Visual Communication and Design
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The Department of Art offers courses leading to the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree with a major in visual communication and design.  The Department of Art is accredited with the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and a member of the College Art Association (CAA).

The 60-credit hour program has been designed to be completed in two years and will focus on offering candidates the opportunity for individual exploration as artists and designers able to address complex problems of communication in contemporary society-locally and globally. This program offers courses where multi-leveled projects are completed using both new media and traditional processes. Students will be carefully guided from early graduate studio experiences through their final exhibition project. Theoretical studies in design and art are part of the program along with graduate level art and design history courses. In addition, the program will also offer courses in pedagogy and andragogy for candidates who would like to teach.



Required Application Materials

Applicants for the MFA degree with a major in visual communication and design must submit all of the following documentation to the College of Graduate Studies, Jacksonville State University, 700 Pelham Road North, Jacksonville, Alabama 36265-1602, to be considered for admission.

Applications will be accepted on an on-going basis with the review process starting in mid-January. Applicants will only be accepted for enrollment for each fall semester. Preference will be given to applicants for full-time study. Contact the Department of Art for more information at 256-782-5626 or the College of Graduate Studies at 256-782-5329.


  1. Completed JSU Graduate Application for Admission
  2. Non-refundable $30.00 application processing fee
  3. Official transcripts(s) from all postsecondary institutions attended. (Students who have previously attended JSU do not need to request a transcript from the University.)
  4. Three "Graduate Reference Forms" completed by individuals who can provide qualitative assessment of the applicant’s potential for success in graduate course work. Two of these must be from educators and/or professionals in the field of visual communication and design.
  5. Statement of Purpose – A statement of purpose should outline the applicant’s current or previous work as relevant to plans and objectives for advanced graduate study; describe professional goals; and state the areas of research and investigation the applicant would like to pursue and study in a visual communication and design program.
  6. Applicants must submit a portfolio of 20 examples of current work demonstrating proficiency in the area of visual communication and design. Print work should be in a single PDF or JPEGs submitted on a CD or DVD. Images should not exceed 1600 pixels in any direction, 150-300 dpi, and the file size cannot exceed 2 MB. Orient all images top up, for correct viewing. Please label CD with your name and label each image as follows: last name, first name, title, date, media and number that corresponds with that image on an image index; digital work should be submitted in Flash, QuickTime, or HTML format as appropriate. A separate image index should accompany the samples, listing title, date, media, and relevant information or project descriptions. Applicants must demonstrate competence and understanding of design related digital technology, including proficiency in industry standard page layout, illustration, and image manipulation software. Prerequisites and/or technical experience specific to this field of study may be required prior to admission. The Department of Art is not responsible for the submission of original work Submissions will not be returned.
  7. If applicant is an international student, please see the International Student Applicants section of the current Graduate Bulletin.


Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting general admission requirements of the College of Graduate Studies, applicants for the MFA with a major in visual communication and design must have an undergraduate major in art, graphic design, or its equivalent, as determined by the head of the Art Department.  Applicants to the MFA must meet the following admission requirements:

Grade Point Average – At least 3.0 for the final 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of undergraduate study.

Deficiencies – Admission to the MFA program is based on the extent and quality of undergraduate preparation, including courses in studio art, art history, and other academic subjects. Quality of studio preparation is judged on the basis of careful evaluation of work done at the undergraduate level. Prior to the admission of the successful applicant, the graduate faculty will determine the individual’s deficiencies in art studio, art history, and general education, and inform the student of the findings. The prospective student will be given a clear indication of the prerequisites required, emphasizing that no course work taken to compensate for deficiencies in undergraduate preparation can be counted as contributing to the minimum number of credit required for the MFA degree.



Conditional Admission

Any applicant failing to meet the requirements for unconditional admission may be conditionally admitted with the recommendation of the graduate faculty in the applicant’s major and approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. 


Applicants who are granted conditional admission must achieve a GPA of at least 3.0 on the first 12 graduate hours attempted within a twelve-month time frame. Failure to meet these conditions will result in the student being dropped from graduate studies. 



Minimum Requirements



Minimum semester hours required: 60

Coursework required: At least 39 credit hours of studio, 36 credit hours must be in the major studio area, 12 credit hours in graduate seminar, 3 credit hours of approved academic elective studies, and 9 credit hours of art and design history.

Studio Project required: No other options are available

Studio Project: All MFA candidates must present for review at a public exhibition or other approved public venue.

Other requirements: Continuation in the MFA program beyond the first 30 semester hours requires an evaluation and recommendation of the Graduate Advisory Committee.





Visual Communication and Design Courses

Prefix ART


602.    Visiting Designer/Artist Project (3,3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of twelve hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. Design studio with visiting designer/artist.
606.    Design Education Pedagogy/Andragogy (3). History, practice and theory of graphic design education.
619.    Design Studio (3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of six hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. Graduate design studio work. Author/designer focused project with interpretation of complex materials at multiple levels.
623.    History of Graphic Design I (3). Study of major works, themes, movements and theories relating to visual communication and design before the Industrial Revolution.
624.    History of Graphic Design II (3). Study of major works, themes, movements and theories relating to visual communication and design from the Industrial Revolution to the present.
625.    Design Research, Readings and Seminar (3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of six hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. Presentation, analysis, and discussion of readings in visual communication and design theory and criticism.
626.    Contemporary Visual Studies (3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of six hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. Study of major works, themes, movements and theories in contemporary art and design.
636.    Design Research, Readings and Seminar (3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of six hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. Presentation, analysis, and discussion of readings in visual communication and design theory and criticism.
638.    Special Topics in Graphic Design (3,3,3). Prerequisite: ART 329 and/or permission of instructor. An in-depth independent investigation of topics and techniques in the field of graphic design such as: Exhibition design, time-based media, advanced motion studies, experience design, etc. Course may be repeated up to nine credit hours.
640.    Contemporary Media/Communication Studio (3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of six hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. Design studio in new media.
641.    Traditional/Communication Studio (3,3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of nine hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. Design studio in traditional media.
642.    Design Studio (3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of six hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. MFA project development studio.
643.    Design Studio Exhibition Research (3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of six hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. Final MFA exhibition project.
650.    Art Theory (3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of six hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. An investigation of the theoretical background associated with artistic production.
677.    Seminar in Art History (3,3). Prerequisites: 6 hours of 300+ AH courses and/or permission of instructor. A course for students to investigate special topics in Art history in a seminar format which focuses on independent research and presentation. Topics may include such things as: Post-Impressionism, Far Eastern Art, The History of Photography, American Printmaking, etc. Course may be repeated for up to 6 credit hours.
679.    Graduate Independent Study in Art History (3,3). Prerequisite: May be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of six hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. Intensive graduate independent study for students within art history, coordinated and approved by a faculty advisor. Selected topics to be coordinated with instructor.
690.    Graduate Independent Study. (3,3,3,3). Prerequisite: Each course may be repeated for credit, up to a maximum of twelve hours, with permission of the instructor and department head. Intensive graduate independent study for students in studio practice, coordinated and approved by a faculty advisor.