MFA in Graphic Design

About the Program

The MFA in Graphic Design at Vermont College of Fine Arts allows students to earn a master's degree through a combination of weeklong residencies on campus and six-month semesters of concentrated work that is guided by faculty advisors.

Two-Year Program

The two-year MFA Program in Graphic Design at VCFA is designed for graduate students with backgrounds and/or baccalaureate degrees in a graphic design field. The two-year program is designed to allow for sustained study and critical thinking associated with graduate level education. Attention will be given to the development of specific communication strategies through graphic design, as well as to critical thought and content generation.

Three-Year Program

The three-year MFA Program in Graphic Design at VCFA is designed for graduate students with backgrounds in liberal arts, fine arts, and sciences. In the three-year program, the first year is designed to bolster students’ strengths and critical abilities in typography, image making, and design history, theory and authorship. Upon completion of the initial year of study, students complete two more years of study at the level of their peers in the two-year program.

On Campus

During weeklong residencies on our lovely Vermont campus, students attend lectures, critiques, workshops, exhibitions, and discussions, all the while surrounded by a community of designers dedicated to rigorous inquiry and bold exploration of the discipline. Students, faculty, and visiting designers take their meals together in Dewey Café, collude after hours in the campus dorm common space, and find many other opportunities for informal exchange.

The residency allows for collaboration and reflection on creative process and practice. Shared experiences during a residency can be profound, generating and sustaining cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary conversations and fostering relationships that last far beyond graduation.

Our 5:1 student-faculty ratio each semester ensures a high level of individual attention and encourages close relationships between students and faculty advisors. Throughout the program, students and faculty learn and create together, sharing experiences and exchanging strategies, all the while challenging conventions and discovering new possibilities for their work.

Residencies are also the time when students get to know members of the faculty and participate in the faculty advisor selection process. Once they have been matched with an advisor, students develop a unique semester study plan,which lends both direction and inspiration for the work ahead. Students are usually matched with a different advisor each semester, ensuring a wide range of faculty input and expertise.

Residencies take place on VCFA’s campus, which overlooks the lively town of Montpelier, Vermont’s capitol city. With several bookstores, restaurants and shops, and an array of cultural events, all surrounded by year-round outdoor opportunities in the Green Mountain State, Montpelier becomes a second home to VCFA students. On-campus food services are offered by the New England Culinary Institute. The campus houses the VCFA Library which holds extensive print and online resources and is a member of OCLC, a world-wide library collective that allows students wide access to research materials. The campus is also home to the VCFA Gallery and Alumni Hall, both large spaces where students exhibit their design work each semester.

Off Campus

Following residency, students return to their homes, devoting a minimum of 25 hours per week to their semester study plan. They remain in close consultation with their faculty advisor through various communication methods including Skype and Dropbox. Through this method, student are able to develop their professional practices within their communities, and integrate new research methods into their work. This synergy allows for dynamically innovative design.

Special attention is given to developing semester study plans that will broaden and deepen students’ design practice as well as their historical and theoretical competency. Both on-campus work and individualized semester study plans should encourage students to think critically about social, ethical, historical, formal, and philosophical implications of graphic design, all essential to the graduate experience.

Each semester, students deepen their artistic vision and enhance their growing insight into the evolving discipline of design, while also honing and improving their craft. This merging of creative practice with critical inquiry is a key component of the MFA program in Graphic Design.

Administrative Staff:

Danielle Dahline

Program Director
866-934-8232, ext. 8703
[email protected]

Brittany Powell

Associate Director
866-934-8232, ext. 8772
[email protected]

Residency Dates:

  • Spring 2019: April 7-13, 2019
  • Fall 2019: October 6-12, 2019

Program Goals:

  • To develop an ability to synthesize form, content and craft
  • To deepen and expand critical ability
  • To build fluency in design discourse and visual culture
  • To claim agency in the larger context of design and society