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Visual Narrative Cluster is pushing innovative technologies in storytelling

Art + Design teaches designers to give form to emotions and ideas through medium, composition, and storytelling.

program or department head

Department Head

Pamela Jennings, PhD

Professor and Department Head of Art + Design

T: (919) 515-8340  E:

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The Department of Art + Design provides a truly interdisciplinary major for students who are interested in a more exploratory experience that re-conceptualizes current and future design practices. As “artist-designers,” students in the Art + Design program learn to be creative practitioners and image-makers who bring form to emotions and ideas through the exploration of medium, composition, and most importantly, storytelling.

There are two main undergraduate tracks in Art + Design: Animation and Interactive Media and Fibers and Fashion Studies. The first two years of the undergraduate Art + Design degree focuses on principal foundations that explore both focuses. Students make a decision after their third semester which track to pursue. Throughout the program, students are given opportunities to collaborate across these two tracks and find inspiration and experiment at the intersection of these two distinct ways of storytelling.

In the Master of Art + Design program, our focus in Experimental Media Arts encourages students to explore the intersection of digital and material technologies to create interactive and engaging experiences that push the boundaries of storytelling, learning and play. For those students interested in New Practices in Art + Design Research, we offer a more research-focused Master of Art + Design where students explored new research practices that are cross-disciplinary in nature.  Explore more about our Graduate Program

Students and faculty in Art + Design challenge the status quo through technological possibility, material experimentation, and linear and non-linear storytelling. At their core, Art + Design students are:

  • Visual Storytellers: Working in creative industries ranging from animation to filmmaking to fashion and publishing, Art + Design students bring a compelling visual form to narratives.
  • Entrepreneurs: Working independently and in collaboration, Art + Design students forge new paths in product development, fashion and home goods and interactive media.
  • Experimenters: Pushing the boundaries both technologically and conceptually, Art + Design students are constantly uncovering new methods, materials, techniques and technologies to enhance their products and ideas.
  • Makers: Art + Design students don’t just propose concepts and prototypes, they make the products and artifacts that they are designing.

The important perspectives and skills developed through Art + Design include critical and creative problem-solving; the ability to translate idea to image to product; a facility with various technologies to enhance formal composition; and a willingness to take risks both artistically and practically.

Students in the undergraduate program in Art + Design are taught to be pathmakers, entrepreneurs, and experimenters. With a strong foundation in thinking through making and a concentration on the critical problem solving inherent in the creative process, students engage in a variety of projects and situations that encourage them to think beyond the current context and into the realm of future possibility.

Throughout all aspects of the Art + Design experience, students focus on developing a strong discipline and interaction between the critical and creative perspective. The program cultivates in students a strong foundation including:

  • Critical, creative and adaptive thinking and problem-solving;
  • An ability to recognize the components of critical problems, to develop thoughtful and achievable design solutions in response;
  • A nimble facility with the technologies that drive current and future art and design practices;
  • A commitment to problem-solving that addresses the needs of all people;
  • A focus on the exploratory and experimental;
  • An inter-disciplinary perspective that values variety in viewpoints and experiences as a foundation for innovation;
  • An appreciation for the reciprocal relationship between aesthetics, experience and technology;
  • Formal and technical skills that encourage thinking through making.

The undergraduate program in Art + Design has two focus areas:

Animation + Interactive Media

Animation and Interactive Media: This program challenges and encourages students to explore the boundaries of technology, narrative and interaction to tell engaging, rich, compelling and innovative stories. Students in this program are not just conceptualizing, but are working to create animated and time-based experiences that allow others to engage with these rich narratives. Students work in both digital and traditional animation, game design, graphic and interactive storybooks, and kinetic interaction design.


Fibers + Fashion Studies

Fibers + Fashion Studies: The program in Fibers + Fashion Studies stresses a blending of traditional, contemporary and experimental techniques and methods to encourage new innovations in material concept, construction and technique. The program encourages a breadth of experience, experimentation, questioning, individual initiative, craftsmanship, knowledge of hand processes, and the search for an individual career direction—finding a creative voice that is confident, professional, and potentially entrepreneurial.

