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About the Program

Key Information

Residency Dates & Locations

  • Summer: July 21–29, 2023
    Colorado Springs, CO (Colorado College campus)


  • Winter: January 5-13, 2024
    Selinsgrove, PA (Susquehanna University campus)

Admissions Info »
Contact Sophie Ericsson
[email protected]
(802) 828-7395

Schedule A Call!

Featured image by Vic Rodriguez Tang ’22

Who is it for?

This program is ideal for self-motivated students with an academic background in visual art and culture, media arts, design, or communications and/or professional experience in the field of graphic design, especially aspiring and practicing design educators. Familiarity with design history and contemporary visual culture studies is beneficial.

How will your practice develop?

Our graduates emerge with new research methods, critical expertise, and a body of design work that is personal and relevant to the next stage in their careers and creative lives. You will develop skills in form, content, and craft and build fluency in contemporary design discourse.

Virtual Information Sessions

Join us to learn more about the low residency MFA in Graphic Design program and the application process. In these sessions we will discuss:

  • MFA in Graphic Design Overview
  • What is Low Residency?
  • Preparing Your Application & Portfolio
  • Q&A


To RSVP, tap the links below.

Oct 3, 2023

Nov 7, 2023

Questions? Please email [email protected]

I always felt like I was in good hands. You’re in a community of people that just get what you’re doing. Everyone is totally there for each other.
Olivia Schneider | 2022


Experience VCFA’s low-residency model

VCFA’s academic calendar is divided into two semesters per year: a summer and winter semester respectively. Each semester begins with a 9-day residency packed with lectures, critiques, workshops, exhibitions, and discussions. Students leave the very first residency with new ideas and a vibrant network of fellow designers, mentors, and collaborators.

Our 5:1 student-faculty ratio encourages close relationships between students and faculty advisors. Students and faculty learn and create together, sharing experiences, exchanging strategies, and challenging conventions. With guidance from faculty, visiting designers, and peers, students ask the hard questions: How can design change the world? How does the process of designing change you?

During residencies, students get to know faculty and participate in the faculty advisor selection process. Once they have been matched with an advisor, students develop unique semester study plans that will broaden and deepen their design practice, pushing them to think critically about the social, ethical, historical, formal, and philosophical implications of graphic design.

In addition to their design community, students are on campus with our five other MFA programs during residency: Film, Music Composition, Writing, Writing for Children & Young Adults, and Visual Art. Filmmakers will have the opportunity during residency for interdisciplinary study, work, and networking. 

Upon completion of the two-year program, students will have attended five unique and invigorating residencies that guide their creative work while offering minimal disruption to their professional life and personal schedule.

Semester Work

Mentorship & Individualized Study

After each residency, students return to their homes and stay hard at work, devoting at least 25 hours a week to their studies. They remain in close consultation with their faculty advisor through email, phone, or video conference. Through this structure, students are able to develop their professional practices within their communities and integrate new research methods into their work.

Students deepen their artistic vision, enhance their understanding of the evolving discipline of design, and hone their craft. This merging of creative practice with critical inquiry is a key component of the program.


Two-Year Program

The two-year MFA program in Graphic Design at VCFA is ideal for students with professional 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. Students develop specific communication strategies through graphic design, as well as critical thinking skills and content generation.

Three Year Program

The three-year MFA program in Graphic Design at VCFA is designed for 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.

I was looking at graphic design programs, and one thing that was stressing me out was that I would have to take a break from my career. Then I came across the low-residency program... VCFA was the only school I applied to.
Shruthi Manjula Balakrishna | 2019


David Schatz

Faculty, MFA in Graphic Design

Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton

Faculty, MFA in Graphic Design

Ian Lynam

Faculty, MFA in Graphic Design

Lorena Howard-Sheridan

Faculty, MFA in Graphic Design

Ziddi Msangi

Faculty, MFA in Graphic Design

Silas Munro

Faculty Co-Chair, MFA in Graphic Design


Pepe Menéndez

Visiting Designer


Guest Designers

Sean Yendrys

Guest Designer

Other Means

Visiting Designers, MFA in Graphic Design

James Chae

Guest Designer

Andrew Blauvelt

Guest Designer


Lex Poolos, 2020 MFA in Graphic Design

Lex Poolos has had an impactful career as a designer since discovering their passion for art as an undergrad. After finding their way to design...

Rosemary Rae, 2018 MFA in Graphic Design

Rosemary Rae has been selected among the first round of participants in Kolaj Institute's Poetry & Collage Residency for 2022. According to Kolaj's...

Program Blog

Keep up with our students, faculty, and alumnx on the MFA in Graphic Design program blog, Perpetual Beta.

10th Anniversary

Read the 2021 VCFA alumnx magazine article about 10 years of the MFA in Graphic Design!

By the Numbers

average class size
acclaimed guest designers featured since the program's founding
of students receive scholarships


Is this an online degree program?

No. Low-residency at VCFA means that students spend time on campus every semester for a residency week and then spend the rest of the time working with a faculty advisor to create work they envision. Faculty advisors in the Graphic Design program serve as both guides and mentors, offering students resources, texts, and theory to help deepen their design skills and interests. Students submit digital or printed “packets” each month to demonstrate their ongoing progress. There are no online classes or assignments in the traditional sense of an online education structure.

Learn more about our low-residency model.

Do I need to have an undergraduate degree in design if I have been working in the field for a number of years?

No, many of our students do not have an undergraduate degree in design but have held positions as designers or design faculty for quite some time. The admissions committee strongly considers professional experience, and much of our student body is made up of seasoned designers and professors who are interested in earning an MFA to strengthen their existing practice and professional career.

To learn more about the process, contact Admissions at [email protected].

If I have an undergraduate degree in visual art but don’t have a lot of experience working in graphic design, would I be a good candidate for the program?

Yes, you would be a great candidate for our three-year track! In the three-year program track, students spend the first year developing their design foundation skills, learning new software, and working with typography. It is a great way to use your existing creative skills and apply them towards a career as a designer.

To learn more about the process, contact Admissions at [email protected].

How is it determined whether students enroll in the two-year or three-year program?

Students who enroll in the two-year program have a solid foundation of design fundamentals. They are comfortable working with typography, are proficient with Adobe design software, and have an understanding of design history and theory. They have a strong portfolio of design work and are ready to take their practice to the next level. Three-year-track students need an extra year to learn or brush up on these skills. They have a strong portfolio of creative work that may include some design but may also include creative projects in other mediums.

To learn more about the process, contact Admissions at [email protected].