Graphic Design

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Overview

The Masters of Graphic Design (MGD) program helps move the passionate student toward a deeper knowledge of graphic and experience design and purposeful, individually driven design practices. Inquiry into contemporary and emergent design issues prepares graduates of the program for leadership positions that both evolve the profession and advance the discipline. Successful completion of the MGD results in a terminal degree, equal to the MFA, and qualifies graduates to teach at the university level or to pursue a PhD in Design.

Faculty charge graduate students to closely examine the cultural and technological situatedness of graphic design and its products, and to seek understanding of the people who use and interact with the things that graphic designers make. Coursework acquaints students with relevant theories and design research methods that frame and ground the design of propositional visual communication systems.

Varied topics prompt students to explore contemporary design concerns: the cultural contexts of design, the influence and experiences of end users, the social and technological environments within which designed artifacts operate. Subtopics within these broad concerns allow faculty and students the opportunity to frame, research, and respond to current and future design challenges.

The MGD program is consistently recognized as one of the top NASAD accredited graduate graphic design programs in the country and one of the few with STEM Classification (CIP). The faculty is nationally and internationally recognized (see Faculty at a Glance). Alumni are designers in leading professional offices around the world, faculty members in colleges and universities throughout the US and Canada, and doctoral students in PhD programs worldwide.

Affordable NC State tuition usually makes the cost of attending NC State well below that of equivalent graduate institutions. For out-of-state students, North Carolina residency laws recognize graduate students as residents after their first year.

MGD II: Two-year Master of Graphic Design Program

The MGD II program targets applicants who have earned a BFA or equivalent in graphic design and are practiced in visual communication, user interaction design (UI), user experience design (UX) and/or related design fields.

Integrated graduate studios, seminars, and workshops expose students to histories, design-related theories, and research methods relevant to current and emerging practices. Students investigate questions individually and collaboratively around the design of communication and interaction in several ways: through making (visualizations, visual diagrams, and functioning prototypes, for instance); assigned and independent reading and research; discussion and critique; and writing. Students also enroll in at least one elective offered in the college, university, or our affiliate universities, Duke University and UNC, Chapel Hill.

Students create a body of work as they explore a research interest area within studio and seminar subtopics. The experience of creating this work, coupled with researching and writing, positions students to identify a design investigation in their final year, which culminates in the required Final Project. For this work, students comprehensively research an area of interest, design propositional artifacts (findings), document the research and findings in a written thesis, and present the project in a public forum.

MGD III: Three-year Master of Graphic Design Program 

The MGD III program targets applicants who have some professional experience but who have not earned a first degree in graphic design or have earned a BA with a graphic design concentration. (Note that applicants aiming for a qualifying professional degree in graphic design should apply to the Bachelor of Graphic Design program.)

MGD III students enroll in two semesters of specialized and advanced undergraduate coursework prior to matriculating to the MGD II program. The curriculum includes two studio­-based courses and at least two lecture/seminar courses. The 6 credit studios cover systems thinking in design for user experience, visual communication, and other professional graphic design topics while they prepare the student for graduate level inquiry. Additional three credit courses focus on subjects such as mobile interaction, typography, graphic design theory and history, coding and modeling for interface design.

Admissions Requirements

Applications for Priority Admission are due to the Graduate School by January 5. Applications are reviewed until all seats are filled. In addition to Graduate School requirements, the Department asks for department personal data forms, a written personal statement, and a website or accessible online PDF portfolio that demonstrates experience and skills in visual communication.

Degree Requirements

The MGD (II) degree requires successful completion of 48 total credits, however students typically take advantage of additional coursework during their time at NC State.

The core curriculum consists of a 9-credit studio and a 3-credit seminar -- either Design Methods, Design Frameworks, or Final Project Research -- in each of the first three semesters of study. Students are encouraged to augment their study during this time with 400 or 500 level design coursework that enhances skills and/or investigates topics of interest. For instance, the program offers seminars on Graphic Design Pedagogy, Design Discourse and Typography, and Special Topics in Social Innovation. Students are required to enroll in a 3-credit 400 or 500 level elective within another college at NC State or at nearby Duke University or UNC/Chapel Hill under NC State tuition. The fourth semester is devoted to the final project for 6 credits, under the supervision of three Graphic Design faculty members comprising each student’s graduate committee. 

 

Faculty

  • Helen Armstrong
  • Denise Gonzales Crisp
  • Scott Townsend
  • Kermit L. Bailey
  • Deborah K. Littlejohn
  • Matt Peterson
  • Jarrett Fuller
  • David Oh

Courses

GD 501  Graduate Graphic Design Studio  (9 credit hours)  

Student-defined graphic design projects in response to critical content framework presentation by GD 571 faculty. Center of framework on role of design objects as cognitive artifacts and extension, transformation or diminishment of human thought by their form and content. Interaction of potential audiences with designer-created artifacts. Graphic design majors only.

