Master of Fine Arts in Design

Applications for Fall 2020 admission accepted through January 3, 2020

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

The Rutgers MFA in Design values experimentation and criticality. It combines studio work and the study of historical, theoretical, and cultural contexts with opportunities for collaboration with experts in the wide range of fields at Rutgers University. 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 alongside communication and expression.

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

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.


Development and assessment of the work happens through self-reflective writing, presentations, class discussions, and critiques with faculty and peers. The program’s core courses are: Research Methods in Design; Design Studios I, II, III, IV; Design Seminars I, II, III; Production; Publication and Display; Thesis.

In the first year, each student may choose two university elective courses outside of Art & Design. These outside 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.

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 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. See more details on the Design area blog.


Full-time design faculty members are Atif Akin, Gerry Beegan, Mindy Seu, and Jacqueline Thaw. Current and recent instructors in Design include: Nika Fisher, Asad Pervaiz, Jacob RivkinLaurel Schwulst, and Scott Vander Zee.

Each year, the department hosts a Design Lecture Series, bringing renowned and diverse practitioners and theorists to speak directly with students in an intimate setting. The 2019 speakers include Young Sun Compton, Neil Donnelly, Dina El-Zanfaly, E Roon Kang, Prem Krishnamurthy, Capser Lam and Yu June Park of Synoptic Office, Andrew LeClair, Surya Mattu, McCandliss & Campbell, Paul Sahre, and Joel Simon.


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 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.

As a public institution, we are highly committed to supporting an economically diverse population. We aim to find the maximum support possible for graduate students and to provide this support in an equitable manner.


We invite applications from designers engaged in a wide range of interests and methods, and from varied backgrounds. To apply, go to our How to Apply page, for detailed instructions.


To schedule a visit and/or portfolio review with a member of the design faculty, contact Daonne Huff.