School of Art + Art History

Graphic Design/Design & Visual Communications

Graduate Program (MXD) / FAQ's

If you have questions that are not addressed here or on our website, please email design(at) 

Program costs & assistantships
What is the tuition and estimated costs?

Tuition and fees are estimated on the Graduate School website here: Keep in mind that some courses have additional fees. We suggest graduate students estimate fees to be approximately $850 per semester. 

Are Assistantships Available?

Yes – Assistantships and Fellowships are available to students who demonstrate potential for excellence. For the past decade, all admitted students have received these. Graduate Assistantship information and requirements can be found here. In general, students work approximately 20 hours per week and are required to enroll in 9 credit hours of coursework. UF offers graduate assistants tuition remission, healthcare, reduced child care, generous stipends, and benefits through the city. 

Students may be assigned to teach (after their first semester) or other appropriate duties. The potential to teach plays a role in our determination of assistantship funding as it is likely that students will teach during the course of their academic career at UF. Your résumé informs the assistantship application. 

For comparison, the 2018 Graduate Assistantships/Graduate School Funding Awards for MFA students included:
$16,000 annual at half-time (50FTE) appointment for the academic year—this is 20 hours per week over 9 months for 3 years 
FREE health insurance
FULL TUITION WAIVER – annual value of ~$8,000 Florida residents / ~$22,000 for non-Florida (3 years, 54 credits, in-state tuition for additional credits during fall and spring).
HOWEVER, all students pay university fees each semester, as well as course fees, which average $850 each semester or ($2,000 a year, with summer). Funded grads have a cost to attend. Fees are deferred until mid-semester, each semester.
Paid bi-weekly, as direct deposit through the fall/spring winter semester break. 

Are there language requirements for assistantships?

To fully participate in this program, students must demonstrate fluency in reading, writing, and speaking English. According to the Graduate catalog: “To be eligible for graduate teaching assistantships, students must score at least 55 on the SPEAK Test or 28 on the Speaking Section of the Internet TOEFL to teach in the classroom, laboratory, or other instructional setting. Those who score 45 to 50 on the SPEAK Test, or 23 to 27 on the Speaking Section of the Internet TOEFL, may teach if they concurrently enroll in EAP 5836 to help their personal interaction and public speaking skills. Those who have scores below these minimums are not eligible to teach.”

What are the computer requirements?

Technology requirements are available here. All students are required to have their own laptops for program work. We continue to strongly recommend Apple laptops. Although the PC and Mac are quite comparable in both software, hardware, power and price, our technical staff (as well as faculty and fellow students) will not be able to easily assist or support the PC environment.

If you are purchasing a new computer, make sure to get education pricing through the UF Bookstore or Apple. One advantage with Apple is they have a 14 day return policy so you can try without a commitment. You might want to check out options during the Florida Sales tax holiday period in August.

Sample Laptop Configuration with AppleCare / $2,868 without tax (2018 estimate)
15-inch Macbook Pro (13-inch with external monitor)
2.8GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
512GB SSD storage
Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB memory
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports / US English Keyboard
+ AppleCare
+ Consider a USB-C adapter for peripheral devices
+ We highly recommend a larger (at least 21-inch) additional monitor for home or studio use. This is most important if your laptop screen is 13" or smaller.

Because computer access is an institutional requirement, it has been determined that computer costs can be considered allowable costs for students who qualify for Financial Aid. Accordingly, Student Financial Affairs has added costs for access to a computer into the budgets for these students. For more information, contact your financial adviser in the Office of Student Financial Affairs directly.  

What are software requirements?

Program technology requirements are available here. We require you to use the full Adobe Creative Cloud software suite. You are required to purchase a subscription for use in your design courses. In addition, we use word processing software and other apps as needed.

See Software Licensing Services for discounted software, including Adobe Creative Cloud.

Scholarship Program for Citizens of Latin American and Caribbean Countries

Please consult us if you are a citizen of a Latin American or Caribbean country and seek to attend UF either self- or other-funded (i.e., you are not applying for an assistantship). You mights consider the two-year program option. For more information on this program, see the University of Florida International Center’s website.

Latin American–Caribbean Scholarship Program
Under Florida statute 1009.21, full-time students who are a citizen of a Latin American or Caribbean country (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and who receive scholarships from the federal or state government shall be classified as residents for tuition purposes. This provision of the law provides an opportunity to encourage the continued internationalization of UF and to attract more high-quality students from Latin America and the Caribbean.

