Design and Imaging Technology Associate in applied science degree

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People who work in the design and imaging field are responsible for designing, organizing, and producing print and Web-based media for business, communication, publishing, manufacturing, entertainment, and advertising markets. This is a large, exciting field that requires a variety of computer-based and traditional visual skills. The design and imaging technology program provides opportunities for students to enter various careers ranging from creative to highly technical positions at various degree levels. This program is available for qualified deaf and hard of hearing students. 

As a student in the associate in applied science (AAS) degree in design and imaging technology, offered by RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf, you may choose a concentration in either graphic design or graphic production.

You will gain work experience through a required cooperative education experience. Depending on your specific program concentration and elective course selection, you will use traditional and computer-based methods to produce drawings, layouts, illustrations and digital photographic images; prepare documents for print, Web and digital distribution; produce interactive digital media; perform digital retouching and restoration of photographic images; produce composite digital images; design and produce websites; produce computer animations; plan and produce short-edited videos; and operate electrophotographic digital printing and inkjet systems.

Education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers is a major emphasis for students, parents and counselors as they consider which college programs match the students interests and aptitudes. Funding for STEM career preparation is often a driving factor. The design and imaging technology program is considered a STEM-career program. Graphic design and production for print, Web and digital media cannot happen without the use and application of technology and computing skills.

Read about the Career Skills you can learn in the design and imaging technology program.

O*Net Online lists STEM career clusters and graphic design is listed as being part of the Computer Science STEM disciplines.

The associate in applied science (AAS) degree in design and imaging technology is a career-focused program, designed to prepare you for direct employment in well-paying careers, following graduation. As a graduate of the AAS degree program, you also may apply for admission to a bachelor of fine arts degree program or a bachelor of science degree program in RIT’s College of Art and Design after completing the AAS degree course of study.

We prepare students for jobs in the large visual communications industry which includes graphic design, commercial digital printing, website design and development, videography, animation, packaging design, photography, and specialty graphics. Jobs have evolved from a skilled trade craft to a high-tech digital design and production workflow.

The visual communications industry changes rapidly with the advent of new technologies and software programs. The world depends on text, graphics, illustrations, video and photos for communication using printed materials, web sites, and electronic media. There will always be a demand for graduates with skills in the visual communications field.

Some industry job outlook projections include:

Cooperative education

As a student in the design and imaging technology program, you will be required to complete a cooperative (co-op) work experience prior to graduation. You may schedule your co-op after completing your second-year academic requirements.


  • Design

  • Advertising, PR, and Marketing

  • Journalism, Media, and Publishing

  • Architecture and Planning

  • Government (Local, State, Federal)

  • Non-Profit

  • Other Industries

Typical Job Titles

Graphic Design Technician Digital Image Specialist
Specialty-Graphics Technician Digital Photography Technician
Image/Photo Retoucher Print Production Associate
Video Technician Website Designer
Graphics Production Technician Sign Design/Production
Marketing Communication Technician Digital Printing Systems Operator

