May 19, 2022  
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2019-20 
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2019-20 [Archived Catalog]

Graphic Design - MFA

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Degree Title and Name:  Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Program Name and Number:  Graphic Design - MF5176

Department/Unit:  School of Art + Design

Delivery Mode:  Athens Campus

Term(s) of Entry:  Fall

Program Overview:  “Learning How to Learn” is the underlying methodology that gives Ohio University’s graduate study in graphic design its unique strength. We focus on design research within a multi-cultural world addressing social awareness and contextual messaging as content. We emphasize and assist our candidates’ research in professional forums through papers and lectures, and publishing in established professional journals.

Understanding the role of graphic design within a pluralistic society and a cross-cultural context are essential components of a graduate design education. The power of design thinking identifies challenges, frames opportunities, manages complex situations, generates approaches, creates deeper understanding, and shapes meaningful experiences. We rebuild fundamental skills of perception, interpretation, and invention as well as understanding the nature and meaning of visual form in context. Our graduating designers aim to secure positions within top design firms and educational institutions nationally and internationally. They design within a broad spectrum of applications from solving complex problems to planning and executing solutions. Our graduates’ ultimate strengths are visually translating ideas into form. Throughout the history of Ohio University’s graphic design program, we have been primarily identified as typographers using traditional and contemporary practices.

This program is an intensive three-year experience. The first and second years are primarily devoted to studio, seminar, art history, and elective coursework. During the third year, there is a pure dedication to studio time in preparation for the Thesis Exhibition. As part of this three-year studio experience, the student will have individual and group meetings with faculty, interaction with peers in and outside of the Graphic Design Area, and will participate in graduate critiques. A normal full-time academic load is 15 credit-hours per semester and progress toward the degree is guided by the student’s graduate review committee members to the successful completion of 90 credit hours over the course of six semesters (three years).

Program Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will be able to demonstrate mastery in skills, techniques and material germane to the student’s research focus, evidenced through a mature body of creative work
  • Students will be able to identify key figures, works and sources, both historical and contemporary, as evidence to support a clearly stated thesis contextualizing the student’s work.
  • Students will be able to generate documents appropriate to professional practice in the student’s field of focus, and be prepared for participation in the professional world of Art.
  • Students will be able to execute public exhibitions of their creative work.

Opportunities for Graduates: Graphic Design graduates find positions in many areas, including academic institutions, museums and galleries, and corporate and private business firms.

Link to Program:

Link to Program Handbook: Contact

Graduation Requirements:  The following requirements must be met to graduate.

  1. Credit-Hour Requirements Summary: 90 minimum credit hours. Students enroll in a minimum of 15 credit hours per term over six semesters. A G.P.A. of at least a ‘B’ (3.0) is required in each category. No grade below a ‘C’ (2.0) can be used to satisfy any degree requirement.
    • 28 credits in major studio area (Graphic Design)(ART 6510 required)
    • 12 credits in outside ART studio electives
    • 12 credits Art History/academic studies (AH 5902 and AH 5101 required)
    • 6 credits ART seminars (ART 6500 required)
    • 25 thesis credits
  2. Thesis Review requirements: Students will have a series of formal reviews throughout the three years of the program with the members of their thesis committee.
    • The First-Year Progress Review occurs toward the end of Fall semester and constitutes a progress assessment of the student’s work by their committee members.
    • The First-Year M.F.A. Candidacy Review occurs toward the end of Spring semester. Successful completion of this review officially admits the student to full candidacy for the degree. During this review the student is required to identify with the assistance of the chair of their committee a professional experience for their ART 6510: Graphic Design Research Fellowship. This is a professional graphic design interaction. Possibilities can include but are not limited to local or regional not-for-profit design projects, internships off or on campus or a study abroad experience for completion of this requirement.
    • The Thesis Proposal Review occurs during Spring semester of the second year and establishes the goals and guidelines of the student’s thesis exhibition in written form.
    • A Thesis Exhibition and corresponding Oral Thesis Defense is required at the conclusion of the third year of study. The Oral Thesis Defense occurs before the presentation of the thesis work to the public. A written thesis is an optional addition to this step.
  3. Expected time to degree if studying full-time is three years.

Culminating Experience: Thesis Exhibition and Oral Thesis Defense. 
A Thesis Exhibition and Oral Thesis Defense are required for conferral of the degree and occur in the final term of the program. The exhibition is a public presentation of thesis work, typically held in one of the School’s formal exhibition spaces. Students must complete 25 Thesis credits in preparation for the exhibition and defense.

Admission Requirements: Admission to the MFA program requires a Bachelor of Art (B.A.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) or equivalent degree. Transfer credit is typically not accepted. In addition to completing the online application to Ohio University, applicants must submit a digital portfolio of 20 images representing their original artworks through Within the online application to OU, applicants should upload their CV/resume, artist statement, professional goals statement, transcripts, and a list of three professional references with contact information. These references will automatically receive requests for letters of recommendation via the online system. Contact for questions about the application process.

International Students: This program permits full-time enrollment in residence at Ohio University, and an I-20 may be issued based on admission to this program.

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