University of South Carolina


Visual Communications: What to Expect

Visual Communications is the newest major in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC). It is designed for students who are interested in learning the basics of visual communications through a series of core courses and then applying those skills in a specific area through a series of media-related electives. As a Visual Communications major, you will have access to an up-to-date computer lab and take courses, which emphasizes multi-media and writing. As a senior, you will prepare a portfolio that will be critiqued by a professor to help prepare you for the job market. You are also encouraged to complete an internship in the art or photo department of an ad agency, public relations firm, newspaper, or magazine to gain hands-on experience in the field. 

The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications with a major in Visual Communications.

  • Photovisual Communications
  • Introduction to Visual Communications
  • Graphics for Visual Communications
  • Informational Graphics for the Mass Media
  • Advanced Photovisual Communications
  • Advanced Visual Communications

On average, there is a 22 to 1 student-faculty ratio in major-specific courses. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. During Maymester, SJMC students travel to Munich, Germany for a unique and cultural experience. Print Journalism, Electronic Journalism, Public Relations, Advertising, and Visual Communications majors team up across traditional curriculum boundaries to produce stories across all media – old and new. Spring Break trips include Community, Culture and Communication in Jamaica and Public Relations Campaigns in Spain. SJMC also offers Freedom’s Messenger, a summer trip to various capitals across Europe. SJMC students can also enjoy semester-long study abroad experiences in England, Ireland, and Australia. Study abroad trips offer SJMC students academic courses, which will satisfy University graduation requirements. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. SJMC has a number of student organizations that can help enhance your experiences while at the University. You can put your skills to use by getting involved with campus media including The Carolina Reporter, Carolina News and The Gamecock. You can also network and gain leadership experience through professional organizations including the National Press Photographers Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Find a student organization on campus that interests you!
Distinguished Faculty can help enhance your overall academic experience while at the University. Van Kornegay is an outstanding professor who teaches courses in information graphics for newspapers, graphic design, and public relations. He has worked professionally in public relations, as a graphics reported for the Associated Press in New York and in Albania as a consultant to International Media Fund.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding students. Each year the School of Journalism and Mass Communications awards a handful of scholarships to entering freshman. These include the Joseph W. and Dorothy Shoquist Fund, Journalism Scholarships, Rocky D. Harwood Scholarship, School of Journalism and Mass Communications Alumni Freshman Scholarship, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications Freshman Scholarship. The School of Journalism and Mass Communications offers more than 65 additional scholarships each year.
Associated Learning Communities are an integral part of the university experience, providing you with the opportunity to live in an environment that promotes diversity, embraces excellence, encourages insightful faculty-student interaction and works to develop a strong sense of community. These academically themed communities also emphasize active service-learning experiences, study-abroad opportunities and undergraduate research. Freshman students interested in an exciting and ever-changing career in the field of journalism and mass communications will benefit from the first-hand experience of professors in the fields of advertising, broadcast, print, public relations, and visual communications, all while taking a journalism section of University 101 and Journalism 201, an introduction to Mass Communications. The Journalism and Mass Communications Community hosts events including a welcome reception, etiquette dinner, discussion nights, and an interactive blog.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The School of Journalism has a searchable database of internship opportunities for their majors. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Career Opportunities

Visual Communications majors have a variety of exciting career opportunities. The goal of the Visual Communications sequence is to produce graduates who can cover breaking news events as photojournalists; produce commercial photography; prepare materials for the mass media such as books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and web sites; create graphic communication for informative and persuasive messages in the mass media such as logos, animation, software interfaces, statistical charts, diagrams, timelines, and maps; create autovisual communications for internal and external publics; and supervise the printing, production, and delivery of print and online publication to a mass audience. The average salary within the first five years following graduation is $40,000 - $45,000.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

About the School of Journalism and Mass Communications

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina is one of 113 programs approved by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The School’s curriculum begins with a strong liberal arts base that expands into cutting-edge journalism and mass communication. The School’s primary focus is on educating students in developing professional skills in all areas of mass communications. Undergraduate students are able to specialize in one of five programs of study: Advertising, Public Relations, Electronic Journalism, Journalism and Visual Communications.

Points of Pride

We are the headquarters for the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, the South Carolina Scholastic Press Association, the South Carolina Scholastic Broadcasters Association, and the Southern Interscholastic Press Association.

  • We are recognized as one of the leading journalism programs in the nation, offering the first nationally accredited degree program and the only nationally accredited graduate degree program in mass communications in South Carolina.
  • Our facilities include television studios, digital stereo radio control rooms and studios, and the Associated Press broadcast news service, plus complete photojournalism studios and print production facilities for electronic editing, graphics, and photocomposition. We also jointly operate Newsplex, a $2 million multimedia newsroom of the future, with Ifra, a German-based consortium of news publishers and news technology vendors.

Additional Resources.
Visual Communications Website
School of Journalism and Mass Communication Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin