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Master’s Degree Programs in Illustration Overview

Majors Overview March 1, 2016

This article talks about master’s degree programs in illustration and their educational requirements, coursework, and job and wage outlook.

Master’s Programs in Illustration

Imagery and words are combined uniquely to form illustration, providing a visual representation of text if done well. Art students who seek continuing education in illustration would benefit from enrolling in a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Illustration program. The program imparts training in effectively matching words and representations while enabling them to seek careers in the current digital landscape. Full-time students take two years to complete illustration master’s degree programs.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria in some programs typically require incoming students to have 3-5 years of prior professional experience. The dean of the specific degree program in which they are interested would have the required information for students who need to find out about the eligibility requirements. Admission criteria commonly call for the submission of a portfolio of their current work in conceptual development and illustration.


In these programs, digital media and technological communications studies are integrated with more traditional art study in painting and drawing. Additionally, the programs cover business practices that are relevant to freelancers and illustrators. There is also an emphasis on creative writing, and a written master’s thesis marks the culmination of the program.

Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Visual Essays
•Brand Development
•Creative Writing for Illustrators
•Narrative Art
•Traditional and Digital Media Integration
•Drawing and Illustration
•Experimental Drawing
•Storytelling and Comics

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2012, independent fine artists, including illustrators, brought in an average annual wage of $50,300 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). During the same year, all fine artists, including illustrators, earned a median annual income of $44,400. The highest average wages of $103,740 were earned by professionals employed in the wholesale electronic markets (BLS).

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