Jun 16, 2024  
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2021-22 
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2021-22 [Archived Catalog]

Graphic Design - MFA

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Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Graphic Design - MF5176

School of Art + Design
528 Seigfred Hall
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio 45701

Delivery Mode: Athens Campus

Term 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.

Further Information

Link to Program:  https://www.ohio.edu/fine-arts/art/graduate/graphic-design

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 ouschoolofart.slideroom.com. 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 ArtGrad@ohio.edu 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.

Graduation Requirements

A minimum of 90 credit hours is required to earn the MFA in Graphic Design.

Major Core

Complete the following core courses in graphic design:

Research Fellowship

Complete a minimum of 4 credit hours in Research Fellowship experience.

Seminar Major Course

Complete the area-specific seminar:

Studio Electives

Complete a minimum of 12 hours from any ART studio courses outside the studio major core. The following courses may be used to fulfill this requirement (excluding those listed in the major core above):

Art + Design Core

Additional Academic Coursework

Complete a minimum of 6 hours of additional academic (not studio-based) graduate courses related to your research.

Additional Seminar Requirement

Complete an additional seminar chosen from among the following courses:


Complete a minimum of 7 hours of elective credits at the 5000-level or higher. Independent Study or Service Learning courses may not be used to fulfill this requirement.

Thesis Hours

Complete a minimum of 25 thesis hours.

Graduate Teaching Seminar

Students receiving funding and intending to serve as a course assistant or instructor-of-record must successfully the Graduate Teaching Seminar, usually in the first term of the program.

Additional Requirements

Students in the Graphic Design MFA program must demonstrate satisfactory practice by achieving the following milestones:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Culminating Experience

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.

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