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Overview of Master’s Degree Programs in Graphic Arts

Majors Overview February 29, 2016

This article talks about master’s degree programs in graphic arts and their educational requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Programs in Graphic Arts

Students in master’s degree programs in graphic arts expand their knowledge of visual communication and the exploration of new methods of the discipline. Their problem-solving skills and strategic-thinking skills also develop through the completion of studio exercises and coursework. The emphasis of the program through its 2-year duration is on aesthetics, technical skills, and conceptual knowledge.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts or a related field, along with submitting essay question responses, letters of recommendation, and an outstanding portfolio of work.


The curriculum demands the completion of a written thesis and public exhibition of a thesis project at the end of the second year of the program. Working graphic design professionals would benefit from the coursework in these programs. The program coursework will allow students to seek careers in higher education or enhance their professional practice. Program coursework may typically cover independent study, studio courses, student work critiques and lectures.

Studio work comprises projects such as corporate identity development, website design, and publication design. While specific course titles can differ from program to program, core coursework may typically cover the areas of:

•Design planning
•Brand identification
•Design methodologies

Job and Wage Outlook

Graphic design professionals are expected to see an one percent job growth, over the 2012 – 2022 decade. Most opportunities relate to interactive media, and the best opportunities are available to professionals who can design websites. In May 2012, graphic designers brought in an average annual wage of $45,900 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Continuing Education Options

Continuing education will enable graphic designers to stay abreast of new and updated computer design software. Software training companies and design schools offer formal training programs. These professionals may also choose to enroll in a limited number of Ph.D. programs offered in graphic arts that involve research in areas such as technology, design history and criticism, and sustainability. Students typically complete these non-studio research- based programs within three years.

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