Environmental Graphic Design Programs

Jan 24, 2019

Environmental graphic design degree programs are typically offered at the master's level and provide students with skills in graphic design, art, interior design and architecture. These degree programs typically include hands-on projects and studio time and allow students to explore a range of design areas. Here we compare a master's degree specifically in environmental graphic design with a closely related master's program in environmental design.

Master of Arts vs. Master of Science in Environmental Graphic Design

Master of Arts in Environmental Graphic Design

Master of Arts (MA) degree programs are available in environmental graphic design and in graphic design with a specialization in environmental graphic design that train students in 3-D visual communication and how to analyze the effects of graphics in various environments. These degree programs may require around 31 to 34 credit hours and typically require a thesis or final, culminating environmental graphic design project. Students in these programs are exposed to different methods and techniques used in various design areas, like landscape architecture, interior design and industrial design, and trained in skills in various media, such as metal, wood and digital media. Curriculum for these programs may include studio courses, lecture courses and seminars and may cover topics such as design methods, issues in graphic design, exhibition design, typography and user engagement. Graduates of these programs may work as environmental graphic designers in a range of design areas.

Master of Science in Environmental Design

Master of Science (MS) in Environmental Design are rarer than MA degree programs, but there is at least one available for interested students who may wish to become environmental designers. This degree program places less emphasis on graphics, but still explores sensory-based and environmental design. Students in this program may choose from a spatial experience track or furniture and fixtures track and can usually complete the program in 2 to 3 years. Students in either track must complete 66 units for the 2-year program and 96 units for the 3-year track which both include a research project and thesis. Students in the spatial experience track may take courses in subjects like spatial graphics and spatial scenography, while those in the furniture and fixtures track take coursework in furniture and lighting, but both tracks require core courses in materials, theory and culture and fabrication innovation.

Common Entrance Requirements

Master's degree programs in the field of environmental graphic design require students to hold a bachelor's degree, and may require the degree to be in fields like graphic design, architecture, interior architecture or industrial design. Some of these programs may have a minimum GPA requirement around a 3.0, but typically students do not need to take the GRE to apply. It is fairly common for these programs to request transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose/intent and/or a resume with the application. Applicants should also expect to include a digital/project portfolio that includes a wide range of their artistic work, usually around 3 to 25 pieces, depending on the program.

Students interested in environmental graphic design may wish to consider an MA program in the field or a closely-related MS in Environmental Design. Both degree programs require a final project (thesis or culminating art project) and prepare students for careers in design.

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