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What are the top graphic design MFA programs for 2023?
|1||Rhode Island School of Design||Rhode Island|
|2||School of Visual Arts||New York|
|3||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|4||Pratt Institute||New York|
|5||ArtCenter College of Design||California|
|6||California Institute of the Arts||California|
|8||Maryland Institute College of Art||Maryland|
|9||Cranbrook Academy of Art||Michigan|
|10||University of Texas at Austin||Texas|
|11||California College of the Arts||California|
|12||Virginia Commonwealth University||Virginia|
|13||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois|
|14||Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Minnesota|
|15||Otis College of Art and Design||California|
|16||University of Southern California||California|
|17||The Ohio State University||Ohio|
|18||San Diego State University||California|
|19||University of Florida||Florida|
|20||University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign||Illinois|
|21||University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Minnesota|
|22||Academy of Art University||California|
|23||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|24||Michigan State University||Michigan|
|25||Texas State University||Texas|
Below are the Top 25 Graphic Design schools and colleges in the US offering Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree programs for 2023. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island
The Graphic Design Department at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has a Graphic Design MFA with two tracks: a two-year pathway for students with an undergraduate degree in graphic design or related field, and a three-year option for individuals with a fine arts, sciences, or liberal arts degree. Both tracks allow students to customize the curriculum through cross-disciplinary electives. The first year of the two-year track consists of graduate seminars, graphic design studies, electives, and studios. During the second year of the RISD Graphic Design MFA Program, students will complete the Graduate Thesis.
In the three-year track, students will take electives, a seminar, and graduate level Type Design, Form, Typography and History of Graphic Design courses during the first year. The second and third year consists of studios, seminars, electives, and the Graduate Thesis. Note that three-year track students will take an additional typography course.
All RISD Graphic Design MFA students share individual workspaces in a large design studio in RISD's Center for Integrative Technologies (CIT), which houses several graduate programs and the graduate student gallery. MFA students will have opportunities to interact with graduate students in Textiles, Digital + Media, Interior Architecture, and Teaching + Learning in Art + Design.
Rhode Island School of Design graduates enjoy a high employment rate. Around 96% of RISD alumni are employed one year after graduation, with 70% employed in positions directly related to their major. RISD Graphic Design alumni are Senior Graphic Designers, UX Designers, Art Directors, Brand Identity Designers, Product Designers, Industrial Designers, Textile Designers, and Creative Designers, among others.
2. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York
The Design Program at School of Visual Arts (SVA) has a unique graduate program for students seeking an advanced degree in design and entrepreneurship. The Design/Design as Entrepreneur MFA is a 60 credit hour option that explores art book publishing, branding, new media directing, interaction, digital publishing, user experience, video, and motion graphics. Leadership and entrepreneurship are also emphasized, so students will explore other areas such as advertising, business, marketing, networking, research, intellectual property, and ethnography.
Course examples for the program include Type for Masters, Writing and Designing the Visual Book, Designing and Branding, Intellectual Property and the Law, and Design Conception: Developing Your Venture. During the final year of the MFA program, students will complete a several seminars and the Thesis, which consists of six courses.
Graduates of the Design Programs at School of Visual Arts hold positions at advertising agencies, marketing firms, publishing companies, design studios, nonprofit organizations, museums, and more. Some SVA alumni have even launched their own start-ups, studios, and design firms, while others have become partners in businesses and individual projects. To date, School of Visual Arts alumni have launched more than 50 design studios around the world.
3. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
The Graphic Design Program at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has an MFA program that can be completed at the Savannah and Atlanta campuses, and online. Students in the program benefit from courses taught by industry professionals from companies such as Google, Hasbro, and Airbnb; individual critiques and mentoring by top professionals in the design industry; and access to events such as SCADstyle, which attracts the biggest names in modern design, fashion, and global art.
At all levels, Graphic Design students may add a minor. Examples include Advertising, Mobile and Interactive Design, Advertising Copywriting, Mobile and Interactive Design, Advertising and Branding, and User Experience Design. Students may also add the Digital Publishing Certificate. In addition, all SCAD students have the opportunity to complete an internship at a local, regional, national, or global company.
Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at Savannah College of Art and Design go on to establish careers in Graphic Design, Branding, Package Design, UX Design, Mobile App Design, and Interactive Design. Program alumni have been hired at Disney, Apple, Google, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Reddit, Hulu, Riot Games, Stripe, Groupon, Yelp, Verizon, IBM, Facebook, Live Nation, Airbnb, Under Armour, and Ralph Lauren. Some program alumni have gone on to launch their own design studios, while others have established successful freelance careers.
4. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
Pratt Institute (Pratt) houses the School of Design, home to the Communications Design MFA Program. Consisting of 60 credit hours, the program features courses taught by renowned professionals in the field. Course examples include Sustainability and Design, Visual Perception, Motion Design, Typographic + Information Design, Creative Coding Studio, Prototyping and Production, Design Management, and Packaging and the Retail Space.
Students in this graduate program will complete several studio courses, attend seminars, and complete a thesis project and exhibition. In addition, all students at Pratt Institute have the opportunity to enroll in one of more than 20 study abroad programs and international exchange programs in over a dozen locations such at Tokyo, Florence, Copenhagen, London, and Milan.
Graduates of the Communications Design MFA Program at Pratt Institute are prepared for academic careers, as well as leadership positions in identity systems and branding, user experience design, typography, design strategy, information design, environmental design, print and digital media, social media and interaction design, and data visualization.
Pratt graduates have been hired at a variety of major companies and organizations such as Apple, Penguin Random House, DreamWorks Animation, Hasbro, IBM, Warner Music Group, Peacock, Carhartt, Dior, HBO, Gensler, Perkins Eastman, Memorial Sloan Kettering, NYC Department of Transportation, and HOK Group.
5. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California
ArtCenter College of Design (ArtCenter) has a Graphic Design MFA (MGx) Program with two- and three-year options. The two-year option consists of 75 units completed across four full terms, plus one ArtCenter Lite (ACL) summer term. Consisting of 86 units, the three-year option is for students who need to develop additional design skills in order to complete the graduate degree. This program consists of two additional terms. Upon successful completion of both terms, the student can enter the traditional graduate track.
Course examples across options include Design Research/Strategy, Graduate Visual Interaction Design, Typography 3, LinkedIn Learning, and Professional Leadership. MGx students will complete a number of labs, including the Portfolio Lab, and a thesis is required to graduate.
Students in all ArtCenter College of Design programs have the opportunity to intern, network, and interview with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Warner Bros., Meta, Apple, Ford, Mattel, Nike, Netflix, BMW, DreamWorks, Blizzard Entertainment, Walt Disney Imagineering, Riot Games, and Honda.
ArtCenter Graphic Design alumni go on to establish careers in areas such as branding and corporate identity, printing and poster design, package design, motion graphics, film title design, publication design, environmental graphic design, transmedia design, exhibition design, web design and development, visual interaction design, art direction, production management, information architecture, app design, and broadcast graphics.
ArtCenter graduates have been hired at Google, Meta, IDEO, and Local Projects—an exhibition and media design firm for museums and public spaces.
6. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) houses the School of Art, home to the Graphic Design Program. Within the program is an MFA option that features small critique-based classes taught by industry professionals; 24 hour access to communal studios and state-of-the-art facilities and labs; and the opportunity to work with faculty mentors throughout the program. Mentoring is a major component of all programs at CalArts.
The Graphic Design MFA at California Institute of the Arts has an Integrated Media (IM) Concentration, which combines IM seminars and critiques with specialized coursework and access to elective courses offered across the institute. Visual Literacy, Typographics IA-IB, and Graphic Design Theory are just a few required courses for the program. Students will also participate in two MFA Graphic Design Practicum workshops and Graduate Seminar I-II (Lecture) and Graduate Seminar I-II (Studio).
All CalArts students have the opportunity to enroll in the internship program, study abroad, and complete a portfolio of their best work.
CalArts Graphic Design alumni work in a variety of positions at major companies, studios and academic institutions such as Google, Walt Disney Imagineering, Meta, Whitney Museum of Art, Evernote, M+ Works, North Carolina State University College of Design, Art Center College of Design, and Otis College of Design.
7. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Yale School of Art (SoA) at Yale University is a graduate school that awards MFA degrees in Graphic Design, Photography, Painting/Printmaking, and Sculpture. The Graphic Design MFA Program accepts just 12 students each year and up to six students into the preliminary-year program, which appeals to students with relevant experience in an area outside of design.
