Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Which UC (Univ. of Cal.) has strong visual communication majors?

YosemiteWildernessYosemiteWilderness Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
Hello. I am a mom of high school senior, who is considering going into a vidual communication (Digital Design, Graphic Design) major in college. He is applying to some UCs, (UC Davis (digital design), UCLA (media art), and UC Santa Cruz for game design.) Together we have visited websites of all the UCs, but we could not figure out or find out if other UCs have strong Digital Design or Media Art (more toward Design than fine art) programs.

Do you know if any of the other UCs have Digital Art/Visual Communication programs?

The one we could not really figure out were

UC San Diego
UC Santa Barbara
UC Irvine
UC Berkeley
UC Riverside

Of course some of them are reach schools, but still he wants to apply to them if they have graphic/media/game design programs. Please let me know if you know anything about other UCs.

Thank you.


Replies to: Which UC (Univ. of Cal.) has strong visual communication majors?

  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 2,670 Senior Member
    Did you look into any of the CSU's? Some of them also have really good vis. com. and animation/game design programs. The application window might be closed by now, however.

    I agree the info from the websites can be murky at best. However, some of these programs are going to be hidden in the CS dept as well. For instance (from Animation Career Review's top 50 game design ranking):

    27. University of California - Irvine, Irvine, California (top 20% of schools considered)

    The University of California - Irvine (UC Irvine) was established in 1965. It is home to 30,736 students enrolled more than 100 programs across more than a dozen schools. The Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences offers a BS in Computer Game Science (CGS). According to the School, CGS students will “acquire a solid foundation in computer science and software development” and “learn how to create interactive and human-centered computer game designs.” Students will have the opportunity to work in teams to “design and implement new games.”


    Might be the same story for graphic design, although that field is typically taught at the more intense studio/based art and design schools. I have seen it offered as a more techie than artsy major, depending on the university.

    (Animation Career Review also has a great list of top 50 GD schools but other than the usual suspects which your son has already applied to, none of the other UC schools are included).

    Good luck to him!

  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 2,670 Senior Member
    @YosemiteWilderness just a quick update to the above post - looks like CSU application window is open for another week. Closes 11/30.
  • NCalRentNCalRent Registered User Posts: 4,943 Senior Member
    It is hard to give meaningful advice without a GPA, SAT/ACT, some feel for ECs and course rigor as well as interests and budget.
  • YosemiteWildernessYosemiteWilderness Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    Thank you very much for your replies.

    JBStillFlying, yes, my son has applied to four CSU (SJ, Long Beach, Fullerton, and SFSU). For those, three schools are for animation program, while SFSU is for visual communication. They are somewhat safe schools for him, if we look at his GPAs. Now UC application deadline is approaching, we are trying to see if we are missing anything. Thank you for the link about Irvine! I just could not tell if this program is more technical, than visual, but I will suggest my son to look into it.

    NCalRend, Sorely from his GPA, I would say UCLA, Berkeley, San Diego are reach schools, Davis, Santa Barbara are right/reach border, Santa Cruz is within target, and I don't know other schools' GPA levels. He has a good ACT score, of composite of 33. He has taken one year of art, two years of Digital Designs in high school, one summer intensive course for visual design, and currently in Video Production while in high school.

    My question really is.... whether the schools listed below has some strong visual communication design program or now. Probably he is not that interested in knowing his chance of acceptance, but he would like to make sure that he applies to schools which do have strong graphic design and media design program. He knows he will apply to Davis, LA, and SC, but he is still trying to find out more about the other schools below.

    UC San Diego
    UC Santa Barbara
    UC Irvine
    UC Berkeley
    UC Riverside

    He is not interested in applying to Marced.

    UC San Diego seems to have an interesting art program, but from their website, we just could not quite understand if their media art program is more for design program, or for fine art program. We could not know at all whether or not UC Berkeley's art program includes graphic/media art program or not.

    Maybe I will just call up the school on Monday then....?

  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 2,670 Senior Member
    edited November 2016
    @YosemiteWilderness I would definitely call and ask. My impression of the UC schools is that most of them are not very "hands on" when it comes to design or animation (UCLA being a notable exception). Of course, we were looking into BFA programs which are very intense, studio-focused, and include an art/design foundation year. You definitely seem to get that at the CSU's, at least at the ones my D16 applied to for animation. Ideally, for a visual art/design program you want about 2/3 studio time and 1/3 "academic" (classroom) instruction. I've heard, for instance, that the SJSU animation major (even at the pre-major level) provides at least that, if not more. And of course you are accepted into the pre-major based on GPA but you are admitted to the actual major based on portfolio (in sophomore year?). So there are no guarantees and it's quite intense (so I've heard - we aren't from CA but my D knows some animators from Fullerton and others have posted about SJSU).

    Anyone doing graphic/visual communication design or animation will need to start with a lot of drawing (figure drawing for the animator) and also light/color theory, 3D and 4D design, art history, etc. You should be able to look up the curriculum of those UC schools to see what's offered the first couple of years before he submits a portfolio. Hopefully there will be a study plan or representative schedule available so you can get an idea of what is taught. If they don't offer the BFA or a B.Des or similar - for instance, if they just offer the BA - then they may well be more focused on an overall liberal arts education than they are on a studio experience. If they offer the BFA, then they should list what concentrations they offer.

    You are probably correct that Irvine's BS program in animation may be technical in nature, rather than design-focused. There is a LOT of CS behind those animation platforms!

    The good news is that the technical and visual fields are dove-tailing more as digital media continues to increase in popularity. The graphic designer who can program, or the computer programmer who has some design training, is actually at an advantage on the job market. Both are excellent skills sets that apply to a variety of careers - both visual and non-visual.

    Good luck to him!
  • YosemiteWildernessYosemiteWilderness Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    Thank you so much JBStillFlying!

    Your info. is very detailed, and I truly appreciate learning more about what to look for to evaluate each programs.

    It is mind-blowing in a way how diverse each school's visual art programs can be. My another thing to think about is how much internship opportunities students can have, or if the program link students to prospective design companies looking for internship, because I believe that learning in real life situation is important to the design major students. I heard that SJSC animation program has a strong tie to companies for internship. I think I may have to ask about that too.

    Thank you so much!!!
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 2,670 Senior Member
    Yes - SJ State is a really great animation program. Very intense. One poster last year described it as "Cal Arts" quality for a fraction of the price. They definitely have great connections for internship and career placement.

    My D16 - had she attended school in CA - would likely have gone to Fullerton just based on what she knew about their animation program. She was also admitted to Long Beach and Northridge but those were backups. Don't know much about any of them other than the reputation, etc.

    The BFA is a professional degree and students graduate ready to work as professional artists and designers. Guessing it would be harder to do this if the program didn't have very specific recruitment opportunities. So that's a key aspect of what school to choose. Cal might be a fantastic academic program overall (my older brother graduated there with a degree in physics and went on to attend MIT for grad school!) but if they don't have companies on campus specifically to hire designers then he'll have to depend on his own job search. That might be OK, of course - a lot depends on what the student wants to get out of the program. Some might want something more liberal-arts-oriented (taking a lot of different courses in a lot of different subjects) because they know they will be doing an MFA or another grad degree later on. They might have awesome talent anyway and want to round out their overall education and/or gain some knowledge of subjects that might inform their visual arts work. They might be very independent and know that what they are looking for in a career can't be found in the on-campus career fair at the local art school. Others crave the intense in-studio experience (whether it be an easel, a writing seminar, a computer lab or a foundry) and learn via hands-on experimentation and critique.

    I think the reason so many schools are diverse is because each will a specific philosophy for educating their students. It's great to have so many choices but the process of figuring all this out can be overwhelming! Be sure to kick back with a nice glass of wine when it's all wrapped up! Good luck to you!
  • YosemiteWildernessYosemiteWilderness Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    Hi. I finally made my own account with this site. (YosemiteWilderness is my partner's account.)

    Thank you for all the information.

    Now my son has been admitted to variety of schools, but what we don't know much about is UC San Diego Media Dept. and UC Davis Design program. Does anyone have any info. about those two programs?

    It is good for him to have options to decide on Animation or Graphic Design, but now it looks like UC San Diego's Media program is more heavy on film, (which is still OK for him, as he is taking a video production.)

    It just is that there are so different, and now it is hard for him to decide on the major.... (I know, most do BEFORE applying, but he just could not narrow down to only one area when applying....)

    If anyone knows anything more about UC San Diego Media program, or Visual Art program in general, please let me know. Also about UC Davis Design program too...

    Thank you so much!!!

This discussion has been closed.