To qualify, UF students must be awarded a non-duty scholarship of a minimum of $500 per semester paid from either state funds appropriated to universities in the General Appropriations Act, investment earnings as provided under section 1011.43, Florida Statutes, or from federally authorized scholarship funds. Universities may use equal matching funds from private businesses, private foundations, and public agencies. Students must be full-time and in good academic standing. Graduate or research assistantships are not considered scholarships for this purpose. Note that this program provides eligibility; it is not a guaranteed scholarship. Scholarship decisions are made by the colleges.

About the Program
What will I learn?

Students enrolled in this program are expected to learn the following through coursework, experiential learning, and other experiences:
Theory, methods & processes to design in context;
Ways to work individually, collaboratively & in partnership with people in the public & private sectors;
Develop sustainable approaches & solutions to real-world problems;
Inform your role within larger intercultural & transnational social, cultural & economic systems.

Through the program, students will enroll in courses that will expose them to a rich diversity of knowledge, approaches, and experiences. Learning will happen through a range of formats and activities, including lectures, project work, exercises, research, reading, writing, fieldwork, critique, discussion, guided experiential learning opportunities, professional practicums, speakers, and extracurricular opportunities. During this program, students will learn how to work with diverse constituents in context to seek and identify problems; explore opportunities and approaches; co-design; negotiate; communicate stories, ideas, and information; design artifacts, strategies, interactions, and experiences; and collaboratively develop sustainable approaches and solutions to problems or concerns that people in their own environments have.

Every student in the program will develop a body of work that includes design and visual communication artifacts, systems, and strategies, that reflect original contributions to the discipline; demonstrate the ability to frame and incorporate research methods and related research activities and findings into tangible outcomes; create a dossier that organizes and communicates research (including creative activity), findings, proposals, and work products at a professional level; demonstrate the ability to collaborate and work effectively in interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary teams to develop approaches and solutions to complex problems; and demonstrate the ability to design with people, in context.

What are expected outcomes for graduates of the program?

Development of the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes needed for success in the global society and marketplace by teaching advanced design concepts that promote interdisciplinary collaboration and intercultural solutions; Participation in transforming Florida (and other environments) through research, creativity, discovery, and innovation by engaging business and non-profit organizations to work collaboratively and in communities to address problems using design thinking and related methodologies; and Deliver knowledge to advance the health, welfare, cultural enrichment, and economy through community and business engagement and service by focusing on real-world problems and interests within communities and involving businesses where opportunities might exist.

Why should I consider the University of Florida?

The University of Florida, ranked 8th among public universities in the United States. It is also one of the largest and most comprehensive in the country. This unique academic environment offers students access to cutting-edge research in a myriad of disciplines that inform the landscape of the design practice.

How many students do you enroll in the program?

We typically accept 3–4 funded students per cohort, with a total of 10–12 graduate students in the program.

How do I choose between a 2-year and 3-year path?

This program is a residential program and offers a three-year and two-year enrollment option. The following considerations will aid you in selecting which path is right for you:

3-year option: Students who are funded with an Assistantships or Fellowships. The University of Florida provides tuition remission for 9 credit hours per semester. Students matriculating over a three-year period (fall and spring semesters only) receive tuition remission for 54 credits and are responsible for tuition for the remaining 6 credits. These credits, taken during the fall or spring, are payable at the in-state tuition rate. This plan factors in the time dedicated to the assistantship assignment combined with time required for coursework.

2-year option: Students who are self- or have another source of funding and desire an accelerated path. Students should be mindful of the time commitment that four to five courses per semester and any part-time work will require. See below the chart for more detailed information.

Students will indicate their interest in a 2-year or 3-year path, or both, at the time of application. The admissions committee, comprised of program faculty, will determine which path to offer in the admissions decision. Keep in mind this decision might be based on available resources, cohort, expected time to graduation, skill level, etc.

Can I enroll part-time or online?

Admission to the program requires full-time, residential enrollment. The program is collaborative and requires direct interactions with designers, people in communities, and subject matter experts. We offer no courses online.

What are the Student Learning Outcomes for the program?

Content Knowledge: Designs products, systems, processes and strategies for communication problems, demonstrating proficiency with concepts, form, tools, and technologies and an understanding of the context.

Critical Thinking: Exhibits the ability to describe and respond to, through products, systems, and strategies, the audiences and contexts which communication solutions must address, including recognition of the physical, cognitive, cultural, and social human factors that shape design decisions.

Communication: Creates a professional portfolio that documents content knowledge and critical thinking.

Do students work collaboratively?

Students work individually, collaboratively, and in teams. Much of our work the first two years is collaborative and we work to ensure everyone has multiple roles and that learning objectives are achieved throughout the program.

What are the employment or education opportunities for graduates?

