Communication Design

The Studio Certificate in Communication Design is designed for people looking to enter the field of Design in print or digital media. The curriculum focuses on creative use of typography, and emphasizes strong compositional design, presentation and communication skills, problem analysis and effective production methods. Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds including those with fine arts, marketing, advertising and writing experience and those who want to formalize their design credentials.

PNCA Continuing Education’s Studio Certificate in Communication Design was conceived and planned by a team of working designers, design educators and Continuing Education staff to provide high quality design education with an emphasis on professional advancement at a reasonable cost. The instructors are working professionals, connected to the design community.

The Studio Certificate in Communication Design takes 16 units to complete, with each class generally worth 1 unit.

Courses in this program are scheduled with the working professional in mind, all classes are held during evenings and weekends and most last 8 weeks. Classroom time is shorter than in a traditional BFA program and students are expected to spend considerable time outside of the class preparing for each week. This program focuses on professional practice opportunities, portfolio development and engaging with Portland’s creative community.

Competency Goals

  • Identify and discuss the purposes of communication design and the key strategies in visual communication and design
  • Develop and present design solutions that persuasively communicate concepts and products within given time and cost constraints
  • Create artwork with industry-standard analog and digital tools that conforms to workplace practises and meets professional production standards.
  • Describe and apply user experience design principles in the development, design and evaluation of communications solutions and media products.
  • Describe and adhere to the designer’s primary relationships and responsibilities in guiding clients and in working with collaborators and project contributors

Required Courses (13 total Units)
Introduction to Graphic Design
4 units of Graphic Design I and Graphic Design II (with a minimum of one unit at each level)
Typography I
Typography II
2 Units of Career Lab
Design Studies

Elective Courses (3 total Units)
Additional units Career Lab, CD II, Design Studies or Typography II

Web and Digital Communications

Other Program Requirements
Program Application (prior to program entry, credits are not awarded retroactively)
Portfolio Presentation I (after minimum of 4, but before 10, completed certificate units)
Portfolio Presentation II (after 12 completed certificate units)

*Candidates who are highly proficient in a particular Adobe tools may substitute the required course with an additional unit of CD I, CD II, Typography II. An instructor recommendation and departmental approval in writing are required in advance. Other courses may be available for substitution by this process as well. **A unit of credit is defined as 45 hours of contact time for the student; contact time is comprised of in-class time, online class time as well as collaborative and independent projects in fulfillment of course requirements.
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Patrick Forster



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