Applied Design and Visual Communication Major

The BFA in Applied Design and Visual Communication is designed to prepare students to work professionally in the commercial arts.

Trends in art and design in higher education indicate that study in visual and expanded media, digital imaging, web-targeted design, graphic design, and photography serve students anticipating careers in the commercial arts—and the BFA is recognized as the most industry-specific and relevant degree you can earn.

The BFA in Applied Design and Visual Communication is an art and communication partnership. It provides a foundation that prepares students for careers in various art, design, media production and communication careers and requires 62-72 hours in art and communication. Courses in graphic design, video and photography complement study in art history and media studies, all culminating in a required internship and development of a professional portfolio.

In addition to providing training in craft, the BFA in Applied Design at Houghton fosters independent thinking and creative problem solving as well as analytical, communication and interpersonal skills—all of which are transferable to virtually any career.

Why A BFA in Applied Design and Visual Communication?

  • Receive the best preparation for professional work in the commercial arts
  • Build a comprehensive and coherent body of work in preparation for your capstone senior exhibition
  • Apply your classroom knowledge in a real-world setting during your applied design internship
  • Experience visiting artists, on-campus gallery exhibits and off-campus trips that give you access to cultural resources in cities throughout the northeast
  • Travel around the world every other year to see the very best works of art up close and in person
  • Learn from faculty members who all hold the terminal degree (MFA) in studio art and are actively involved in production and exhibition

Major Requirements

Applied Design and Visual Communication BFA

Experiential Learning Opportunities

  • Art and Business in New York City (Mayterm)
  • European Art Tours (Mayterm)
  • Houghton in Tanzania
  • London Honors
  • East Meets West Honors
  • Gallery assistant (Ortlip Art Gallery)

Travel Opportunities

Art and design students are encouraged to make every effort to view the very best works of art, and the art department maintains an active travel program to support those activities. Travel to the cultural capitals of Europe every other year during Mayterm for your Art History credit, or take the annual weekend trip to view a major collection in the northeast or mid-Atlantic area. In alternate years, the department offers courses in African Art History, photography and selected studio courses during the summer at the Iringa campus in Tanzania.

Senior Capstone Exhibition

Each student is encouraged, in the senior year, to exhibit a body of work in a special show at the college. This gives real-world experience in presentation, promotion, logistics and documentation. The student finishes with a comprehensive and coherent body of work that, while not being fully mature, does show signs of technical proficiency and conceptual complexity.

Beautiful Facilities

The spacious, light-filled Stevens Art Studios feature cathedral ceilings in all the studios as well as huge expanses of glass, which provide natural light. The Design Media Studio provides students with a large, clean workspace for multiple design media and photography classes; cutting mats and drafting tools; large-format Epson inkjet printers; and Mac PowerBooks with wireless internet and printing connection. The art building also includes a custom-designed student critique space and lounge with mid-century modern furniture, fireplace, lighted critique wall and study/meeting table as well as the Stevens Seminar room and Thomas Buechner Memorial Art Library. Individual student workspaces are available to upperclassmen.


Alumni Outcomes

Percent of Art majors employed or in graduate school within nine months of graduation


Art Scholarships

Maximum art scholarship award for Art majors


Art Faculty

All hold the MFA degree and are active artists

Art Scholarships

Merit scholarships in art are awarded based on portfolios submitted by incoming students

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After Houghton

Careers and outcomes of Houghton Art majors

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Mayterm in Europe

View art and architecture in Rome, Florence, London, Paris, Madrid, Munich, Berlin and more

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Spotlight Video

Current Houghton student Emily Friesen reflects on how majoring in art at Houghton College has changed how she looks at the world.

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