Graduate Programs | Kent State University

Graduate Programs


Download the brochure to learn more about the VCD Graduate Program.

For more information, please contact Professor and Graduate Coordinator Ken Visocky O’Grady.

Individual Challenges: The Graduate Program

The graduate program in the School of Visual Communication Design is one of only three programs in the state to offer the Master of Arts degree in Visual Communication Design and was the first to offer the terminal degree in the field, the Master of Fine Arts. Students come to the graduate program from a variety of backgrounds: advertising, industrial and graphic design, design education and undergraduate design programs from around the world. This diversity of experience has created an ever-changing and enriching environment in which degree candidates strive to reach individual and group goals. 


Master of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design (M.F.A.)

60 Credit Hours (Approximately 5 semesters of study)

The Masters of Fine Arts degree serves students with a strong undergraduate and/or professional experience in design who wish to advance into leadership roles. M.F.A. graduates typically pursue careers in design education, but also stand out in the industry for their ability to solve problems from a research-based design perspective. We believe in an interdisciplinary approach to design focused on theory, research, and design process. Classes have been developed to create an educational experience in design highlighted by field research methods, design thinking, and social innovation, augmented by practical university teaching experience where M.F.A. candidates work hands-on with students at the freshman and sophomore level. This approach helps graduates gain the necessary tools to succeed in their careers as innovative leaders in visual communication, design management, entrepreneurship and higher education. 

The objectives of our MFA program are as follows:

  • Develop leadership abilities necessary for success in the design industry or higher education
  • Develop skills for collaborative engagement with strategic partners, team members, and peers
  • Develop deeper awareness of issues related to the cognitive, social, theoretical, cultural, technological, educational, and economic contexts of design
  • Develop understanding of design’s use as a strategic tool and medium for business and social applications, through the  integration of practice and research.
  • Develop enhanced comprehension of design thinking, design process, and metacognition
  • Develop capabilities in the planning, application, and synthesis of field research methods and their use in design process

Master of Arts in Visual Communication Design (M.A.)

32 Credit Hours (Approximately 3 semesters of study)

The Master of Arts degree serves new designers seeking an opportunity to enter evolving design industry and become influential in emerging markets such as social media, branding, digital media and user experience design. Flexible schedules are available to effectively serve the demands of working professionals. Students learn from world-class faculty and industry leaders in the classroom and as colleagues. The M.A. program accelerates students’ design skills and allows them to command profitable careers in design with current knowledge and relevant portfolios. 

The M.A. option is recommended for students seeking professional employment after completing their degree and who need to build a portfolio of work to enhance career opportunities. This professional focus on coursework provide a means for students to demonstrate the application of knowledge and skills learned.  

The objectives of our MA program are as follows:

  • Develop aesthetic, technical, and professional skills necessary for success in design industry
  • Develop skills for collaborative engagement with strategic partners, team members, and peers
  • Develop deeper awareness of issues related to the cultural, technological, and economic contexts of design
  • Develop enhanced comprehension of design thinking and design process
  • Develop understanding of design’s use as both a tactical and strategic tool for business and social applications


M.F.A. and M.A. degree students in the School of Visual Communication Design receive support in developing their individual abilities, interests and personal aesthetic. Organized individually for each student, the curriculum includes required courses and assignments as well as opportunities for individual investigations. Students are challenged to pursue their interests, identify strengths and improve weaknesses, and develop the motivation and discipline so critical to professional success. Students have the opportunity to interact with a variety of faculty members, including eleven full-time Visual Communication Design professors and several adjunct instructors who hold graduate faculty status. This diverse experience provides a variety of opinions and criticisms and allows students to expand their vocabulary of ideas, problem-solving techniques and aesthetic directions.