Graphic Design

Master of Arts in Graphic Design

Learn more about this degree

Degree Requirements: 12-15 courses, 36-46 credits maximum

Candidates for the master’s degree must complete a course of study consisting of 36-46 credits. Applicants possessing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design can typically complete their master's degree with 36 credits of graduate study (700 level or higher).

Leveling Courses

Candidates who have not completed an undergraduate program of study substantially equivalent to the BFA in Graphic Design are required to complete leveling courses. The graduate program director evaluates the unique background of each student at the time of acceptance into the graduate program to determine the number and type of leveling courses that are required. Students may be required to complete up to 10 credits of leveling courses; most applicants will be able to waive some number of these based on professional background and prior academic experience. An additional 36 credits of graduate-level coursework is then required to earn the MAGD degree. Graduate students completing the leveling courses must maintain a 3.0 GPA in order to remain in good standing in the program.

Graphic Design Leveling Courses (3 courses, 10 credits)

Students complete or waive the following courses:

Credits:

3.00

Description:

In this course students will learn the industry-standard software applications used by graphic designers. Through a series of technical and design problems students will learn how and when to use specific software to produce their solutions and prepare portfolio-quality design.

Credits:

4.00

Description:

The first part of the course will focus on the history of graphic design from prehistoric times to the Industrial Revolution including the origins of graphic communications in the ancient world the development of the alphabet and early printing and typography. The second portion will concentrate on the period from the late 19th century to the present and will include the Arts and Crafts Movement the various-isms and their influence on modern art the Bauhaus and International Style and contemporary visual systems and image making.

Prerequisites:

Instructor consent required. Students will need a laptop.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

Masters Prep is designed to develop a student's comprehensive knowledge of graphic design through a concentration on fundamentals theory and the application of design principles. In this course students will complete a series of assignments dedicated but not limited to: color composition and typography. The goal of Masters Prep is to develop and ingrain these core foundational skills of design craft enabling students to apply them to projects throughout their graduate coursework.

Graphic Design Core Requirements (8 courses, 24 credits)

Credits:

3.00

Description:

Everyone has a voice - in addition to audible voices each designer has their own visual voice. In this class we find and fine-tune students' visual voices through exercises designed to discover the viewable threads that form and define what embodies a visual voice. The journey will take students through creating and analyzing their own work and the work of designers and artists in various fields of communication. The class will culminate in a personally designed and crafted book recording the experience.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

In this graduate studio students will explore complex graphic design problems particularly those requiring a multi-disciplinary approach. The goal of the course is to extend the student's viewpoint beyond simple one-dimensional solutions and to encourage thoughtful and inventive design and innovative problem-solving.

Prerequisites:

ADG S820

Credits:

3.00

Description:

In this advanced-level studio students will continue their exploration of the more complex graphic design projects begun in Graphic Design Graduate Studio I (ADG S820) with the emphasis on design problems requiring a multi-disciplinary approach. Students will be exposed to projects that encompass a broad variety of design circumstances and they will be encouraged to guide clients to more inventive and unique solutions. Each project assigned has a student-generated component in its selected topic and scope. The formation of project details requires students to engage in considerable research prior to starting the application of design.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

Developing and building an advanced comprehensive knowledge of fundamental skills in graphic design craft enables students to apply them throughout their graduation coursework. Students will experience a series of rapid-fire exercises including but not limited to composition color understanding typography and the application of the conceptual thought processes.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

The Master's program in Graphic Design culminates in a thesis an independent project based on an original idea designed and developed by the student in concert with a team of advisers. Thesis Research Studio requires the definition of a graphic design problem research of case studies and visual works relevant to the thesis topic and the creation of an outline for the thesis studio project. The class will culminate in the preparation of printed documentation as well as an oral/visual presentation. All students are required to attend meetings outside of the scheduled class time for one on one instruction with their professor/adviser.

Prerequisites:

ADG S840

Credits:

3.00

Description:

The Graphic Design Thesis is a focused independent project on a single original topic developed by the student working in conjunction with a team of advisors. During this studio course students will test various formats for visualizing their thesis and will execute the design work necessary to realize their project. Emphasis will be placed on creative inquiry and the development of unique solutions that are conceptually strong and content rich. The final thesis will be comprised of the design project along with extensive written documentation. Students must demonstrate independence in relation to their own design process and the ability to realize a complex graphic design solution.

Prerequisites:

ADG S842

Credits:

3.00

Description:

This studio course represents the final phase of the thesis process. Having defined the design problem completed the necessary research and finalized the design solution the students will then document the process and project in written and visual form. Thesis documentation will consist of the visual manifestation of the design solution as well the professional level production of a printed bound volume or other appropriate format in which the thesis project research and solution are presented in both text and images. All students are required to attend meetings outside of the scheduled class time for one on one instruction with their professor/adviser.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

Discover connections where one least expects them. Through a series of exercises and assignments students will take on themes such as aesthetics structure context deconstruction and critical thinking while turning them into their own methodologies. Students will walk away knowing how to depend on their own thinking as a practical routine to tackle complex creative problems without the fear of being wrong.

Graphic Design Electives (4 courses, 12 credits)

Choose four courses from those listed below or, with approval from the MAGD Program Director, select graduate electives in other disciplines:

Prerequisites:

Consent of Program Director required.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an opportunity to explore areas within the graphic design field that they have not previously experienced. Interns will observe and participate in all office procedures permitted by their place of internship and will be required to maintain a journal of their observations and submit sample work. Required classroom seminars will reinforce new skills share learning experiences and answer questions or concerns. Students with prior extensive and documented work experience in the field may be exempt from the internship requirement with the approval of the Masters in Graphic Design Program Director; however such students will be required to substitute a 3-credit studio elective for the internship.

Prerequisites:

ADG-S213 or ADG-S613;

Credits:

3.00

Description:

The objective of this course is the development of advanced conceptual skills and best practices related to designing for online and mobile technologies. Assignments will focus on the core principles of prototyping usability testing interactive philosophy accessibility project and content management. Students will develop professional level multimedia skills by working with HTML XHTML and CSS and other relevant industry-standard tools. Current technologies standards software and techniques for distributions on mobile devices will be explored.

Prerequisites:

Restricted to MA-Graphic Design students; Instructor consent required.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

UX User Experience explores the process of enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty through user-centered interactive design. Data research prototyping testing and project implementation are covered. Design-field best practices are employed including typography composition and color theory to prepare students for their professional futures.

Prerequisites:

Program Director Consent Required

Credits:

3.00

Description:

This course provides students the opportunity to push past the exclusive generation of pixel perfect vectors; exploring making methodologies that are simultaneously linked to historic practices as well as the modern avant-garde of graphic design. Assignments will focus on the generation of compositions and visual systems through the use of both unconventional and digital means. Student will be exposed to alternative perspectives and techniques; enriching their graphic design worldview.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

This seminar is designed to prepare students to engage with the profession of graphic design. The course will provide students with the practical knowledge and tools necessary to market themselves as they transition into the workforce. Assignments will target self-promotion through the development of personal marketing establishing and maintaining a digital footprint and resume development. In-class Q&A between students and guests professionals will provide a real-time lens on contemporary best practices.

Prerequisites:

Instructor's consent required.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

An Independent Study provides the student with the opportunity to examine an issue of interest that falls outside the parameters of the existing curricula. Students work one-on-one with a full-time faculty member to realize a particular and well-defined goal. Proposals for Independent Studies must be approved by the College of Arts & Sciences Dean's Office in advance of the semester during which the work will be completed.

Note: the letter "S" preceding a course number indicates a studio course, for which studio fee is assessed.

Thesis

The master’s program culminates in a final thesis project, an independent inquiry based on an original idea associated with a student’s chosen area of concentration. Graphic Design Thesis Research (ADG-S840), Thesis Studio (ADG-S842), and Thesis Documentation (ADG-S844) are the core courses in the master’s program curriculum sequence. Successful completion of Thesis Research is a prerequisite for enrollment in Thesis Studio and successful completion of Thesis Studio is likewise a prerequisite for enrollment in Thesis Documentation.

Portfolio Review and Thesis Exhibition

End-of-semester Portfolio Reviews are required of all master’s and pre-master’s students, as is participation in the Graduate Student Thesis Exhibition. Please note that degrees will not be awarded until all of these requirements have been successfully completed.

Graphic Design Learning Goals & Objectives

Learning goals and objectives reflect the educational outcomes achieved by students through the completion of this program.

Learning Goals Learning Objectives
Students will… Students will be able to…
Learn to use a process that engages the thinking eye, the measuring mind, and the making hand
  • Display competencies in the most current technical skills, which will be needed as professional designers
  • Use the Design Process, taught in every degree class, to govern their educated eye, fertile minds, and competent hands
Learn to develop the habit of curiosity, the process of collaboration, and learning to learn
  • Incorporate these skills to exercise fundamental design skills applied to a variety of projects in studios, agencies, for-profit and non-profit organizations, institutions, and in-house businesses
  • Be proficient in knowing and be curious to know more about topics such as online and mobile design, environmental graphic design, video and animation, packaging and emerging media, and social media
  • Thrive in a highly competitive workplace and proliferate in innovative thinking and world changing concepts
Develop an understanding of workplace decorum and communication skills
  • Demonstrate professional practices such as team collaboration, idea and concept iteration, research and presentation skills, and the discipline to bring ideas to life

Graphic Design Graduate Courses

Prerequisites:

Consent of Program Director required.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an opportunity to explore areas within the graphic design field that they have not previously experienced. Interns will observe and participate in all office procedures permitted by their place of internship and will be required to maintain a journal of their observations and submit sample work. Required classroom seminars will reinforce new skills share learning experiences and answer questions or concerns. Students with prior extensive and documented work experience in the field may be exempt from the internship requirement with the approval of the Masters in Graphic Design Program Director; however such students will be required to substitute a 3-credit studio elective for the internship.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

This class will focus on learning and using specific software to create moving graphics that are geared toward being broadcast on television web or film. Students will create time-based works such as title sequences ads and videos that they art direct. In the very near future motion design will be a necessary skill for designers to compete in the marketplace. Motion design can be applied to many areas of graphic design from on-screen presentation to environmental design. During the class students will build their motion design portfolio that will give them an edge above conventional print and web designers.

Prerequisites:

ADG S601, ADG S607, and ADG S619

Credits:

3.00

Description:

This course will focus on the skills necessary to create publications such as books magazines annual reports and catalogs. The goals of this course are three-fold: to further enhance the understanding of typography in regard to publications to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to design publications for either a print or digital environment and to integrate the students' own art and/or photography in their work.

Prerequisites:

ADG-S213 or ADG-S613;

Credits:

3.00

Description:

The objective of this course is the development of advanced conceptual skills and best practices related to designing for online and mobile technologies. Assignments will focus on the core principles of prototyping usability testing interactive philosophy accessibility project and content management. Students will develop professional level multimedia skills by working with HTML XHTML and CSS and other relevant industry-standard tools. Current technologies standards software and techniques for distributions on mobile devices will be explored.

Prerequisites:

Restricted to MA-Graphic Design students; Instructor consent required.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

UX User Experience explores the process of enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty through user-centered interactive design. Data research prototyping testing and project implementation are covered. Design-field best practices are employed including typography composition and color theory to prepare students for their professional futures.

Prerequisites:

Program Director Consent Required

Credits:

3.00

Description:

This course provides students the opportunity to push past the exclusive generation of pixel perfect vectors; exploring making methodologies that are simultaneously linked to historic practices as well as the modern avant-garde of graphic design. Assignments will focus on the generation of compositions and visual systems through the use of both unconventional and digital means. Student will be exposed to alternative perspectives and techniques; enriching their graphic design worldview.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

Everyone has a voice - in addition to audible voices each designer has their own visual voice. In this class we find and fine-tune students' visual voices through exercises designed to discover the viewable threads that form and define what embodies a visual voice. The journey will take students through creating and analyzing their own work and the work of designers and artists in various fields of communication. The class will culminate in a personally designed and crafted book recording the experience.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

In this graduate studio students will explore complex graphic design problems particularly those requiring a multi-disciplinary approach. The goal of the course is to extend the student's viewpoint beyond simple one-dimensional solutions and to encourage thoughtful and inventive design and innovative problem-solving.

Prerequisites:

ADG S820

Credits:

3.00

Description:

In this advanced-level studio students will continue their exploration of the more complex graphic design projects begun in Graphic Design Graduate Studio I (ADG S820) with the emphasis on design problems requiring a multi-disciplinary approach. Students will be exposed to projects that encompass a broad variety of design circumstances and they will be encouraged to guide clients to more inventive and unique solutions. Each project assigned has a student-generated component in its selected topic and scope. The formation of project details requires students to engage in considerable research prior to starting the application of design.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

Developing and building an advanced comprehensive knowledge of fundamental skills in graphic design craft enables students to apply them throughout their graduation coursework. Students will experience a series of rapid-fire exercises including but not limited to composition color understanding typography and the application of the conceptual thought processes.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

The Master's program in Graphic Design culminates in a thesis an independent project based on an original idea designed and developed by the student in concert with a team of advisers. Thesis Research Studio requires the definition of a graphic design problem research of case studies and visual works relevant to the thesis topic and the creation of an outline for the thesis studio project. The class will culminate in the preparation of printed documentation as well as an oral/visual presentation. All students are required to attend meetings outside of the scheduled class time for one on one instruction with their professor/adviser.

Prerequisites:

ADG S840

Credits:

3.00

Description:

The Graphic Design Thesis is a focused independent project on a single original topic developed by the student working in conjunction with a team of advisors. During this studio course students will test various formats for visualizing their thesis and will execute the design work necessary to realize their project. Emphasis will be placed on creative inquiry and the development of unique solutions that are conceptually strong and content rich. The final thesis will be comprised of the design project along with extensive written documentation. Students must demonstrate independence in relation to their own design process and the ability to realize a complex graphic design solution.

Prerequisites:

ADG S842

Credits:

3.00

Description:

This studio course represents the final phase of the thesis process. Having defined the design problem completed the necessary research and finalized the design solution the students will then document the process and project in written and visual form. Thesis documentation will consist of the visual manifestation of the design solution as well the professional level production of a printed bound volume or other appropriate format in which the thesis project research and solution are presented in both text and images. All students are required to attend meetings outside of the scheduled class time for one on one instruction with their professor/adviser.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

Discover connections where one least expects them. Through a series of exercises and assignments students will take on themes such as aesthetics structure context deconstruction and critical thinking while turning them into their own methodologies. Students will walk away knowing how to depend on their own thinking as a practical routine to tackle complex creative problems without the fear of being wrong.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

This seminar is designed to prepare students to engage with the profession of graphic design. The course will provide students with the practical knowledge and tools necessary to market themselves as they transition into the workforce. Assignments will target self-promotion through the development of personal marketing establishing and maintaining a digital footprint and resume development. In-class Q&A between students and guests professionals will provide a real-time lens on contemporary best practices.

Prerequisites:

Instructor's consent required.

Credits:

3.00

Description:

An Independent Study provides the student with the opportunity to examine an issue of interest that falls outside the parameters of the existing curricula. Students work one-on-one with a full-time faculty member to realize a particular and well-defined goal. Proposals for Independent Studies must be approved by the College of Arts & Sciences Dean's Office in advance of the semester during which the work will be completed.