Consisting of 60 credit hours, the MFA Program consists of lectures, presentations, workshops, and exhibitions, along with immersive studio work group thesis meetings, and individual sessions with writing and editing tutors. MFA students have access to more than 2,000 courses offered each year, films, the Sterling Memorial and Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Libraries, and art and natural history museums. The program also provides opportunities to attend conferences and film festivals.
Other MFA program benefits include designated workspaces in the design studio loft, motion capture and VR tools at the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media, and unlimited access to equipment such as the RISO Digital Duplicator, Vandercook presses, bookbinding materials, and wide format printers.
The Yale SoA Graphic Design MFA takes two years to complete, full-time. To graduate, students must complete a thesis and a portfolio. Yale School of Art Graphic Design graduates are prepared to seek positions at advertising agencies, design firms, manufacturing companies, web design studios, marketing firms, print and online publishing companies, public relations agencies, and computer systems design companies.
8. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland
The graduate programs at Maryland Institute of College and Art (MICA) serve more than 300 students from nearly every state and 20 countries. For students interested in pursuing a terminal degree in Graphic Design, MICA offers an MFA.
Housed in a loft-style studio space with dedicated computers and workspaces, the 60 credit hour Graphic Design MFA (GD MFA) features studio courses, seminars, and independent work. Elective options in digital media, print, and video allow students to create a focus area. Course examples include Advanced Publication Design, Design Studio I-IV, and Visiting Designers I-II.
The Graphic Design MFA Program at MICA can be completed in two years, full-time. Graduates of the program are designers, educators, and artists. MICA alumni have been hired at places such as Google, Adobe, Under Armour, Netflix, and Morehouse College. In addition, program alumni have presented their work at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Smithsonian Institution (Smithsonian), The Whitney Museum of American Art (The Whitney), and Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA).
9. Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Cranbrook) houses the 2D Design Department, home to the Graphic Design MFA Program, which emphasizes critical studies, writing, theory, criticism, and critiques. The program consists primarily of collaborative studio work and mentoring. Studio spaces provide 24/7 access for working on projects and displaying works.
Graphic Design MFA students also have access to Cranbrook’s Professional Practices Program, which consists of workshops, discussions, seminars related to applying for jobs, local tours, and more.
The MFA Thesis and Graduate Degree Exhibition is the culminating event for graduating students. Attended by journalists, collectors, visiting critics, and the Cranbrook community, the Exhibition is held in the Eliel Saarinen-designed Cranbrook Art Museum and in several locations across the museum campus.
10. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
The College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) houses the School of Design and Creative Technologies. Within the School is the Design Department. Housed in the Doty Fine Arts Building (DFA) and the Art Building (ART), the Department has a Design MFA that explores graphic design, interaction design, and industrial design.
All coursework is project-based and industry oriented, with the opportunity to create a specialization through courses across five areas: Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Industrial Design, Design History, and Design Research. Students in all UT Austin Design Programs also have plenty of opportunities to engage in experiential learning through the school’s internship and study abroad programs.
The Design MFA at University of Texas at Austin is a 60 credit hour program designed for exceptional students with solid design skills. The program consists of seminars, studios, electives, and a thesis project. Design MFA students have 24/7 access to shared studio spaces and as well as the Design, Computer, Materials, and Digital Fabrication Labs, the Wood Shop, Visual Arts Center, and Fine Arts Library, and the Harry Ransom Center and The Foundry.
Graduates of the Design Programs at UT Austin are Graphic Designers, Brand Designers, UI/UX Designers, Book Designers, Interaction Designers, Art Directors, Product Designers, Project Managers, Design Strategists, Visual Designers, Industrial Designers, an Entrepreneurs, among others. UT Austin Design graduates work at Walt Disney Imagineering, Razorfish, Deloitte, Meta, The New York Times, H-E-B Digital, Publicis Sapient, Serenity Forge, Droga5, Double A Labs, Gensler, and frog design (part of Capgemini Invent).
11. California College of the Arts, San Francisco, California
The Graphic Design Program at California College of the Arts (CCA) provides access to a dedicated studio space, a Prototyping Studio, and the Hybrid Lab, where students can explore virtual reality and other emerging technologies. Students also have access to the Book Arts and Letterpress studio, which houses bookbinding equipment and lithography presses.
