Visual Communication Design

Earn an M.F.A. in Visual Communication Design

The M.F.A. in Visual Communication Design approaches design as a basic human capacity that can be nurtured and developed. Whether it is your surroundings, tasks, events, or relationships, knowing how to use the power of design can improve lives at any scale.

This program focuses on forms of inquiry and actions involved in designing, and aims to empower you to be a creative change agent.

The program emphasizes the value of people and their contexts in forming innovative, creative solutions. We also use visual communication design to enhance communication for cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Plan of study

The M.F.A. in Visual Communication Design curriculum supports your learning in design research methodology. Much of the program is experiential, involving both group and individual projects. In the seminars, methods, and action research studios, you will develop knowledge, skills, and practices that you will apply in your final thesis research project.

  • Year 1

    The first year introduces you to the scope of design research. In seminar courses, you will learn theories and contemporary issues related to design research. A series of methods courses will prepare you to deploy appropriate methods during the design process. In the Collaborative Action Research studio courses, you will conduct real-world, problem-based, collaborative research projects of different scales and complexities.

    Fall semester

    • Seminar: Introduction to Design Thinking (1.5 credits)
    • Seminar: Introduction to Human Factors (1.5 credits)
    • Methods for Design Research (1.5 credits)
    • Methods for Design Analysis(1.5 credits)
    • Collaborative Action Research in Design 1 (3 credits)
    • Collaborative Action Research in Design 2 (6 credits)

    Spring semester

    Collaborative Action Research in Design 3 (3 credits)
    Collaborative Action Research in Design 4 (6 credits)
    Methods for Design Synthesis(1.5 credits)
    Methods for Design Evaluation (1.5 credits)
    Interdisciplinary elective (3 credits)

  • Year 2

    In your second year, you will practice design leadership and build skills for design facilitation, through facilitating and coaching first-year graduate students in action research projects, and by working with external community partners. You will engage in professional development activities that will prepare you for meaningful, sought after careers upon graduation. And you will begin the development of your required thesis, a project that will demonstrate your ability to conduct design research as well as your capacity to lead cross disciplinary collaboration in a challenging area of interest to you.

    Fall semester

    • Seminar: Leadership in Design Practice (1.5 credits)
    • Seminar: Leadership in Design Education (1.5 credits)
    • Collaborative Action Research in Design 5 (1.5 credits)
    • Collaborative Action Research in Design 6 (1.5 credits)
    • Thesis Writing 1(3 credits)
    • Thesis Studio 1 (3 credits)
    • Interdisciplinary elective (3 credits)

    Spring semester

    Collaborative Action Research in Design 7 (1.5 credits)
    Collaborative Action Research in Design 8 (1.5 credits)
    Thesis Writing 2 (9 credits)
    Thesis Studio 2 (3 credits)

Potential careers

Work in industries that highly demand innovation, such as healthcare service and research, startup business, information technology, and social services. Herron alumni have found meaningful careers at powerful companies, such as:

  • Samsung Research America
  • Google
  • Mad*Pow
  • Humana
  • Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Indiana University Health
  • Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center
  • Community Health Network
  • Healthx
  • Lextant

Ideal candidates

An ideal candidate for Herron’s visual communication design graduate program is a professional, practitioner, or recent graduate who:

  • Wants to explore design processes for the role they can play in creating positive change in society
  • Offers a unique point of view to the program
  • Wants a collaborative, immersive, and experiential graduate experience
  • Anticipates working with people who come from different disciplines and points of view
  • Brings experience from a relevant field, such as design, public health, urban planning, sociology, anthropology, business, engineering, environmental studies, philanthropy, or public affairs.

Join Indiana’s only professional school of art and design

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