Graduate Programs

Our expectation in the School of Visual Communication Design is that through persistence and drive, successful M.A. and M.F.A. graduates will develop innovative future practices, broaden scholarly research in visual communication design, and make a meaningful contribution to the profession and society.

For more information, please contact Professor and Graduate Coordinator Jessica Barness.


The graduate program in the School of Visual Communication Design is one of only three programs in the state to offer the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Visual Communication Design and was the first to offer the terminal degree in the field, the Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.).

Students come to the graduate program from a variety of backgrounds: advertising, industrial and graphic design, design education and undergraduate design programs from around the world. This diversity of experience has created an ever-changing and enriching environment in which degree candidates strive to reach individual and group goals. 


M.F.A. and M.A. degree students in the School of Visual Communication Design receive support in developing their individual abilities, interests and personal aesthetic. Organized individually for each student, the curriculum includes required courses and assignments as well as opportunities for individual investigations. Students are challenged to pursue their interests, identify strengths and improve weaknesses, and develop the motivation and discipline so critical to professional success.

Students have the opportunity to interact with a variety of faculty members, including eleven full-time Visual Communication Design professors and several adjunct instructors who hold graduate faculty status. This diverse experience provides a variety of opinions and criticisms and allows students to expand their vocabulary of ideas, problem-solving techniques and aesthetic directions. 

Admission Requirements

  • Official transcript(s)
  • Undergraduate degree in design or closely related program
  • Minimum 3.0 major GPA (4.0 scale)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Goal statement
  • Résumé
  • Autobiographical statement (250 words)
  • Portfolio (presented online and consisting of 10-15 samples of personal or professional work that are clearly identified with appropriate background information)1

English Language Proficiency Requirements for International Students: All international students must provide proof of English language proficiency (unless they meet specific exceptions) by earning a minimum 587 TOEFL score (94 on the Internet-based version), minimum 82 MELAB score, minimum 7.0 IELTS score or minimum 65 PTE Academic score. For more information on international admission, visit the Office of Global Education’s admission website

Application Deadlines

For funding considerations, applications must be received (submitted) by March 1 for Fall admission.

For more information about graduate admissions, please visit the Graduate Studies website.


For applicants without a visual communication design undergraduate degree, a  portfolio may be defined as any creative, problem-solving endeavor. It may include drawing, painting, illustration, photography, web related solutions, interactions, writing or other types of solutions not listed here.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be able to develop a body of creative work at a level appropriate for a graduate designer/illustrator/photographer.


The School of Visual Communication Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD).

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design (M.F.A.)

Master of Arts in Visual Communication Design (M.A.)