The Design MFA at CCA has three Concentrations: Graphic Design, Interaction Design, and Industrial Design. In addition, students have two options: the two-year program and three-year program. The two-year option is designed for students with experience in one or more areas of design. The three-year option is for students with an undergraduate degree in an unrelated area. The first year of this program allows students to develop design skills in preparation for the traditional two-year curriculum.
The Design MFA provides a variety of courses including titles such as Digital Electronics, Mechatronics, Interactive Media, Typography, The Studio 2: IxD, Contemporary Design, Hybrid Business Models, and Professional Practice. Other program benefits include 24/7 access to the Hybrid Lab and Rapid Prototyping Studio; a yearly retreat at Headlands Center for the Arts; intensive workshops with visiting designers; access to an extensive Materials Library; a lecture series that explores all disciplines; and exhibitions for studio and end-of-year work.
Graduates of the Design MFA Program at California College of the Arts go on to become Graphic Designers, Project Managers, Product Designers, UI/UX Designers, Curators, Research and Development Technologists, Entrepreneurs, and Educators. Companies and organizations that have hired CCA MFA alumni include Google, Apple, Meta, The New York Times, Adobe, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, IDEO, Headlands Center for the Arts, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Graduates have also launched their own design firms and companies including Gold Collective, Backer Kit, Sensoree, and Anxy Magazine.
12. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is home to the School of the Arts (VCUarts), which houses the Department of Graphic Design, home to the Design MFA with a Visual Communications Concentration. The program provides access to resources such as the student-run Golab, which provides print and production services, and middle Of broad (mOb)—an experimental design lab that provides opportunities to work on real-world state projects. Past projects have included projects signage for the James River Park System, a reimagined Monument Avenue in Richmond and the development of bridge concepts for Interstate 95.
The 60 credit hour Design/Visual Communications MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University is a design and research degree that culminates in a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation. MFA students will complete several Visual Communications Workshops and Seminars and Research/Individual Study, an Internship, or Teaching Practicum. Study abroad opportunities are also available.
Graduates of the VCUarts Design/Visual Communications MFA Program are Interaction/Interface Designers, Creative Directors, Environmental Graphic Designers, Broadcast/Film Designers, and Exhibition Designers.
13. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) houses the Visual Communication Design (VCD) Department, which has a flexible Studio MFA that allows students to design their own plan of study. This 60 credit hour, interdisciplinary program also allows students to explore other SAIC departments such as Film, Video, New Media, and Animation (FVNMA), Designed Objects, Intermedia, Writing, Architecture, Photography, and Interior Architecture.
Course examples for the program include Image Studio, Envisioning Information, Package Design, Letterpress Bookworks, Type and Image in Motion, Advanced Typography, 4D Design: Manipulating Media, and Electronic Publications.
A major component of the SAIC Studio MFA is the opportunity to complete a graduate project every semester. MFA students will work one-on-one with a faculty member and they may sign up with artists, writers, and other academics from different SAIC departments. Graduate seminars, such as Form-Configuration-Content and Narrative Architectures, are also part of the program. Successful completion of a Thesis is required to graduate.
Students in all SAIC Design Programs have access to the VCD AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Chapter, which hosts local visiting designers, tours of Chicago studios, the annual Town Hall AIGA event, and a biannual portfolio preparation seminar. The VCD Department also offers the opportunity for students to participate in Exploratory Languages—the visiting designer lecture series; juror-led student workshops; and jurors’ lectures through the Chicago International Poster Biennial (CIPB).
Graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago are employed at museums, advertising agencies, marketing firms, non-profit organizations, and major companies and studios across the U.S.
14. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Graphic Design Program at Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) has an interdisciplinary MFA that features hands-on training opportunities through internships and other experiential learning activities; critiques and collaborative projects; and study abroad experiences in places such England, Italy, Japan, Germany, Ireland, or anywhere in the U.S.
The 60 credit hour MFA focuses on independent and collaborative studios, one-on-one work with a mentor, and opportunities to pursue creative work in multiple areas. Examples include graphic design, paper and book arts, printmaking, illustration, experimental video/film, web and multimedia, comic arts, drawing/painting, public arts, animation, photography, and installation.
Graduates of the Design Programs at Minneapolis College of Art and Design go on to land positions such as Graphic Designer, Brand and Logo Designer, Production Artist, Editorial Illustrator, User-Experience (UX) Designer, Art Director, Front-End Developer, Creative Director and Web Designer, among others.
MCAD alumni work for design firms, start-ups, publishing houses, large corporations, museums, government agencies, small businesses, and production studios. Some graduates have launched their own design studios or other creative firms.
15. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California
Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) has a Graphic Design MFA Program that features an accelerated curriculum spanning four consecutive semesters completed over 14 months. The program, which typically begins in the summer semester, consists of studio projects, workshops led by visiting artists and designers, round table discussions, and courses in history and design theory. Course examples for the program include Contemporary Graphic Design Issues, Models of Practice, Seminar Studio I-IV, and Entrepreneurship.
Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at Otis College of Art and Design have been hired at places such as Amazon, Google, Apple, Ogilvy Worldwide, Conde Nast Publications, Young & Rubicam, Disney Consumer Products, Capitol Records, L.A., Hallmark, GUESS, Anthropologie, WB Network, Deutsch Inc., Los Angeles County Interscope Records, Metro, Gehry Partners, Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SciArc).
16. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
The Gayle Garner Roski School of Art and Design at University of Southern California (USC) was first organized in 1883, and founded in 1895. One of Southern California’s oldest art and design schools, USC Roski has both MFA and Dual BFA/MFA Degrees in Design.
As part of USC Roski School of Art and Design, all students benefit from an experimental and collaborative approach to learning, cross-disciplinary curriculums, hands-on studio courses, internship opportunities at DreamWorks, MTV, Lego, and National Geographic, and study abroad experiences in places such as South Africa, London, Australia, and Italy.
The Design MFA at University of Southern California is a studio-based program that requires at least 56 units of study, including 26 elective units. Eighteen elective units must be from Roski School of Art and Design, and eight can be from departments and schools outside Roski. Suggested Roski electives include Design Studio Co-Lab, Design Pedagogy, Directed Research, International Design Study Tour, and Field Internship Experience. Examples of required courses for the program include Design Theory, Contemporary Issues in Design, Designers in Residence Forum, Individual Studies, and Advancement. MFA students will also complete a Master’s Thesis spanning three courses worth a total four units.
In addition to all USC Roski has to offer, Design MFA students benefit from the school’s partnership with organizations such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), and the opportunity to participate in discussions, seminars, and visits from leaders in the design industry.
Graduates of USC Roski School of Art and Design have been hired at hundreds of major companies, studios, and other organizations. Examples include Vogue, Conde Nast, Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, Walt Disney Company, Marvel Studios, Cisco, Pinterest, American Apparel, PETA, NBCUniversal, DreamWorks Animation, J. Crew, Disney Interactive, MTV Networks, BCBGMAXAZRIA, DirectTV, 20th Century Fox, Fandango, Macy’s, E! Entertainment, Oliver Peoples, American Express, Beats, Skechers, Mattel, L’Oreal, and Paramount Pictures.
17. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the Department of Art, home to the interdisciplinary Visual Arts MFA Program. This three-year, 66 credit hour program explores Art and Technology, Painting and Drawing, Printmaking, Photography, Film/Video, Glass, and Sculpture. Students may specialize in a variety of design disciplines through electives and other coursework. Additional program benefits include visiting artists, critics, and curators, 24/7 access to private and semi-private studio spaces, internship opportunities, and access to state-of-the-art facilities, exhibition spaces, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Fine Arts and Cartoon Libraries.
The OSU Visual Arts MFA Program culminates with the MFA Thesis Exhibition, which demonstrates the student’s expertise in their area of specialization. Exhibitions are displayed at the OSU-run, Urban Arts Space, located in downtown Columbus.
18. San Diego State University, San Diego, California
The College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts (PSFA) at San Diego State University (San Diego State or SDSU) houses seven schools, three departments, and 15 interdisciplinary centers and institutes. Serving more than 5,000 students, PFSA provides internship opportunities, international experiences, and public performances and presentations to students in all of its departments and schools.
