School of Visual and Performing Arts


Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art (MFA)


Baron Bell


Education, Return on Investment, Underemployment, Job Satisfaction, Income, Lifestyle


Art and Design | Arts and Humanities | Communication Technology and New Media


This research investigates the current plague of unemployment and underemployment that nearly half of qualified individuals in the field of Visual Communications are met with after graduation. Students who major in this field dedicate a tremendous amount of time, money, and energy toward developing a broad skillset that resolves critical matters of communication through visual solutions. Research has demonstrated that despite conditions that are subject to ongoing change of economy, industry, and marketplace there are contributing factors that must be addressed to overcome un/underemployment regardless of circumstances. These include an underdeveloped network of professional contacts, deficiency in recognizing or responding to changing conditions, and a limited ability to customize one’s career around their unique specialization. The purpose of this study is to provide students who major in Visual Communications the information and tools needed to incorporate their ability to adapt and problem solve from their skillset into their search for work. To explore this issue, information was gathered through secondary research that involved data from federal databases, case studies, literature review, and secondary research in general. Return on investment for one’s education is measured in consideration of three primary themes: job satisfaction, income, and quality of life, which may provide hopeful opportunity for professionals in Visual Communications to overcome un/underemployment through career customization.