Design Graduate Program: Graphic Design

Graphic Design Track: MA, MFA, MS & PhD

Student on computer and other students working in the background on fabrics

Our design graduate program focuses on the study of relationships between humans and their designed objects and environments. Students applying to the design graduate program may choose from four different tracks, including the graphic design track.

About the Program

Program Details

As a graduate student pursuing the graphic design track, you will focus on design theory, process, and methods related to design practice and research. You will collaborate with faculty members to develop designed objects and information resources that will enhance people’s lives. The program integrates theory with practice in the application of emergent and established technologies to digital design solutions. To obtain your master's degree, you must complete a creative thesis based on your explorations; for a PhD, you will need to complete a research-based dissertation. Your degree-related research will help specialize your practice and give you a competitive edge in the job market. 

Potential areas of specialization include:

  • Multicultural communication
  • Visual representation of information
  • Human interaction with designed objects
  • Social and cultural implications of design 
  • Color systems and perception
  • Design history
  • Design education

Master of Arts & Master of Science Degree Options

Students pursuing a Master of Arts or a Master of Science degree have two separate degree plans to choose from. Plan A is more thesis-focused and is considered preparatory for pursuing a PhD. Plan B is project-based and aimed at career advancement.

Plan A Plan B
  • 2–3 years (full-time)
  • 34 total credits
    • 18 major credits
    • 6 elective/minor credits
    • 10 thesis credits
  • Final oral examination
  • 2 years (full-time)
  • 34 total credits
    • 28 major credits
    • 6 elective/minor credits
  • Required project
  • Final oral examination

The credit amounts shown above are the foundation level required; additional coursework may be required.


Master of Fine Arts Degree Option

The MFA degree path in the graphic design track of the design graduate program is intended for students interested in more intensive master-level study. This degree requires a rigorous capstone project.

MFA Overview
  • 3 years (full-time)
  • 60 total credits
    • 40 major credits
    • 8 outside-major/minor credits
    • 12 capstone project credits
  • Final oral examination
Full Requirements & Course Descriptions

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Option

Doctoral study in the apparel studies track of the design graduate program is intended for students interested in academic research and scholarship who seek to become professors.

PhD Overview
  • 4 years (full-time)
  • 64 total credits
    • 28 major credits
    • 12 outside-major/minor credits
    • 24 dissertation credits
  • Preliminary oral committee examination
  • Final dissertation defense
Full Requirements & Course Descriptions
Research & Creative Scholarship

Our faculty have a wealth of experience in both traditional and innovative ways of making and researching from exploring user experience design and creativity to screenprinting, etching, and typography. No matter their background, our faculty work to improve the quality of life for people through both processes and the design of physical objects.