Engineering Technology

Graphic Communication

Program Details

The Graphic Communication program prepares students for careers in areas such as graphic design, technology, desktop publishing, Web design and development, packaging, and printing production and management. Through a balance of lectures and portfolio-building projects, students are provided with advanced technical knowledge and the challenge of applying it to engaging, real-world design problems. The department’s state-of-the-art computer labs include the latest versions of the industry standards in design software, including Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Flash; and QuarkXPress. Classes that involve printing production also utilize offset presses, digital duplicators, and screen printing equipment. No prior experience with graphic communication principles or software is required upon enrollment.

Special Opportunities

A key component of the major is the required internship. Every student in his or her junior or senior year earns course credit for successfully applying knowledge while gaining invaluable on-the-job experience. By securing an internship in any approved major-related field, each student has the opportunity to enhance his or her skills in a professional work environment of particular interest. Many students report that the internship experience helps them focus their career goals and make vital industry contacts that benefit them upon graduation. Industry site supervisors continually report that the required internship is the vital link between education and the world of business, industry, and government service.

Student Activities

Students enrolled in the Department of Engineering Technology are invited to become members of the Graphic Communication Club. Members participate in competitions at national/regional conferences and host professionals who provide insight into their selected fields. Members also participate in career-building activities and community service projects. The club works with on-campus organizations to design and produce various printed materials, and it engages in informative workshops as well as regional field trips to local designers and printers. Being an active member of the club allows students to work outside the classroom in a student-run organization dedicated to everything graphic.

Student Success

The mean GPA for undergraduate students at WIU is 3.15. The mean GPA for graduates in Graphic Communication is 3.15.

Department Minors

  • Construction Technology
  • Emerging Design Technologies
  • Graphic Communication
  • Industrial Technology
  • Instructional Design and Technology Download the Brochure (pdf)
  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Operations Management

Additional Resources

Placement of Graphic Communication majors is greater than 91%. A 2011 survey of graduates from the previous three years indicated that the average starting salary was greater than $40,000. Current salaries for these graduates with up to 10 years of experience are approaching an average of $60,000. Nearly 60 to 75% of graduates have been promoted, and nearly 60% were hired by the company where they served as interns. The AIGA/Aquent Survey of Design Salaries 2013 (Graphic Communication) reports the following median total cash compensation figures for these design-related careers: entry-level designer, $47,000; Web designer, $55,000; print production manager, $65,000; senior designer, $60,000-75,000; and creative/design director, $100,000.

Alumni Job Titles

Within 5 Years of Graduation
  • Coordinator - Web Services
  • Creative Director
  • Cultural Events Coordinator
  • Graphic Designer
  • Marketing/New Media Manager
  • Production Manager
5+ Years Past Graduation
  • Communications Manager
  • Graphic Art Manager
  • Media Director
  • Promotions Director
  • Publication Manager
  • Web Content - Lead
Graphic Communication alumna Nicole Farina

Graphic Communication alumna Nicole Farina designed a campaign advertisement for Rust-Oleum paint that is now being used in many Menards stores.

Employers of Alumni

  • Belleville News-Democrat
  • Capital Radio Group
  • Caterpillar, Inc. - Volt Service
  • DOT Foods
  • GrowMark
  • HP Burnett
  • Integrated Design Studio
  • Interactive Inks & Coatings
  • McDonough Democrat
  • Microprint
  • Pro Tuff Decals
  • Rokusek Design, Inc.
  • Royal Printing
  • Wendi Riggens Photography
  • WSI Internet Marketing

Please refer to the undergraduate catalog for detailed program information and course requirements.

Course Descriptions


111 Graphic Communication Foundations. (3) Overview of the Graphic Communication Industry. Topics include the history and conventional techniques used in printing, hardware and software tools used in the industry, and basic principles and methods used in the creation of print and non-print-based layouts. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

112 (Formerly GCOM 211) Introduction to Graphic Communication. (3) A study of the Graphic Communication industries including composition, photoconversion, press work, and finishing operations. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

117 (Formerly GCOM 217) Introduction to Electronic Publishing. (3) A study of terms, programs, and equipment used in electronic desktop publishing. An introduction and exposure to a variety of electronic desktop publishing programs and tools. Emphasis is upon design, layout, and execution of techniques used in publishing. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

122 (Cross-listed with ARTS/BC/IDT 122) Introduction to Emerging Design Technologies. (3) Introduction to concepts and issues related to emerging design technologies. Topics include ethical considerations, production design process, design decision-making process, and design principles. Course will conclude with an overview of career options and introduction to portfolio preparation. Not open to students with credit for ARTS/BC/IDT 122.

