Design and Visual Communication

It takes the right combination of design, strategy, experimentation and risk-taking to effectively communicate with audiences today. A graphic design degree empowers you to challenge the status quo and carve your own path with a curriculum that works as a continuously evolving design laboratory. 

Deeply rooted in community and focused on experimentation and collaboration, our dynamic Design & Visual Communication (DVC) program fosters self-expression, empathy, visual literacy, strategy and a critical approach to the creation and production of wide array of design artifacts and touch points. The study of graphic design, design methodologies, modes of production and design histories provides you with the skill sets required to actively participate in visual culture, commerce and communication.

Program Type

Major

Program Format

On Campus

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What it’s like to be a student at Peck School of the Arts

When you study Design and Visual Communication at the UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, you will collaborate with other students and faculty in a variety of spaces. The aDream Lab, a makerspace equipped with 3D printers, large format vinyl cutter, heat press, large format Epson color printer, laser cutter, vacuum former, VersaSTUDIO desktop inkjet printer/cutter and a breadth of rapid prototyping supplies. There are clean spaces for polishing up your final designs as well as messy spaces for fabricating. You also have access to cameras, light kits, AV equipment, production tools and supplies, spray booth, documentation lab for photographing work, and wood shop. 

But don’t take our word for it. See for yourself what it is like to be a student here by scheduling a personalized tour and info session.

Design and Visual Communication
Design and Visual Communication
Design and Visual Communication
Design and Visual Communication
Design and Visual Communication
Design and Visual Communication

Program Details

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design & Visual Communication is a graphic design degree that provides you with opportunities to build a body of work demonstrating your mastery of tools, media and concepts to effectively communicate ideas to a target audience. You’ll take courses in composition, typography, strategy and design process, design methodologies and research, portfolio development, web and multimedia design and design entrepreneurship.

As part of a major research university, DVC programs emphasize the integration of research, process and making to inform diverse responses to global challenges. Our goal is to provide opportunities where students and faculty can create responsible, regenerative, and innovative design interventions and engagements.

We value hands-on, experiential learning for all, and we’re here to assist you in developing confidence in your creative abilities. Our creative spaces are designed to be welcoming and accessible and foster collaboration. Through our making environments, you’ll collaborate at a large table with sticky notes, whiteboards, pin-up walls, and screens. Grab supplies from our rapid prototyping carts to make a low-resolution model of your concept, then make a sturdy prototype by laser cutting or 3D printing a digital rendering or storyboard a video or audio project. 

We also help you develop as a professional through real-world internships at local design firms and networking opportunities. Each year, student members of AIGA Wisconsin: The Professional Association for Design attend events, workshops, portfolio reviews, professional studio tours and more. Additionally, United Adworkers, a Milwaukee based organization dedicated to the pursuit of marketing communications excellence, offers a free membership for students. You’ll network with advertising practitioners, designers, directors, photographers, production professionals and other students.

View the Design & Visual Communication, BFA requirements.

Art & Design Studio Disciplines

Led by expert artist faculty, our Art & Design studio disciplines are content areas that provide focus to your creative research, practice and degree. We offer the following studio disciplines: Ceramics, Creative Technologies, Design, Digital Fabrication, Fibers, Jewelry & Metalsmithing, Painting & Drawing, Photography & Imaging, Printmaking & Book Arts and Sculpture.

First Year Program

We don’t expect our new students to figure out college life on their own. Our First Year Program is designed to help new students. In addition to specific coursework carefully chosen to foster success, we connect students to the many resources and opportunities found within a research university. Plus, we surround students with individualized support as they dive deeper into their program and find their way.

Scholarships & Aid

UW-Milwaukee and Peck School of the Arts offer a diverse financial aid package for students, including Midwest residence savings, scholarships, grants, work-study opportunities and student loans.

Living Learning Communities

Live in campus housing on the same floor or wing as other students in your major or program. The Peck School of the Arts offers three Living Learning Communities where you can be a part of a “community within a community.” You’ll make friends, form study groups and do social activities together. And, best of all, there is no additional cost to be a part of a Living Learning Community.

Artists Now! Guest Lecture Series

Throughout the fall and spring semesters, the Artists Now! Guest Lecture Series welcomes a diverse group of nationally and internationally recognized artists working across traditional, hybrid and emergent disciplines. Join us to explore and expand the boundaries of creative visual practices alongside others with an interest in contemporary visual art.

Galleries & Exhibitions

Our art and design programs host many galleries and exhibitions both on campus and throughout the community. Our campus is home to four permanent art galleries, each with its own unique mission. All of them are free, open to the public and accessible for everyone to enjoy.

Milwaukee is also home to dozens of galleries and museums. All students in an Art & Design degree program receive a free annual membership to the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM). That means you can visit MAM and its events, including the popular MAM After Dark series, free of charge while you are a student.

Internships & Opportunities

Students work and intern professionally with Milwaukee’s leading art museums and galleries, creative agencies, corporations and nonprofits. They also find internships across the country and beyond. Discover where your education can take you. Learn more about internships and opportunities.

Student Organizations & Clubs

Meet like-minded people in a wide variety of student organizations and clubs who inspire creativity and will support your aspirations. Collaborate and create, network with professional artists, and deepen your connection with faculty, mentors and fellow students outside of the classroom.