Corequisite: GD 571

Typically offered in Fall only

GD 502  Graduate Graphic Design Studio II  (9 credit hours)  

Student-defined graphic design projects in response to critical content framework presentation by GD 572 faculty. Center of framework on role of design objects as cultural artifacts and their reflection on social diversity of both designers and audiences. Creation, reproduction, distribution and reception of messages in both designer-created artifacts and audience's response. Graphic design majors only.

Prerequisite: GD 501, Corequisite: GD 572

Typically offered in Fall only

GD 503  Graduate Graphic Design Studio III  (9 credit hours)  

Student-defined graphic design projects in response to critical content framework presentation by GD 671 faculty. Center of framework on nature of new information environments. Shape and response of technologies to new cognitive and cultural relationships among audiences.

Prerequisite: GD 573, Corequisite: GD 671

Typically offered in Spring only

GD 510  Imaging for Graphic Design IV  (3 credit hours)  

Advanced problems in the visual design and structuring of information in interactive multimedia presentations. Topics include the design of interfaces, navigation, motion graphics, and websites as well as exploration of narrative and hypermedia approaches to the organization of content.

Prerequisite: GD 410, Design Majors

Typically offered in Spring only

GD 517  Type IV  (3 credit hours)  

Advanced problems of typographic expression/communication in which typographic variables are used to alter, enhance, or reinforce verbal meaning. Historic precedent and experimentation with the conventions for typographic form are explored. The impact of the computer on changes in typographic aesthetics, including motion graphics, typeface design, and website design.

Prerequisite: GD 417, Design Majors

Typically offered in Spring only

GD 571  Design As Cognitive Artifact  (3 credit hours)  

Relationship between theories of human cognition and graphic design. Analysis and critique of design objects as cognitive artifacts and extension, transformation or diminishment of human thought by their form and content. A critical examination of cognitive, linguistic and social science theories shaping graphic design. Non-majors by permission only.

Typically offered in Spring only

GD 572  Design as Cultural Artifact  (3 credit hours)  

Introduction to recent theories in various disciplines concerning a cultural understanding of graphic design. Theories of mass and popular culture, critiques of creativity and authorial intentionality, influences of interpretive criticism, theories of consumption and issues of cultural representation. Emphasis on adaptation of these theories to an understanding of the cultural significance of graphic design. Non-majors by permission only.

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

GD 573  New Information Environments  (3 credit hours)  

Changing role of graphic design in new information environments. Implications of new technology on social construction of meaning, impact of electronic media on culture and cognition, and differences in designing artifacts and designing experiences.Non-majors by permission only.

Prerequisite: GD 503

Typically offered in Spring only

GD 580  Special Topics In Graphic Design History  (1-6 credit hours)  

Topics of current interest in interpretation, criticism, methodology and research, relating to graphic design history. Further specialized study in history of printing, typography, communication, image-making and information systems. Investigation of how we study artifacts, production and producers.

Prerequisite: GD 242

Typically offered in Spring only

GD 581  Graphic Design Final Project Research  (3 credit hours)  

A seminar course to assist students in preparing foundation for final project to be conducted in GD 688 Final Project Studio.

Prerequisite: GD 502

Typically offered in Fall only

GD 588  Final Project Studio In Graphic Design  (6 credit hours)  

Final project for graduate students supervised by members of their graduate advisory committees.

Prerequisite: GD 581

Typically offered in Spring only

GD 592  Special Topics In Graphic Design  (1-6 credit hours)  

Topics of current interest to program/option offered by faculty in School. Subjects offered under this number normally used to test and develop new courses.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Typically offered in Fall only

GD 610  Special Topics In Graphic Design  (1-6 credit hours)  

An investigation of special topics in graphic design of a particular interest to advanced students under direction of chair of graduate committee on a tutorial basis; credit and content vary with each student.

Prerequisite: Permission of grad. advisor

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

GD 630  Independent Study In Graphic Design  (1-3 credit hours)  

Special problems in various aspects of graphic design developed under the direction of a faculty member on a tutorial basis.

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

GD 676  Special Project In Graphic Design  (1-3 credit hours)  

Seminar on subjects of current interest in graphic design, presented by persons not part of regular faculty.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

GD 685  Master's Supervised Teaching  (1-3 credit hours)  

Teaching experience under the mentorship of faculty who assist the student in planning for the teaching assignment, observe and provide feedback to the student during the teaching assignment, and evaluate the student upon completion of the assignment.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

GD 688  Non-Thesis Masters Continuous Registration - Half Time Registration  (1 credit hours)  

For students in non-thesis master's programs who have completed all credit hour requirements for their degree but need to maintain half-time continuous registration to complete incomplete grades, projects, final master's exam, etc.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

GD 689  Non-Thesis Master Continuous Registration - Full Time Registration  (3 credit hours)  

For students in non-thesis master's programs who have completed all credit hour requirements for their degree but need to maintain full-time continuous registration to complete incomplete grades, projects, final master's exam, etc. Students may register for this course a maximum of one semester.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Spring only

GD 690  Master's Examination  (1-9 credit hours)  

For students in non-thesis master's programs who have completed all other requirements of the degree except preparing for and taking the final master's exam.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer