|1||Rhode Island School of Design||Rhode Island|
|2||Cranbrook Academy of Art||Michigan|
|3||Maryland Institute College of Art||Maryland|
|5||ArtCenter College of Design||California|
|6||School of Visual Arts||New York|
|7||California Institute of the Arts||California|
|8||California College of the Arts||California|
|9||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois|
|10||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|11||Virginia Commonwealth University||Virginia|
|12||University of Texas at Austin||Texas|
|13||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|14||Kent State University||Ohio|
|15||College for Creative Studies||Michigan|
|16||University of Illinois at Urbana||Illinois|
|17||Otis College of Art and Design||California|
|18||Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Minnesota|
|19||The Ohio State University||Ohio|
|20||Iowa State University||Iowa|
|21||Colorado State University||Colorado|
|22||Louisiana State University||Louisiana|
|23||California State University-Long Beach||California|
|24||East Carolina University||North Carolina|
|25||University of Houston||Texas|
For our graduate degree rankings, we have evaluated animation schools and programs with the best Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Science (MS) options. To determine which degree matches your career goals, it is important to understand how each qualification differs.
The Master of Arts (MA) is an advanced degree that focuses on areas such as the humanities. MA degrees are typically available in the areas of communications, English, teaching, literature, linguistics, art, and languages. Seminars are the main method of learning for MA programs and many programs do not require a thesis.
The Master of Science (MS) degree option typically focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math. This advanced degree often includes immersive lab work, scientific research, analysis, and evaluation. Unlike MA programs, most MS programs require a thesis.
The Master of Fine Art (MFA) is academically recognized as a terminal degree and it is typically awarded in the visual, fine and performing arts. The MFA degree demands the highest level of professional competency in these areas and practicing artists must exhibit the highest level of accomplishment through the generation of a body of work.
Below are the Top 25 Graphic Design Schools and Colleges with MFA Programs for 2019.
1. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island
Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the first art and design schools in the U.S. This private art and design school serves approximately 2,480 students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries, enrolled in 32 graduate and undergraduate art and design programs leading to a BFA, MFA, five-year Professional Baccalaureate, or a Bachelor of Architecture.
One of the largest departments at RISD, Graphic Design offers MFA program with has two tracks: a two-year option designed for students entering with undergraduate degrees in graphic design or other visual communication, and a three-year option designed for students with degrees in liberal arts, the sciences or fine arts. “Built on a sequence of required courses,” says the school, “the curricula for both allow candidates to tailor individual courses of study through cross-disciplinary electives.”
Course highlights include Graduate Form, Graduate Typography, Design Studio, and History of Graphic Design. “The Graduate Studio sequence explores the range of skills and activities within the design process, from an initial visual/verbal response to content, to the narrative shaping and communication of messages.” Students in both tracks “meet in the Graduate Seminar sequence, which initially builds a sophisticated sense of context through discussion of design history and contemporary critical issues, and later helps develop individual approaches to the exploration, investigation and construction of a well-designed thesis proposal.”
Other program highlights include individual workspaces in a large design studio located in RISD’s Center for Integrative Technologies (CIT), interaction with grad students in Digital + Media, Teaching + Learning in Art + Design, Interior Architecture and Textiles, and access to the Fletcher Building, which offers graduate studio space for MFA candidates in five fine arts programs.
All MFA candidates will submit a written thesis and as a group participate in the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition, a large-scale public show held in the Rhode Island Convention Center.
2. Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Cranbrook Academy began “informal art education” in the late 1920s. This unique art and design school consists of 10 programs/departments including 2D Design, 3D Design, Architecture, Ceramics, Fiber, Metalsmithing, Painting, Print Media, Photography and Sculpture. Each department has an enrollment of approximately 15 students. Students are selected by full-time Artists- or Designers-in-Residence who are the sole faculty members and the heads of the departments. Programs are “free of the formal course structure typical of most art schools and universities. Instead the studio environment is the core of the curriculum with emphasis on developing an individual body of work.”