Curriculum for Design and Imaging Technology AAS

Design and Imaging Technology, AAS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
   Principles of Design and Color
Students will be introduced to the basic elements of two-dimensional monochromatic and color design, compositional principles, and approaches to analysis of design problems. Techniques for gathering resources to work toward possible design solutions and visualization of design concepts through the use of idea sketches to final comprehensive layouts. Color theory will be introduced. Students will also utilize basic design vocabulary to participate in critiques for the purpose of analyzing their own and other students' work. This course provides students in non-creative technical majors as well as those pursuing more creative endeavors within the graphic arts field with a fundamental overview and understanding of the design process to expand critical awareness of the importance of good design.
   Raster and Vector Graphics
This course introduces students to the skills needed for the successful production and manipulation of raster and vector images using image creation and production software. Students will work in bitmap and vector applications, producing and editing with the tools and techniques offered by the software programs such as selection techniques, basic layer controls, digital masking, image correction and enhancement. Additional topics will include the relevance of image size, resolution and file format specifications when working with raster and vector images. Comprehension and correct usage of terminology and concepts are emphasized.
   Graphic Design and Typography I
Students will learn how to work through steps of the graphic design process, starting with the identification and research of design problems, and the intended message and the target audience, to development of basic graphic design solutions presented visually through clear, well-executed layouts created by both traditional and electronic means. Fundamental graphic design and typographic principles, elements, techniques and vocabulary used in design problem solving will be introduced. Students in this course will also learn about areas/categories of graphic design, creating examples such as posters, book/CD covers and logos. Topics covering selecting appropriate printing papers, professional practices, psychology of color, and critique methods will also be introduced.
   Page Layout I
Students will use page layout (desktop publishing) applications to design and produce pages and documents to given specifications. Skill development will include importing and placing text and graphic files, the application of style sheets, templates, snippets, libraries, and color specifications. The application of design and typographic principles, industry terminology, measurement systems, font management, and file management are also covered.
   Web Design I
This course introduces students to the fundamental skills needed to create designs that work on the World Wide Web. Students are introduced to the Internet, learn basic HTML programming for graphics, and legal issues of the Internet. Text based technology is used to separate design from content using templates and cascading style sheets (CSS). Topics such as image preparation, page design, site graphic design, navigation & linking, content, usability, speed, originality and audience are discussed. Students are expected to create web pages that demonstrate their understanding and use of basic application of the above topics.
   Freshman Seminar
The course provides entering NTID students with opportunities to develop/enhance academic skills, personal awareness, and community involvement in order to maximize their college experience. Students have opportunities to explore and navigate the college environment, develop/reinforce academic skills and participate in service learning opportunities. Students are encouraged to establish meaningful connections with faculty, staff and peers. The course promotes the development of plans for ongoing growth and involvement in class and in the RIT/NTID and/or broader community. Students must pass this course to earn an associates degree.
Choose one of the following:
   Drawing I‡
This course is an introduction to freehand drawing of basic forms, with an emphasis on perspective, including one-point and two-point techniques, still life studies and figure drawing. Drawing principles, materials, and techniques will be introduced. Still life study will be applied using perspective concepts, and composition, including tonal values and textures. Figure drawing will be focused on the study of line, gesture, contour, construction, proportion and tonal values.
   Digital Photography I§
This course gives students an introduction to the tools, techniques and terminology of digital photographic imaging through a series of hands-on activities that will permit each student to investigate the applications of digital photography. Students will be expected to capture images using digital cameras, process digital images using the appropriate software, create quality picture files and prints, and participate in project-related critiques.
General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective††
General Education – Elective**
General Education – Elective†
General Education – First-Year Writing (WI)
Second Year
   Employment Seminar
Provides students with an opportunity to prepare for co-op and permanent employment through activities including developing and revising resumes, cover letters and portfolios, completing forms, interviewing, developing strategies for finding job opportunities, and researching targeted companies. Discussions relating to personal finance, communication strategies, adapting to the workplace, tips for job success, and workplace expectations will be included.
   Production Workshop
This course reinforces the students' skills learned in their Arts & Imaging Studies technical courses. Students are introduced to procedures that are used in an actual graphic communications production environment, including the cost of doing business, estimating procedures, and production and quality control requirements. This course enables the student to develop and apply individual and team-building problem-solving skills as they are guided through integrated activities from creation to final product in both print and non-print media production workflows. Students work in a simulated design and production environment where they can develop their technical skills, work habits, and customer relations.
   Co-op: Visual Communications Studies
