Design MFA Program - Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I locate information about the Design Master of Fine Arts (MFA) graduate program?

Details about our MFA graduate program can be found on our website under Graduate Studies in Design

Do you offer a master's degree in industrial, interior, or visual communication design?

Our MFA program is interdisciplinary and collaborative in nature and not specifically focused on one of these areas (i.e. Visual Communication, Industrial or Interior Design).  We offer two graduate program tracks: Design Research and Development (DRD), and Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM) both leading to a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree.

The DRD track is usually selected by students with industrial design background.

What is the application process and deadline?  

Information about the process and deadlines can be found under Graduate Studies Application Process page on our website.

*Please note the application to the Design MFA program is a two-step process. Step one is submitting and application to the Ohio State University Graduate School. Step two is completing a second application to the Department of Design. Please see our Graduate Studies Application Process for additional information.

What is the application fee, and is a fee waiver available?

Ohio State Graduate and Profession Admissions charges a nonrefundable $60 fee for U.S. students and $70 for international students for each regular or supplemental application you submit to Ohio State for graduate study. You may check your eligibility for a fee waiver on the Graduate and Professional Admissions website. International students are not eligible for application fee waivers. However, you may contact Education USA to ask if they can offer assistance.

Do you require GRE scores?  

The GRE is not required if your cumulative GPA is 3.0 or higher based on the 4.0 scale.

Do you accept hardcopies of my statement of intent, CV, portfolio, transcripts and the three recommendation letters?

No. Our application process is completely online.

What is required in the statement of intent?

The statement of intent is very important. Applicants should have some research direction in mind, and be very clear on how Ohio State is the ideal place to conduct this research. What makes Ohio State the best place to support what you are doing? What faculty members have a point of synergy with what interests you the most? Stay clear of biographical statements like “I always wanted to be a designer” or “used to look at interesting paintings”. Talk more about how your proposed research is going to advance a specific area such as teaching, professional practice, communication theory, social concerns, etc. See the Graduate Studies Application Process page for guidance on the statement intent requirement.

There is no limit to the number of characters or word limit requirement for the statement of intent. Two pages, single spaced is most common (or 1.0 in Word), or a maximum of four pages.

 What are the Portfolio requirements?

See the Graduate Studies Application Process page to view guidance on the portfolio requirement.

I submitted a Digital Animation and Interactive Media application. How long should a video be and what contents should be included? Could I briefly introduce my portfolio in the video?

If you apply to the DAIM track, your video submission(s) may focus on the work showing your animation design and production, character design, rendering, 2-D or 3-D modeling, storyboarding, etc. There are spaces in SlideRoom for you to write a short description for each portfolio piece (or each file). Usually, each video file is within the range of 2 to 4 minutes. You can submit up to 15 files.  

If an applicant has some illustration-related works combining digital art and traditional drawing for their portfolio, does this meet the requirement for Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM)?

Including illustration and digital art is acceptable for the portfolio.

What should the portfolio look like for a non-traditional design candidate for the MFA Design Research and Development track (DRD)?

When submitting the portfolio, provide more specific descriptions about your role, process, and design thinking approach along with your design concept and solution for this resource app project. The DRD track is for individuals with academic backgrounds in all fields of design. Professional practice experience is also useful, though not required. Students in our program are encouraged to think critically about design problems and processes, to compare and test methods, and to seek discoveries through the analysis and synthesis of cross -disciplinary approaches and the application of design thinking. The program is intentionally multidisciplinary and process-oriented, so courses in this degree may also be of interest to those who are incorporating design thinking into the processes of other disciplines, which generates a diverse atmosphere.

Are fellowships, graduate associateships, or scholarships offered?

University Fellowships and department Graduate Associateships are available. Details are found under Funding and Financial Support. If you are applying as an international student and would like to be considered for a Fellowship, all application materials must be submitted by November 30. Please apply in advance. Anticipate delays in obtaining letters of recommendation and transcripts. Admission decisions are made only after all materials are received. Late or incomplete applications are not considered. 

Our department does not offer any special scholarship or grant for merit international students. Please see the Office of International Affairs for grant or scholarship information. 

When submitting an application to our program, applicants may indicate if they are interested in a fellowship or graduate associateship.

If I am accepted into the program and awarded a fellowship or a graduate associateship, though my admission was deferred to the following academic year, would I still receive the same financial support?

You would be placed back into a pool of newly admitted students for the next academic year. Eligibility for financial support will be re-evaluated, though it cannot be guaranteed. All newly admitted students will be considered and determined by the number of positions available and the amount of funding available. 

Can I schedule a visit or meeting to discuss the MFA graduate program?

The department offers two virtual Graduate Studies Information Sessions (typically held in October).  Faculty and staff provide information about the Design MFA program, application process, funding opportunities, and research activities. This is an excellent opportunity to ask your questions to our faculty and staff. Prospective students are strongly recommended to attend a session and consult with a faculty member in their area of interest. Individual meetings can be arranged by contacting one of our faculty listed at Design Directory.  See our Information Sessions page to view additional details. 

Is it possible to complete the Design MFA program in two years?

Our MFA program requires 60 credit hours, which is very difficult to complete in two years. It is a three-year program, and only under exceptional circumstances is it completed in less time.

Is it possible to be a Design graduate student and work a full-time job?

That would be quite challenging and would depend on the flexibility of your job/employer. Design MFA graduate students are required to attend daytime classes (no online courses) and meet with their advisors on a regularly basis outside scheduled class times.

Can I still apply to the program with a non-design background?

Yes. A major or minor in design is not required, though it does help. However, your application must show that you have the experience and aptitude to successfully pursue an advanced degree in Design. This should be reflected in your portfolio and statement of intent. For details, please see the Graduate Studies Application Process to review the requirements. 

Most MFA applicants have some sort of design education. Applicants without a design degree have a degree in a related field, such as engineering, architecture, or art. Most students have taken design related courses in art, architecture, or engineering.

Being an undergraduate from an engineering field, is switching fields to design encouraged?

Switching from engineering to design is not generally encouraged, but it is possible. Your portfolio and statement of intent will be evaluated relative to other applicants who are likely to come from a design background, therefore, you may be at a disadvantage when it comes to the work in your portfolio.

What courses should I take prior to applying to your MFA graduate program to better prepare myself?

Please consult with faculty or advisors at your current school, or with someone who is more familiar with your education, experience, and interests. You may view the courses our undergraduate students take prior to receiving their Bachelor of Science in Design (BSD).

Do you accept the IELTS test scores in place of TOEFL?

Yes, our graduate program accepts IELTS test scores and follows what is acceptable by the University. Further information can be found on the Graduate and Professional Admissions website.  The official test scores are sent from ETS directly to OSU Graduate and Professional Admissions.

Do you accept Duolingo English test scores?

No, Department of Design does not accept Duolingo test scores.

What are the tuition, fees and living expenses?

Estimated tuition and living expenses can be found on the Graduate and Professional Admissions website. 

Is your graduate program part of the STEM program?

Yes, our Design MFA graduate program is STEM approved and our CIP Code name is Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphic and Special Effects. It covers both program tracks: Design Research & Development (DRD), and Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM).