Communications and Media Design

Bachelor of Science Degree

The Communications and Media Design (CMD) program deals with all aspects of planning, organizing, writing and designing of communication, including games, social and professional media. The program engages students in the design, production, writing and editing of digital media including interactive media, mobile applications and Web sites, as well as photography, animation and video scripting and production. The program studies how social media tools impact information preparation, organization, and delivery. Students develop a strong understanding of best practices and gain familiarity with techniques to analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of digital media in getting a message across.

Students choose electives from concentrations in interactive media and game design, graphic design and communication, and digital imaging, video and animation.

Program Tracks:

Graphic Design & Communication
Prepares students to enter the professional world as new media producers and writers, graphic designers, public relations, visualization experts, communication professionals and social media strategists. The degree also prepares them for graduate work in related academic disciplines. Students will develop proficiencies in industry-standard software and emerging technologies.

Interactive Media & Game Design
Prepares students to enter the interactive media and game design industries as lead designers, concept artists, scripters, writers, and project managers. Students will develop requisite programming, design, and management skills with the cutting edge of development tools and dedicated studio spaces. Students will be able to choose between programming and art focuses within the track or increase the breadth of their studies within CMD and SUNY Poly.

Digital Imaging, Video & Animation
Prepares students to enter the video production and digital animation industry as script writers, producers, and creative directors for dramatic, entertainment and educational/training video and animation. Students will develop proficiencies using technologies and software to support writing, storyboarding, producing and editing.

Studio-based Education

The CMD program is focused on studio-based education. A significant portion of classes within the major are completed in design studios, engaging students in hands-on production of digital information products. Studio courses are offered in graphic design, gamification, video production, animation and vector graphics, and photography.

SUNY Poly has multiple digital design studios with top of the line computing power and recording tools. Design studios enable students to complete projects in advanced writing, design, animation, programming game design and illustration courses. The studios support both Windows and Mac operating systems and offer a full suite of software to support graphic design, digital photography, video production, animation, game development, text layout and other information design projects. Software in the lab is contemporary and includes many professional tools such as Adobe Creative Cloud, and Microsoft Visual Studio.

Real World Experience

The program emphasizes working with clients in professional situations. In select courses, students work with clients and complete quality deliverables. In capstone courses, students craft print and multi-media digital portfolios and present them in presentations and mock interviews with professionals in their fields. Students work under the direction of lead writers, documentation specialists or publication managers, and are exposed to the demands and constraints of the career in organizational settings. In the senior-level practicum class, students plan and complete a project for a domestic or international client, working through the entire development and implementation process. In the senior-level portfolio class, students create a digital portfolio of their work which is critiqued by the program’s advisory board in mock job interviews and in end-of-semester presentations. This portfolio can then be used in job interviews. Past student portfolios can be viewed from the CMD website.

Careers in Information Design

Graduates from the program find employment in interactive media and game design, social media strategy, web design, professional writing and editing, video production, instructional design technologies, training and teaching, communication management, computer documentation, public relations, graphics, journalism, and document design. Students may also go on to graduate study in information design (see below), graphic design, journalism, social media, computer interface design, and media studies.

Accelerated BS/MS Program in Communication and Information Design and Information Design and Technology

At any time prior to their senior year, CMD students can apply to enter the accelerated BS/MS program. The joint BS/MS program is a well-integrated program that permits students to complete both a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree in a reduced time frame with a reduced total number of total credits. Go to the CMD website for admission requirements and for further details.

BS/MS Degree Requirements
Completion of the joint BS/MS program requires a minimum of 145 credit hours, including a minimum of 33 semester hours of graduate study. All specific requirements for both the BS and the MS degrees must be met. Students in the joint program may apply up to six credits of graduate coursework to both the undergraduate and graduate degrees simultaneously. The double-counted coursework will be chosen from the Core and Elective Courses in the graduate program and applied to the undergraduate track electives. The graduate program is completely online, so students can choose to leave the area after completing the CMD requirements and continue taking courses for the MS degree.