This course provides a ten-week (350 hours) work experience in the field.
Choose two of the following:
   History of Graphic Design‡
This course includes the study of a survey of art and design movements, designers, and typographers who have made significant contributions to the field of Graphic Design.
   Image Preparation§
Students will build on the skills previously learned in Raster and Vector Graphics. This course includes specialized image preparation techniques used to acquire, optimize, correct, reconstruct, restore, and enhance images for placement in print and digital media layouts. Topics include: determining and applying resolution and magnification settings appropriate to the characteristics of the specified purpose of an image, setting highlight and shadow points, removing color cast, sharpening, and tone-adjustment of acquired images; the use of desk-top scanners hardware/software; the use of appropriate color settings/modes and file formats.
   Graphic Design and Typography II‡
Students will practice working through steps of the graphic design process learned in Graphic Design and Typography I to develop more complex design solutions presented visually through clear, well executed layouts created by both traditional and electronic means. More advanced design and typography principles will be discussed. Students in this course will learn about and will create examples of various areas/categories of graphic design, including corporate graphic design, information design, advertising design, editorial design and packaging design. Topics such as using creative briefs, folding/finishing/binding methods, professional graphic design business practices and self-promotion will also be covered.
   Color Theory and Management§
This course includes the study and management of color for design, printing, web, and photographic imaging systems and procedures. Students will use and apply correct technical vocabulary, and various concepts and procedures related to the perception, specification, evaluation, correction, and management of color in various graphic arts.
Choose two of the following:
   Publication Design‡
In this course, focus will be placed on design of multi-paged printed graphics including brochures, booklets, catalogs, menus and editorial designs using grids to organize information. Issues such as page sequencing and pagination, readability, design flow, consistency and preparing documents to meet industry standards will be addressed. Assignments will be completed using page layout software consistent with industry standards.
   Identity Design‡
In this course, students will learn about various classifications and areas of identity design and will develop identity symbols and systems of identification and branding for businesses and organizations as well as individuals, including components such as business cards, letterheads, envelopes and invoices. Focus will be on identifying client need, budget and target audience in order to develop appropriate identity design solutions with components that are compatible, consistent, and practical to use. In addition, students will be familiarized with current brand identification system designers and current design trends in identity design. Students are expected to find a real client for at least one of the assignments for this course.
   PDF Production and Workflow§
The students will study the Portable Document Format (PDF) file format including defining and applying specifications for color management, file optimization and file security; recognizing and editing PDF documents; and using PDF files in a variety of print and non-print media production workflows. Topics include procedures for making PDF files, and adding interactive features including bookmarks, action button, hyperlinks to internal anchors, and hyperlinks to other documents and Web content. Emphasis is given to file optimization for interactive display size formats, color, and resolution.
   Page Layout II§
This course builds on topics presented in Page Layout I. Students will define and apply techniques and procedures for optimizing document design and production efficiency. Topics include defining paragraph, character, and object styles; making and using templates; saving and accessing object snippets and libraries; accessing and using database information to create documents, recognizing and applying proofreaders marks and notations; defining and applying advanced typographic techniques, advanced page layout procedures, object transparency and other image effects; building and editing tables; and, defining and applying color specifications and effects; and using document output procedures. Students will continue to develop knowledge and skills in the industry leading page layout software applications.
Program Elective
General Education – Ethical Perspective†
General Education – Artistic Perspective†
General Education – Global Perspective† 
Third Year
Portfolio Workshop
This course will give students from all areas of study in the Arts and Imaging Studies Department an opportunity to prepare and submit portfolios of their work for final review by a jury composed of department faculty members and professionals. The course will emphasize professional procedures, work habits, and demonstration of creative and technical skills, depending on the students' areas of expertise, as well as appropriate communication with clients, presentation techniques, and ability to work as a fully contributing member of a team.
Choose one of the following:
   Digital Illustration‡
This course will provide students with skills and techniques used in areas of digital illustration, including comparison of techniques and functions of vector and bitmap software programs to create professional-quality renderings. Various kinds of illustration will be introduced, including editorial, book, and information illustration (illustrated charts and graphs). Students will have the opportunity to create professional quality illustrations for various audiences and media.
   Specialty Graphics Imaging§
This course provides students with a unique set of knowledge and skills required for the preparation, production, finishing, material handling, mounting and displaying of wide format products. Students will study procedures used to create products that include large display signage and decals, vehicle wraps, packaging mock-ups, point-of-purchase display elements, vinyl appliqué, magnetic and tieback signage, and large-scale presentation displays, and other large-scale signage.
Program Elective
General Education – Social Perspective†  
Total Semester Credit Hours

