2023-2024 Course Catalog

Master of Arts in Graphic Design (MA/MFA)

As of August 1, 2023, the Master of Arts in Graphic Design program (both MA and MFA) is not accepting applications while the program is on hiatus. All currently enrolled students will progress through the program to completion.

The Master of Arts in Graphic Design (MGD) program is to prepare students to face the changing role of today's graphic designers and embrace new creative opportunities as they arise. At the core of this program is the ability to develop critical connections between the designer, the designed, and the end-user. The MGD bridges creativity with environmental graphics and story-telling through branded identities.

In addition to the 30-credit MGD program, Chatham also offers an MFA (36 credit hours) in Graphic Design. Admittance to the MFA program requires departmental approval and a six-credit thesis project.

Admission Requirements

Recommended Application Deadline for Fall entry July 1st

*Note: applications will continue to be accepted and considered for admission if seats remain in the class.

  • Have a completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, with an overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale. If a Student has below a 3.0 GPA, please feel free to apply if you show extreme promise through other achievements. Additional Admissions documents may be requested.
  • Completed application for admission, including:
    • Online application
    • Admissions Essay (current prompt found in application portal)
    • Curriculum vitae or resume
    • Two letters of recommendation
    • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
    • Portfolio or other examples of your work in various forms of media; please provide a wide array of two-dimensional works: drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, graphics, etc. Can be submitted as an uploaded document and/or a website shared.

Admissions Materials can be uploaded in the application or submitted to:

Chatham University
Office of Graduate Admission-Berry Hall
Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Integrated Degree Program

Chatham University undergraduates applying through the Integrated Degree Program (IDP) must complete all requirements outlined on their respective admission or track tab on the IDP Portal Site. All IDP applicants should work closely with their academic advisor to ensure they are meeting all requirements according to their IDP course of study.

International Applicants

International Applicants must submit additional documentation to the Office of Admissions. A list of these documents can be found on the International Admission web page.

Learning Outcomes

1. Media Literacy, Analysis and Context
a.     Students must have a historical understanding of the media they are using and the ideas they are pursuing in their creative work.
b.     Students must be aware of major theories influencing the photography, graphic design, film, video and new media field.
c.      Students must develop original and well-informed responses to theoretical and critical analysis.
d.      Students must look for interdisciplinary relationships between media arts and other fields of research

2. Creative Processes
a.     Students must develop and transform original concepts into well-conceptualized projects - demonstrating a competency in project design development.
b.     Students must choose appropriate media for the development of their project and/or idea.
c.     Students must communicate their processes through various stages of development.

3. Technical Fundamentals
a.     Students must have knowledge of the technology they are utilizing for their projects (saving/storing files, various software packages and techniques, hardware, scanning, photo and digital video equipment).
b.     Students must create original projects that draw on their knowledge of the technological form in order to thoroughly investigate relationships between concept development and media used.
c.     Students must properly troubleshoot and solve technical-related problems. 

4. Professional Practice
a.     Students must develop projects with an understanding of a diversified audience.
b.     Students must properly document their projects, choosing appropriate forms of media.
c.      Students must have an understanding of relevant journals, festivals, firms, etc. for later distribution or field contribution.
d.     Students must develop field-appropriate professional portfolios and be able to communicate their projects clearly.
e.     Students must develop attitudes of professional responsibility and accountability.
f.      Students must develop professional discipline (time-management, organizational skills).


+MA Degree Requirements

30 Credits

VCD510 Visual Communication Design: Branding

This course offers a systematic approach to concept development and the problem-solving process applied to brand construction. Students build visual identities for a variety of organizations through generative design processes for communication goals. Particular attention is given to logo and type mark development, photography/illustration, use of the grid system, color story, typography and messaging.

VCD520 Visual Communication Design: Typography

This course examines the concrete and conceptual aspects of typography as a communications tool. Typographic history, anatomy of form, type specimens, and grid structures, serve as foundations for the intersections between form and meaning. Typographic projects will range from typographic compositional studies, expressive typography, to information-focused typographic design systems.

FDT550 Media Project I: Digital Video Production

Media Project I introduces the production process for digital video and other media work, from concept to production to completed piece. This course provides an understanding of the tools for each step of production and students focus on the technical elements of shooting and editing video.

FDT571 e-Merging Media I

Maps ways the web can be utilized for the production of alternative narratives. Enables students to analyze and create works online using web-cams, streaming media, and interactive web-based projects. Additional fees: Course Computing fee

VCD530 Print Design

This course introduces students to the roles that graphic design plays in society as shapers of style and ritual within contexts of community and commerce. The class will work collaboratively in the development of concepts, process design, layout, scheduling, production and the construction, expense, and production of the print publication artifact.

VCD620 Digital Illustration Methods

Digital illustration tools and methods are explored within the context of publication and branding. The contemporary illustrator becomes a conceptual interpreter of content through the potential mixing of primary graphic assets and secondary collected and manipulated graphic assets from digital archives and resources. Methods of information gathering are developed from photography, library, and archival research. This course includes a foundation to Wacom drawing tablet capabilities. Processes and techniques from printmaking, painting, 2-D design, photography and drawing are mediated through digital software and hardware.

VCD540 History of Communication Design

To be determined

FDT671 Emerging Media II: Advanced Web Design

Focuses on the technical through advanced study. Students will produce DVD, CD-ROM, and other interactive projects. Additional Fees: Course Computing Fee

VCD670 Package Design

Packaging design systems combines graphics, fundamentals of marketing and an understanding of form and structure. Packages are evaluated based on creative strategies developed from marketing positions. Individual brand identities are developed which include: naming, type, visual graphics, color schemes, and applied to various forms of packaging and extended lines. Packaging projects range from mass marketed food/beverage, electronic, and household sectors to luxury goods. Additional Fee(s): Course Computing LAB Fee

VCD650 Portfolio

This course provides students with essential marketing principles and advanced desktop publishing skills to complete individual design portfolios. Analysis of professional portfolios and research of target firm's requirements are completed to establish a deliverable format. Using advanced tools in Adobe InDesign and other design applications, students learn how to implement their portfolios as both print and interactive formats. Topics such as selective content, innovative graphics, consistent layout, stylized copy, and creative packaging are covered. The portfolios created in this course are used to market individual talents to any sector of the design profession. Additional Fee(s): Course LAB Fee



In addition to the 30-credit MA in Graphic Design, Chatham also offers an MFA (36 credit hours) in Graphic Design. Admittance to the MFA program requires departmental approval and a six-credit thesis project.


Chatham University
Office of Graduate Admission-Berry Hall
Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232