Study Abroad

We believe that a complete education in the arts should take you beyond the classroom and the local community. By studying abroad, you’ll gain more than a change of scenery. You’ll embark on a transformative educational experience and bring a global perspective to your field of study. Explore upcoming trips offered in partnership with the Center for International Education.

Alumni Stories in Art & Design

  • How alum Sarah McGinnis uses art to promote mental health awareness across the country

    The next time you reach for a tissue, you might see an uplifting message and cheery artwork on the box thanks to PSOA alum, Sarah McGinnis (BFA 2013, Art: Design & Visual Communication). Work by McGinnis is showcased in Target stores nationwide as a featured artist in an ongoing collaboration between …
  • Alumni Spotlight: A “Top 10” Designer to Watch

    In the dynamic world of graphic design, Naomi Dable stands as a testament to the power of creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit. As the proud owner of Naomi Paper Co., Naomi has been named a "Top 10 Designer to Watch" by an industry magazine.

Careers in Art & Design

  • 3D Animator/Modeler
  • Advertising Director
  • Animator
  • App Developer
  • Arts Administration
  • Art Critic/Writer
  • Art Dealer
  • Art Director
  • Art Education Teacher
  • Art Gallery Owner
  • Art Historian
  • Art Therapist
  • Artisan Solutionist
  • Artist In Residence
  • Artists’ Agent
  • Augmented Reality
  • Blacksmith
  • Caricature Artist
  • Ceramicist
  • Collage Artist
  • Commercial Artist
  • Community Artist
  • Community Arts Organizer
  • Consultant
  • Costume Designer
  • Creative Arts Officer/Director
  • Creative Services Manager
  • Cultural Relations
  • Curator
  • Design Manager
  • Designer
  • Digital Portrait Artist
  • Director of Education & Community Engagement
  • Display Designer
  • Education Program Coordinator
  • Educator
  • Elementary/Secondary School Teacher
  • Entrepreneur
  • Exhibit Designer
  • Fabricator
  • Fashion Designer
  • Fine Artist
  • Fine Arts Director
  • Floral Designer
  • Font Designer
  • Freelance Artist
  • Furniture Designer/Restorer
  • Game Designer
  • Glass Sculptor
  • Graphic Designer
  • Graphic Artist
  • Illustrator
  • Industrial Designer
  • Interactive Designer
  • Interior Designer
  • Jewelry Designer/Maker
  • Lecturer
  • Lighting Designer
  • Makeup Artist
  • Maker
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Metalsmith
  • Mixed Media Artist
  • Motion Graphics Artist
  • Muralist
  • Museum Director
  • Museum Exhibit Designer
  • Packaging Designer
  • Painter
  • Photo Editor/Retoucher
  • Photographer
  • Photographic Stylist
  • Photographic Technician
  • Printmaker
  • Product Designer
  • Production Artist
  • Program Director/Coordinator
  • Prop Maker
  • Public Artist
  • Public Relations
  • Sculptor
  • Set Designer
  • Sketch Artist
  • Stylist
  • Technical Designer, Apparel
  • Textile Designer
  • Toy Maker
  • University Administration
  • University Faculty
  • User Experience Designer
  • User Interface Designer
  • Video Game Designer
  • Visual Merchandiser
  • Visual/Special Effects Artist
  • Web Based Curators
  • Web Designer/Developer

Program Faculty

Which faculty you have within this program is dependent upon your chosen courses or interests. For a list of all Art & Design faculty and staff please follow the link below.


Coe Douglas Headshot
  • Lecturer, Design & Visual Communications
Max Estes HEADSHOT
  • Lecturer, Art & Design
Robert Grame Headshot
  • Associate Professor, Design & Visual Communication
  • Co-Area Head, Design & Visual Communication
Adam Hawk Headshot
  • Assistant Professor, Digital Fabrication & Design
  • Assistant Professor, Design & Visual Communications
  • Area Head, Digital Fabrication & Design
Tamara Johnston Headshot
  • Lecturer, Design & Visual Communication
Wes Larsen HEADSHOT
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Design & Visual Communication
Andrew McConville HEADSHOT
  • Lecturer, Design & Visual Communication
lisa moline headshot
  • Professor, Design & Visual Communication
  • Co-Area Head, Design & Visual Communication
Lauren  Robertson
  • Teaching Faculty II, Design & Visual Communication
Angela Ryan HEADSHOT
  • Lecturer, Design & Visual Communication
  • Faculty Advisor, AIGA UWM
Seraphina Zweifel HEADSHOT
  • Lecturer, Design & Visual Communication
Important Dates
Art & Design

Undergraduate Application
December 15 – Priority admission and scholarship deadline.

Graduate Application
December 10 – Priority admission and financial support deadline.
February 1 – Application deadline.
Accreditation

The Department of Art & Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and has been since 2017.

Contact
Art & Design
Undergraduate Programs
Katie Martin-Meurer, art-admission@uwm.edu

Graduate Programs
Nicole Ridgway, ridgwayn@uwm.edu

General Info & Questions
Contact Form | 414-229-4763