Please see the NTID General Education Curriculum (GE) for more information.

Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing associate degrees are required to complete one Wellness course.

† An ASL-Deaf Cultural Studies (AASASLDCS) course is required for graduation. It can be taken in any semester and can be taken at NTID or another college of RIT. In order to fulfill this requirement as part of the credit hours in the program, it can be a course approved for both AASASLDCS and a General Education – Perspective or  General Education – Elective.

‡ NGRD courses/Graphic Design concentration      

§ NGRP courses/Graphic Production concentration

** Any mathematics course numbered NMTH-140 or higher.

†† Any science course numbered NSCI-153 or higher.


   Independent Study-Visual Communications Studies
The description for each Independent Study request will be specified in each student proposal.
   Special Topics-Visual Communications Studies
The description for each Special Topics request will be specified in each course proposal.
   Visual Idea Development
This course gives students the opportunity to see themselves, their experiences and their environment as sources of creativity, through a variety of activities which will include classroom discussions; videos of artists; visiting a gallery; keeping documented written and illustrated journals, sketchbooks; and working with a team to do a project. Students learn strategies for developing concepts and organization of thought processes as well as systems to formulate solutions to design problems. The library is used for development of research skills for written and visual content.
   Drawing II
This course continues the principles and skills developed in Drawing I, with special emphasis on the human form, including proportion, shading, light and dark, head/facial features, sustained study, and the use of figure within a composition. This course extends the various applications learned in the previous drawing and applies them to still life, drapery studies, and the human form within various environments. The use of the sketchbook will be emphasized for development of composition skills; students will use the library and other resources and will further explore various kinds of drawing materials.
In this course, students will learn how to create illustrations, create animation, and develop animated elements for web-based and stand-alone interactive media. Course content includes concepts of staging, timelines, frame rates, keyframes, transitions, and object attributes. Writing and storyboarding for animation will be addressed. Both vector and raster animation applications will be used.
In this course, students will learn how to create cartoons, apply storytelling techniques to develop sequential graphic narratives, and develop multi page, multi-strip, or single-panel cartoons. Course content includes understanding the history of cartooning, drawing techniques (both traditional and digital methods), character creation and development, story writing, plot breakdowns, panel to panel sequencing, cartooning, and creating final output in the form of a printed comic book or a online web comic. Writing and breakdowns for cartooning will also be taught. Drawing techniques and software applications are taught and used in the course.
   Digital Photography II
Aesthetic/composition considerations will be emphasized. Various genres and markets will be discussed such as photo journalism, portraiture, fine art, advertising and marketing, sports, and still life. This course will also address various technologies for the capturing and converting of multiple static images into more dynamic presentations of environments, and objects. Topics will include panoramic stitching, creating virtual tours, creating 360 degree views of 3D objects, and creating dynamic slide shows. Students will be taught basic techniques for studio lighting and will be asked to produce photographs to match an art director sketch or layout.
This course provides an overview of videography for the web. This is a basic digital video course that introduces the process and procedures involved in digital video production from start to finish. Students will be introduced to videography production techniques, camera operation and formats, digital non-linear editing, titling and lighting for video. Emphasis is on development of ideas, proper operation of video and computer equipment for productions and post-production of digital non-linear edited sequences and their adaptation to different presentation formats for online delivery.
   Image Manipulation
This course emphasizes the procedures and skill development required for the efficient and effective manipulation and compositing of digital images in a production environment building on the skills previously learned in Raster and Vector Graphics. This is a production-oriented course with a focus on the non-destructive editing of (primarily raster) digital images. This course includes specialized image manipulation methods such as advanced selection and masking techniques for producing images that blend together into a single composite image. Additional topics include applying production planning techniques to image manipulation, production quality standards, advanced methods and quality criteria for image manipulation, and legal and ethical issues.
   Publication Production
The students will study the use of page layout applications to produce book, magazine, and long format publications. Topics include techniques for specifying and applying publication templates; font management and selection; page formats; page and section numbering; headers and footers; text editing; graphics creation, preparation, and placement; color specification and usage; automating a table of contents; using a colophon and other features typical for book and long document publishing formats. Students are introduced to the repurposing of documents for interactive digital media and XML-based document production.
   Web Design II
This course provides an overview of designing multi-page web sites and being sure they are accessible to audiences with special needs. Students will continue to learn how to use website concepts and design elements learned in Web Design I to successfully to create a multi-page web site. Effective use of color, typography, and design will be applied to website design. Students will continue the study and application of Web design concepts, site navigation, interactivity, and the management of a multi-page web site. Students will develop a web site that combines the advantages of text-based production techniques and graphics-based design with content management systems, with a focus on usability and accessibility.
   Digital Printing Systems
This course will focus on the operating features of the black & white and color digital production printing systems. Students will learn the job and market capability of the various systems, xerography concepts in monochrome printing, image and paper quality considerations, creation of electronic files and file transfer, and operating procedures. Additional topics include the digital workflow for on-demand book printing and small-format binding.

Admission Requirements

For the career-focused AAS Degree

  • 2 years of math required
  • 1 year of science required
  • English language skills as evidenced by application materials determine associate degree options.

Specific Requirements

Successful completion of a sampling experience offered during the Summer Vestibule Program and also during the academic year is required. The sampling activities provide opportunities for students to learn about the arts and imaging field, identify career opportunities, and evaluate their interest and aptitude for a degree program.

  • ACT: Composite test score of 17 and above.
  • English: Placement into the Critical Reading and Writing (UWRT-100) course.
  • Mathematics: Placement into the Mathematics in Society (NMTH-140) course. Typically, students entering this major will have completed at least two years of high school mathematics.
  • Science: Typically, students entering this major will have completed at least two years of high school science.


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