Drawing studios are team-taught by studio art and communication design faculty. You'll develop observational and illustrative skills, working mainly with charcoal, graphite, ink, and pastel. In 2D design and digital studio, you'll build essential skills in composition and communication through manual processes and digital design software. In 3D design, you'll learn fundamental sculptural and spatial skills, experimenting with new materials and processes, while learning how to use specialized tools and machines.

Every first-year student is mentored by a dedicated academic advisor who guides them in shaping the educational and degree path they desire. This includes course selection and scheduling.

As your education progresses, so will your course flexibility. In your second year and the fall semester of your junior year, you take courses such as Word & Image, Typography, and Interaction Foundations. Starting in the second semester of your junior year, you choose all of your own major courses.

Your studio courses are supplemented by readings and seminars that acquaint you with the field of contemporary art and design and in developing an understanding of where your interests fit in the historical arc. You also take professional practice seminars, taught by our dedicated career development specialist, in which you'll develop essential skills like writing preparing a portfolio and CV, applying for internships and jobs, and presenting a public lecture on your work.

All studio courses have a low student-to-faculty ratio to ensure personalized attention.


Animated Worlds Type as Image: Experiments on Press Content to Cover: The Design of Books
Illustration Entrepreneur Understanding Health & Well-Being Pictures for Communication
Digital Game Design The Illustrator's Sketchbook Design for Social Impact
History of Advertising Visual Principles for the Screen Enchanted Objects: Material Culture
Visualizing Literature: Texture/Structure Letterpress Printing Branding & Identity
Animating in Three Dimensions Panel by Panel: Narrative Comics Sculpting Realities


View the 2020 BFA in Communication Design Capstone Exhibition online>>

As a senior, you pursue a capstone project that culminates in an illustrated book, zine, screen-based presentation, graphic novel/mini-comic, or digital experience. You devote the spring semester to the research, development, and production of your seminar project, which is displayed in a public exhibition and reviewed by external design professionals.

How to Apply

Learn about the application process, including submission guidelines for the portfolio, here>>

Questions? We’d love to speak with you by email, phone, or video about our program.
Please email Rachel Youn at