Graduate Admissions

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General Information

The School of Visual Communication Design (VCD) is housed in the College of Communication and Information and is located in Taylor Hall. 

VCD offers two master's degrees; a 32-credit Master of Arts (M.A.) professional degree (also referred to as low-residency degree), and a 60-credit hour (in-residency) Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) degree designed for students wishing to find employment in higher education or leadership positions in the industry. The MFA requires a portfolio for admission.

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Application Information and Deadlines

Apply to the School of Visual Communication Design graduate program using the online application. Direct all materials to Graduate Studies using

The deadline for Fall semester admissions is March 1 and the deadline for Spring admissions is October 1.

Students should specify their interest in the School of Visual Communication Design in their application. The School of Visual Communication Design is housed in the College of Communication and Information and is NOT affiliated with the School of Art.

Applicants from non-design backgrounds may be expected to take some undergraduate courses in order to bolster their formal and conceptual skills. These courses are generally offered in a traditional studio setting and typically offered in the evenings.

It is possible to complete the M.A., 32-credit professional low-residency degree by taking courses part-time. We have a number of online and evening courses available for working professionals.

All domestic students applying to the VCD Graduate Program must go through the online Admissions application and direct materials to Graduate Studies. All questions regarding the online application process may be directed to Graduate Studies. Specific questions regarding the VCD Graduate Program may be directed to the Graduate Coordinator, Professor Ken Visocky O’Grady (

Application Requirements:

  • Transcripts

  • Two letters of recommendation (Reference authors wishing to send letters directly to Graduate Studies may do so by sending attachments (Word, JPG, PDF, etc.) to GRADAPPS@KENT.EDU)

  • A 250-word autobiographical statement

  • Goal statement

  • Separate Word/PDF document with linkable URL to personal, online portfolio, if applying to the MFA program

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Portfolio Submission (MFA Applicants Only)

Submit an online portfolio by pasting the link into a Word/PDF document and including the document in your application. Please indicate in the document that the link is to the applicant’s professional portfolio.

Portfolios that are not housed online may be sent directly to Graduate Coordinator, Professor Ken Visocky O'Grady ( We will accept Mac-friendly PDFs, JPEGs. Please keep the files small and web-friendly for easy access. We will not be able to evaluate files we cannot open.

All portfolios must meet the following expectations:

  • Portfolio should consist of 15–20 samples of personal or professional work

  • Each sample must be clearly identified with appropriate background information

  • Portfolio URL must be included in the application in a separate, Word/PDF document

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International Students

Please apply through the International Admissions portal. The Office of Global Education will process international applications. Please direct all application questions to their office.

Visual Communication Design does not require a GRE for admission. Our TOEFL minimum score is 525 on the traditional scale (and 197 cbt, 71 ibt). All international students must have good command of the English language, as English classes will not be available in the graduate program. Students are expected to begin with their studies with a solid command of the English language.

Questions regarding application, credentials, visas and financial information, must be directed to the Office of the Global Education.

Please do not send any credentials to the School of Visual Communication Design, as this will only slow down your application process.

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Graduate Assistantships and Financial Aid

Graduate assistantships (G.A.) are awarded based solely on the quality of the portfolio and the credentials presented at the time of the admission. Although students can apply for any G.A. on campus, VCD G.A.'s are awarded at the time of admission. Please specify if you are interested in the G.A. in your goal or bio statement. Graduate assistantships are also awarded based on budgetary constraints, so they vary from year to year.

Graduate applicants wishing to apply for financial aid should fill out the FAFSA. If applying for financial aid, please be sure to select Work Study in your application. Contact the One Stop for Student Services at Kent State University with questions.

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Review Process

Our program typically has around 20 graduate students. The School of Visual Communication Design has no quotas for admission. The Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) reviews all applications. High priority is placed on the 15 to 20 portfolio pieces as well as the goal statement. The GSC is looking for strong conceptual and formal samples indicating problem-solving and development processes through typography, layouts and variety of media, including print, motion, web, 3-D, interactions, user experience design, illustration and photography. Excellent writing and problem solving in many different media are mandatory for acceptance into the program.

The application process typically takes about one month and students are notified of acceptance or rejection in an official letter directly from the Associate Dean of College of Communication and Information. Please do not call the VCD office during the first month after submitting an application, as it is likely still being processed.

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Contact Information

For immediate questions not answered here, please contact Professor Ken Visocky O'Grady at

If you have questions accessing or completing graduate applications, please contact Anita Francisco, VCD Senior Secretary at

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