MFA in Graphic Design

The MFA Graphic Design Program is a year-long, LA-based student, faculty and research collective of designers investigating the issues of our day. We blend design exploration, critical inquiry, and applied projects to interrogate and better our world. We partner with organizations to foster deep impact beyond the classroom.

Usually, students convene for four consecutive semesters completing all required credits in fourteen months; this accelerated program serves the needs of working professionals and traditional students, alike.

During the course of studies, students learn to work across media and platforms through a series of studio projects, visiting workshops, courses in design theory and history and round table discussions.

The coursework engages research, discourse, critical thinking, and iterative process with the goal of discovering many possible design outcomes. In so doing, the program supports students in taking on the challenges and opportunities in contemporary graphic design practice.

For a closer look at what we do, please see the MFA Graphic Design Lookbook, check out our Tumblr page, visit our Instagram and follow the hashtag #otismfagd. Also, be sure to check out Otis GD MFA Coursework.

The MFA Graphic Design Department hosts an accelerated curriculum running four consecutive semesters from beginning to end. Historically, the department welcomes each class in the summer semester.

Due to current conditions with COVID-19, the college has made an accommodation. Incoming students for 2021 should plan to begin the program in Fall 2021, taking a full course load Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Summer 2022, and Fall 2022. A successful student will have completed all 60 credits needed to graduate in December 2022.

Otis College of Art and Design hosts one all college graduation in May. Therefore students entering our program this Fall 2021, would be invited to participate in the college’s graduation, May of 2023.

Learn More

The limited-residency MFA in Graphic Design provides a rigorous and challenging academic and studio environment for candidates interested in enhancing their current professional practice. 

Participants select from three individual themes or tracks: social responsibility of the designer in society, typography and type design, or advancing the discipline through theory and innovation. Each track speaks directly to educating conscientious individuals who recognize the value of design and its role in society. Coursework is comprised of research, readings, studio projects (assigned and self-directed), and a final project. The department provides students with instruction by core faculty, visiting lecturers, and visiting artists who are recognized nationally and internationally in their design and art practice.

The program is two years and two months running for three consecutive summers with two part-time spring semesters that can be completed on or off-site. Incoming students begin the program at the start of each summer session.

Check out the Graduate Graphic Design Tumblr and follow us!

Design Week and Symposia

Each summer, sessions begin with "Design Week:" multiple workshops running simultaneously and hosted by internationally recognized visiting artists whose practice exemplifies alternative practices. The week ends with a public event. In 2014, participants included Cox & Grusenmeyer, Type Radio, Feixen, Niessen de Vries, Adam Michaels of Project Projects, and LAVA Design. Live stream of public lecture (turn up the volume, and apologies for the shadows of passing heads!)


The program hosts weekly lectures, open to the public, by artists and designers from Los Angeles and beyond. All students are required to attend. MFAs spend the day in conversation with each visiting artist in a group setting or in one-on-one studio visits.