The 2D Department is the Graduate Graphic Design Department, which places emphasis on “the experimental.” Work being produced in the department “falls on a continuum from book, poster and letterform design, through installation, social practices and contemporary art,” says the Academy. “Issues systematically pursued in the department include work situated at the intersection of design and art, an exploration of the relationship between writing, criticism and production, the process of critique as a generative tool, an interdisciplinary approach to design, and objects first: theory, language, and writing all in support of the object.”
This program leads to an MFA in 2D Design (Graphic Design).
3. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland
Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest degree-granting college of art in the nation. The school serves nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate, and continuing studies students from 49 states and 65 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. MICA’s more than 80 art and design programs lead to either a BFA, MA, MFA, MPS or Certificate.
The MFA in Graphic Design (GD MFA) is a 60 credit hour program that features two years of full-time study, which combines “critical seminars, guided studio courses, and independent work.” Per the school, students in the MFA program may choose a concentration in Critical Studies or Curatorial Practices or “take advantage of electives in many MICA departments, including video, printmaking, and digital media.” Graduates are prepared to advance their current careers, apply for advanced positions in the field, or work in the academic sector.
4. Yale University School of the Arts, New Haven, Connecticut
Founded in 1701, Yale University is home to more than 12,300 students enrolled in dozens of programs in the areas of art, architecture, divinity, drama, forestry and environmental studies, law, management, music, public health, and more. The school, which houses more than 145 departments and schools, is home to one of the most prestigious fine arts schools in the U.S. Established in 1869, the Yale School Art was the nation’s first art school connected with an institution of higher learning.
With an enrollment of more than 100 students, the Yale School of Art offers MFA degrees in Graphic Design, Painting and Printmaking, Photography, and Sculpture. The Yale Graphic Design MFA (Yale GDMFA) is a competitive, 60 credit hour program that accepts just 10 students each year and up to seven students into the preliminary-year program. Per the School, MFA applicants are expected to have “substantial and distinguished experience in visual studies and related professional experience.”
Students can expect support for their graphic design collections in several ways including, “studio work led by faculty meeting weekly, small five- or six-person thesis groups meeting biweekly and individual sessions with writing and editing tutors.”
Lectures, presentations, and workshops are also part of the program as well as access to “extraordinary” resources including Yale University courses, conferences, films, lectures, museums, and the “extensive” research and rare book collections of Sterling and Beinecke libraries. The Yale Graphic Design MFA takes two years to complete, full-time.
5. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California
Established in 1930, ArtCenter College of Design spans two campuses and four structures in the U.S. and Berlin. Home to approximately 2,100 students from the U.S. and more than 40 other countries, ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in the areas of Industrial Design and Visual and Applied Arts. ArtCenter also offers a joint MS/MBA program with Drucker School of Management—the business school of Claremont Graduate University.
Graduate programs for aspiring graphic designers include an MFA in Graphic Design (MGx) with two-year and three-year options. The two-year program consists of four full terms plus a Summer term reserved for a studio independent study plus a recommended internship. The three-year program is designed for incoming students who may need additional design skills to complete the graduate degree. The undergraduate courses will be tailored to meet the individual needs of the student. After these two undergraduate terms, the student enters the traditional MGx course track.
Offered through the Graphic Design Department (GX), the MFA program expands on the undergraduate graphic design curriculum, providing “immersive education in craft, design leadership and strategic thought—all within a socially responsible transmedia platform that includes print, interaction, motion, packaging and mediatecture,” says the school. The program emphasizes “entrepreneurship, leadership and management, with a focus on practical, yet exquisite, professional design solutions.”
Course highlights for the program include Graduate Studio, Graduate Typography, Mediatecture, Project Writing, Screen-Based Elective, 2D Form Elective, Professional Leadership, Cross-Media Strategies, Design Research/Strategy, and Entrepreneurship. All students will complete several seminars and a Graduate Thesis. Students must complete 72 units to graduate.
6. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York
Founded in 1947 as “Cartoonists and Illustrators School,” School of Visual Arts (SVA) serves nearly 4,300 students from across the U.S. and abroad. The school offers 11 undergraduate and 21 graduate degree programs in areas ranging from fine arts and graphic design to filmmaking and photography. The programs at SVA lead to a BFA, MFA, MA, MAT or MPS degree.
Students who would like to earn an advanced degree have several options including an MFA in Design and an MFA Design/Designer as Author + Entrepreneur. Per the school, the MFA in Design “emphasizes entrepreneurship as an alternative to conventional practice, and as a means to raise the level of design expertise and achievement. It teaches “a broad set of visual, verbal and textual approaches as foundation for design, and focuses on “creation to optimize the designer’s abilities to rise to the next professional level.”
The MFA Design/Designer as Author + Entrepreneur Program “was the first in the country to emphasize an entrepreneurial course of study that raises the level of design expertise and achievement.” The program is “suited for students and professionals with backgrounds in graphic design.” The school also encourages “those with environmental, product, Web, interaction design, film and photography backgrounds who are interested in further developing their ability to create content of value.”
All graduate students have access to SVA MFA studios, which are open 24 hours a day and “designed to simulate an operational design/media firm with spacious work-stations that allow for individual and collaborative work.”
7. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is the nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the Visual and Performing Arts. Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, the school is home to around 1,500 students enrolled in more than 70 programs across six schools including the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Theater, and Film/Video, the Herb Alpert School of Music, and the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance. The School of Art is home to the Graphic Design program, which leads to a BFA or MFA.
The MFA program offers two- and three-year options. Per the school, the two-year option “focuses on the advanced exploration of form, methodology and practice, informed by a consciousness of the following contexts: contemporary practice, craft, audience, theory and history, and the constantly shifting media environment. The first-year curriculum consists of a sequence of weekly seminars in which research and studio projects are examined and discussed. The second year in residence is dedicated to developing and realizing a major thesis project that contributes to—and challenges—the graphic design community at large.”
Students will work through a set of required and elective courses to “deepen and refine their work through.” Courses cover subjects such as type design, web design, typography, motion graphics, design theory and design history. Other program highlights include “visiting designers who lead short-term projects” to help “broaden the types of experiences offered to students within the focused studio environment.”
Two-year MFA graphic designers are required to pass a Thesis Review to complete the program and obtain the MFA degree. The three-year MFA in Graphic Design is designed for students “who do not have a Graphic Design undergraduate degree, but who typically demonstrate a talent and enthusiasm for design, and a level of expertise in their given field. The heart of the program is the Visual Literacy course, a critique class comprised of a series of structured projects designed to teach design principles, process, methodology and skills. Initially these projects isolate elements of design practice in order to master them (e.g., typography, imagemaking, composition, ideation).”
Like two-year MFA students, three-year MFA graphic designers are required to pass a Thesis Review to complete the program and obtain the MFA degree.
8. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California
Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) is home to more than 1,900 students from 52 countries and 45 states. The school offers 22 undergraduate and 12 graduate degree programs, plus two minors. Graduate options include an MFA in Design that focuses on Graphic Design, Industrial Design, and Interaction Design. The program has both two-year and three-year options. The two-year option is designed for students who already have experience in one or multiple design fields. The three-year program is for students that have an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field.
Both degree options provide students with the opportunity to explore different concentration areas in one of several fields of design.
Per the school, the MFA program is “an open site for investigation, hands-on making, and speculative design thinking.” Students in the program will “explore new frontiers of design with cutting-edge tools and traditional craft-based techniques. With a focus on graphic design, industrial design, and interaction design,” students will “create working prototypes and models that use materials in new ways.”
Students will have the opportunity to immerse in the areas of Brand Identity, Print, Motion Graphics, and Screen-Based and Interactive Design, along with elective offerings that will “strengthen” students “design toolkit.” Students will also gain real-world experience through CCA’s extensive internship program. Graduates of the CCA MFA Program have landed positions at innovative design firms, museums, publishing houses, technology companies, nonprofits, and more.
9. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) was founded in 1866 as the Chicago Academy of Design. It is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Home to 3,650 students enrolled in more than 25 programs, SAIC offers an MFA in Graphic Design with two options: the two-year 60 credit hour program and the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio. The Certificate is a 30 credit hour program that can serve as a track into the MFA program. This creates a three-year experience for students who have little design experience.
Per the school, program highlights include “critique seminars designed to encourage experimentation with new methodologies to further develop individual work and exploration,” the opportunity to work with individual advisors, generate individualized content, and experiment with other related disciplines, and an active AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) student chapter. Students will also engage in Exploratory Languages—a lecture series featuring leading designers and design educators from across the country) and CIPB (Chicago International Poster Biennial)—an international competition representing leading designers from around the world.
All students will complete a Graduate Thesis, and internship opportunities and the option to study abroad are also part of the program.
10. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Founded in 1978, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to more than 14,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The school offers more than 40 majors and 75 minors, as well as certificate and online programs. With campuses in Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, SCAD has plenty of opportunities to study at domestic and international locations. The school offers an MFA in Graphic Design and Visual Experience.
Course highlights for this 90 credit hour program include Design Research, Analysis and Discourse, Ideation Models and Process, Methods of Contextual Research, Typographic Voice and Visual Narrative, Visual Analysis of Static Content, Curated Narrative for Dynamic Content, Experience Design for Physical Spaces, User-centered Strategy and Process, and Visual Design for Interactive Contexts. Students will also complete a number of 500-700 level electives as well as Graphic Design and Visual Experience MFA Thesis I: Research and Discovery, MFA Thesis II: Synthesis and Insight and MFA Thesis III: Validation and Execution.
Offered in Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah, and online, the MFA program also has a required Graduate Internship component. The internship offers the opportunity to gain real world, hands-on experience.
11. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) was established in 1838. It is home to more than 31,000 students enrolled in more than 200 programs through 15 colleges and schools. The School of the Arts, which serves more than 3,000 students, offers 25 degree programs. An additional four programs are offered at VCU’s Qatar campus. The School of the Arts (VCUArts), Department of Graphic Design offers an MFA with a Concentration in Design/Visual Communications.
Per the Department, students in the MFA program “concentrate on the philosophical, communicative, and aesthetic relationships of visual problem solving and the interacting skills leading to the effective articulation of concepts.” The program is designed for students interested in conducting visual or theoretical research, and in investigating the intersection of function and expression in design problem solving.
Upon completion of the program, graduates will be able to present fluent verbal and written explanations of research and studio activities, and demonstrate a knowledge of historical, social, and cultural perspectives in relation to visual communications and clarify how they influence work. Graduates will have also developed a personal vocabulary, approach and vision in creative work, and the ability to create expressive forms and use them to communicate appropriately.
12. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) was founded in 1881. The school opened its doors in 1883 with one building, eight professors, one proctor, and 221 students. Today, UT Austin is home to nearly 52,000 students enrolled in over 500 degree programs and fields of study across 18 colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts, School of Design and Creative Technologies offers an MFA in Design.
The program, which became part of the new School of Design and Creative Technologies in August 2017, will begin re-admitting students in the Fall of 2019. Students in the program will have the opportunity to complete an internship, which may include working at major companies with offices in the Austin area. Just a few include Google, Dell, IBM, Apple, Samsung, Frog, Pentagram, and EA Games.
13. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Founded in 1829, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) serves more than 19,000 across nine colleges emphasizing career education and experiential learning. The school, which has global locations in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo, offers an MFA in Visual Communication Design.
The 60 credit hour program composed of courses in Communication Design, Interactive Design, and Motion and 3D Digital Design. In addition, students are required to take Design History Seminar, Design Theory and Methods Seminar, and Professional Practices. Per the school, “seminars explore cross-disciplinary principles, theories and methods that can be used by designers.
