Three women in makeup for a fashion shoot

Graphic Design

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Do I need a portfolio?
    • If you’re a prospective undergraduate student, no, you are not required to submit a portfolio. But if you have one you would like to share with us, we’d be happy to review it and write a letter on your behalf to the admissions office if we see potential. (Send a link to or a PDF of your work to Terry North.)

  • What’s the difference between Newhouse’s undergraduate graphic design and photography programs and those at art schools and technical institutes?
    • We’re glad you asked because there are some important differences, not the least of which are the types of courses you take and, consequently, the type of degree you earn.

      Newhouse students earn a Bachelor of Science degree, not a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In fact, it is one of only a handful of U.S. schools that offers this degree in photography/multimedia/video and design. Earning a B.S. degree at Newhouse means you’re required to take a significant number of courses beyond your major for a more well-rounded education, one rooted in liberal arts and intended to produce big thinkers with perspective and a critical understanding of the world.

      About 30 percent of your credits will focus on your major, and the rest will be dedicated to a wide range of courses in the humanities and sciences, all designed to help develop visual communicators who understand societal truths and trends, history, business, diversity, ethics, technology, critical thinking, research and writing, and who can contribute to a greater conversation because they do. This degree also gives you the opportunity to take on a second major at one of Syracuse's other acclaimed schools, such as the Whitman School of Management, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs or the School of Information Studies.

      In contrast, at art schools and technical schools, students generally spend about 70 to 85 percent of their credits on their major, leaving a much smaller window of opportunity to explore the world (and their own potential) beyond their focus. Ultimately, at Newhouse we want you to equip yourself with much more than just a beautiful portfolio.

      Another difference is that Newhouse operates within a communications industry context, not a fine arts or trade industry context. While this doesn’t mean that our students don’t produce gallery-worthy work—they do—it does mean that the work they produce is intended for mass public consumption. The photos, videos and designs our students produce—usually for a specific employer or client—serve the public with imagery, content and solutions that inform, inspire and make a difference.

      Also of note are Newhouse’s industry-tested faculty, its time-tested reputation and its enviable network of loyal and engaged alumni who keep their eyes out in the industry for recent and rising fellow graduates because they understand the rigor of a Newhouse education and the quality of the professionals it produces

  • What kind of internships and courses do Visual Communications students take part in?
    • To see the list of Visual Communications courses you would take, visit the Newhouse School's course catalog page. Beyond the classroom, we also have multiple extracurricular events to help you stretch and learn, including the very popular Fall Workshop for photo/video students and Pixels & Print workshop for design students, for both of which we bring a team of impressive industry professionals to work with you over an intensive weekend of collaboration, connection and growth. Also of note are our occasional overseas trips to work on large group projects in places such as South Africa, Liberia and the West Bank. As for internships, our students have widely varying experiences, including at organizations such as National Geographic, The New York Times, HBO, the Department of State, Sports Illustrated, Blue Chalk Media, The Washington Post, the Near East Foundation, Amazon (Alexa Voice Shopping), The Boston Globe, Hearst Corporation, The Accountability Lab, Gatehouse Media, IBM, Mapbox, Trip Advisor and Herman Miller.

  • Do students go to New York, Los Angeles or abroad?
    • Visual Communications students have done both, but they primarily head overseas, especially to Europe. Some of our photo students have attended the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus and Copenhagen, Denmark, while several of our designers have attended a program in Copenhagen. We also are working to develop photo and design partnerships with a school in Amsterdam. Beyond those, SU Abroad has large centers in London, Florence, Madrid, Beijing, Hong Kong and Santiago, Chile, as well as smaller programs in other locations.

  • What kind of equipment are students using?
    • Insofar as laptops and software are concerned, nearly all of our photo and design students use Macs and the Adobe Creative Suite, most notably Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere, InDesign, Illustrator and After Affects; some design students also choose to bring Wacom tablets. We also have seven fully loaded Mac labs in Newhouse and one in the Visual Communications Steele Center that you can use. As for camera gear, third- and fourth-year students primarily use professional HDSLR cameras; first- and second-year students can bring what they have and borrow additional gear from the CAGE, our generously outfitted high-end gear locker with all kinds of equipment, including lenses, light kits, recorders, wireless microphones, tripods, recorders and cinematic cameras.