In the Visual Communication Design department students develop physically interactive communication such as book forms, icon and inscription systems, and environment installations and graphics, or virtually interactive communication such as time-based forms or interactive experiences. Faculty guide students in self-initiated work that explores issues of personal interest and cultural/social significance. Areas of activity in physical, virtual, or hybrid environments include:

PMFA/MFA Programs

Students are either admitted into the Master of Fine Arts program, a two-year, 60-credit program, or the Post-Baccalaureate MFA (PMFA) Program, a one-year, 30-credit track into the MFA program. The PMFA program is a 3-year experience for students who often have little design experience and will benefit from additional education in preparation for continuation into the MFA program. The programs are highly competitive and bring together a talented group of students of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and research interests.

PMFA/MFA Graduate Projects

At the core of the MFA program are Graduate Projects. Taken every semester, Graduate Projects allow students to focus on their work in one-on-one meetings with a faculty member. In addition to meeting biweekly with a Visual Communication Design graduate faculty member, students may sign up for Graduate Projects with writers, artists, and academics from other departments at SAIC. Ultimately, it is the student's work that drives the choice of advisor, and both disciplinary and interdisciplinary work is supported and advanced.

PMFA/MFA Graduate Seminars

In the fall semester, several graduate seminar courses are offered. PMFA and first-year MFA students are required to take a seminar. These courses explore a range of methodologies that lead to self-directed work and thesis development.

The primary issues these seminars address include: contemporary design practice, cultural and literary criticism, and cognitive, linguistic, structuralist, and other theories.

Critique Week

Critique Week, one of the principle means of assessment each semester, is a week-long schedule of critiques during which classes are suspended and the entire faculty and invited artists and designers assemble into panels that conduct intensive studio critiques with all studio and writing graduate students.

Fall semester critiques are organized by each department, with panels representing the discipline.

Spring semester critiques are interdisciplinary, with panel members of faculty, visiting artists, and peers from across SAIC departments. Interdisciplinary critiques in the spring semesters allow for a broader range of responses to the work, and are intended to assess the success of your work for a more general, yet highly informed, audience.

Studio critiques are required of every full-time graduate student pursuing an MFA in Studio or Writing degree. Typically, SAIC graduate students have at least four critique panels throughout their studies at SAIC.

Teaching Assistantships

The Visual Communication Design department has a substantial number of teaching assistant (TA) positions open each semester. Students may apply to serve as a TA in a Visual Communication Design undergraduate course(s) of interest, or course(s) in another department, for multiple semesters. TAs perform a number of important course responsibilities including: assisting in the preparation of course materials, participation in class critiques, delivering course content through lectures and presentations, and evaluation of student performance, among others. The experience is valuable for students who are planning to teach upon graduation and for those students who want to gain additional experience in organization, collaboration, and direction.

Interested in learning more?

Continue to explore the Visual Communication Design department websiteto learn more about our curricular offerings, faculty, students, alumni, and more or visit the Master of Fine Arts in Studio degree program to get detailed information or schedule a tour.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or