The Design graduate degree program is meant to be broad and interdisciplinary, in contrast to the necessary specialization of our undergraduate programs. Graduate students are encouraged to explore emerging design issues, and to partner with other disciplines to propose innovative solutions.
The Department offers two complementary areas of emphasis in Design Research and Development (DRD) or Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM), both leading to the Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degree.
Design Research and Development (DRD) MFA program track
The Design Research and Development MFA track is for persons with academic backgrounds in all fields of design. Professional practice experience is also useful, but is 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. Because the program is intentionally multidisciplinary and process-oriented, courses in this degree may also be of interest to persons who are incorporating design thinking into the processes of other disciplines, which generates a diverse atmosphere. Research topics are encouraged in alignment with the expertise of the core faculty in order to maximize the potential for student participation in funded projects and other active theoretical or practical investigations. Areas of investigation generally fall into one of three categories: Research for design practices; Research about design practices; Design practices as research.
Students in this MFA track are required to complete 60 credit hours of study. This includes a core of seminar and studio courses and independent thesis-related studies and open electives in the themes of studio/lab, history/theory, and collaborative/interdisciplinary activity. Students work closely with a three-person thesis committee to develop their thesis topics and the vehicles best used for their development.
Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM) MFA program track
The Digital Animation and Interactive Media MFA track provides opportunities for students with backgrounds in animation to develop their own creative visions for multidisciplinary and collaborative activities in a research environment. In collaboration with the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), the definition of digital animation extends beyond the traditional through the exploration of new and emerging technologies. Real time graphics and virtual environments, performance animation, game art, responsive and interactive media and installations are some of the areas in which we expand the applications of digital animation. These investigations form new ground for the design and creation of meaningful content by the animation designer.
Students in this MFA track are required to complete 60 credit hours of study, with most students completing the credits within a period of six semesters. This includes core design courses (18 credits), thesis project and writing development (15 credits), and open electives in the themes of studio/lab (12 credits), history/theory/criticism (9 credits), and collaborative/interdisciplinary studio (6 credits). Students work closely with a three-person thesis committee to develop their thesis topics and the vehicles best used for their development.