Maryland Institute College of Art

About,General

About the Graphic Design MFA at MICA

Selected from an international pool of applicants, students in MICA’s Graphic Design MFA program include experienced designers who are seeking to reinvigorate their work as well as professionals and advanced students from related disciplines, such as digital media, photography, journalism, and the fine arts. GD MFA students pursue advanced studio work in graphic design as well as courses in the history and theory of art, design, and culture. Students work in print, animation, web design, product development, environmental design, and other media. Courses dedicated to the help students learn to use writing as a powerful and expressive communication tool. They receive professional development experience through MICA’s Teaching Internship program and through fellowships with the Center for Design Thinking and the Center for Social Design.

MICA’s GD MFA program takes a down-to-earth, hands-on, practical approach to advanced design study. The program provides designers with an opportunity to rethink the direction of their careers by learning new skills and by working as the active authors/initiators of original creative projects. Our program is not a retreat from the real world. Instead, we provide a strategic location from which to develop intellectual and technological tools for engaging the larger society in which design functions.

Participants in the Graphic Design MFA program seek to contribute substantial new thinking—critical and practical—to the field of visual communication. Our students are engaging the cultural, social, technological, and aesthetic issues that are transforming today’s media and information industries. The 60-credit MFA program is designed to be completed during two years of full-time study, 15 credits per semester.

Semester 1
GD MFA Studio, 6 credits
Two studio electives, 6 credits
Critical Studies (liberal arts) elective, 3 credits

Semester 2
GD MFA Studio, 6 credits
Two studio electives, 6 credits
Critical Studies elective, 3 credits

Semester 3
GD MFA Studio / Thesis, 6 credits
Two studio electives, 6 credits
Critical Studies elective, 3 credits

Semester 4
GD MFA Studio / Thesis, 6 credits
Two studio electives, 6 credits
Critical Studies / Thesis, 3 credits

GD MFA Studio
Participants in this hands-on studio confront specific design problems, working both individually and in teams. The course, which meets for five hours every Monday, combines first- and second-year students. Group discussions and critiques are balanced with individual meetings with faculty and visits with guest artists. Second-year students produce an independent thesis project organized around a structured series of benchmarks. Students begin defining a thesis project at the close of the first year. 6 credits for each of four semesters.

Studio Electives
MFA students select studio electives from MICA’s broad roster of offerings, from areas such as interaction and web design, photography, painting, printmaking, video, sculpture, environmental design, illustration, and fibers. Eeach semester, the GD MFA program offers two studio electives exclusively for GD MFA students, including the Design Language Studio and courses in topics such as letterpress and publishing.In any semester, students wishing to focus on independent projects can enroll for independent study credit in lieu of structured studio courses. Many students choose this option during the Thesis year. 6 credits for each of 4 semesters.

Critical Studies
MFA students are required to complete 12 credits of humanities during their 2 years of study. Courses in history, art history, theory, criticism, literature, and pedagogy are offered through MICA’s graduate and advanced undergraduate programs. Since Spring 2009, the GD MFA program has been offering a unique course called Design/Writing/Research, a practical writing course in which participants engage with the art and craft of the written word; assignments are geared towards contemporary design topics with the potential for publication. MICA recently instituted a new required course for all incoming graduate students, Gateway to Contemporary Art, which gives all students access to understanding the issues driving art and design today. 3 credits for each of 4 semesters.

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