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Design M.F.A.

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College of Design
Link to a list of faculty for this program.
Contact Information
Director of Graduate Studies, Design Graduate Program, 240 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108 (612-626-1219)
  • Program Type: Master's
  • Requirements for this program are current for Spring 2018
  • Length of program in credits: 60
  • This program does not require summer semesters for timely completion.
  • Degree: Master of Fine Arts
Along with the program-specific requirements listed below, please read the General Information section of this website for requirements that apply to all major fields.
The design graduate program focuses on the study of relationships between humans and their designed environments. This focus is based on the assumption that design and analysis of environments contributes to the improvement of the human condition. The program addresses theory, research, and application, using a shared disciplinary base from the arts and social and behavioral sciences. The goal of the program is for students to analyze, evaluate, and integrate theoretical frameworks related to humans and their designed environments. Applications submitted to the design graduate program specify the track and degree objective. The MFA is available in the graphic design track only. The track in graphic design focuses on design theory, process, and methods related to design practice and research. Potential areas of study include graphic design history, theory, and critical narrative; design creativity; color and design; user-centered design; design authorship; data visualization; and interactive design.
Program Delivery
  • via classroom (the majority of instruction is face-to-face)
Prerequisites for Admission
The preferred undergraduate GPA for admittance to the program is 3.00.
Eligibility requirements are located on the track pages of the design graduate program website: http://dha.design.umn.edu/programs/grad.
Special Application Requirements:
Application requirements: http://dha.design.umn.edu/programs/grad/admissions.html
Applicants must submit their test score(s) from the following:
  • GRE
    • General Test - Verbal Reasoning: 153
    • General Test - Quantitative Reasoning: 144
    • General Test - Analytical Writing: 4.0
International applicants must submit score(s) from one of the following tests:
  • TOEFL
    • Internet Based - Total Score: 79
    • Internet Based - Writing Score: 21
    • Internet Based - Reading Score: 19
    • Paper Based - Total Score: 550
The preferred English language test is Test of English as Foreign Language.
Key to test abbreviations (GRE, TOEFL).
For an online application or for more information about graduate education admissions, see the General Information section of this website.
Program Requirements
Plan C: Plan C requires 52 major credits and 8 credits outside the major. The final exam is oral. A capstone project is required.
Capstone Project: MFA coursework and research culminates in a creative thesis, which includes a paper and extensive creative project.
This program may be completed with a minor.
Use of 4xxx courses toward program requirements is permitted under certain conditions with adviser approval.
A minimum GPA of 2.80 is required for students to remain in good standing.
At least 2 semesters must be completed before filing a Degree Program Form.
Students may be required to complete additional credits upon recommendation of their committee.
Design Program Core Requirement
DES 8181 - Research Ethics (1.0 cr)
Related Field
Students are required to take a minimum of 8 credits in a related field. Courses are selected with the approval of the advisor and committee.
Theory and Philosophy
Take 6 or more credit(s) from the following:
· DES 8112 - Design Theory (3.0 cr)
· DES 8164 - Innovation Theory and Analysis (3.0 cr)
· GDES 5399 - Theory of Electronic Design (3.0 cr)
Evaluation and Analysis
Take 6 or more credit(s) from the following:
· GDES 5388 - Graphic Design Research (3.0 cr)
· DES 8102 - Quantitative Research Methods (3.0 cr)
· DES 8103 - Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research (3.0 cr)
Concentration
All students are required to take DES 8114, GDES 8361, and GDES 8362.
Take 27 or more credit(s) from the following:
· GDES 4131W - History of Graphic Design [WI] (4.0 cr)
· GDES 4330 - Surface Fabric Design Workshop (4.0 cr)
· GDES 4345 - Advanced Typography (4.0 cr)
· GDES 5311 - Illustration (3.0 cr)
· GDES 5341 - Interactive Design (3.0 cr)
· GDES 5342 - Advanced Web Design (3.0 cr)
· GDES 5371 - Data Visualization Studio (3.0 cr)
· GDES 5372 - Data Visualization for Interactive Platforms (3.0 cr)
· GDES 5383 - Digital Illustration and Animation (3.0 cr)
· GDES 5386 - Fundamentals of Game Design (3.0 cr)
· DES 8113 - Teaching and Assessment (2.0 cr)
· DES 8114 - Design Studio (4.0 cr)
· DES 8115 - Grant Writing (2.0 cr)
· GDES 8192 - Readings in Graphic Design (1.0-3.0 cr)
· GDES 8193 - Directed Study (1.0-3.0 cr)
· GDES 8361 - Color, Design, and Human Perception (3.0 cr)
· GDES 8362 - The Nature of Representation in Visual Communication (3.0 cr)
MFA Creative Thesis Credits
Take 12 credits or more of the following:
GDES 8990 - MFA Creative Thesis (6.0 cr)
Program Sub-plans
Students are required to complete one of the following sub-plans.
Students may not complete the program with more than one sub-plan.
Graphic Design
All Design MMFA students must complete the graphic design track. See program requirements above.
 
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DES 8181 - Research Ethics
Credits: 1.0 [max 1.0]
Grading Basis: S-N or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
Overview of ethical concerns/questions in conducting/disseminating research. Mentoring relationships, use of human subjects, data handling, plagiarism, authorship, publishing, research funding, social responsibility of researchers, code of conduct. prereq: Grad student
DES 8112 - Design Theory
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Even Year
Theories used in design disciplines. Existing designed environments. Designer's purpose. Problem-solving processes. Interaction between humans and design. Field investigations.
