Posted inDesign Education

Editor’s Note: In this series, Steven Brower, former creative director of Print, educator and program director, explores graphic design MFA programs across the country. Click here to view other programs profiled. Keep reading for more information about PRATT’s MFA Communications Design program.

PRATT’s MFA Communications Design program takes place in the heart of New York City; both in the downtown Chelsea neighborhood, and in Pratt’s Brooklyn campus, which is proximate to neighborhoods with burgeoning artistic, cultural and social communities.

The MFA is a two-year, full-time residency program organized around three core studios—Visual Language, Technology and Transformation Design. Radiating from these interdependent studio “hubs” are Graduate Seminar, Cross-Disciplinary,

Design Writing, Teaching Practicum, Special Projects, Design History and elective courses. All together, the MFA curriculum provides an intensive, collaborative program which covers design practice, research and scholarship, teaching methodologies and academic studies in media, history, critical theory and related humanities and social sciences. Students embark on thesis research in the second semester, and seek to integrate their design and academic research toward the realization of a cohesive body of work.

The program combines studio practice, lectures and seminars, individual faculty meetings, guest critiques and independent study into a holistic sequence that encourages problem-seeking, critical analysis, collaboration and experimentation.

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Classes are available in the Summer interregnum for elective and special projects courses, as well as foreign study through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen and residency at AKV/St. Joost in Breda, Netherlands.

The Pratt Communications Design MFA degree program is relatively new—it was launched in 2010—however, its history is rooted in the highly-regarded Graduate Communications & Packaging Design MS program which was founded in 1974. The formation of the MFA was led by former Chair Jeff Bellantoni, who together with faculty sought to create a terminal degree program that nurtures high level design practitioners as well as researchers and educators.

They attract students from all around the United States and the world—with over 28 nations represented, the MFA program typically sees an even domestic and foreign student ratio. Some are graduates of design programs, while others come with degrees in fine arts, architecture, business management or the humanities. They include recent graduates as well as those with extensive professional work experience in design or other related fields. Graduates of the MFA program enter the field across a wide range of industries and specialties; from global branding firms and agencies, tech consultancies, business services, specialized design studios, publishers and imprints to NGOs and cultural organizations. Each year approximately 30% pursue academic positions with consistent placements.

MFA students have dedicated studios within a large, open-plan space with an array of production facilities, lecture rooms, labs and exhibit spaces. Library facilities and additional labs and workshops are available at our 14th Street and Brooklyn campuses.

They offer a studio setting that encourages research, experimentation and engagement across numerous design modalities. Also cross-disciplinary coursework that attracts prospective students who want to engage in the study and process of cultural transformation, exploration of technological affordances, narrative and critical thinking within complex social contexts.

The faculty consists of full-time, adjunct and visiting professors who serve as close mentors and important professional contacts for the students. These include in-coming Department Chair Santiago Piedrafita, Alex Liebergesell, Pirco Wolframm, Gaia Scagnetti, Ryan Waller, Jean Brennan, David Frisco, Andrew Shea, New Drew and others. Visiting artists have included Lev Manovich, John Thackara, Bruce Mau, Janet Zweig, John Gall and Koi Vinh.

Notable alumni include Deborah Alden, Arem Duplessis, Marianne Klimchuck, Diego Kolsky, Kitai Park, Pablo Medina, Santiago Piedrafita, Marc Rosen, Stefan Sagmeister, Steven Skaggs, Chantal Fischzang Schwartz and Chris Wu.

TUITION: The per-credit tuition cost is $1,530 for a total of 60 credits. Merit scholarships provide assistance to both domestic and foreign students.

Chantal Fischzang  Pratt MFA Graduate Communications Design Class of 2012.

Chantal Fischzang Pratt MFA Graduate Communications Design Class of 2012.


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Lillian Ling, class of 2015.

Lillian Ling, class of 2015.

Robert Wilson, class of 2015

Robert Wilson, class of 2015

Want your work to be celebrated by an international audience? Learn more about the International Design Awards.