Art + Design Undergraduate Minor

The Department of Art + Design believes that there is an essential need for students in a technically based research university to engage in coursework that fosters creative thinking, problem-solving, and making. To meet this need, the department offers courses to all students in the university as a minor in Art + Design. Minors are guided through a selection of courses with consultation from a design advisor.


The minor in Art + Design consists of 15 total credit hours of study, of which 6 hours must be satisfied at the basic course level. The remaining 9 hours of courses may be selected from the course list in the information provided by the Art + Design advisor. A grade of “B” or better will be required for credit in all courses in the minor in Art + Design program.


Although all efforts are made to accommodate minors, it is important for potential students to know and understand that access to Art + Design courses are based on a hierarchy where priority access goes to design majors.


Information on courses and curriculum

The Masters of Art + Design (MAD) is focused on experimental media arts and prepares students to be design directors, practitioners, visionaries, and leaders in the field who are able to respond to the social, cultural and economic shifts that current times – and global economies – demand. Our students become creative thinkers and skilled makers in an inter-disciplinary educational environment, which provides the critical knowledge and expertise to re-imagine new contexts that challenge traditional structures and assumptions guiding art and design practice.

The MAD program promotes the highest level of research, resulting in proven innovation that informs emerging media platforms and product development.

The program encourages graduate students to apply design thinking and innovative technologies in new directions through research, experimentation, creative production, and entrepreneurship. Graduate students are also expected to create, present and interpret their work with the intellectual expertise and refined skills required to become leaders in their professional field.

Students in the MAD program engage in rigorous research and studio-intensive coursework which supports a critical perspective in art and design that is intellectually, conceptually, and technically insightful and experimental.

Experimental Media Arts challenges experienced and self-driven students to find new and exciting intersections between storytelling, animation and kinetic and experimental interactions. Students underpin the products and experiences that they are designing with intensive research regarding theory, practice and technology. The MAD aims to create leading practitioners that are working to shape the future of the field from both an experiential and technological perspective.

Students in the program have the option of doing a final project or more theoretical and research-based paper or study.

Director of Graduate Programs

Tania Allen

Tania Allen

Associate Professor of Art + Design, Co-Director of Graduate Programs in Art + Design
Phone: (919) 515-8359
Emil Polyak

Emil Polyak

Assistant Professor of Art + Design, Co-Director of Graduate Programs in Art + Design
Phone: (919) 931-7368

Track 1: 30 Credit Hours (with optional credit hours for final project development)

Experimental Media Arts: Track 1 (Optional 9 credit hours of additional final project development)

For students that have a strong background in interactive and experimental media arts and come into the program with a pre-determined project.


Track 2: 48 Credit Hours (with optional credit hours for final project development)

Track 2 is for students with undergraduate degrees in art and design or fields closely related to their concentration area. Track 2 students have some accomplishment and/or strong work experience within their chosen concentration area. Track 2 students may take some advanced undergraduate courses to further their conceptual, theoretical and technical acumen within their chosen concentration.

Experimental Media Arts: Track 2 (optional 12 credit hours of additional final project development | Total of 60 credit hours). Students have an undergraduate degree in interactive and experimental media arts but need or want some initial studios to explore new theories and concepts that might inform their final project.


Track 3: 72-credit hours (Experimental Media Arts Option)

Track 3 presupposes applicants with undergraduate degrees related to the concentration area or some experience working within their chosen concentration area. Once in the program, all Track 3 students will take 2 semesters of undergraduate work in the concentration (21-24 credit hours) to improve skills, experiment, and gain confidence in the medium.

Experimental Media Arts: Track 03  (with optional 12 credit hours of additional final project development | Total of 84 credit hours). For students with a background in something other than interactive and experimental media arts. The first year of this program students take advanced undergraduate courses