DES 8164 - Innovation Theory and Analysis
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Odd Year
Theories and factors that influence adoption and diffusion of designed products. Methodologies used in analysis of diffusion process.
GDES 5399 - Theory of Electronic Design
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: 01761
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Odd Year
Theories, methodologies, histories of electronic design, its impact on visual communications. Digitak artifacts, processes, paradigms. prereq: Graphic design track student or instr consent
GDES 5388 - Graphic Design Research
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Periodic Spring
Experience in Graphic Design research strategies and methods. Applied, theoretical, and human-centered aspects directed at project development. Design prototyping, testing, analysis. prereq: Graphic design major or grad student or instr consent
DES 8102 - Quantitative Research Methods
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Fall Even Year
Quantitative research methods for issues related to humans, their behaviors, and everyday living in the designed environment.
DES 8103 - Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Fall Odd Year
A scientific approach to qualitative research. Methods/strategies combined to explore complex research questions.
GDES 4131W - History of Graphic Design (WI)
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Historical analysis of visual communication. Technological, cultural, and aesthetic influences. How historical events are communicated/perceived through graphic presentation/imagery. prereq: Intro history or art history course
GDES 4330 - Surface Fabric Design Workshop
Credits: 4.0 [max 8.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
Studio experience in the development and production of surface design. Screen printing, batik, resist dying, shibori, cyanotypes, and dye transfers are included.
GDES 4345 - Advanced Typography
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Expressive visual communication of words. Fundamental legibility of "invisible art," overt expression through type. Students complete extended typographic project. prereq: [[2345 or DHA 2345], 3351, graphic design major] or design grad student or instr consent
GDES 5311 - Illustration
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Prerequisites: 1311 or ArtS 1101 or PDes 3702 or LA 1301 or Arch 3250 or Arch 2301 or #
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Spring
Image making by hand or digitally for use in design projects. Design development. Mapping out ideas/expressing thoughts visually. Not observational drawing course. prereq: 1311 or ArtS 1101 or PDes 3702 or LA 1301 or Arch 3250 or Arch 2301 or instr consent
GDES 5341 - Interactive Design
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: 01108
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Design of interactive multimedia projects. Interactive presentations and electronic publishing. Software includes hypermedia, scripting, digital output. prereq: [[2334 or 2342], design minor] or graphic design major or grad student or instr consent
GDES 5342 - Advanced Web Design
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
Internet-based design. Static web pages, embedded media, cascading style sheets. Design and usability of interface between humans and technology. Evaluation of visual elements that control and organize dealings with computers to direct work. Students develop designs, do usability testing. prereq: [[2334 or 2342], design minor] or graphic design major or grad student or instr consent
GDES 5371 - Data Visualization Studio
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: 02385
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
Visual articulation of data. Expansive research, meticulous gathering of data, analysis. Develop cohesive graphical narratives/build solid foundation in craft of presenting data.
GDES 5372 - Data Visualization for Interactive Platforms
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Spring
Skills/tools necessary to process large quantities of information/present them through interactive mediums. Create data visualizations for web utilizing Javascript libraries. Linear/non-linear data-driven narratives.
GDES 5383 - Digital Illustration and Animation
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Periodic Fall & Spring
Advanced computer design. Integration of design knowledge with Macintosh computer applications. Students use software to create digital illustration and animations. Adobe Illustrator, After Effects, Flash. prereq: [[2334 or 2342], design minor], [graphic design major or [grad student, experience with computer illustration]]] or instr consent
GDES 5386 - Fundamentals of Game Design
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Periodic Fall & Spring
Games of all kinds. Theoretical/practical aspects of making games. Investigation of design process. Rules, strategies, methodologies. Interactivity, choice, action, outcome, rules in game design. Social interaction, story telling, meaning/ideology, semiotics. Signs, cultural meaning. prereq: [[2334 or 2342], design minor] or [[4384 or DHA 4384 or 5341 or DHA 5341], [graphic design major or sr or grad student]] or instr consent
DES 8113 - Teaching and Assessment
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Fall Odd Year
Educational processes/methods in design studio/lecture courses. Learning styles, best practices for grading. Methods of critique. Interacting with students. Active learning. Teaching with technology. Lecture, practicum.
DES 8114 - Design Studio
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Even Year
Advanced problem analysis, design solution. prereq: Design grad student or instr consent
DES 8115 - Grant Writing
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Fall Even Year
Interdisciplinary course.
GDES 8192 - Readings in Graphic Design
Credits: 1.0 -3.0 [max 8.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Independent study, review of books/periodicals under tutorial guidance. prereq: instr consent
GDES 8193 - Directed Study
Credits: 1.0 -3.0 [max 8.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Directed study in graphic design. prereq: instr consent
GDES 8361 - Color, Design, and Human Perception
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Prerequisites: Basic color theory course or #
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Odd Year
Perceptual and psychological aspects of color and design. Human factors of color variables and design strategies that can enhance human experience of, and interaction with, color. prereq: Basic color theory course or instr consent
GDES 8362 - The Nature of Representation in Visual Communication
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Even Year
Theories of representation and studio production (digital, non-digital) centered around representation in culture.
GDES 8990 - MFA Creative Thesis
Credits: 6.0 [max 12.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
MFA project. prereq: Completed coursework requirements for MFA in DHA w/multimedia emphasis, instr consent