Important Notice: COVID-19 Institute response

Full-time Certificate 6495cert

Communication Design Essentials

Fall 2020 Delivery Mode: ONLINE

  • This program will be delivered online for the Fall semester.
  • Your education is our priority and we will continue to deliver the applied instruction, collaborative experience, and industry connections that you expect from BCIT.
  • Students should be prepared to attend some synchronous online sessions during regular school hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 5:30pm PST) with some evenings and weekends. Student schedules will be available in late August 2020.
Your creativity and love for visual communication combined with your eye for aesthetics could lead you to a fulfilling and successful career in graphic design.

In this age of information, organizations are expanding their communications and marketing departments, increasing the demand for graphic designers and communication professionals.

The Certificate in Communication Design Essentials, a partnership program between BCIT and Emily Carr University (ECU), provides you with a skillset preparing you for success in the graphic design field in 12 months. This intensive program combines technical expertise with a solid foundation in visual communication and the design process.

This program provides you with the option of a block transfer of credits towards the ECU 4-year Communication Design bachelor’s degree. You may opt to continue your studies on a full or part-time basis, or launch your exciting new career immediately.

About the program

  • 12 month, full-time certificate program
  • All in-class courses, on two campuses (BCIT and Emily Carr University)
  • Classes run 3 to 4 times per week. This may include days, evenings and/or weekends
  • Covers the fundamentals of the skills and business necessities of communication design
Learn more about our unique program and how it prepares you for design success in the Program Details.

Who should complete the Certificate in Communication Design Essentials?

This program might be for you if you:
  • Have an interest in visual communication
  • Want to explore the field of graphic design
  • Are considering pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Communication Design at ECU
  • May already have a degree, and are looking for complementary skills to become a full-time graphic designer
If any of these appeal to you, visit our Program Entry page to apply today.

What grads can do

With BCIT’s certificate program in Communication Design Essentials, you’ll gain necessary skills to begin your career in graphic design. You will gain technical expertise combined with a solid foundation in visual communication and the design process.

Because of our unique partnership with Emily Carr University, you’ll combine the expert technical skills BCIT is known for with outstanding design skills and graduate with your credential from both institutions.

Additionally, the certificate program block-transfers into a four-year degree program so that you could complete your bachelor’s degree in less than three years after earning your certificate at BCIT.

Learn more about your options and benefits at the Graduating and Jobs page.

Program Entry

COVID-19 Notice to Applicants

Please visit Admission during COVID-19 to learn how BCIT Admissions is supporting applicants. At this time, there are no program-specific changes for applying to this program.

Application processing

This program is open to applications beginning:

  • June 1st* for the Spring/Summer (April) intake
  • October 1st* for the Fall (September) intake
*or next business day

Applications are considered for a specific intake.

Entrance requirements

This program has a two-step admission process. Applicants must meet all entrance requirements and will be accepted on a first qualified basis as long as space remains.

Step 1: Meet the following entrance requirements

Read more about how to meet BCIT’s entrance requirements

Step 2: Department assessment

Applications will be reviewed and assessed by the program area when the entrance requirements are complete. Applicants will be contacted for the following:

  • Portfolio review session with the Digital Arts department*

*You must bring your portfolio to the portfolio review session. Portfolios should consist of 5–8 examples of creative work, and can be in any format; a sample of your work in any creative media (e.g. photography, design, fine art, ceramics). We are interested in learning what your creative interests are and if we feel our program will be of benefit to you. You will be asked questions about your goals, and given information about what to expect in the program. If you are reviewing from abroad, you can send your portfolio by email and ask to have your review over Skype. The goal of the portfolio is to allow you to show us some of the creative work you enjoy doing, and how it inspires you to work in the graphic design field.

Recommended for success

Apply to program

To submit your application:

  • Include proof of meeting all entrance requirements.
  • Convert all transcripts and supporting documents to PDF files.
  • Have a credit card ready to pay the application fee.
Apply Now

Learn more about how to apply

Scheduled intakes

April and September each year.


Within two business days of submitting your completed application, BCIT will send a message to your personal and myBCIT e-mail addresses. All correspondence regarding your application will be posted to your online myCommunication account at We'll send you an e-mail when a new message is posted. It's important to watch for these e-mails or regularly check your account online.

You can expect to receive communication concerning the status of your application within four weeks.

Costs & Supplies

Tuition fees

Please see the Full-Time Studies Tuition & Fees page for full-time tuition fees.

Books and supplies

We recommend that students in the Communication Design Essentials program have a MAC notebook or Windows PC. Costs for a computer will vary depending on the configuration chosen. Please see below for specifications.

System Requirements for Communication Design Essentials
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit) version 1809 or later
Apple® macOS® 10.13, 10.14 or later (64-bit Intel-based)
Processor 64-bit Intel® or AMD® multi-core processor with SSE4.2 instruction set
Memory 8 GB minimum, 16 GB or higher recommended (32 GB for 4K media or higher)
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or equivalent; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 or Quadro T1000 is recommended.
AMD Radeon Pro 555X or higher
Intel UHD Graphics 630 or higher
Storage 250GB SSD or higher
Monitor 1920 x 1080 or better
Internet Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.

Financial assistance

Financial assistance may be available for this program. For more information, please contact Student Financial Aid and Awards.


The courses in this one-year certificate program have been designed to give you the essential skills in graphic and communication design to begin your career or get a head start on furthering your education. All your studies, including vector graphics, digital media design, and packaging design, focus on the practical skills and knowledge you’ll need every day for a successful design career.