B.S. in Communications and Media Design (CMD) – 124 total credits

To earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Communications and Media Design, a student must fulfill the following requirements (transfer credits usually fulfill half the degree requirements):

  • Satisfactory completion of at least 124 semester hours of college level work, including credits in the following areas:

1. General Education Requirements
2. SUNY Poly Degree Requirements
3. Program Requirements
4. General Electives

  • Satisfactory completion of at least 45 semester hours of upper division course work, at least 30 of which must be taken at SUNY Poly.
  • Achievement of at least 2.00 cumulative quality point average in course work taken at SUNY Poly, and a “C” or better in all Communications and Media Design Core courses.

SUNY General Education Requirements

At least 30 credits must be earned by completing SUNY approved General Education Courses.

All students must take at least one course in:

  • Mathematics
  • Basic Communication (ENG 101 or equivalent)

All students must complete courses in at least five (5) out of the following eight (8) SUNY General Education categories:

  • Natural Science
  • Humanities
  • The Arts
  • Social Science
  • American History
  • Western Civilization
  • Other World Civilization
  • Foreign Languages

NOTE: You may take more than one course in a given category to complete this 30 credit hour requirement, but you must also satisfy the appropriate number of categories.

SUNY Poly degree requirements

  • Natural Sciences : one course which may also be a General Education Natural Science course.
  • Upper-Division Writing Course: may be satisfied by an appropriate course in the program core.

Liberal Arts Requirements

All students are required to earn a total of 60 credits in the Liberal Arts. Students majoring in Communications and Media Design fulfill this requirement through courses satisfying General Education and Program requirements.

CMD Program Requirements

Core Coursework (28 credits)

  • COM 302 Presentational Speaking
  • COM 106 or COM 306 Report Writing/Technical Communication
  • COM 320 Information Design
  • COM 380 Communication Theory
  • COM *** Professional Writing Elective
  • COM 495 Senior Practicum in Communication
  • COM 499 Portfolio and Professional Development

*** COM 340, 350, or 400.
*** COM 307 and 308 do not meet this requirement.

Professional Track (16 credits)
Students can choose any four courses from ANY of the following tracks, in consultation with their adviser. Students can transfer up to four credits in this area.

Graphic Design & Communication

  • ART 110 Principles of Two Dimensional Design
  • COM 108 Introduction to Digital Media Production
  • COM 216 Digital Media and Information in Society
  • COM 340 Writing and Production in New Media
  • COM 350 Visual Thinking and Writing
  • COM 375 Designing and Writing Interactive Texts
  • COM 414 Advanced Digital Graphic Design
  • COM 417 Visual Identity and Branding
  • COM 490 Special Topics in Communications
  • MKT 321 Advertising Management
  • PHI 350 Technology and Ethics

Interactive Media & Game Design

  • COM 219 Introduction to Video Game Design and Culture
  • COM 239 Gamification Theory
  • COM 260 Introduction to Web Site Design
  • COM 309 Machinima
  • COM 319 Asset Production
  • COM 340 Writing and Production in New Media
  • COM 419 Video Game Design Studio
  • COM 429 Professional Game Production
  • COM 460 Advanced Web Site Design
  • COM 490 Special Topics in Communications

Digital Imaging, Video, and Animation

  • COM 112 Digital Photography and Imaging
  • COM 213 Introduction to Animation and Vector Graphics
  • COM 242 Introduction to Video Production
  • COM 340 Writing and Production in New Media
  • COM 341 Field and Studio Video Production
  • COM 350 Visual Thinking and Writing
  • COM 416 Interactive Animation
  • COM 422 Advanced Digital Photography
  • COM 490 Special Topics in Communications

A “C” or better is required in all core classes and a 2.00 in the major as a whole.

Unrestricted Electives (balance of 124 credits)


For non-CMD majors still interested in developing an understanding of design, information, and communication in a contemporary world, we offer a diverse set of minors.