MFA in Graphic Design


Applicants must have completed a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Exceptions are made to the Bachelor’s degree requirement in rare circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have proficiency in both appropriate hardware and software currently used within the field of Graphic Design. Applicants should have a working knowledge of Macintosh platforms and Adobe Creative Suite software. Regular access to these technologies will be important for incoming students. Students are expected to maintain a file sharing service so Internet access is needed.

Applicants should also be familiar with design history and contemporary visual culture studies.The program requires significant emphasis on critical and conceptual content in creative and written work. This familiarity may come from previous coursework in art history, visual culture, communications, design, and/or professional experience in the field of graphic design or equivalent.

Application & Portfolio Requirements

In order to be considered for admission to the program, all applicants must submit the following:

1. Official college transcripts sent from each previously attended institution directly to: MFA in Graphic Design, Office of Admissions, Vermont College of Fine Arts, 36 College Street, Montpelier, VT 05602.

2. A resume of education, work experience, exhibitions, awards, and publications.

3. Two recent letters of recommendation. These letters should discuss your qualifications for master’s level study in design and your aptitude for independent study.

4. A portfolio of visual work.

5. Image list in that clearly identifies medium, date of completion, and any necessary, brief description that helps to contextualize projects. The image list can be uploaded in the attachments section.

6. A statement of purpose between 500 and 1,000 words in length. The statement of purpose must address the following questions:

  • What are your current design goals and reasons for seeking an MFA in Graphic Design? Please describe what experiences led you to this point and how they may have shaped your current visual work.
  • What do you hope to achieve during your MFA studies?
  • What topics in design are you most interested in studying? As independent study is an essential feature of the low-residency model, it is important for us to assess your aptitude for defining your own educational direction.
  • What other independent educational experiences have you pursued? Please describe the successes you achieved and the challenges you faced in your prior independent educational experiences. Please discuss your motivation and comfort level with independent study.

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All materials are submitted via Slideroom. It is important to sign up for the service early in the process to identify and email the people providing letters of reference for you. There is an application fee of $75. 

Portfolio Specifications

The portfolio submission should highlight your visual strengths. You can highlight your development as a designer as well as communicate your specific interests and experiences. You can submit digital images of various visual media if you feel they represent and clarify your design goals in some way. The admissions committee will look for your demonstrated potential to effectively communicate visual content. If including collaborative projects, please clearly identify your role in the project.  

  • Submit between 20 and 40 single images of design work and/or project examples. You can include time-based media works. Please be sure they don’t individually exceed 5 minutes.
  • Please include an image list in that clearly identifies medium, date of completion, and any necessary, brief descriptions that help to contextualize the work. The image list can be uploaded in the attachments section.

Transfer Credit

The Graphic Design program will consider one semester of transfer credit from a student transferring from another Graphic Design MA, MFA, or MS program provided that: 

(a) the student applies for admission to the program and is accepted 

(b) the faculty, through a portfolio review, finds sufficient evidence that the student can be successful in the program within only a year and a half of study. 

Previous coursework must have been completed at an accredited school of art and design, and must have been within the last five years. In addition to materials required for the admissions review (official transcripts of previous undergraduate and graduate study are required materials), applicants for transfer credit should submit: 

(a) Course descriptions for the graduate credits for which transfer credit is requested 

(b) a statement describing the previous plan of study, evaluating his or her work in the previous Graphic Design program, and explaining his or her reasons for applying to transfer into the MFA in Graphic Design Program at VCFA. 

Decisions to award transfer credit will be made after initial acceptance to the program and upon receipt of all official transcripts, course descriptions, and a transfer statement. 


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Brittany Powell

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

Admissions Deadlines

  • Spring 2019 Priority Scholarship deadline: January 14, 2019
  • Spring 2019 Rolling Application deadline: February 18, 2019

To receive financial aid, it is recommended that applicants meet the Priority Deadline.

The Admissions Committee reviews applications on a rolling basis. Applicants may submit applications at any time before the rolling application deadline.

Residency Dates

  • Fall 2018: October 7-13, 2018

Mail application materials to:

Brittany Powell
MFA in Graphic Design
Vermont College of Fine Arts
36 College Street
Montpelier, VT 05602