We expect to be available to program graduates include the following: With this credential, program graduates will be eligible to teach at universities and colleges in the US and abroad and will be prepared to enter leadership positions at design consultancies, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and corporations, as well as form their own consultancies and studios, all in a range of industries. Related position titles include Professor, User Experience Designer, Designer, Senior Designer, Design Director, Design Lead, Principal, Creative Director, and Chief Creative Officer.

What is admission to candidacy?

Formal acknowledgement by the program’s graduate faculty or the student’s graduate committee that appropriate coursework has been sufficiently completed and the student demonstrates readiness to conduct the Project in Lieu of Thesis.  Admission to candidacy usually occurs during the student’s fourth full-time semester and must occur prior to undertaking the Project in Lieu of Thesis. Admission to candidacy is independent of a student’s performance in the classroom, although this is factored into the requirements: GPA of 3.0 or higher; Successful passing of semester performance review; Approved Project in Lieu of Thesis Proposal; Supervisory committee named (the supervisory committee is comprised of a chair from the program faculty and one member. Additional members, including special members, may be added with the approval of the chair).

Will I have the opportunity to teach?

To prepare for the possibility of teaching assignments, all funded students will first take Teaching Art in Higher Education and have experiences in the classroom. We assign students to teach based on the likelihood they will be successful. .

This does not mean that we expect all students to pursue academic careers. Teaching provides experiences and opportunities that are transferable to other aspects of careers in design—clear communication, facilitation, planning, assessment, guidance, articulating design ideas, and more.

If you choose an academic path, we will work to support your success. The program has an excellent track record of mentoring graduate students who go on to academic careers of their own. MFA alumni are teaching at University of Alabama at Birmingham, Auburn University, Bahçeşehir University, Ball State University, Montana State University, Ohio University, South Dakota State University, and the University of Florida.

Applying to the program
How can I learn more about the program?

We invite you to speak with a faculty member or visit campus to learn more about the program. Each year, we host open studios in November (search “Art Bash UF”) for the date. In 2018, Art Bash is held on November 9th. You may also make an appointment to visit. Email us to reach out to the MXD’s Director of Graduate Studies and arrange to visit.

Do I need to have an undergraduate degree in communication design?

Admission to the MFA in Design and Visual Communications requires a bachelor’s degree. This can be in any field provided you demonstrate a background and proficiency in communication design or visual communications through the application materials. These should indicate a high likelihood for successful study at the graduate level. We value visual communications and consider that as a baseline for admission.

What proficiencies should I have to apply to this program?

We want to increase the likelihood of your success in the program. Proficiencies required for entrance to the MXD program include demonstrated competency in the three areas listed below.

Except in the case of proficiency in western typography as described below, the program will not award credit toward the degree to achieve proficiencies. If expertise in western typographic systems is not evident, the student may be required to take an advanced typography course in the earliest practicable semester. If so, course credit will be applied as an elective in the degree program audit. This will be examined on a case by case basis and may be a condition of admission.

Proficiency in the use of common communication design hardware and software is expected upon application to the program.

What do you look for in an application?

We seek evidence of:
proficiency in communication design,
critical thinking skills,
interest in working with people to develop sustainable solutions,
potential and interest in the core aspects of this program.

We expect students to be flexible, resilient, risk-takers, engaged, and open to diverse ways of thinking and working.

What should I include in my portfolio/dossier?

Work (visual, written, etc.) that communicates your conceptual and design thinking and attention to context. We are also interested in learning more your abilities as a thinker and maker.

What materials must I submit for my application?

In addition to those required by the university, the MXD program requires the following materials be submitted:

  1. a personal portfolio of work that includes at least 10 samples of project work (visual examples) with descriptions and relevant data;

  2. a project report/case study (concise—any format; we are interested in your process, problem identification, approach, challenges, etc.). It also allows faculty to evaluate your writing.;

  3. a personal statement. This might include your aspirations, preparation for graduate study (background, interests), and why this program is of interest to you. However, please feel free to share what you think is important; and

  4. A personal resume/CV highlighting previous work and academic experiences as well as awards and achievements. This is also used to determine appropriate assistantship assignments).

Please note that an interview may be requested of short-listed applicants.

Do you have a format for the case study report?

We want to hear what you want to share and how you want to share it. This is why we have not created a form to follow. We will share we are interested in your writing/communication abilities, your design and critical thinking process. 

Do you have any guidance on how to submit collaborative work?

We recognize that much of our work is collaborative and is situated in a context. We suggest that you articulate what your role and contributions were in relation to the collaboration, team, audience, community, etc. Please be specific and concise.

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