Tennessee Graduate Schools for Graphic Design

Many of today’s Graphic Design Graduate Schools offer interdisciplinary design programs where students could develop the tools and mindset to address a range of design opportunities. A graphic design school could also provide creative professionals the guidance needed to transform classic design talent into modern computer-inspired products, brand voices and concepts.

Graphic Design Graduate Schools and Degrees in Graphic Design

Graphic Design Graduate Schools primarily offer Masters in Graphic Design programs. PhD in Graphic Design and Graduate Certificate programs may also be available, though they may not be as common.

Graduate level degrees in graphic design are usually planned-out to enable students to develop their ability to strategize, problem solve, think critically and aesthetically. Curricula could reflect these aims through a blend of theory, studio exercises, self-directed and multi-disciplinary projects.

DID YOU KNOW?
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 350 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and designi

Graphic Design Masters Programs and Schools

There are Graphic Design Graduate Schools that offer fine arts-oriented programs such as the Master of Fine Arts (MFA), liberal arts-focused Master of Arts (MA) and technically-infused Master of Science (MS) degrees.

MFA in Graphic Design

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree is planned-out as a terminal professional graduate degree. Schools with MFA programs may emphasize student-directed research, and a blend of theory, method and critical analysis which is culminated in some type of project, thesis and/or exhibition.

Depending on prior education, a MFA program could span two to three years and 60–90 credit hours. No two programs are the same though and one could study to earn a MFA degree in

many dynamic areas.

  • MFA in Digital Animation and Motion Arts: Students could learn to create evocative stories with 2-D and 3-D digital animation methods, live action and motion graphics. Popular electives could include film criticism, storyboarding and storytelling, character animation, audio and video, special effects
  • MFA in Digital Imaging: Students could learn to produce image-based works as 2D or 3D prints, laser or vinyl cut fabrications, dynamic installation and other experimental forms. Popular electives could include etching, 3-D printing and digital photography, digital printmaking
  • MFA in Interactive Arts: Students could learn to turn out experiences such as participatory physical installations, interactive objects, augmented and virtual reality simulations and networked-based applications. Popular electives could include courses in sculpture, history of new media, programming, on-line media, and electronic music and sound
  • MFA in Interdisciplinary Design: Students could deepen their grasp of traditional visual communication (branding, packaging, typography) in tandem with some of the newer areas such as sustainable green design, film and video, and interactive design. Common courses could include green branding, package design, digital illustration and video editing

MA in Graphic Design Programs

Some Graphic Design Graduate schools offer a MA and MFA curriculum. A MA in Graphic design is somewhat more academic in nature than a MFA and might not include a portfolio class. Graduates of MA programs in graphic design could learn to synthesize concepts and practices from past to present and may be interested in how culture shapes design aesthetics.

MA programs are generally much shorter (12–18 months) and might require far fewer credit hours (30–45), making them potentially more flexible in terms of residency. As a result, they could focus on a particular application or subdomain within graphic or communication design.

MA students may still take lab courses to master production tools and graphic design software. However, in place of a portfolio, participants may be required to produce an applied design thesis which could combine inquiry, research, creative problem-solving, and design prototyping.

MS in Graphic Design Programs

A Master of Science in Graphic Design program could be housed in a university’s School of Design and Engineering since the MS is usually scientific and technical in nature. Consequently, to earn their degree, participants may need to work on a master project/portfolio. As well, some universities may offer electives in the form of a study abroad experience, internship, or studio elective.

The ‘science’ component could mean applied science (E.g. finance, business operations), computer science, applied engineering (E.g. product development) and even physical science (E.g. Material and Polymer Science).

MS programs might also highlight research-based real-world projects where students might gain experience working on multi-faceted projects using advanced technology and design solutions. For instance, participants in a MS in Surface Imaging program might learn to apply painting, drawing, photography and printmaking to advanced design studios and printing practices to produce complex and unique surface image projects.

