Master of Fine Arts in Design

The Rutgers MFA in Design combines critical inquiry with creative output. This two-year, full-time program focuses on the innovative use of technology and interdisciplinary research in the creation of publications, experiences, exhibitions, information and interfaces — preparing designers for a contemporary design studio practice that contributes to the future of arts, science, humanities and culture.

The Rutgers MFA in Design values experimentation and criticality. Studio work is paired with the study of historical, theoretical, and cultural contexts. Rutgers University provides opportunities for collaboration with experts in a wide range of fields. The program emphasizes research-driven work, empowering designers to identify, question, and synthesize quantitative and qualitative data and material from primary sources, to underpin their creative projects. Design becomes a tool for inquiry and investigation we well as communication and expression.

This program is ideal for active visual designers and other makers who seek to deepen their skills, in order to initiate their own projects and contribute to and lead collaborative project teams. Graduates will find career opportunities in various creative, technological, media, and educational fields, in a wide range of roles such as information designer, interface designer, design researcher, graphic and/or digital producer, coordinator of digital laboratories, coordinator of collaborative design projects and more.


Through seminars, studio courses and independent work, MFA Design graduate students develop skills and experience to:

  • Identify meaningful and appropriate subjects for design investigation
  • Collaborate with research partners on complex projects that address cross-disciplinary concerns
  • Visualize, design, prototype, and produce ambitious, innovative projects
  • Situate their work within current scientific, social, and political contexts


Each semester, the Design Studio course is the program’s core, providing the support and environment needed to develop work driven by the student’s interests. Additional required courses cover production methods, publication, and display of the student’s thesis work.

Research Methods, based in epistemology, introduces useful methods for design practice, such as qualitative and quantitative research, ethnography, cultural diversity, scientific reasoning, and techno-cultural criticism. Students engage with a wide range of hands-on practices such as visualization, digital humanities, crowdsourcing, field studies, interviews, physical sensing, polls, cartography and mapping.

Production is a survey of contemporary high-end visualization and image-production techniques. Students visit real-world facilities as well as create their own projects, gaining experience with various techniques and the ability to analyze and choose among them in design practice.

Design Seminars cover design history and theory and perspectives on the wide range of contemporary design practices.

In the first year, each student may choose two university elective courses outside of Art & Design. Electives enable designers to engage more deeply with potential topics in the sciences, social sciences and humanities, which will serve as springboards for their creative work.

In the second year, design courses address the development, production, display, and publication of the student's thesis work. Each MFA in Design student participates in a group exhibition of their thesis work, in the Mason Gross Galleries.

Courses Offered

  • Research Methods in Design
  • Design Studios I, II, III, IV
  • Design Seminars I, II, III
  • Production
  • Publication and Display
  • Thesis I, II
  • Special Topics


Full-time design faculty members:

Atif Akin
Gerry Beegan
Mindy Seu
Jacqueline Thaw

Current and recent instructors in the BFA and MFA Design programs include:

Nika Fisher
Asad Pervaiz
Jacob Rivkin
Laurel Schwulst
Scott Vander Zee


The program is situated in the Civic Square Building which houses computer labs, design classrooms, lighting studios, project spaces, and a 4,200-square foot art gallery. MFA in Design students share a dedicated group studio space, with 24-hour access to facilities, labs, and shops for the duration of their studies.

The Design Area offers a wide variety of display and interaction materials including:

Canon EOS T6i Still and Video DSLRs
Ricoh 360-degree Cameras
DJI Phantom 3 Standard Drone
Arduino Uno kits
Kinect Controllers
Leap Motion Controllers
Apple iPads
Wacom Tablets
Projectors and Monitors
Mac Minis and Media Players

The Rutgers Makerspace is available to all students.


We invite applications from designers engaged in a wide range of interests and methods, and from varied backgrounds. Find detailed instructions on how to apply to the MFA Design program.

For the 2019-2020 Academic Year, Out-of-State Tuition is $30,336 and In-State Tuition is $19,176 for a full time student taking 12 credits or more. There are currently no fellowships for MFA in Design students.

The MFA in Design program aims to provide training and experience in teaching during the two years of study. Teaching assignments are handled on an individual basis, and take into account the student’s skills and availability.

The Department of Art & Design offers a limited number of work opportunities based on experience and departmental needs. These aren’t guaranteed, as they respond to changing conditions annually.


To schedule a visit and/or portfolio review with a member of the design faculty, contact Cassandra Oliveras-Moreno.

See more on the Design Area Blog