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Visual Storytelling & Comic Arts Certificate

Non-credit, one-year certificate

The storytelling that propels graphic novels, traditional comics, zines, and children’s books works because of the unique combination of visual and written narrative. Our Visual Storytelling and Comic Arts Certificate is grounded in the creative power and potential of word and image when they are combined to create a distinct language. There is no conceptual limit to what is possible in the comic arts; the form holds as much possibility as the human imagination, from children’s stories to visual journalism to narratives on education and health.

Students in the Comic Arts certificate refine both their writing and drawing skills, learning to combine the two in a rigorous and accessible approach to the sequential arts. Our program is structured as a community of artists learning in small classes, in close dialogue and critique with MassArt faculty and a wide range of visiting artists and writers. There is flexibility within the curriculum so that each student can build skills and progress toward an area of expertise and focus that suits their vision.  As students’ toolkits expand, they’ll participate in professional practice training in order to strategize ways to build an artistic community and then distribute, exhibit, and publish their own work.

View Press Release: MassArt Launches Visual Storytelling and Comic Arts Certificate Program


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Students can take classes at their own pace, in any order they choose. To finish in 9 months, take two classes in each 7 week session.

  • Fully online
  • High profile, emerging, local and national/international visiting artists
  • Development of an individualized portfolio
  • Eight 7-week classes earns the certificate ( 6 required; 2 chosen electives)



Students who complete the Visual Storytelling and Comic Arts Certificate demonstrate the following learning outcomes:

    - Produce original, finished comics, short and long form
    - Understand the relationship between text and image: page design, narrative structures, and script development, along with cartooning, comic book genre and visual style
    - Use research to inform non-fiction and fiction storytelling.
    - Appreciation for art historical links to comics and popular graphic storytelling

    - Understanding of the creative and design process
    - Build verbal and written communication skills
    - Time management
    - Professionalism

    - Recognize the influence of major comics and publishing trends
    - Evaluate work of self and others with a critical eye
    - Understanding production process from scripting, pencils, inks and book design

    - Development and understanding of page design, flats, spot blacks, using analogue and digital tools both in color and black and white
    - Work effectively with industry standard software (including: Illustrator, Photoshop, Procreate, and InDesign) 

    - Understanding book festivals, comic conventions, mainstream publishing industry and fine art book market
    - Market understanding through genre and audience research
    - Connecting through internships and project collaborations 

    - Create professional graphic novel proposals, short-form comics, and comic books that reflect individual style and knowledge of genre within the medium as well as reading audiences
    - Understand design principles from panel to page to book design
    - Produce a personal style of cartoon drawing, based on available genre and through personal exploration– created both by hand and on digitally drawn computer programs
    - Produce a body of work
    – short form comics/anthologies and book proposals for submission to professional publications in both traditional comic, book publishing and online platforms