Visual Communication Design

Major Requirements (SF State Bulletin: Degree Requirements)

Roadmap (SF State Bulletin: Roadmap)

GE Requirements (SF State Bulletin: General Education)

Major Department Website

Your major advisor answered a few questions to assist you with your first semester courses — see below.

General Information

What are some of the highlights and features to know about this major?

Visual Communication Design combines coursework in graphic and interactive design for a variety of platforms including print, web, mobile, AR and VR, UX/UI, information design, branding, publications, motion graphics, games, etc. 

Does your department have a major planning sheet for me as a guide? Yes, we have a downloadable link for our major planning sheet.
When should I first meet with my major department?
Students are welcome to stop in the Design Office, 121 Fine Arts Building, at any time. Students who have questions about applying to the major are welcome to make appointments with Advisors prior to joining the department. 
Once in the major, and during first semester of major coursework in the DES 370 course, all students will meet with an advisor and complete a “Major/Minor Advising Roadmap”.
Students must periodically check with their advisor to update their major advising contract and program goals, students must also meet with their advisor prior to the semester of graduation.
How will I be assigned to a major advisor and how do I contact them?

As a major, In our DES 370 class, you will have the assignment to choose an advisor and work out your personalized roadmap. Before entering the major, look at the people in the department and choose an advisor based on their profile.

Where can I find information about major advising?

Check out the Visual Communication Design Page.

Also take a look at our Advising section.

Does this major require any pre-work from me before I attend orientation or register for classes? No, we do not require it. But we do recommend you explore Design Drawing. It's also good to familiarize yourself with the Adobe design, drawing and rendering programs, especially Illustrator and Photoshop. 
What should I do if my major core and/or prerequisite courses are full? Contact our office, and let them know. We keep waitlists and open up more class sessions when we can. We also have a flexible curriculum that offers many choices throughout the pathway.
Is there anything else I need to know about starting in this major?
We are a tight community in a large university. And be ready to work. Design legend Paula Scher offers the following advice, "I think it’s very important for young designers to do two things. One: spend the first one to five years learning how to design and present design from somebody who is terrific at it. Having that basic understanding will carry you through the rest of their career. The second is this: develop the ability to explain, defend, and promote your work." Join us and we will make sure you get both at SFSU.

Transfer Student Info

What upper division courses should I take in my first semester as a transfer student for this major?
There are three core requirements that students take in their first semester:
DES 323 Visual Design Literacy
DES 356 A History of Design and Technology
DES 370 Introduction to Design and Industry
We also recommend students take:
DES 322 Computer Graphic Imaging
DES 300 Design Process
Are there any prerequisites to these upper division courses for the major? Students must be a declared DES major or minor.
Are there any registration blocks or holds in the system for this major, and if so, what do I do/who do I contact to clear them? There are no blocks, but if you encounter one, please contact
Does this major have an approved Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) roadmap? N/A

Freshmen Student Info

Are there any courses I should take first as a Freshman to get started in this major and/or are there any lower division GE course requirements that I can take that will also count toward this major?

Design offers a number of 200-level classes that we encourage Pre-Design majors to take:

DES 220 Intro to Drawing for Designers
DES 221 Introduction to 3D Digital Design
DES 222 Introduction to 2D Digital Design
DES 226 Modern Letterpress Printing: Traditional and Digital Techniques
DES 227 Rethinking Digital Visual Media: History, Technology, Content
DES 256 Design and Society: Contemporary Design Issues & Applications
Art, Interior Design, Apparel Design, Marketing, BECA, and Cinema Animation give you access to courses that are good Pre-Design studies. Course suggestions that count for pre-major requirements and also fulfill GE requirements are:
Area B1
ADM 260 Textiles
Area C1
ART 235 Printmaking 1
ART 240 Sculpture 1
ART 245 Ceramics 1
BECA 235 Digital Media Basics
DES 226 Modern Letterpress Printing: Traditional and Digital Techniques
DES 256 Design and Society: Contemporary Design Issues and Applications
ID 240 Color and Design
ID 245 Contemporary Design in Housing and Interiors
JOUR 235 Photojournalism I
Are there entry or prerequisite requirements for these Freshmen courses?


Can any of my AP or IB tests count toward requirements in this major? No.



College of Liberal and Creative Arts Advising Resource Center (ARC)

Services provided for: Undergraduate students pursuing a major, minor or certificate in the College of Liberal and Creative Arts.

Services offered: Academic planning, general education advising, academic probation advising, petition consultation, career prep and planning, major career exploration, graduation check (GE and graduation requirements), study abroad, connecting with communities and discovering campus resources.

Phone: (415) 338-1486