Graduate Graphic Design

The Master of Fine Art Degree in Graphic Design provides a two-year, sequenced studio approach to advanced design thinking and problem solving for visual communication, preparing students to thrive in a dynamic, creative professional environment.

During the first year of study, students are challenged to articulate a design perspective and method through studio projects, emphasizing the key principles of form, communication, authorship, audience, and medium. Students are invited to think creatively and strategically—developing content, defining an audience, and determining an optimum communication platform. This development of a body of work culminates in the second year of study with the Master’s thesis, a personally driven creative research project that presents the individual student’s visual and critical methodology and examines topics relevant to contemporary design practice.

Faculty work closely with students to strengthen both technical skills and conceptual capacity through a mixture of carefully defined and open-ended projects. As professionally practicing designers with broad networks in and beyond Boston, faculty serve as an entry point into the field through active mentorship. Graduate Graphic Design students are encouraged to actively participate in the Boston-based design community to cultivate their own professional network through special programs including Graduate Open Studios and a visiting designer lecture series.

Making Room for the Future

Due to recent building renovations and the introduction of new facilities, the Graphic Design program is expanding and diversifying graduate offerings to include a Certificate in Graphic Design. This full-time, one year intensive training program is ideal for those who are entering the graphic design field for the first time.

Certificate in Graphic Design

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Program of Study

  • The Graphic Design studio forms the program’s core. All graduate Graphic Design students are expected to demonstrate a deep commitment to their design practice by maintaining regular studio habits.
  • During the first year of study, students are challenged to develop a design methodology and hone their skills and interests. Through a combination of carefully defined and open-ended projects, first-year graduate students articulate a design perspective and method through studio projects, emphasizing the key principles of form, communication, authorship, audience, and medium.
  • The second year of graduate study is devoted primarily to research and production of the Master’s thesis. Presented as a group exhibition at the Boston University Art Galleries, the thesis student ensures that each graduate student produces an original contribution to the field of Graphic Design at the conclusion of their two years of study.
  • Required courses in Graphic Design Theory and various design electives complement the core Graphic Design studios, affording students the opportunity to specialize in areas of interest and providing the broad skillset and knowledge essential to navigating in an ever-changing discipline.
  • Graphic Design elective courses currently include Information Design, Design for the Web, Interactive Design, Experience Design, Motion Graphics, History of Graphic Design, Editorial Design, and Exhibition Design.
  • Students are also encouraged to take electives in studio art within the School of Visual Arts, which include Printmaking, Photography, Drawing, Painting, Sculpture and Installation, and more.
  • An annual program of visiting designers, artists, and critics brings nationally and internationally distinguished creative professionals to present their work, host workshops, and participate in group critiques of students’ work, providing a multitude of voices and essential contact with the industry.
  • In order to take full advantage of the benefits offered by a large university, graduate students are required to take 4 credits of liberal arts courses from across the University.

Facilities

  • Graduate students have 24-hour access to design studios on the 4th floor of the 808 Building, including private studios spaces and larger communal work spaces.
  • New facilities also feature cutting-edge equipment to realize design projects, including large-format printers, a Risograph printer, vinyl cutters, and bookbinding equipment.
  • With initial training, students are also granted access to the Printmaking facilities on the 4th floor of the 808 Building, directly adjacent to the graduate design studios. Printmaking facilities include etching, lithography, silkscreen, bookmaking, letterpress, and digital print studios.
  • Additional facilities available to graduate students include black-and-white darkrooms, a fully equipped wood shop, a welding shop, a ventilated spray room, ceramics facilities.
  • The Visual Arts Resource Library is a non-lending collection of art and design books, periodicals, and audio/visual resource for student use. Digital resources include Apple desktop computers, a large format scanner and copy stand, as well as equipment for short-term rental, including digital SLR cameras, projectors, lighting kits, and more.
  • Students frequently utilize the Engineering Product Innovation Center (EPIC), a 15,000-square-foot, $9 million facility on Commonwealth Avenue, just steps from the School of Visual Arts. This state-of-the-art facility features everything from laser etching to rapid prototyping, allowing designers to collaborate with engineering staff and students to see their projects through all stages of hands-on production.
  • Note: Although graphic design students have full access to the computer lab and media center in the College of Fine Arts, each student is required to own a personal laptop computer for work outside of the School.

Opportunities

  • Students are given numerous opportunities to display work in Boston University galleries. The culmination of the two-year program is the Thesis Exhibition, held in the Boston University Art Galleries.
  • Teaching Assistantships are available starting in the second year. Graduate Assistantships are also available in the BU Art Galleries and in numerous facilities in the School of Visual Arts during the first and second year.
  • BU’s partnership with AIGA Boston brings leaders in the field to campus, and provides opportunities for students to network with Boston area designers and studios.
  • The Graphic Design program participate in numerous design and art book fairs, including the Boston Art Book Fair and the Odds and Ends Art Book Fair.

Student Life

Visit the Boston University MFA Graphic Design Instagram to learn more about graduate student life at BU School of Visual Arts.


Graduate Faculty


Graduate Visiting Artists & Critics

In addition to working closely with core full-time faculty, graduate students benefit from regular visits with working designers and critics, who present lectures and conduct studio visits. Recent visitors include:

  • Peter Bilak
  • Matthew Carter
  • Kyle Cooper
  • Aaron Draplin
  • Keith Godard
  • Hilary Greenbaum
  • April Greiman
  • James Goggin
  • Miranda July
  • Chip Kidd
  • Stefan Sagmeister
  • Susan Sellers
  • Paul Soulellis
  • Wonyoung So
  • James Victore
  • Zipeng Zhu

Graduate Curriculum Requirements

Curriculum requirements for the MFA Graphic Design program can be found on the Academic Bulletin.