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MFA Program: Areas of Study

Find Your Focus

Each graduate student adds to their pre-existing skills by selecting two new production areas of study. These production areas become the core of your first two years, with the third year focused on thesis production. An advising committee of faculty members will assist in formulating your individual course plans. 

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Learn to tell stories through still images and video, focusing on in-depth, intimate storytelling and moments through documentary photography. By photographing single images, documentaries, photo stories and essays, students studying photojournalism learn to use photography and video as a communication tool to show others situations, places, events and people.

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Virtual and Augmented Reality

Harness the possibilities of Virtual and Augmented Reality. Virtual Reality (the digital creation of immersive worlds) and Augmented Reality (interactive, digital enrichment of the real world) utilize a variety of tools including immersive and interactive audio, 360-degree video, motion capture and avatar creation, digital game technologies, and both animated and haptic interfaces.

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Documentary & Non-Fiction Video

This focus area offers theory and production courses for documentary production. Explore community, corporate and/or educational video production intended for social change and community awareness. This area of study emphasizes both local and international projects. Additional faculty and resources come from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, the WOUB Center for Public Media, the Film Division in the College of Fine Arts, and the Barbara Geralds Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact.

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Data Visualization & Information Graphics

Gain a comprehensive understanding of information design at the highest level. Learn how to use diagrams, maps and charts to explain and inform, through a multi-platform approach. There will be an emphasis on bridging the gap from big data to compelling and accessible visualizations.

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Explore animation for educational, entertainment and game development purposes. Emphasis on 3D computer animation, with classes in 2D and experimental animation. Ancillary courses/experiences also provide an understanding of the management and leadership roles in these industries, visual storytelling, and sound for moving image.

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Interactive Media/Web Design

Study design for web and mobile with a focus on user experience and information architecture. Using current technology, including code and responsive design, students learn to communicate through interactive sites with a focus on the audience and user first, as well as design fundamentals such as typography, project workflow and front-end design. Interactive design combines well with other skills, such as creating interactive narratives or games.


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Audio/Sound Design

Develop the conceptual, technical, and compositional skills of a sound designer that you’ll use to tell stories across a variety of media. By studying sound principles and audio production techniques including field recording, ADR and Foley, and surround sound, students learn to design sound environments for animation, games, film and video.

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Game Design

Emphasizing both the theory and skills needed to create dramatic and immersive environments for both narrative, non-fiction and educational use. Students work in interdisciplinary, collaborative contexts to explore and produce effective interactive work. This holistic approach includes curriculum focused on game design, animation, programming, sound design and entrepreneurship.

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Music Production

Rooted in practices that span the past half century, the art and science of making records remains as cutting-edge as the new technologies and music that emerge on a daily basis. Learn the essentials of analog and digital techniques while capturing, mixing and distributing music for an ever-expanding marketplace, and gain vital knowledge in preparing music for a variety of digital media resources. 

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Publication Design

Tell stories through design and typography with the goal of creating dynamic and engaging publications that are online, in tablet form or in print. Whether their focus is newspaper design or magazine editorials, students learn to communicate with an audience through the combination of strong design fundamentals and storytelling concepts.

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Responsive Technologies

The Internet of Things, Smart Cities, Game Design and Transmedia Storytelling push the boundaries of responsive technologies in ways that previous generations only thought possible in science fiction. These emerging technologies require a unique confluence of technical aptitude and creative intuition. Faculty and students alike work together on real-world projects to push the envelope and better understand how these fields will shape the future of communication.

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Commercial/Studio Photography

Focuses on advertising photography, product and still-life photography, fashion and portrait photography, architectural and interior design photography, and the business aspects of operating a photographic studio.

Course Plan

The MFA in Communication Media Arts requires a total of 90 graduate credit hours of study, taken over three years. Most graduate courses at Ohio University are four credit hours, although some may have adjustable hours. Required areas for courses include:

  • 28 credits Media Production/Studio Courses (these stem from your area of study)
  • 6 credits Production Seminar (build community and collaboration with MFA cohort)
  • 12 credits Contextual Courses (an area of study that supports your future goals)
  • 12 credits Experiential Learning (supervised collaborative field experience)
  • 7 credits Directed Electives (to enhance production, contextual or experiential areas)
  • 25 credits Production Thesis

Sample Three-Year Plan

This plan is specific for students wishing to take courses primarily in the fall and spring, although coursework can be spread between fall, spring and summer semesters.

Teaching Seminar is required during the summer between your first and second year if you receive a teaching stipend. Teaching Seminar is offered for one month, in late summer. You will also be required to attend a two-week teaching forum prior to your first semester.

Year One

Fall Spring Summer
1 Production Seminar (varying credit hours) 1 Production Seminar (varying credit hours) 1 Teaching Seminar
2 Media Production/Studio courses 2 Media Production/Studio courses  
1 Elective course 1 Contextual course  

Year Two

Fall Spring Summer
1 Production Seminar (varying credit hours) 1 Production Seminar (varying credit hours) No summer course unless elective
2 Media Production/Studio courses 1 Media Production/Studio courses  
1 Elective course 1 Contextual course  
  1 Elective course  

Year Three

Fall Spring
Thesis Production Thesis Production