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Visual Communications

Study photography, cinematography and graphic design from a multi-disciplinary perspective in visual communications.

Photography students working in lab.

The Visual Communications program offers four distinct tracks of study:

  • Photography: Photojournalism and Editorial
  • Photography: Commercial and Advertising
  • Graphic design
  • Cinematography

In the photojournalism and editorial photography track, the focus of your study will be focusing on visual storytelling and learning the skills and ethics of being in the field as stories unfold, capturing moments for news organizations, publications, and the ever-changing landscape of communication platforms.

The commercial and advertising photography track encompasses understanding the full workflow of making images for advertising, commercial use, fashion, portraits, and publications for print and the web.

The graphic design track emphasizes strategy, problem solving and human-centered design to create smart, compelling, innovative solutions in both print and pixels, including motion, augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D and spatial design, brand systems, UI/UX, product design, dynamic typography, and publication design.

In the cinematography track, you’ll learn theories and techniques involved with the art of making motion pictures and video storytelling. Cinematography students learn the skills and techniques of the visual narrative with classes designed to teach camera techniques, lighting, lensing, composition, movement, crew management, color science, and photochemistry.

About Newhouse

Long recognized as one of the elite schools of mass communication, Newhouse embraces virtually every known form of information dissemination. Programs are rooted in the liberal arts while you learn how to manage and produce for the mass media and other areas of public communications.


All students take foundational courses in:

  • Multimedia Storytelling
  • Introduction to Graphic Design
  • Introduction to Photography for Multimedia

Sample courses include:

  • Photographic Storytelling
  • Visual Editing and Project Development
  • Light and Concept
  • Commercial and Advertising Photography and Multimedia
  • Typographic Design
  • Motion Design
  • Cinematic Light and Lens
  • Cinematic Storytelling

View official major requirements.

Practical Experience

You can enhance your skills with electives like virtual reality or video editing, or learn more about advertising, public relations or magazine.

Visual Communications majors can be found at student-run media organizations, such as The Daily Orange newspaper, Multiple magazines such as Jerk, Baked, and U-Girl, Citrus TV, three radio stations and PR and advertising agencies, as well as non-media organizations. They are designing websites, providing design support, making photographs and shooting and editing videos.

VIS majors can develop their skills in professional settings through internships in Syracuse and across the world during the summer. Newhouse’s Career Development Center will help you search for internships via one-on-one resume help and seminars that focus on internship searches and interviewing.

Study Abroad

Broaden your perspective and enhance your resume with an international experience through Syracuse Abroad, with more than 100 programs in 60 countries. You can choose from semester, summer, short-term immersions, and yearlong options.

Students often go abroad to Syracuse centers in Florence, London, and Madrid, and to the World Partner program with DIS Copenhagen.

Life After Syracuse University

As a Newhouse graduate with a major in Visual Communications, you can explore careers including:

  • Photojournalist
  • Photo editor
  • Commercial Photographer
  • Fashion photographer
  • Graphic designer
  • Animator/motion designer
  • Cinematographer
  • Director of photography

With the help of the Newhouse Career Development Center, which offers support to Newhouse students and alumni, over 97% of Newhouse graduates are employed within nine months of graduation. (This references Class of ’22 graduates. Source is Newhouse.)