Ohio University

Graphic Design - Master of Fine Arts

What you’ll learn

Understanding the role of graphic design within a pluralistic society and a cross-cultural context are essential components of a graduate design education. The power of design thinking identifies challenges, frames opportunities, manages complex situations, generates approaches, creates deeper understanding, and shapes meaningful experiences.

Athens and Ohio University provide an incubator for thinking and making. The Master of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design at Ohio University is a three-year program that allows a balance of rigorous professional work as well as social experiences.

'Learning How to Learn' is the underlying methodology that gives Ohio University's graduate study in graphic design its unique strength. We focus on design research within a multi-cultural world addressing social awareness and contextual messaging as content. We emphasize and assist our candidates’ research in professional forums through papers and lectures, and publishing in established professional journals.

We rebuild fundamental skills of perception, interpretation, and invention as well as understanding the nature and meaning of visual form in context.

The graphic design graduate finds their home within the College of Fine Arts along with film, music, theater, and dance. Cross-disciplinary activity is encouraged. M.F.A. candidates in graphic design are encouraged to diversify their exploration through interdisciplinary research. Graphic Design shares Seigfred Hall with: printmaking (with the largest number of Bavarian limestones in the United States) along with papermaking, etching, and serigraphy; photography + integrated media, with its labs both new and traditional; ceramics, known as one of the top three ceramics research institutions; painting and drawing, offer both traditional and new-media with private studios at our Ridges’ facility; sculpture + expanded practice has one of the best foundries in the midwest and offers an expanded practices program; art history, researching topics such as contemporary Asian cultures, gender-specific extensions in critical art discourse along with traditional art history.

Our graduate students have the opportunity to work in the College of Fine Arts’ CREATE_space with other graduate candidates from the college. This environment is well established and is being continually advanced by the college. Graduate candidates are highly encouraged to advance their research in this lab

Graphic Design has an open research studio dedicated to the major.

The Vandercook letterpress room has an extensive and rare collection of metal and wood type for designing and printing.

Explore topics like:

  • Typography & Image, letterpress and bookmaking
  • Interactive installation, animation, technology, coding
  • Alternative processes such as 3-D printing, laser cutting, vinyl cutting
  • The role of type & design in cultural identity, image and visual rhetoric
  • Issues of sustainability and social practice
  • Pedagogy and professional practices in Design thinking 

Career opportunities


Our students enter the profession with a rich and diverse experience of design in its many cultural and contextual forms. They approach design as a research process that is collaborative and able to utilize a wide range of media. Students within our program frequently combine traditional analog processes with emergent digital design technologies and fabrication methods. This experience helps to develop a professional practice that is adaptive and able to address complex design problems. In addition, by focusing on problem identification, design thinking, critical making and design as a social practice, our program engages the design field’s evolving critical dialogues, and equips graduates to pursue careers in both professional practice and the academy. Recent graduates are working in highly regarded design firms and educational institutions both nationally and internationally.

Areas of focus include:

  • Professional gallery representation; professional studio
  • Positions in top design firms
  • University teaching positions
  • Artist-in-residencies
  • Fullbright awardees
  • Arts administration/museum and/or non-profit positions
  • Creative director, industrial design
  • Gallery manager, owner, curator, exhibition designer
  • Art writer, librarian or consultant
  • Studio assistant

Applying to the program


For application into the M.F.A. in Graphic Design, both a Graduate College (online application) as well as School of Art + Design, Graphic Design Area application must be received.   

Please adhere to the following check-list in preparing both of these areas of application. Applications must be postmarked by February 1.

M.F.A. in Graphic Design

  • Online Application--through OU Graduate College online application portal at http://www.ohio.edu/graduate/apply
  • Application Fee--$50 for US Citizens, $55 for International (credit card or electronic check only)
  • Letter of Intent/Statement of Purpose
  • Artist Statement
  • Resume/CV
  • Three Letters of Reference

Send to:

Graduate College
Research & Tech Building
Room 220
Athens, OH 45701

  • 1 Official Sets of Transcripts
  • Through the online application service at https://ouschoolofart.slideroom.com/
  • 20 examples of artistic work with Information about each artwork
  • $10 SlideRoom application fee
  • Note: NO MATERIALS other than your official transcripts should be sent through standard mail. Portfolios on CD or DVD will not be considered.

Connect with us

If you’d like more information about the M.F.A. in Graphic Design or general questions about the Graphic Design program, please reach out to Associate Professor, Mark Franz.

Mark Franz

Area Chair, Graphic Design

franzm@ohio.edu

(740) 566-6462