For students who would like to pursue a terminal degree in Graphic Design, the PFSA School of Art + Design has an MFA in Applied Arts and Sciences with a Graphic Design Emphasis. Students in PFSA programs have access to state-of-the art facilities such as the Computing Labs for Digital Imaging, Interactive Media, and Video; Printmaking, Letterpress, and Book Arts Studios; Intaglio and Relief Printmaking Studios; the Screen Printing Studio; and seven Mac Computer Labs.
SDSU Graphic Design students also benefit from the Art + Design School’s visiting lecture series; access to local galleries and museums; interaction with visual and performing arts organizations; and AIGA membership. MFA students will complete a Thesis or Final Project to graduate.
Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at San Diego State University are prepared to pursue positions such as Lead Graphic Designer, Brand Designer, Ad Designer, Graphic Illustrator, Print Production Artist, Technical Illustrator, Layout/Production Artist, Book Artist, Packing Designer, Logo Designer, Art Director, and Multimedia Artist, among others.
19. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
The College of the Arts at University of Florida (UF) encompasses the fully accredited schools of Art + Art History, Theatre + Dance, and Music, the Center for Arts in Medicine, and the Digital Worlds Institute. Within the School of Art + Art History a Design & Visual Communications (MxD) MFA Program that has been around for more than 20 years
Consisting of 60 credit hours of coursework, this design-centered, interdisciplinary program has two-year and three-year options consisting of studios, seminars, workshops, practicums, and internship opportunities. The MFA also provides opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills and teaching skills through electives. Examples include Seminar in Arts Advocacy and Public Policy, Social Entrepreneurship, Creativity in Entrepreneurship, Teaching Art in Higher Education, and Methods of Research in Art Education. Students have the option to complete a Thesis or MFA Creative Project.
Graduates of the Design Programs at University of Florida are Designers, Creative Directors, Educators, and Entrepreneurs. Program alumni have been hired at a variety of companies, studios, and organizations such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Apple, Meta, Verizon, Microsoft, IBM, Twitter, JetBlue, West Elm, IDEO, Fossil, Viacom, JetBlue, Kate Spade, and the Miami Heat. MxD alumni have also landed positions at Google, L’Oréal, Ball State University, Auburn University, University at Buffalo, Illinois State University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Colorado–Boulder, Northern Alabama University, and University of Florida.
20. University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, Champaign, Urbana
The College of Fine & Applied Arts at University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign (UIUC) houses the School of Art & Design, home to the Art and Design MFA with a Concentration in Design for Responsible Innovation (formerly Graphic Design). Consisting of 64 credit hours, this interdisciplinary program explores responsible practices in traditional print media and emerging technologies such as digital interaction, visual narrative, systems thinking, data visualization, and information design.
The UIUC Art and Design MFA has specialized tracks of study in Sustainable and Regenerative Design, Visual Cultural Studies, and Urban Sociology and Critical Race Design. Students may also focus on applied research in responsible innovation, engagement, and social impact. MFA students will complete a written thesis and participate in the graduation exhibition to complete the program.
Graduates of the Design Programs at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign work in areas such as publication design, advertising, interaction design, consulting, photography, type design, art direction, and environmental design. Program alumni work for advertising agencies, design studios, start-ups, and on in-house design teams in a variety of settings.
21. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (UMN) is home to the College of Design, which houses the MFA Program with an optional Graphic Design Track. Program features include participation in advanced studios, individual and collaborative design projects, workshops, seminars, internships, and the study abroad program.
In addition to the Graphic Design Track, the MFA Program at allows students to specialize in Human Interaction with Designed Objects, Color Systems and Perception, Design History, Social and Cultural Implications of Design, Visual Representation of Information, Design Education, or Multicultural Communication.
The UMN MFA with a Graphic Design Track consists of 60 credit hours completed over three years, full-time. Students will complete 40 credit hours in the major and 12 capstone project credits. A final oral examination is required to graduate. Consisting of 64 credit hours completed over four years, full-time, the PhD is for students interested in research or teaching. Students in this program will take 28 credits in the major and 24 dissertation credits.
Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities are prepared to pursue positions at places such as graphic design studios, public relations firms, advertising agencies, publishing companies, web design companies, marketing firms, entertainment production studios, government agencies, and museums. Program alumni hold titles such as Graphic Designer, Art Director, User Experience Designer, Data Visualization Strategist, Web Designer, Interactive Designer, and Creative Director, and among others.
22. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
The School of Graphic Design at Academy of Art University has a Graphic Design MFA that explores problem-solving, branding, experience design, print, packaging, communication design, innovation, editorial design, typography, user experience, environmental design, and motion graphics. Students work with all forms of media including traditional, digital, emerging, and interactive.
Course examples for the graduate program include Making Ideas Visible, Type Forms, Visual Thinking, Integrated Communications - Message Synthesis, Visual Communications Lab, Digital Design Studio 1, The Nature of Identity, Directed Study, Professional Practices for Designers & Advertisers, and User Experience Design. MFA students will complete Directed Studies, and Internship, three Thesis courses, and Design Seminar/Portfolio to graduate.
Graduates of the Graphic Design Program at Academy of Art University have been recruited by a variety of major studios, companies, and organizations. Examples include Apple, Google, IDEO, Nike, R/GA, Square, and The Clorox Company. Job titles include Art Director, Creative Director, Graphic Designer, Product Designer, Service Designer, and User Experience Designer, among others.
23. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
The College of Art and Design at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) houses the School of Design, home to a STEM-designated Visual Communication Design (VCD) MFA that explores graphic, motion, and interactive design, UI/UX design, 3D digital design, and design studies. Consisting of 60 credit hours, the program is cross-disciplinary, which allows students customize the curriculum with coursework from other programs and departments. The MFA Program also provides access to cooperative education and internship opportunities, as well as workshops, state-of-the art production facilities and studio spaces, and networking through RIT’s Creative Industry Day.
Course and elective examples for the program include Branding and Identity Design, UX Design Strategies, 3D Modeling and Motion, Real Time Design, Programming for Designers, Design Studies Seminar, Character Design and Rigging, Digital Media Integration, and Project Design and Implementation, 3D Particles and Dynamics, Design Praxis I-II, and Information Design.
With a 97% outcome rate, graduates of the Rochester Institute of Technology VCD MFA Program go on to secure employment in positions such as Senior Visual Designer, Graphic and UI/UX Designer, Product Designer, Motion Graphic Designer, User Experience Researcher, Game Producer, and Cinematographer and Editor, among others.
24. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
The College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University (MSU) houses the Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD), which has a Create Your Own Pathway MFA Program. Highlights include seminars, dedicated studio practice, opportunities for external study, and formal critique. Students may select courses from any area of interest to build a focus area. This includes Graphic Design. In addition to selected courses, and seminars such as History of Art and Professional Practices, MFA students will take studios such as Integration in Studio Art and Exploration and Research in Studio Art.
The Michigan State University MFA Program requires a Final Research Project, completed over several courses, to graduate. Program alumni are prepared to pursue positions at major companies, design studios, advertising agencies, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions.
25. Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas
The College of Fine Arts & Communication at Texas State University (Texas State) is home to the School of Art and Design, which houses the Communication Design Program (ComDes). At the graduate level, the School has a ComDes MFA Program that can be completed online with just one campus residency each year. During the residency, students will participate in workshops, critiques, and visiting designer lectures.
Graduate assistantships are also offered in the School of Art and Design, and allow students to gain teaching experience through the ComDes BFA Program. Graduate assistantships are paid positions that require 20 hours of work per week.
The Texas State ComDes MFA consists of 60 credit hours including 18 credit hours of core curriculum, 30 credit hours of prescribed communication design studio electives, six credit hours of free electives, and six credit hours of thesis. Courses explore digital design, visual communication, typography, and design history. Course examples include The Experimental Book, Generative Design, Experience Design, Imaging, Alternative Printing Methods, Kinetic Typography, Design for Motion, Corporate Identity Systems, Professional Practice, Design Futures, Entrepreneurial Design, Exhibitions, Corporate Marketing Materials, and Research Through Making.
In the Professional Practice course, MFA students will work with regional and national advertising agencies, graphic design firms, and digital media studios to gain professional experience.
Potential careers for graduates of the Texas State University ComDes MFA Program include Senior Graphic Designer, Design Manager, Visual Designer, Creative Director, Typographer, Senior Interaction Designer, UI/UX Designer, Art Director, and Professor.