Graphic Communications

What is Graphic Communications?

Graphic communications is an umbrella term that encompasses the entire creative and production process for creating any kind of visual communication. This can range from a billboard or magazine, to a t-shirt, catalog, packaging, website or video. Traditionally, graphic communications referred to primarily the print industry. Today, while print is still a large component, digital methods of communications are also included. 

The Graphic Communications curriculum at Chowan University prepares students to enter the printing, packaging and publishing industries by providing solid foundations through hands-on application in graphic design, technical file preparation, photography, structural and package design, printing (offset, digital, screen, and flexography), post production and distribution. Students also take classes specific to the business aspects of these industries to include management, trends and cost estimating. The curriculum exposes students to a foundational mixture of business, art and science through a hands-on curriculum that allows them to bring ideas and concepts to life, productively and profitably.


Graphic Communications designs and sells our annual Homecoming t-shirts! 

Why Graphic Communications?

Graphic Communication graduates are in high demand with a near 100% job placement rate at Chowan University over numerous years. The industry offers a wide variety of opportunities that allow nearly everyone to find a match for their skills and interests. As the industry continues to grow and change, new graduates, understanding the latest trends and technology, are in demand. As part of the curriculum, all Graphic Communications students are required to complete an internship (usually during the summer between junior and senior year). This provides real-world experience before graduation, allowing students an opportunity to learn and work in a business environment as a contributing member of the company.  

Possible Careers

• Graphic designer
• Layout artist
• Prepress technician
• Multimedia designer
• Photographer
• Customer Service Representative
• Production planner/estimator
• Production manager
• Social media/web specialist
• Wide format print specialist
• Press operator (digital/conventional)
• Sales representative
• Print Buyer
• Materials coordinator
• Packaging designer
• Marketing specialist
• Mail data specialist
• Quality control technician 
• Structural designer


Our students regularly attend and place at the PICA Awards (The Printing Industry of the Carolinas).

What’s the difference in Graphic Communications and Graphic Design at Chowan University?

Graphic Communications focuses on the technical aspects of producing and distributing items of visual communication. This includes technical aspects associated with the production of tangible items such as books, magazines and packaging, as well as digital items such as e-newsletters, interactive apps, websites, video and virtual reality applications. 

Graphic Design focuses on development of concepts and creation of visuals. This includes instruction regarding elements and principles of design, typography, image editing, web and video production, etc.

These two majors can be thought of as two parts of a much larger process. Graphic designers typically generate a concept and create the digital files based on job requirements. Graphic communications knowledge comes into play before and after the initial creative process has ended to carry out the remaining parts of the process. This includes preparing digital files for the various manufacturing or distribution processes as well as carrying out these manufacturing and distribution processes. 

Each of these programs offers all its students a solid foundation in visual communication. Graphic design prepares students with a basic foundation of design concepts and exposure to the current main graphic design applications: web design, publication (print and digital) design, and interactive design. Graphic communications prepares students with a broad foundational understanding of the main printing processes, current digital file prep and distribution methods, packaging/structural design and production management. In general, the graphic design degree at Chowan requires courses that develop an understanding and appreciation for art and design, while graphic communications leans more toward technical considerations, with business and management courses. 

While students from each program graduate with the same foundation, there is wide opportunity within each degree for employment. Graphic design majors may work as web designers, print designers, illustrators, multimedia/interactive designers, art directors, etc. Graphic communications majors may work in a commercial print company as a designer, prepress technician, press operator or customer service representative, in a paper or ink manufacturing company, as a packaging/structural designer, in a digital quick-print shop or a t-shirt printing company, etc. 


Students receive on and off-campus training. 

Graphic Summer Camp

Each summer, Chowan hosts a Graphics Summer camp for high school juniors and seniors. The camp is a week-long experience that allows students to experience life as a college freshman, by living on campus and attending morning and afternoon class/lab sessions in the Horner Graphics Center. Students dine in Thomas Dining Hall and enjoy the Hawk’s Nest for entertainment. One day is set aside for travel to a commercial print company and fun out of town. During their stay, campers receive individual attention from instructors and hands-on experience in offset press, structural design, screenprinting, packaging, digital print technology, photography, designing projects, and much more. Students have an opportunity to learn a great deal in this introduction to the field of graphic communications.


Please apply before May 17, 2021!

Jennifer Groves Newton, MS
Assistant Professor of Graphic Communications
Mitch Henke, PhD
Associate Professor of Graphic Communications
Michelle Surerus, PhD
Professor of Graphic Communications