Department of Art and Art History Design

Graduate Program Overview

We define design as a complex cultural activity that crosses many boundaries. We believe the practice of designing both communicates and contributes to the formulation of ideas and values in society, and that the results of a design process may be tangible, intangible or both. Our program encourages designers to use the design process as a method for understanding culture, effectively articulating this understanding to others, and incorporating this knowledge within their designs.

The transdiciplinary nature of design is reinforced both through the program’s course offerings and structure, the latter which allows for a student’s ability to take electives throughout the University. Design courses are structured so that students may easily incorporate aspects from their electives into their design coursework. Design MFA students work with the Design faculty in both organized courses and independent studies. Graduate students may also be invited to assist faculty with their research and creative efforts. 

Building on each student’s individual base of knowledge, abilities and perspective, we stress design processes informed through critical thinking, writing, making and discussion. Based on the concept of practice as research, the curriculum allows students to develop projects informed by both design research and interdisciplinary study. Through their MFA explorations, students establish both methods and a trajectory that will fuel their future work as they re-enter the workplace.

Degree Offered

Master of Fine Art (MFA) in Design

This is a two-year, full-time course of study, requiring one summer of classes, in order to complete the 60 credit hours. At least thirty hours of graduate course work must be in Design (the major). The remaining hours may be selected from courses throughout the University; the University requires a minor of at least six credits outside of the major.

In addition to the course of study, MFA candidates complete two graduate reviews, the first held at the end of the first spring semester, and the second at the end of the second fall semester. During These examinations, or critiques, the student exhibits design work and makes an oral presentation, after which the Design faculty engages the student with question-and-answer period. All Design graduate students attend and observe these reviews.

Finally, students are required to disseminate their work through annual MFA exhibition and a written Master’s Report.