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MFA Graphic Design Curriculum

All programs’ curricula are developed in response to Program Learning Outcomes, which signify what students learn within a degree program or emphasis area. All program learning outcomes respond to overarching Institutional Learning Outcomes. View the MFA Graphic Design learning outcomes

Show All First Year Course Descriptions
Summer - First Year (Show All)
Course Course Number Credits
Seminar Studio I GRDS601 3
Seminar Studio I

 Structured as a think tank, students at varying levels work in a collaborative learning environment on a theme-based project, focusing on inquiry, research, discourse and design thinking. This four-term course will encourage a wide range of opinions, with course outcomes exploring media literacy and critical form making. Faculty will provide the opportunity for in-depth discussion and critique as well as connecting research to conceptual and formal investigation. Together students and faculty work collectively and individually to produce publishable outcomes that will contribute to design scholarship. 

Seminar Round Table GRDS655 3
Seminar Round Table

In this course all graduate students discuss issues pertaining to being an active designer in the world. Lead by invited guests from various disciplines students look at design from multiple philosophic, historical, theoretical positions. The course provides an opportunity to speak at length about the value of inquiry, methodology, research/development, and being actively engaged in issues and disciplines outside graphic design. On occasion students have the opportunity to engage with Visiting Artists that may include special events or unique briefs.

Design Week GRDS711 3
Design Week

Design Week is a week of workshops in which visiting artists from United States and abroad lead a group of students through a short-term project. Workshops team up with Los Angeles-based organizations that serve to make a difference in small and large communities. Workshop outcomes fall somewhere between speculation and a real world design solutions with an aim to aspire all parties to apply design thinking in an innovative way.

Graduate Studio GRDS670 3
Graduate Studio

Stemming from the research from Seminar Studio, Graduate Studio focuses on critical iterative process. Throughout the course students cultivate working methodologies to discover varied outcomes through working fluidly across media to investigate multiple applications of their research. With guidance and mentorship from the faculty, in this course students begin to develop a body of work reflecting their interests, agendas, and values.

Workshop GRDS678 3
Workshop

Invited design practitioners will host theme-based workshops. Students are introduced to a variety of working methodologies and approaches to contemporary design thinking and making. This course will always be conceptual with a commitment to experimental form making. Outcomes will vary in media and no two semesters will be alike allowing students to take the course more than once.

Electives 3
Electives

Please see your department for available electives.

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Fall - First Year (Show All)
Course Course Number Credits
Seminar Studio II GRDS602 3
Seminar Studio II

Structured as a think tank, students at varying levels work in a collaborative learning environment on a theme-based project, focusing on inquiry, research, discourse and design thinking. This four-term course will encourage a wide range of opinions, with course outcomes exploring media literacy and critical form making. Faculty will provide the opportunity for in-depth discussion and critique as well as connecting research to conceptual and formal investigation. Together students and faculty work collectively and individually to produce publishable outcomes that will contribute to design scholarship.

Contemporary Graphic Design Issues AHCS577 3
Contemporary Graphic Design Issues

This course is total emersion into the field of graphic design. Current and critically important figures be covered, students will be given tools to use in their practice to ensure that they are informed on the discipline on a global scale. In addition, students will begin to engage visiting artists in dialogue during lectures.

Entrepreneurship GRDS664 2
Entrepreneurship

This course is designed for graduate students that are interested in starting their own business and or freelance business. Students will be introduced to all facets of running a business, such as writing a business plan, promotion, developing a client base, pricing, legal and financial aspects as well as ethical standards. Students will be exposed to guest lectures from a variety of business areas such as small business owners, a life coach, accountant/bookkeeper and an attorney, on the proper way to set-up and run a business.

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Show All Second Year Course Descriptions
Spring - Second Year (Show All)
Course Course Number Credits
Seminar Studio III GRDS701 3
Seminar Studio III

Structured as a think tank, students at varying levels work in a collaborative learning environment on a theme-based project, focusing on inquiry, research, discourse and design thinking. This four-term course will encourage a wide range of opinions, with course outcomes exploring media literacy and critical form making. Faculty will provide the opportunity for in-depth discussion and critique as well as connecting research to conceptual and formal investigation. Together students and faculty work collectively and individually to produce publishable outcomes that will contribute to design scholarship.

Directed Study: Mentorship GRDS799 4
Directed Study: Mentorship

Students produce academic texts related to design that are historical, critical, and/or theoretical. Through mentorship, students will begin to establish a body of work that can and should contribute to contemporary design discourse. Communication via digital technologies, telephone, or face-to-face meetings all contribute to the mentorship process. Publication material in digital or analog form is required.

Theory and Criticism AHCS576 3
Theory and Criticism

A diversity of critical approaches to twentieth and twenty-first century design are situated historically while introducing current themes and debates in contemporary design practice and related disciplines.

Models of Practice AHCS587 3
Models of Practice

In this course students will work to contextualize their future practice through close examination of their own body of work, research, and on and off site visits with contemporary design practitioners. The course will provide opportunities to experience the many roles that designers can play today focusing on the way practice models continue to evolve in response to socio economic technological, cultural, economic and political conditions.

Electives 3
Electives

Please see your department for available electives.

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Summer - Second Year (Show All)
Course Course Number Credits
Seminar Studio IV GRDS702 3
Seminar Studio IV

Structured as a think tank, students at varying levels work in a collaborative learning environment on a theme-based project, focusing on inquiry, research, discourse and design thinking. This four-term course will encourage a wide range of opinions, with course outcomes exploring media literacy and critical form making. Faculty will provide the opportunity for in-depth discussion and critique as well as connecting research to conceptual and formal investigation. Together students and faculty work collectively and individually to produce publishable outcomes that will contribute to design scholarship.

Seminar Round Table GRDS655 3
Seminar Round Table

In this course all graduate students discuss issues pertaining to being an active designer in the world. Lead by invited guests from various disciplines students look at design from multiple philosophic, historical, theoretical positions. The course provides an opportunity to speak at length about the value of inquiry, methodology, research/development, and being actively engaged in issues and disciplines outside graphic design. On occasion students have the opportunity to engage with Visiting Artists that may include special events or unique briefs.

Design Week GRDS711 3
Design Week

Design Week is a week of workshops in which visiting artists from United States and abroad lead a group of students through a short-term project. Workshops team up with Los Angeles-based organizations that serve to make a difference in small and large communities. Workshop outcomes fall somewhere between speculation and a real world design solutions with an aim to aspire all parties to apply design thinking in an innovative way.

Final Studio GRDS770 6
Final Studio

Based on the work and process documentation generated from previous 3 semesters in this course students design a narrative structure that chronicles and contains their body of work, embodies their personal agenda and begins to locate their future practice in the contemporary design landscape. The form of this final series of artifacts will be determined by the individual interests of the MFA candidates.

Electives 3
Electives

Please see your department for available electives.

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* Students must choose two of these courses.

** Students must choose one of these courses.


The curriculum displayed is meant to provide an overview of the current semester’s offerings in this department; it does not represent all degree requirements for the Major or Area of Emphasis. These can be found in each student’s Course Catalog (identified by the year in which one would have entered the college as a Foundation student), which can be found here. If you have questions regarding your specific curricular requirements and/or Course Catalog, please contact Academic Advisement Coordinator Carrie Malcom at cmalcom@otis.edu or (310) 846-2550.