Director of Graduate Studies: M. Rogal
Program Coordinator: P. Grigsby
Summary: The Master of Fine Arts degree in Design and Visual Communications is a terminal degree with the goal of preparing designers to address complex problems through an expanded design framework. The curriculum envisions design as an integrated activity, emphasizing co-design and horizontal practices in its teaching and application of research, theory, methods, and practice. A key aspect of the program is to design with people in context in order to address complex problems that matter to people and the environment and we believe Florida is an excellent laboratory to explore pressing problems of our time. Students benefit from Florida's complexity and diversity. As the third largest US state and gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, the state offers a unique lab to explore collaborative design interventions in context. Through this program, we use design as a catalyst for change and sustainable development to make Florida, and the world, better through design. We also encourage students to consider how what they learn is transferrable to other contexts and environments. Students will encounter the world through a framework that is respectful of context and culture and that values collaboration and many knowledges as ways of making design that is responsible and meaningful.
Admissions: Enrollment is competitive and limited. Applicants should have the background and proficiency in communication design or a related field and demonstrate potential for successful study at the graduate level. This includes the ability to craft appropriate communication design artifacts, excellent verbal and written articulation of ideas, and an understanding of and interest in this program specifically rather than design more generally. Preferred applicants will have professional practice experience in design or a design-related field. Certain deficiencies, such as some formal technical competencies, may be corrected before beginning graduate study. Applicants must submit a portfolio and other materials for admission consideration (for comprehensive admission information: https://arts.ufl.edu/academics/art-and-art-history/programs/mxd/).
Enrollment Options: This program offers two-and three-year residency tracks. Students on a three-year track will enroll in 9 credits each semester and students on the two-year track will enroll in 12–15 credits during the academic year and both tracks require summer coursework. Students who wish to obtain teaching experience should pursue the three-year track and apply for a graduate assistantship (teaching assignments are based on faculty recommendation and availability).
Curriculum: We offer a design-centered curriculum that allows you to dive deep into research, theory, methods, practice, and designing in and with communities. Our curriculum, built on our 20+ year history of graduate education and research in design, allows you to learn from diverse knowledges, approaches, experiences, and modalities. We emphasize culture, inclusivity, social justice, and sustainability so we make design matter. We recognize the value of exploring other disciplinary knowledges, particularly at such a comprehensive university. The program, known as the MXD, allows you to inform your design practice by identifying and exploring other interests (the "x") to inform your design trajectory, making your studies at the University of Florida even more rewarding.
The M.F.A. requires a minimum of 60 credit hours for the terminal degree. Normal course requirements include the following: 24 hours of design and visual communications courses (12 hours of seminar, 12 hours of research and practice); 6 hours of practica; 15 hours of project-in-lieu-of-thesis research; and 15 hours of elective coursework.
All major coursework is designed to provide opportunities for professional development in design. Students develop knowledge in design theory, methods, discourse, and issues in the seminar courses, while the research & practice courses provide frameworks to apply this learning in context. Students will study and use a range of methods appropriate for an expanded design practice. Their use is addressed and applied through discussions, case studies, writing, fieldwork, project work, deliverables, and presentations. Projects will engage students to design in a complex environment for diverse audiences and explore the many aspects necessary to design for 'real world problems' and constraints. Throughout the program, students will be mentored in ways to disseminate research at conferences and in publications in order to share their work and build their careers. Six hours of practicum provide an opportunity to conduct research and practice with an approved entity; and elective courses are intended to support an area of interest and expertise. In consultation with program faculty, the program director may recommend specific courses to support the student's knowledge-base (for example, in design, writing, subject matter knowledge, and/or teaching). The program culminates with a 15-credit project-in-lieu-of-thesis, which is selected, researched, and carried out under the direction of the supervisory chair and committee. This committee is formed in consultation with and approval from the program's director of graduate studies during the first year for students on the two-year track and during the second year for students on the three-year track. The objective is to contribute original research and disseminate it to the field.
Expected Outcomes: Every student in the program will develop a body of work that includes design and visual communication artifacts, systems, and strategies, that reflect original contributions to the discipline; demonstrate the ability to frame and incorporate research methods and related research activities and findings into tangible outcomes; create a dossier that organizes and communicates research (including creative activity), findings, proposals, and work products at a professional level; demonstrate the ability to collaborate and work effectively in interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary teams to develop approaches and solutions to complex problems; be prepared to present project work at professional conferences and publish in professional venues; and demonstrate the ability to design with people, in context.
Assessment: Student achievement is assessed in multiple ways from admission through graduation. University and program regulations state that a student must achieve a 3.0 GPA in order to graduate from the program, which is the result of assessment in courses. In addition, students must present their work product at the end of each semester to a faculty review committee who determines if the student, on the whole, is making sufficient progress towards candidacy and completion. Reviews consider the momentum, direction, and performance as a whole. Outcomes of semester reviews include continuation based on appropriate progress; recommendations for improvement; and recommendation of dismissal for continued performance below expectations.
Futures: With this credential, program graduates will be prepared to enter leadership positions in design consultancies, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and corporations, as well as form their own consultancies and studios, within design proper and in a range of industries. They will also be eligible to teach at universities and colleges in the US and abroad.
More information can be found at our website: https://arts.ufl.edu/academics/art-and-art-history/programs/mxd/.