close up on a pencil drawing comics book page multiple frames

Certificate in Comics Studies

The Certificate in Comics Studies is an interdisciplinary program that cultivates visual literacy as well as diversity-minded empathy. The formalistic study of comics provides a technical vocabulary for analyzing the medium and the basis for exploring the wide variety of comic genres from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Close analysis of comics and graphic novels offer students an opportunity to investigate the power of graphic narrative to critique the world around us, to develop empathy, and to understand difference. The multi-modal literacy built through the study of comics is transferable across multiple domains, from the arts and humanities to business and the sciences to K-12 education. 

This certificate program is open to degree-pursuing undergraduates and community members who wish to fulfill the certificate requirements by enrolling in the courses through SDSU Global Campus Open University.

Upon successful completion of this certificate, students will be able to: 

  • Apply comics terminology to discuss varied examples of sequential art through time and across cultures
  • Trace developments in comics and graphic novels from 1850 to the present
  • Analyze comics and graphic novels from multiple-disciplinary perspectives
  • Argue the value of comics for exploring issues related to diversity and social justice

The Certificate in Comics Studies consists of 12 units. HIST/ENG 157 is required (3 units); then 9 units are selected from a wide range of courses across many disciplines. 

Comics GE Pathway

Because several of the comics courses fulfill different GE requirements, students could plot a partial GE pathway through comics: C1 Arts GE through HIST 157 or ENG 157; C2 Humanities Foundations/Lower-Division GE through HUM 250; C2 Humanities Explorations/Upper-Division GE through HIST 457 or RELS 365; and/or Ethnic Studies GE through AFRAS 466 or CCS 235.

Required Course (3 Units)

  • Hist 157 or ENG 157 - Comics and History [Satisfies the C1 category for GE]

Choose Three Courses (9 Units) 

  • AFRAS 466 - Afrofuturism [This course satisfies the Area F - Ethnic studies (ES) requirement.]
  • AFRAS 475 - Super Black: The Politics of Representation in Comics 
  • ART 215 - Visual Odyssey through Comics and Sequential Media
  • AMIND 235 - Indians in Comic Books and Graphic Arts
  • CCS 235 - Comics and Race [This course satisfies the Area F - Ethnic studies (ES) requirement.]
  • ECL 568 - Chicanx Comix: Community, Storytelling, and Social Justice
  • HIST 405 - Amazons and Wonder Woman
  • HIST 457 - Graphic History [Satisfies an upper-division GE (HUM explorations) requirement.]
  • HIST 459 - Manga and Japanese History 
  • HIST 538 - Comics in Cold War America
  • HUM 250 -  Introduction to Environmental Humanities & Comics [Satisfies an lower-division GE (HUM foundations) requirement.]
  • LGBT 550 - Queering Comics
  • RELS 365 -  Religion and Comics [Satisfies an upper-division GE (HUM explorations) requirement.]
  • RWS 413 - The Rhetoric of Comics
  • TE 579 - Comics for K-12 Educators
  • Other variable topics courses, by approval of the advisor
    • ART 343/443/543 -  Illustration (when taught as a comic-book course)
    • ENGL 527 - Genre Studies (when taught with emphasis on comics and/or graphic novels)
    • Various Women’s Studies Courses (WMNST 355 and 360), when taught with substantial content from comics and/or graphic novels

Additional courses are acceptable with approval of the advisor. 

Courses taken prior to AY24/25 CAN count toward the certificate.  

After completion of the 12 units of coursework for the certificate, students should submit the certificate completion google form, which asks for the comics classes taken and your unofficial transcript showing that the relevant coursework has been completed with a C or better. Email the advisor to get the link to the Google form. 

We’re aware that graduate students pursuing an advanced degree in a particular field (e.g. History, English, Teaching Certificate, MALAS, etc.) might be interested in earning formal recognition of a concentration in comics studies. We’re working to develop that option. 



Elizabeth Pollard, Ph.D.
Email: [email protected]