Program delivery

This cohort-based 12-month full-time program is delivered over four three-month terms with a short break after Terms 1, 2 and 3. Classes may be scheduled during the day, evenings, and on one weekend day. Students will need to be able to attend classes on those days. Term schedules will be complete and accessible to students approximately four weeks prior to the program start.

Program matrix

Term 1 Credits
  CDEP 1100 Design and the Creative Process 3.0
  CDEP 1600 Fundamentals of a Visual Language 3.0
  MDIA 1069 Layout and InDesign 1 3.0
  MDIA 1515 Business Communication for Designers 1.5
  MDIA 1525 Technology for Designers 1.5
  MDIA 1535 Introduction to Design and Research Skills 2.0
Term 2 Credits
  CDEP 2100 Layout Design and the Static Image 3.0
  CDEP 2120 Typography 3.0
  MDIA 2009 Major Project 1 3.0
  MDIA 2167 Vector Graphics: Illustrator for Designers 3.0
  MDIA 2187 Raster Graphics: Photoshop for Designers 3.0
Term 3 Credits
  CDEP 3100 Introduction to Brand Identity 1.5
  CDEP 3110 Packaging Design 1.5
  CDEP 3130 Corporate Communications 2.0
  MDIA 2069 Layout and InDesign 2 3.0
  MDIA 2177 Web Design and Authoring for Designers 3.0
  MDIA 3009 Major Project 2 3.0
Term 4 Credits
  CDEP 2300 Professional Practices for Designers 1.5
  CDEP 3150 Editorial Design 1.5
  CDEP 3300 Digital Media Design 1.5
  MDIA 2087 Prepress 3.0
  MDIA 2194 Dynamic Media Web Design 3.0
  MDIA 4009 Major Project 3 3.0
Total Credits: 56.5

Transfer credit

Do you have credits from another BC/Yukon post-secondary school? Do you want to know if they transfer to courses here at BCIT? Check out BCIT's Transfer Equivalency Database to find out.

Program Details

In partnership with Emily Carr University, BCIT’s Certificate in Communication Design essentials gives you an ideal combination of design knowledge and technical skills to begin your entry-level career or accelerate your continued learning to earn a four-year degree.

Through this program, you’ll get the hands-on experience using the most up-to-date technology and techniques for graphic and communication design. You’ll study with working industry professionals to learn today’s challenges and skills and produce your own print and digital portfolios to help you showcase your work to your future employer.

Program location

Burnaby Campus
3700 Willingdon Avenue
Burnaby, BC

Downtown Campus
555 Seymour Street
Vancouver, BC

Graduating & Jobs

By completing your certificate in Communication Design Essentials, you’re building the foundation of your knowledge for a lifelong career. The skills you’ll earn in this program prepare you to begin a career or accelerate your study of design in all areas, including print and digital, marketing and editorial, and more.

Some opportunities in graphic and communication design include:
  • Communication Designer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Creative Director
  • Digital Communication Specialist
  • Communications Specialist
  • Corporate Communication Designer
  • Editorial Designer
  • Publication Designer
  • Package Designer
  • Brand Strategist or Manager
  • Prepress Specialist
  • Production Specialist
  • Customer Service
  • Marketing Specialist
Graduates of the certificate program are also well situated to pursue further study to earn their bachelor’s degree. Our unique partnership with Emily Carr University gives you specially focused training that then means if you decide to pursue a four-year degree, you have less than three years of study to complete it.

Graduate employment outcomes

The BCIT student outcomes reports present summary findings from the annual survey of former students administered by BC Stats one to two years after graduation. These reports combine the last three years of available results for the 2017-2019 BCIT Outcomes Surveys of 2016-2018 graduates and for Degree 2015-2017 graduates. The reports are organized into three-page summaries containing information on graduates' labour market experiences and opinions regarding their education. More detailed information can be accessed at the BC Student Outcomes website.

To view these results, you may need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in your Web browser.

Apply for graduation

All financial obligations to the Institute must be met prior to issuance of any credential.

Students who successfully complete all courses are eligible to attend convocation.

This is a joint partnership credential between BCIT and Emily Carr. The credential will display both partner institutes' logos. All grades will be transferred to BCIT.

Faculty, Advisors & Staff

Instructors in the Communication Design Essentials Program have extensive industry experience. Many of them remain active in the field. Many of the instructors are members of professional institutes and organizations that relate to the areas of study. These memberships allow instructors to remain current on new industry standards and offer fresh insight to students on recent developments.

Contact Us

Karen Harvey
Program Assistant
604-453-4032 |

Terri Carde
Assistant Instructor
604-451-7032 |

Have questions about:
  • Course selection and program planning
  • Application processes
  • Making changes to your approved program plan
  • Applying for transfer credit and advanced placement
  • Laddering options
  • Job placement and graduate outcomes
  • Student life
Contact a Program Advisor with the BCIT program name in the subject line.

Questions or comments?

Please ensure you have reviewed the detailed information on this site, using the navigation to the right, before submitting the form below.

As well, if you meet any of the following criteria, please follow the links for more information, instead of sending the form:

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The personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the College and Institute Act (RSBC 1996, Ch.52). BCIT will use this information to communicate with you regarding relevant BCIT programs, courses and services. This information is only used by authorized BCIT staff. Email communication sent to and from BCIT is routed through the United States of America. If you have any questions about BCIT's collection and use of this information, please contact BCIT’s manager of Information Access and Privacy.

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