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Art Center College of Design | Pasadena, California | Learn to Create. Influence Change.

Graduate Media Design

“We prepare designers for a world in which virtually anything from sensor networks to interactive surfaces to entire cities may be the next medium or platform of communication. We offer an educational experience for individuals who relish a complex challenge.”

Anne Burdick, Chair

Degree: Master of Fine Arts

Art Center’s graduate program in Media Design Practices offers a two- or three-year Master of Fine Arts curriculum that helps ambitious designers from a variety of backgrounds become design leaders and researchers in emerging fields. We are dedicated to defining new practices in design. Our graduates are prepared for a lifetime of invention.

Our vision is to educate designers not for the world as it is, but as it is becoming, to think hard about what it means to use our agency as designers to make the world as we may want it to be.

To take this on, we offer two tracks: Lab and Field. Each track, in its own way, orients the designer toward the challenges of the future and the changing role of design.

In the Lab track, students work in a studio context, using design to pose questions through applied and speculative projects that engage with emerging communication technologies and cultural practices. We move beyond the problem-solving paradigm to position the designer as a researcher with a distinct point-of-view who uses design to understand and engage with the world. We are expressly preparing media designers to take high performing roles in domains that are future-oriented and whose effects are far-reaching: information and communication technology, foresight units, industry R&D, scientific research labs, communication media, knowledge production, infrastructure and policy-making, and entrepreneurial or independent practices.

In the Field track, run in collaboration with Designmatters, students work in a real-world context where social issues, media infrastructure, and communication technology intersect. With the Field track, we take on the ethics, politics, and practices of design in the realm of social change (including the rhetoric of “good”). Our students experience the power dynamics of high-, low-, and no-tech communications in a social context firsthand. We are preparing designers to take an active role in the creation of new models for international development and civic engagement through work in communities, institutions, governments, and entrepreneurial endeavors. Our graduates build viable lifelong design practices that engage directly with the human condition.

In 2009, our department moved into a 14,000-square-foot former supersonic wind tunnel at Art Centers South Campus. A dramatic setting conducive to inspiration and experimentation, this dedicated space houses our students workstations, a digital lab and the Wind Tunnel gallery.

Find out more about our department at artcenter.edu/MDP.

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