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Percy Hooper teaching

Graduate Admissions and Program FAQs

The personal statement tells the faculty reviewers the extent to which the applicant:

  • Understands the MGD program focus and research orientation;
  • Recognizes her/his interests and aims in relation to the program focus;
  • Articulates her/his intellectual and creative pursuits;
  • Anticipates professional goals following successful completion of the MGD.

Faculty assesses the applicant’s readiness to pursue graduate-level work based on consistencies found among the personal statement, work/study history, and the portfolio. Faculty look for indications of:

  • Formal/technical skills and visual acuity pertinent to the graphic design discipline, including but not limited to typography, image manipulation, and design appropriateness to content.
  • Awareness of contemporary issues in graphic design and visual communication. For instance: visual meaning, user-centered design, and/or systems design.
  • Initiative and imaginative responses to client-driven or teacher-assigned briefs.

Non-design visual work may be submitted but should not comprise the total portfolio.

MGD III applicant portfolios must show experience in graphic design or visual communication. Such evidence may arise from formal instruction in design or from job experience.

Applicants who intend to change professional direction, who have been unable to pursue certain lines of thinking in the workplace, or who have created self-generated work that indicates nascent interests, need to explain these limitations in the personal statement. 

The university requires that applicants undergo the formal review process before any indication of admission potential be given. In a competitive application process, it is inappropriate for faculty to coach applicants on application preparation.

Undergraduate transcripts and the GRE offer insight into the applicant’s preparedness for the extensive reading, comprehension, and writing components of the program. College transcripts also indicate the breadth and depth of previous study. A 3.0 minimum GPA is required for admission.

The program typically enrolls 25 to 30 students across the three levels: MGD II first years, MGD II second years, and MGD III. The program accepts up to 12 total incoming students for the MGD II and MGD III tracks each fall, depending upon the number of students matriculating or graduating in a given cycle. 

Prospective students may speak with the university Financial Aid Office and International Student Services Office about general loan and financial issues. Assistantships granted by the department are awarded after admissions decisions have been made.

Applications are reviewed in the beginning of each spring semester for admission the following fall only.

The program continues to consider applications as seats are available; however, faculty make decisions and extend invitations to accepted applicants for priority seating by early to mid-February.

The faculty believes that accomplishing work on-site, within a committed design community, is critical to achieving graduate level insight. The department offers two online courses in graphic design history and graphic design theory, but all other coursework and student interaction takes place in the dedicated graduate studios, where all students have space and 24-hour access.

The MGD is a full-time, in-residence program. 

Many students need to sustain outside employment during their studies. Faculty recommend no more than 12 hours of outside work per week, including teaching assistantships.  

Studio and seminar courses are open only to students who have been admitted to either the MGD program, or by permission to those admitted to another major within the College of Design or another university degree program.

The department conducts a competitive admissions process for the Bachelor of Graphic Design program and admits a full cohort of undergraduate students among many academically qualified applicants. Therefore, the undergraduate program is unable to offer studio courses, with the exception of students who have been admitted to the MGD III program.

International applicants who do not meet threshold language requirements will not be recommended for admission. Language proficiency must be demonstrated at the time of application.