BA (Honors) Communication & Design


The program in Communication and Design allows students to construct an interdisciplinary major in the arts and humanities that integrates historical investigation, critical analysis, aesthetic practice and social engagement. Our faculty are committed to engaging students in a conversation as much about the histories, theories and praxis of communication and design as about critical contemporary challenges that define our future.

Foundational courses in Communication and Design introduce students to a range of texts, movements, theorists, artists, designers, filmmakers, and writers from diverse cultures and historical periods, thereby training them in the close, comparative study of different artistic, cultural, and social forms. Studio practice – broadly understood through the hands-on production of film and photography, illustration and type, animation and new media – forms an essential component of the first two years of coursework so that students can learn how to craft image and idea even as they refine their critical and historical sensibilities. Our graduates will be alive to the transformative capacities of media and design, and will learn to apply their expertise with deliberate care, purpose, and responsibility.

In short, our mission is to train thoughtful, articulate, sophisticated practitioners who exercise critical judgment in the creation of work that challenges preconceptions and generates discussion that effects positive change in the lived world.

What is Communication Studies and Design?

Communication refers to any process that transmits, produces, reproduces, structures, embodies, or transforms culture, and that shapes and influences our interpersonal and social behaviors and relationships. Design refers to any human practice that requires the thoughtful, methodological, coherent reconstruction or reproduction of our material or mental worlds. Both are fundamentally human activities that bind us to each other and to the societies in which we work and play. And while both emerge from historically grounded expressive practices, these practices, in their most expansive articulation, are mutually interdependent.

How will students benefit by enrolling in this program?

Both communication and design are everywhere. Our cities, our homes, our mobile phones, our furniture, our cars, the books we read, the billboards we drive past, the music we hear, the movies and television programs we watch, the clothes we wear—someone somewhere made a sequence of choices that evolved into these specific products. We are so accustomed, however, to walking through our artificial worlds conversing, communing, texting, arguing, relating, imparting, announcing, reporting, writing, filming, and photographing that more often than not we take the worlds and our actions in them for granted. We are blind and dumb to the very artificialities that serve as foundation and structure for our lives.

In addition to this, both activities (designing, communicating) are interdependent. We rarely separate our perceptions and judgments about design from the meaning these designs provoke. And all good authors, advertisers, filmmakers, journalists, and politicians—to name a few professional communicators—know that effective communication depends crucially on deliberate design.

Students who complete a B.A. (Honors) in Communication and Design will be able to think systematically, critically and complexly about the processes, methods, and social and cultural effects of both communication and design. These abilities coupled with the skills developed and refined through studio practice will teach students how to move methodically from an idea to its material realization.

Degree Requirements

In order to graduate with a B.A. (Honors) in Communication and Design, students must complete 36 courses. In addition to the eleven courses that comprise Habib University’s Liberal Core, C&D majors must complete programmatic requirements:

BA (Honors) Communication and Design Requirements (6 Foundational + 8 Elective Courses)

Course Category Number of Courses to complete
University Requirements
University Liberal Core 10
Communication & Design 16
Communication & Design Core 6
Communication & Design elective 8
Senior Capstone Requirements 2
Other Requirements 10
Social Policy & Development (SDP) elective 1
Any AHSS/Non-C&D elective 2
Arzu Program for Languages & Literature elective 2
Free elective 5
Overall 36

C&D Requirements (14 courses)

Any one (1) of the following C&D Gateway courses (100-level):

  • Communication & Culture
  • Shaping Modernity: Art and Thought in the 19th Century
  • Forms of Inquiry: Word and Image in the 20th Century

Any one (1) of the following Intermediate Theory courses:

  • Communication & Culture
  • Shaping Modernity: Art and Thought in the 19th Century
  • Forms of Inquiry: Word and Image in the 20th Century
  • Other courses approved by C&D Board of Studies

Two (2) progressive studio/practice courses, (1) introductory + (1) intermediate.
Both of the following courses:

  • TransDesign Practicum
  • Elements of Aesthetics

And eight (8) C&D electives
Other Elective Requirements (10 Courses)
To ensure the disciplinary breadth demanded by a liberal education, all C&D students must also complete the following additional requirements:

  • Any Social Policy & Development (SDP) elective (1 course)
  • Arzu Program for Languages & Literature electives (2 courses)
  • Any other AHSS/non-CND electives (2 courses)
  • Free electives (5 courses)

Senior Capstone Requirements (2 Courses)

  • Research Design I: Capstone senior seminar
  • Capstone II

The two-semester capstone project requires students to bring together what they have learned during their time as undergraduates through the creation of an original work in any medium. The final submission will consist of the work itself, drafts/sketches/notes, and a critical thesis that situates the work in both an aesthetic and cultural context. Through the written, students have the ability to demonstrate to the faculty a sophisticated understanding of both structures and methods of design and processes and effects of communication.

Upper Level Writing Requirement
All Communication and Design students need to complete an upper level writing requirement. The requirement may be fulfilled through any course, including studio courses. In order to complete the requirement, students must submit an extended research essay on a subject of their choice related to the substance of the course they select. Research Design I fulfills this requirement.