This is an archived copy of the 2017-2018 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

The MA in Graphic Design offers students a comprehensive study and preparation for the graphic design profession. The program calls for 36 credits, which includes courses in typography, web design, image making, and brand design. The broad range of study is intended to develop professionals prepared for an ever-expanding graphic design field.


Application deadlines are as published by the University. Applicants should have an earned BA or BFA degree in Graphic Design from an accredited college or university, with a GPA of 3.00 in art courses. However, applicants with a BA or BS in another discipline, and work experience in the field may also apply for admission. Student should schedule an interview with design faculty prior to admission.

In addition to meeting the general university requirements for admission for graduate study, applicants must submit three letters of recommendation from faculty members, or those who can evaluate the applicant's academic potential; a sample of academic writing about art or graphic design, such as a paper from an art or design history course; and a portfolio with 20 examples of design works that are SlideRoom-compatible.

Portfolio Guidelines

The applicant's portfolio is a major selection criterion for graduate admission and should represent the applicant's most accomplished work.

Applicants' portfolio items are considered part of the application for admission and, thus, cannot be returned. Please do not send original materials. The portfolio and all other application materials should be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions. For more information, contact the School of Art at 703-993-8898.


The School of Art is located in the Art and Design Building which houses well equipped studios for drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture, as well as six computer-equipped studios that cross platforms and are installed with current software applications used for two dimensional imaging, three-dimensional modeling, animation, video production, sound editing, multimedia authoring, photography, and web publishing.

Policies, procedures, and schedules for studio use are established by the AVT studio faculty and are posted in the studios.


For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP .6 Graduate Policies.

See College of Visual and Performing Arts for policies specific to the college.

Banner Code: AR-MA-GD

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 36

Core Courses

Select 8 credits from the following:8
Special Topics in Graphic Design
Independent Study
Special Topics in Art and Visual Technology
Or other course as approved by director
Three credits of3
Graduate Design Seminar
AVT 612Independent Project Research1
AVT 613Experiential Design History3
AVT 617Advanced Typography4
CVPA 600CVPA Graduate ProSeminar (Must be taken within the student's first 2 semesters)0
Total Credits19


Select 13 credits from the following:13
Special Topics in Graphic Design (1-13 credits)
Brand Identity Design
Advanced Web Design
Independent Study (1-5 credits)
Total Credits13

Final Project

The final steps for completion of the MA in Graphic Design are a substantial final project that calls upon all the skills of a working designer.

AVT 794Graphic Design Project4
Total Credits4

Art and Visual Technology, BFA/Graphic Design, Accelerated MA


Undergraduates in Art may apply to the accelerated master's degree in Graphic Design. If accepted, students will be able to earn an Art and Visual Technology, BFA and a Graphic Design, MA after satisfactory completion of 150 credits.

Students choosing the accelerated option must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. The standard timeframe would be a start in the Fall and the completion in the Fall semester five and a half years later, but longer time frames may also be available.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants to accelerated master's programs must have completed at least 75 credits that apply to their undergraduate degree (with at least 24 credits at Mason) and no more than 100 credits. Applicants should submit an Accelerated Master's Program Application, available from the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) Academic Affairs Office. It includes the proposed conferral date for the undergraduate degree and the two graduate courses that are to be applied to the undergraduate degree.

In addition to meeting the general university requirements for admission for graduate study, applicants must submit three letters of recommendation from faculty, or those who can evaluate the applicant's academic potential; a sample of academic writing about art or graphic design, such as a paper from an art or design history course; and 20 examples of original design works in a format that is viewable via SlideRoom.

Accelerated Option Requirements

As an undergraduate, the accelerated master's student is required to complete the two graduate courses indicated on their Accelerated Master's Program application with a minimum grade of 3.00 in each course. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in all coursework and in coursework applied to their major. On completion and conferral of the undergraduate degree in the semester indicated in the application, candidates submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form (which shall incorporate all of the Graduate Admission requirements of the university) and are admitted to graduate status.

As graduate students, accelerated master's students have an advanced standing and must meet all master's degree requirements except for the two courses (6 credits) completed as undergraduates. Students will begin their master's program in the semester immediately following conferral of the undergraduate degree, and they may also begin in the summer term.

Reserve Graduate Credit

Students may take up to 6 additional graduate credits as reserve graduate credit. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree. The ability to take courses for reserve graduate credit is available to all high achieving undergraduates with permission of the School of Art. Permission to take a graduate course for reserve graduate credit is normally granted only to Mason seniors within 15 credit hours of graduation and must be approved by the Dean's Office.

To apply these credits to the master's degree, students must request that the credits be moved from the undergraduate degree to the graduate degree using the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form.