MICA's one-year Graphic Design MA program provides in-depth study of the theory and practice of graphic design while building a portfolio for work or further study in an MFA program. Our students are professionals and graduates from complementary fields, including liberal arts, fine arts, architecture, media studies and journalism as well as those who studied design as undergraduates. The Graphic Design MA program is approved for STEM OPT, allowing students the eligibility to apply for a 24-month OPT extension.

In the Fall, projects include constraints designed to build typography and graphic design skills yet encourage experimentation with content and media. Students hone their personal process and critical thinking while creating a thesis project and professional portfolio in the Spring. All core classes meet weekly with faculty and visiting designers for lectures, demos, discussion and individual or group critiques. Participation in the larger graduate and undergraduate design community at MICA is encouraged through art and design lectures, workshops, teaching internships and participation in interdisciplinary teams at the Center for Social Design.

Degree Plan

MAGD Studio 1, 6 credits
Type Intensive, 3 credits
Design Theory and Practice, 3 credits
Elective, 3 credits

MAGD Studio 2, 6 credits
Transmedia Type Lab, 3 credits
MAGD Professional Workshop, 3 credits
Elective, 3 credits

Course Descriptions

Graphic Design MA Studio 1 and 2
The GD MA Studio provides an immersive introduction to design, taught with a strong emphasis on visual research, process and critical analysis. In the Fall, students are assigned projects with constraints designed to solidify typography and visual communication skills yet explore expansive content. In the Spring, the course focuses on creating, exhibiting and writing a self-directed thesis project in line with the student’s goals, as well as building a portfolio of compelling work. Taught by Sandra Maxa and visiting designer.

Design Theory and Practice
MA students attend this class with other graduate graphic design students, building their knowledge of design history, discourse and professional methodologies through a mix of readings, writings, lectures and discussions. Topics include branding, experience design, information design, social design, multisensory perception, politics, cultural anthropology and authorship. Taught by Brockett Horne and Ellen Lupton.

Graphic Design MA Professional Workshop
In the spring semester, the GD MA Workshop focuses on creating complex, well-crafted design projects and curating a portfolio. Lectures and visiting designers discuss professional practice including contracts, studio models and self-promotion. Taught by Amanda Buck.

Typography Courses
Typography is the backbone of design! In the Fall students take Type Intensive, a fast-paced primer on all things type, followed by Transmedia Type Lab in the Spring. These courses help GD MA students build strong skills in typography through applied projects in a variety of media.

Non-Credit Workshops
Non-credit workshops teach techniques and processes needed to complete projects as well as expose students to materials and new ways of working. Sessions on preparing files for print, web and app prototyping, book making, photo documentation, printmaking and hand lettering have been offered in the past.

Sample Electives
Design for the Web / User Experience and Interface / Visual Identity / Motion Graphics / Cinema 4D & Processing / Publication Design / Graphic Design - Illustration Collaborative Studio / Typeface Design / Signs, Exhibits and Spaces / Information Visualization / Letterpress / Screenprinting / Social Design Practice-Based Studio / Film - Moving Image / Game Play / The Illustrated Poster / History of Graphic Design / Culture and Criticism in the Media Writing Artist Statements


Sandra Maxa Director, Graphic Design MA Program, smaxa@mica.edu

Sandra Maxa is a designer and educator from Minneapolis, where she worked for many years on branding and systems design projects for large corporate clients before moving to New York. She is currently a partner at the multi-disciplinary studio Q Collective where creating work for clients like the AIA Center for Architecture, New Dramatists and Baltimore's Institute of Contemporary Art reflects her deep interest in identity, interactivity and visual culture. She holds an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a bachelor's degree in Art-Graphic Design from University of Wisconsin-Madison. At MICA, Sandie also teaches studio classes in the BFA graphic design program. She has taught at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design and Rutgers University and is co-author of 2 editions of the well-known book Typographic Design: Form & Communication. She is currently working on the 7th ed. of Meggs' History of Graphic Design. In 2015, she was awarded the MICA Trustee Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching. She is also on the board of DesignInquiry. 


Hayelin Choi
Brockett Horne
Ellen Lupton
Amelia von Wolffersdorff
Maureen Weiss