212 (Formerly GCOM 312) Introduction to Digital Image Manipulation. (3) The theory and practice of color, line, and halftone image scanning. Activities include: color separations, corrections, and working with halftones. Prerequisite: GCOM 112. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

213 (Formerly GCOM 313) Introduction to Graphic Illustration. (3) A study of illustration software with emphasis upon operational skills and techniques used in creating two-dimensional and three-dimensional illustrations. Prerequisites: GCOM 112 or permission of instructor. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

218 Introduction to Interactive Media Production. (3) An introduction and overview of using web authoring and content management tools for developing and producing online content. Emphasis on understanding foundations, terminology, identifying webpage elements, and technical aspects for creating basic online interactive documents and presentations for web publishing. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

314 3D Print and Web Technologies. (3) Focus is on the creation of three-dimensional objects for a wide range of uses in industry. Topics include the use of animation and modeling for product visualization and multiple internet applications. Prerequisites: GCOM 117 and GCOM 218; or consent of instructor. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

316 (Formerly GCOM 416) Production Printing. (3) Printing production techniques are utilized throughout this course allowing the opportunity to view and practice the fundamental printing production methods used in the graphic communication industry. Prerequisites: GCOM 117 and 212, or instructor approval. 1 hr. lect.; 4 hrs. lab.

318 Intermediate Interactive Media Production. (3) An exploration and construction at an intermediate level of complex documents and presentations for web publishing. Emphasis on the technical aspects of using advanced techniques, hardware, and web authoring software and content management tools toward developing effective interactive online environments. Prerequisite: GCOM 218. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

320 Professional Preparation in Graphic Communication. (3) This course will prepare and enable students to gain skills and experience with the professional internship search process for career success. Topics will include cover letters, resume preparation, networking, job searching, interviewing, professional business communications, presentation, correspondence, and portfolio development. Prerequisite: Graphic Communication major and sophomore standing. 3 hrs. lect.

412 Advanced Digital Image Manipulation. (3) The use of digital image manipulation equipment in creating special effect images. Emphasis will be placed upon advanced color theory, color separation, and digital enhancement. Prerequisite: GCOM 212. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

413 Packaging and Display Technologies. (3) An overview of packaging and display technologies. Emphasis on terminology, applications, processes, materials, and substrates, as well as conventional and digital technical aspects of creating basic packaging and point of purchase displays. Prerequisite: GCOM 213. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

414 Advanced Image Transfer and Printing Processes. (3) The study of advanced printing and image transfer systems and processes. Emphasis will be upon supervised experience in a Graphic Communication lab. Prerequisite: GCOM 213. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

415 Printing Production Management. (3) The study and application of estimation and production practices in the publishing industry. Emphasis will be on methods, planning, production, estimating, and techniques characteristic of the publishing industry. Prerequisite: GCOM 212. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

417 Advanced Electronic Publishing. (3) Advanced work with electronic desktop publishing programs. Emphasis will be upon advanced design and layout techniques. Projects include multiple page documents, forms, booklets, and brochures. Integration of work from multiple software programs will also be stressed. Prerequisites: GCOM 117 and 213 or consent of instructor. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

419 Advanced Interactive Media Production. (3) The focus of this course is on website development. Topics will focus on HTML as well as a variety of WYSIWYG editors and hardware. Site planning and adding graphics and other media (video, animations, etc.) will also be discussed. Prerequisite: GCOM 318. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

422 (Cross-listed with ARTS/BC/IDT 422) Applied Emerging Design Technologies. (3) The course allows students to focus on personal portfolio development using emerging technologies. Students will also have the opportunity to work collaboratively on real-world projects that apply principles in emerging technologies. Not open to students with credit for ARTS/ BC/IDT 422.

423 Advanced Graphic Illustration. (3) Advanced hands-on experience with illustration software for creating technical graphics. Emphasis on employing advanced technical processes to create technicallycorrect, two-dimensional and three-dimensional illustrations for use in various printed and electronic media. Prerequisites: GCOM 212 and 213. 2 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.

455 Graphic Communication Seminar. (1–3) Each offering provides students with an opportunity for intensive study in specialty topics reflective of the variety in Graphic Communication. May be repeated with different topics for a maximum of 3 s.h. Graded S/U only. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor.

492 Independent Study. (1–3, repeatable to 6) Selection, exploration, and solution of a problem in an area of Graphic Communication. Prerequisite: Senior college standing, 21 s.h. of GCOM coursework, and approval of department chairperson. GPA requirement of 2.50 in major.

493 Internship. (3–12 in 3-hour blocks, repeatable to 12) Off-campus work experience in Graphic Communication. Written weekly reports required. Writing Instruction in the Discipline WID course. Recommend completion before entering last term on campus. A maximum of 9 s.h. may be applied toward major requirements. Prerequisites: junior/ senior standing; prerequisites as related to the student’s technology option selected; ENG 280. A minimum GPA of 2.00, a minimum GPA of 2.00 from courses completed within the major, and approval of program coordinator. Graded S/U only.


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