Art & Design Masters Degree Program Overviews

Oct 13, 2019

Graduate students interested in studying art and design can enroll in a master's degree program that covers advanced artistic techniques. Continue on to learn about art and design master's programs, concentrations, careers and doctoral programs.

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Essential Information

Master's degree programs in art and design give students a chance to explore their interests in art through concentration in areas including fiber and surface design, media and digital imaging, animation or interior design. Some programs focus on studio work, allowing students to utilize traditional and digital techniques to create their own projects. Interior design programs often focus on research, giving students a chance to look at the history of design and analyze current trends and incorporate both into their work.

Prerequisites for these programs include a bachelor's degree in a related field, with the Master of Art and Design program additionally requiring a portfolio displaying the student's work.

Master of Art and Design

Students in a master of art and design program study traditional art forms as well as emerging technologies, providing them with a rounded art and design education. Students utilize design equipment and materials in state of the art studios. A fiber and surface design concentration focuses on hand and digital techniques for producing sculptures, textiles, prints and fabric design. An animation, media and digital imaging concentration combines digital imaging technologies for 3-D animation and graphics with traditional drawn animation techniques.

Most programs require students to produce a final project for graduation, while others may also require a written and oral examination to display their mastery of art and design.

Coursework in this degree program varies greatly depending on the institution and the area of concentration. Students typically take courses that provide a technical background in their area of art and design and advance towards more complex techniques. Additionally, they are given the freedom to experiment in the studio and work on individual projects. Common courses may include:

  • Introduction to painting
  • Problems in contemporary art and design
  • Techniques in digital hand weaving
  • Digital imaging and animation seminar
  • Color and lighting workshop
  • Advanced design studio

Master of Arts in Arts and Design with a Concentration in Interior Design

This research-intensive program explores the history of interior design and current innovations in the field. Students learn about the influence of interior design on people and society and the influence of design materials on the environment. The program includes both traditional classroom and design studio components.

In addition to exploring sustainable design, eco-design and building technologies, students study such architectural and interior design concepts as planning, drawing, light and color. Students perform research and study current design theories used in film, fashion and marketing materials. Students complete a thesis project and may participate in an internship.

Coursework in this degree program combines academic study and hands-on training in a design studio. Common courses cover interior design theory and practical applications in art and design:

  • Interior design methods
  • Architectural systems
  • Environmental design analysis
  • Advanced design research methods
  • Interior design studio

Popular Careers

Graduates of this degree program might pursue careers as independent artists or designers of costumes, accessories or interior objects, such as furniture or home products. Digital imaging students might design interactive games or computer graphics. Popular career options for graduates include:

  • Textile designer
  • Fashion designer
  • Motion graphics designer
  • Special effects artist
  • Illustrator

Continuing Education Information

Graduates can pursue doctoral studies in art and design. Earning a Ph.D. in Interior Design or Interior Design Education allows graduates to teach at higher education institutions, including community colleges and universities. Other possible art and design Ph.D. concentrations include decorative arts and design, culture and art history and design. Graduates who are interested in teaching at the college level may earn a Ph.D. in Art Education.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), interior designers held over 75,000 jobs in the United States in 2018, and this number was projected to grow by 4% from 2018-2028 ( The median annual salary for an interior designer in 2018 was $53,370.

An art and design master's program gives students the tools and studio space to experiment with traditional and modern creative techniques, with the specific skills varying according to the student's area of interest. Careers in this field are fairly readily available due to the broad-reaching nature of art and design, but students may want to go on to a Ph.D. program to maximize their opportunities.

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