PhD in Graphic Design Programs and Schools

A PhD in Graphic design is the highest award and a research focused degree program. Students might turn to a doctoral program for the level of scholarly innovation and critical thinking it might promote. Common research themes could include cinema, design, emerging media, interactive architecture and immersive journalism.

Even though the MFA is considered a ‘terminal degree’, it is more of a practitioner degree, so the research component is not as substantive. Students interested in a professional doctorate could search for a school with a Doctor of Design (DDes) program.

What to Look for in a Graphic Design School

Modern graphic design graduate programs might appeal both to returning students and current designers who want to infuse life into their work. That stated, it may be helpful to have a clear sense of what you want from your graphic design education as you choose the perfect school for you.

  • Do you want to learn how to manage graphic design projects?
  • Are you drawn to study emergent multimedia platforms? Branding? Film?
  • Would you like to enhance or cultivate skills in software and computer technology?
  • Do you want to build a portfolio of new work that uses contemporary methods?

7 Concepts You Might Learn at a Graphic Design Grad School

While a graphic designer combines illustrations, photographs, and concepts in order to communicate an idea, there are many emerging modalities to learn about. Below are some sample topics that show the broad reach of design. Make sure to examine course lists from individual graphic design schools to evaluate whether it is a match with your goals.

  1. Interactive Design – content changes as it gets updated and is responsive to screen interfaces and user actions. Think websites, mobile apps, video games, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX)
  2. Creative Direction – could build competence in a specific business/design sector, team management, client relations and workflow
  3. Product design – typically refers to the design of digital products, which are digital services, tools, or software platforms that could be brought to market
  4. Environmental Graphics – usually refers to any design that connects people and places, way-finding systems
  5. Motion Graphics - goes beyond the visual, to curate and cue sound to moving vector graphics, photographs, and video. A blend of animation, videography and typography
  6. Brand Identification – could cover logo and type mark development, photography/illustration, use of the grid system, color story, typography and messaging
  7. Interior Architecture could bring in elements of spatial planning, scale, 2-D design, concept development, textiles, and color with respect to user needs

The On-Campus Graphic Design School Experience

No two graduate schools for graphic design are exactly the same, but features such as digital equipment, surroundings, faculty interests, program courses and concentrations could make one school standout to you.

Graphic Design School Facilities

Students enrolled in on-campus Graphic Design Graduate Programs often spend time in multimedia research labs to build integrated design skills through hands-on projects.

Some graphic design schools may come super equipped with digital arts resource centers, animation facilities, an audio recording studio, 2-D and 3-D printers and more. Common areas may be flex-spaces with high speed internet and room to chat or chill between classes.

Community and Collaboration

One of the potential benefits to earning a graduate degree in graphic design at a graphic design school is the element of collaboration that these programs frequently foster. Students could build a portfolio of current and interactive art work in tandem with the ability to work on projects with others. Or, learn how to take the lead on visionary projects where it is key to harness and motivate a team of creatives.

Location, Location

Searching for Graphic Design Graduate Schools near you? On this directory, you could find design programs in a preferred city or state. Wherever this is, universities may have partnerships with local businesses which may provide internship opportunities. Plus, the surrounding galleries, museums and public spaces could lend themselves to discovery and inspiration.

Admission Information for Graphic Design Schools

It is common for graphic design schools to set their own standards for admission, and to require distinct material on an application. A general list follows, but rule of thumb – check each school out to stay prepared.

  • Bachelors Degree (for MA, MS, MFA)
  • Masters Degree (for PhD)
  • Background in art, design, or animation
  • Minimum GPA
  • Design Portfolio in PDF

Some universities also suggest applicants arrange a visit to the department, but may not require an interview per se.

Easily Apply to Graphic Design Graduate Programs

Easily compare Graphic Design Graduate programs at partner graphic design schools. Use some filters for location and program level to yield some options. Then use the on-page form to quickly contact the schools you want to apply to.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm#tab-4

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