Through selected readings from current periodicals, critical writing, hands-on involvement, presentations and guest lectures, students will broaden their awareness of topics such as systems thinking, human factors, semiotic theory, and visual rhetoric.”
The MFA in VCD, which enrolls around 100 students, allows all eligible students to participate in an optional co-op program the summer between their first & second years. Some students may have the opportunity to participate during the fall and spring terms.
14. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Kent State University (KSU or Kent State) was founded in 1910 and it is home to more than 38,000 students (in an 8-campus system) enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across dozens of colleges and schools. The College of Communication and Information, School of Visual Communication Design, offers an MFA in Visual Communication Design.
The Graduate Program is one of only three programs in the state to offer the Masters of Art in Visual Communication Design and it was the first to offer the terminal degree in the field, the Master of Fine Arts. The MFA is a 60 credit hour program (approximately five semesters of study) that the school says, “serves students with a strong undergraduate and/or professional experience in design who wish to advance into leadership roles.” The program takes an interdisciplinary approach to design “focused on theory, research, and design process.”
Courses for the program have been “developed to create an educational experience in design highlighted by field research methods, design thinking, and social innovation, augmented by practical university teaching experience where MFA candidates work hands-on with students at the freshman and sophomore level.” This approach “helps graduates gain the necessary tools to succeed in their careers as innovative leaders in visual communication, design management, entrepreneurship and higher education.”
All School of Visual Communication Design students must complete 300 hours of internship before graduation. Most internships are paid, and students have the opportunity to work at major companies across Cleveland and in Chicago, San Francisco and New York. Upon completion of the program, MFA graduates “typically pursue careers in design education, but also stand out in the industry for their ability to solve problems from a research-based design perspective.”
15. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
The College for Creative Studies (CCS) was established in 1906 as The Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. The school serves 1,425 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. With an enrollment of more than 100 students, the Graphic Design Department is the fifth largest department at CCS. Graduate degree options for aspiring graphic designers include MFA degrees in Interaction Design and Integrated Design.
Course highlights for the MFA in Interaction Design include Interface Design, IXD Research: Users & Behaviors, Studio: Prototyping & Internet of Things, IXD Research: Contextual Design Research, Frameworks for Interaction & Conversations, and Studio: Interaction Design Evolution. Students will also take several Business Practices courses as well as Graduate Thesis courses worth six credits each.
Course highlights for the MFA in Integrated Design include Data Visualization, Co-Creation and Participatory Design, Design Graduate Studio: Service Design, Contextual Design Research, and Business Practices. Students will also complete several Graduate Seminar courses and studio electives.
Students in both programs have the opportunity to study abroad for a semester or a year in places such as Italy, Austria, Germany, Mexico, Paris, Australia, and more. Graduates of the Design programs at CCS are prepared to work in Graphic Design, Editorial Design, Environmental Design, Information Design, Interactive Design, Package Design, Publication Design, Web Design, and many others.
16. University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, Champaign, Urbana
Established in 1867 as Illinois Industrial University, University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign is one of the original 37 public land-grant institutions created after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act. The school serves nearly 48,000 students through 15 colleges and instructional units. The College of Fine and Applied Arts, School of Art and Design offers a 64 credit hour MFA in Art and Design with a Concentration in Graphic Design.
Per the school, students in the Graphic Design Program “engage with complex problems and are asked to identify opportunities where design can intervene.” Studio work for the program “addresses graphic design fundamentals (typography and image making), design history and contemporary practices, research methods, user experience, and social responsibility.” Students also have the opportunity to refine their degree by choosing from an interdisciplinary selection of elective courses including advanced interaction design, photography, traditional printmaking, sustainability, and video, and the design of Ninth Letter, a nationally-distributed and award-winning literary arts journal.
MFA students have access to individual studio space and specialized resources “essential to the acquisition of a high-quality professional education.” The program requires a graduation exhibition of creative work and a written thesis and admission to the program is determined by a faculty review of a portfolio of the applicant's creative work, records of previous education and experience, letters of recommendation, and other significant achievements that may be viewed as predictors for success in the program.
17. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California
Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) was established in 1918 by General Harrison Gray Otis-- founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times. Home to 1,100 BFA and MFA students, OTIS offers more than a dozen interdisciplinary art and design programs from Animation and Motion Design to Illustration and Graphic Design. Specific programs for aspiring graphic designers are offered through the Communication Arts Department. Graduate options include an accelerated MFA in Graphic Design.
Per the school, coursework for the program “engages research, discourse, critical thinking, and iterative process with the goal of discovering many possible design outcomes. In so doing, the program supports students in taking on the challenges and opportunities in contemporary graphic design practice.” Students “learn to work across media and platforms through a series of studio projects, visiting workshops, courses in design theory and history and round table discussions.”
Graduates of the Graphic Design programs at OTIS have landed positions at major companies such as Apple, Anthropologie, LACMA, Guess, Metro, Capitol Records, and others.
18. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) was established in 1886. The school serves 800 students enrolled in Design (50% of the student body), Media Arts (38%), 10% in Fine Arts, and the remaining 2% in MCAD’s new Arts Entrepreneurship Department. More than 20 programs are available across several departments, including an MFA in Visual Studies.
The 60 credit hour MFA program allows students to pursue creative work in Graphic Design, Illustration, Interactive Media, Paper and Book Arts, Printmaking, and many others. Other program highlights include one-on-one work with a faculty mentor, liberal arts seminars, educational opportunities such as an internship or study abroad, and direct access to the MFA Studios and Gallery, which includes fifty individual studios, smart classrooms, and facilities for creative making, a large gallery space, and more.
Sample courses for the program include Interrogating the Modern, Entering the Contemporary Field, and Researching the Thesis: Methods for Drafting and Revision. Students will also take several Graduate Critique Seminars. The final year of the program culminates in a capstone thesis exhibition and paper.
19. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University (OSU) was established in 1870. The school serves 68,100 students enrolled in more than 200 majors, specializations, and minors across 12+ colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences is home to the Department of Art and the Department of Design. The Department of Art offers an MFA in Visual Arts with two possible emphasis areas for aspiring graphic designers: Art and Technology or Printmaking. The 72 credit hour, three-year program allows students to work across disciplines and with faculty from all seven studio areas offered in the MFA program.
Program highlights include 24/7 access to private and semi-private studio spaces, annual Visiting Artists, Critics and Curators who engage in critical discourse and discussion with graduate students, art department facilities including both material and digital fabrication studios, and access to Wexner Center for the Arts, a world-renowned contemporary art center located on campus. Students also have access to The Fine Arts and Cartoon Libraries, and the Urban Arts Space, an off-campus, OSU-run gallery in downtown Columbus. The Urban Arts Space is the location of the third-year MFA thesis exhibitions.
The Department of Design offers an MFA in Digital Animation and Interactive Media. Designed for students intending to work as designers in the digital animation and interactive industries and in colleges and universities teaching animation and interaction related courses, the program requires 60 credit of hours to graduate. Students in the program will take electives in the areas of Theory/History/Criticism (nine credits), Interdisciplinary/Collaborative Studio (six credits), and Studio/Lab (12 credits).
Electives allow students to choose courses in areas such as visual design, technical skills for animation and interactive media, programming and algorithms, audio design, writing and scripting, and professional development. The Writing Seminar, Thesis Development & Thesis Project consists of 15 credit hours of study. Courses for this final component of the program are taken independently with members of the student's thesis committee.
20. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Founded in 1858, Iowa State University serves nearly 35,000 students enrolled in hundreds of undergraduate majors, minors, certificates and graduate programs through eight colleges, two schools, and around 150 academic departments. The schools College of Design offers an MFA program that highlights Graphic Design Field Study opportunities including study and tours of museums, galleries, artist and/or designer studios, and other areas of interest within art and design. All students may also participate in the International Study Abroad Program in Western Europe. Students will visit design studios, art museums, and educational facilities.
