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The M.F.A. program at The University of Texas at Austin is distinctive by design.

Graduate students in Design draw upon the extensive resources of a top-tier, comprehensive research university to develop expertise as designers of graphics, objects, interactions, systems, and/or services.

Design M.F.A. students declare a required six-credit “minor” in another field and may take up to 30 of their required 60 credit-hours from other programs at the university. M.F.A. students may also opt to enroll in one of the university’s many interdisciplinary programs.

Graduate Portfolio Programs

Each graduate cohort of five to eight students works closely with Design Division faculty in small classes that offer individualized instruction. Selected graduate students in the M.F.A. program also have the opportunity to work with the on projects at the intersection of design and healthcare delivery.

Design Institute for Health

The M.F.A. program cultivates expert designers who are also thoughtful, broadly educated critics and communicators prepared to work in many fields. Alumni of the program enjoy successful careers not only as designers, but also as inventors, writers, entrepreneurs, strategists, CEOs and university faculty.

Graduate Coordinator

Violet Cantu | +1 512.471.3377

Design Faculty

Course of Study

The 60-credit-hour M.F.A. in Design is customarily completed in two academic years plus the intervening summer. 30 of the 60 hours must be earned in Design Division courses (“the major”); six hours must be earned in a single external department/school (“the minor”). The remaining 24 credits may be earned in any unit at the university.

In addition to the required coursework, M.F.A. candidates complete two graduate reviews, the first during the spring semester of the first year of study, and the second during the fall semester of the second year of study. The course of study culminates in the master’s exhibition and report.

A sample course of study:

Hours Within the Design Major

  • DES 380: Core in Design 3.0
  • DES 381: Core Laboratory I 3.0
  • DES 382: Critique Studio (3 courses) 9.0
  • DES 391: Core Laboratory II 3.0
  • DES 392: Professional Communication of Research 3.0
  • DES 394: Advanced Issues in Design 3.0
  • DES 398R: Master’s Report 3.0
  • DES 398S: Master’s Exhibition 3.0
  • Plus hours of electives selected university-wide with approval of graduate advisor; 6.0 must be from the same unit.

Course descriptions

  • DES 380: Core Course in Design: Introduction to design process, research, and methodologies.
  • DES 381: Core Laboratory I: Practice laboratory for a variety of design methodologies.
  • DES 382: Critique Studio: Context and structured dialogue regarding areas of, and the student’s own direction in, graduate research.
  • DES 383: Graduate Projects: Independent study.
  • DES 386: Design History.
  • DES 387: Graduate Internship in Design: Professional design internship in a field of the student’s interest.
  • DES 387H: Internship in Healthcare Design.
  • DES 391: Core Laboratory II: Designed to provide students with the opportunity to test and expand their design research through writing and various methods of dissemination.
  • DES 392: Professional Communication of Research: Seminar addressing strategies for communicating design research processes and results to a variety of audiences through vehicles such as exhibitions, scholarly reports, and video recordings.
  • DES 393: Issues in Design Theory and Research: Investigates current discourse within design studies.
  • DES 394: Advanced Issues in Design: Examination of design practice in all areas, and its relationship to research.
  • DES 395: Fieldwork in Design: Students conduct fieldwork as part of a collaborative research team and/or under the direction of a project supervisor.
  • DES 398R: Master’s Report: The culminating documentation of student’s design research.
  • DES 398S: Master’s Exhibition: The public presentation of design research.
  • DES 398T: Supervised Teaching in Design: Training and teaching under the close supervision of the course instructor for one semester; group meetings with the instructor, individual consultations, and reports throughout the teaching period.


For information about admissions please contact the graduate coordinator, Violet Cantu, at