Columbia College Chicago

Advertising Art Direction, BA

The Advertising Art Direction program will prepare you to launch a career as a junior art director in an advertising agency. Art direction is fundamentally a design activity, and you’ll get exposure to Columbia’s other Design programs and work with other Design students. You’ll collaborate with copywriters and photographers in classes that mimic how an advertising agency operates.

Our advertising art direction program—one of a handful of degree programs in the country—and our location in Chicago, an important and vibrant advertising city, sets Columbia apart from other schools.

The program seamlessly integrates the analog and the digital worlds. You’ll produce both print and digital campaigns and create portfolios that enable you to enter rigorous, fast-paced professions in advertising, marketing, social media marketing, branding and strategy development.

What to Expect Your First Year

You’ll learn why, and how, to think more creatively and collaboratively in a hands-on way. You’ll participate in Columbia’s innovative and shared Foundations Program. Foundations will provide you an opportunity to explore different areas and techniques, meet students in a wide variety of programs and prepare you for major-specific experiences. Through five-week, one-credit courses, you’ll hone your existing skills and learn new ones. You’ll choose three foundations skills courses each semester from more than a dozen offerings.

You’ll apply what you’re learning right away to develop solutions to problems presented in Making I and Making II, co-taught by faculty who are designers and artists. You’ll work in teams and learn to develop, present and document your work. Your classes will also include Introduction to Visual Culture, in which you’ll learn to see your own work through the eyes of an art historian across disciplines. By your third semester, you’ll be thinking conceptually and creating campaigns.
What to Expect Your Last Year

Your last year in the program prepares you to hit the ground running in the workforce. You’ll take Advertising Communication and solve concrete advertising problems from perceptual, psychological and business perspectives across traditional and new media platforms. You’ll also take Management for Designers and learn essential business skills, such as how to start a business, how to prepare proposals and contracts and how to bill clients. During this course, you’ll also learn how to network and solicit clients and deal with other creatives, such as campaign team collaborators, writers, photographers, media and print partners, and you’ll gain knowledge of copyright law.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-World Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

You’ll have the chance to collaborate, network and create with your peers through participation in one of the most active and vibrant student groups on campus: Students in Design. The group has created awareness campaigns, produced and held card sales, designed festival posters, taken field trips to learn skills such as letterpress and participated in charrettes, one-day problem solving activities where small groups work together on a tight deadline to accomplish creative solutions to real-life challenges.

What are my internship options?

Internships are highly recommended, but not required. Our students have completed work as interns for firms such as Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, AbelsonTaylor, McGarryBowen, Gorilla and IDEO. Because of our program’s excellent reputation and Chicago location, all students who desire an internship can typically obtain one. You have year-round opportunities for internships, which are repeatable.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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