Course highlights for the Graduate Graphic Design programs include Audience and Perception, Digital Imaging, Graphic Design and Human Interaction, Signs, Symbols, Images, Critical Media, Design and Cultural Semiotics, Design for Behavioral Change, Usability, and Consumer Experience Design and Branding. Graduate students will complete Teaching in Higher Education and Design Practice as well as a Research Thesis.
21. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
Founded in 1870 as the Colorado Agricultural College, Colorado State University serves nearly 33,500 students enrolled in more than 250 programs, over 50 minors, and several advising tracks through eight colleges and a graduate school. The College of Liberal Arts houses the Department of Art and Art History, which offers an MFA in Graphic Design that emphasizes conceptual problem-solving and technical proficiency.
Sample courses for the 60 credit hour program include Studio Problems: Graphic Design, Advanced Illustration, Typography and Design Systems, Independent Study: Graphic Design, Aesthetics-Visual Arts, Group Study: Multiple Media, and Advanced Study in Art History: Graphic Design. Students will also complete a Graduate Thesis.
Program highlights include a semi-private studio for the duration of the program, regular discussions with faculty in the areas of graphic design theory, history, and professional practices, and participation in the biennial Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition, where students assist in organizing and presenting the event.
22. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana State University (LSU) was founded in 1853 under the name Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy. The school serves around 29,300 students enrolled in more than 235 programs through more than a dozen colleges and schools. The College of Art and Design houses the School of Art which offers an MFA in Graphic Design.
Per the school, the 60 credit hour, three-year MFA program includes “research and discourse of both modernist and postmodernist methods, strategies, and analysis of the practice of design and their implementation to contemporary graphic design.” Students in the program will take 27 graduate studio hours, 12 art history hours, 12 studio art/general elective hours, and a three hour teaching seminar.
Courses are supplemented by workshops and lectures by national and international visiting artists, scholars, and design professionals. The final year of study is “dedicated principally to the master’s thesis—submitted as a thesis report and exhibition, for which it is anticipated that students will make original and comprehensive student-directed research investigations in graphic communications.” The thesis is worth six credit hours.
23. California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, California
California State University Long Beach (CSULB) was founded as a state college in 1949. The school serves more than 36,800 students enrolled in over 100 academic programs through eight colleges. The College of the Arts houses the School of Art which offers an MFA in Art with a Graphic Design Track.
The MFA consists of 60 units and “provides an environment for students to make deep explorations into the field, pushing boundaries and questioning the status quo.” Students in this program will take 25 units in ART 500+ to 600+ level courses, and 15 units of additional coursework in the track. The program also offers the opportunity to complete several workshops, studio courses, and a professional portfolio, as well as internship and study abroad experiences.
24. East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina
East Carolina University (ECU) was founded in 1907 as a teacher training school. Today, the school serves more than 29,000, making it the third largest university in North Carolina. East Carolina University offers more than 200 undergraduate, graduate and minor programs through 12 colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts & Communication houses the School of Art and Design (SoAD), which offers an MFA in Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design.
The MFA is a 60 credit hour program that includes coursework in Graphic Design, Art History, Supporting Art Areas (art electives) and coursework outside of the SoAD. Graduates of the program are prepared to seek employment in “academia as a professor of graphic design, undertake high-level graphic design practice, or a variety of other options.”
25. University of Houston, Houston, Texas
Founded in 1927, the University of Houston (UH) is home to more than 46,300 students enrolled in 300+ academic programs across 12 colleges and the UH Law Center. The Kathrine G. McGovern College of Arts houses the School of Art, which offers an MFA in Studio Arts with a Concentration in Graphic Design. Per the school, the MFA program “promotes advanced research in graphic design and critical theory. Personal investigations converge cultural, social, historical, methodological and/or technological ideas within a graphic design context.”
Students in the program will “define an area of specific interest and concentrate their research and development on this new direction. Students and advisers work together to push the boundaries of theory and practice.”
All design students have access to the school’s large internship program, which highlights jobs with both national and international companies. Students may also study abroad in dozens of countries around the world.