M.F.A. Design

Do you want to cultivate your knowledge and skills in diverse design disciplines?
Degree Type Master of Fine Arts
Careers & Salaries Graduate Degree Outcomes
Delivery Hybrid

Our Master of Fine Arts in Design program, a 60-credit terminal degree, combines practical problem-solving, ‘change the world’ mentality and innovative teaching in an art school experience that will help you grow as a designer, provide cross-disciplinary opportunities, and prepare you for creative leadership or teaching.

You'll reach across multiple design disciplines to find a unique focus area tailored to your interests. / UW-Stout

With its outstanding reputation for undergraduate art and design programs, UW–Stout is uniquely positioned to offer this cross-disciplinary graduate program. Our program is uniquely broad and interdisciplinary. You will work with our dedicated faculty to create a focus area tailored to your interests through our robust course offerings and independent projects. Our customized instruction model can accommodate working adults as well as day students.

Our Cross-Disciplinary Setting

  • Graphic design
  • Game design
  • Industrial design
  • Interior design
  • Interactive media
  • Digital Cinema
  • Animation

Meaningful Experiences

This graduate degree is intended to prepare people to pursue roles in the academic community and as design professionals and leaders. The program provides a unique opportunity for experiential learning and design-based research through collaborative faculty-student projects that reach across design disciplines. Courses will be delivered through a Customized Instruction model that accommodates working adults as well as day students.

Global competition, a workplace that increasingly values creative workers, the increasing role of evidence-based design, and the search for sustainability have created the need for a new model for graduate education in design. The MFA in Design will prepare you to become transformational practitioners and educators with a focus on innovation, breaking boundaries, design leadership and sustainable models of practice.

Tuition & Fees

Customized Instruction at UW Stout can be described as programs that are designed with the adult learner in mind. If you're comparing UW-Stout's customized instruction tuition to our competitors, keep in mind:

  • $962 per graduate creditcustomized instruction tuition rate includes the textbook rental fee.
  • There are no additional university-based semester or technology fees.
  • Students in customized instruction programs pay the same rate of tuition regardless if Wisconsin residents, out-of-state or international participants.

Value for your Money

There’s more to value than just tuition. UW Stout also provides:

  • Program Director – faculty with discipline expertise.
  • Student Services adviser – one point of contact, providing support to students for each program.
  • Course sequences and matrices – know what courses are offered when so you can plan ahead.
  • Courses and programs may be stackable for use in another program.
  • Courses are flexible and convenient for working professionals.

Other universities will present costs and value differently - make sure you're comparing apples to apples.

Example Course Plan

This is an example of a three-year course plan. Please review the Graduate Bulletin for the official program planner, credit requirements and course descriptions.

The First Year (21 credits)

Fall Semester

  • DES-700 Design Seminar I (3 cr.) core
  • ARTH-720 History of Design Seminar (3 cr.) core
  • DES-XXX (3 cr.) studio elective

Spring Semester

  • DES-725 Research Strategies in Design (3 cr.) core
  • DES-712 Sustainable Design Practice (3 cr.) core
  • DES-561 Transmedia Studio (3 cr.) studio elective
  • Focus Elective (3 cr.)

Second Year (21 credits)

Fall Semester

  • ARTH-756 Special Topics in Design History (3 cr.) core
  • ART-614 Color Seminar (3 cr.) studio elective
  • Focus Elective (3 cr.)

Spring Semester

  • DES-710 Ethics in Design (3 cr.) core
  • DES-730 Critical Issues in Design Education & Practice (3 cr.) core
  • DES-XXX (3 cr.) studio elective
  • Focus Elective (3 cr.)

Third Year (18 credits)

Fall Semester

  • DES-800 Design Seminar II (3 cr.) core
  • DES-870 Creative Thesis in Design (3 cr.) core
  • DES-799 Independent Study (3 cr.) studio elective

Spring Semester

  • DES-870 Creative Thesis in Design (3 cr.) core
  • DES-XXX (3 cr.) studio elective
  • DES-XXX (3 cr.) studio elective
Admission Requirements

April 1, 2019 priority application deadline for Fall 2019 admission.

General UW-Stout Graduate School Application

All prospective graduate students at UW-Stout must follow a standard application process through our Graduate School. Beyond that, each graduate program has specific requirements that must be met to be successfully admitted to the program:

Program-Specific Admission Requirements

To apply to the M.F.A. Design program, please submit the following additional application materials:

Visual Portfolio | digital submission

15-20 examples of creative/professional work from your area(s) of expertise:

  • A single, multi-page PDF document including 10-15 samples of creative/professional work and a list with brief written descriptions. Total PDF size should be no more than 20 MB. File-naming structure example: Nelson_VisualPortfolio.pdf
  • A limit of 5 motion/video images will be accepted as part of the total 15-20 examples. Each motion/video submission shall be no more than 3 minutes in length. Website links are also acceptable, but if a website is utilized, limit the work to the required number of examples.

All work must be created by you, the applicant. Failure to follow this rule will result in immediate rejection. If your work is the result of a group project, highlight the role you played in its creation within the written description list.

Written Statement of Interest | digital submission

This two to three-page statement should describe your goals for graduate study, your potential research question(s) for exploration, and also reference and contextualize your work included in the visual portfolio. Submit in PDF format. Please include as a digital file saved as .doc, .pdf, or .rtf, and titled with your last name (i.e. Nelson_StatementOfInterest.pdf).

Resume or Curriculum Vitae | digital submission

Please include as a digital file saved as .doc, .pdf, or .rtf, and titled with your last name (i.e. Nelson_CurriculumVitae.pdf).

Candidate Recommendation Form | online form

You must secure three (3) individuals who can qualify you as a potential graduate student and attest to your academic performance and experience within your profession. Each recommender must complete the Candidate Recommendation Form and submit it directly to the Program Director, either by e-mail or hard copy mail.

All program application materials (with the exception of the Candidate Recommendation Form) should be submitted digitally to: http://tinyurl.com/MFA-2017-2018.

Design Advisory Board

2018 Design Advisory Board

  • Erik Evensen, Program Director, Associate Professor, CACHSS, Department of Design,
  • Julie Peterson, Chair - Dept. of Design, Professor – Dept. of Design
  • Seth Berrier, Associate Professor, CSTEMM, Dept. of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science 
  • Robert Fraher, Associate Professor, CACHSS, Dept. of Design
  • Amelia Kennedy, Design Manager, 3D Design Studio - Target
  • Kimberly Long-Loken, Assistant Professor, CACHSS, Department of Design
  • Rochelle Maresh, Lead Designer - Store Planning & Design, Target
  • Joan Menefee, Professor, CACHSS, Dept. of English & Philosophy,
  • Sarah Murawski, Graphic Design Manager, Great Northern Corporation
  • Vincent Pontillo-Verrastro Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Art History
  • Glendali Rodriguez, Associate Vice Chancellor, Provost's Office (ex-officio)
  • Shane Sanders, MFA in Design, Student Representative
  • Elizabeth Sanders, Associate Professor, Department of Design, The Ohio State University
  • Fred Sklenar, Owner, Fred Sklenar Design
  • Rich Walters, Product Design Manager, LSR
  • Julie Watts, Professor, CACHSS, Dept. of English & Philosophy, Founding Director of MSTPC

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Hidden Fields

Earn while you learn

Graduate Assistantships

Gain valuable professional experience while enjoying paid employment as a graduate student at UW-Stout.

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