Graphic and Web Design | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Graphic and Web Design: Degree Information

MCAD emphasizes a collaborative process and working with students from all professions. For this Master of Arts degree, you will take courses in several different areas adding up to 30 total credits required for graduation. 

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain design principles and theories within a historical and contemporary context.
  • Apply design concepts through typography, images, and form using industry standard tools and methods.
  • Document process and communicate design strategies from ideation and research to final product.
  • Manage client-facing projects while considering business goals, timelines, and audience.
  • Create a professional design portfolio representing individual vision and a range of creative solutions.

There are many ways to move through this 30-credit master's program–study full- or part-time and start in the fall or spring. Courses are sixteen weeks long, and full-time students take two courses simultaneously during fall and spring semesters. Mid-program and final reviews provide students with valuable guidance through direct feedback from industry specialists. The culminating project addresses a design challenge of your choosing.

Below are example pathways.

A curriculum grid for the MA in graphic design

Core Required Courses

GWD 6610 Web Development
3 credits

Students learn how to create visually appealing, well-organized web pages using HTML and CSS, the fundamental languages for creating content and style on the web. The class begins with HTML and is introduced to tags, links, lists, tables, forms, web standards (old, new, and evolving), and the foundation of web page construction. Then, using CSS, students apply stylesheets to HTML, using fonts, colors, divs, spans, layout, and positioning to create a well-crafted web page.

GWD 6405 Design in Context
3 credits

Because the outlines of the profession continually change, the graphic designer must know how to integrate an understanding of visual literacy with broad-based cultural knowledge. This seminar examines the theoretical basis of graphic design, defining basic concepts and vocabulary used within the profession, such as information architecture, pattern-recognition, grids, proportion, rhythm, sequence, and gestalt. In addition, the course explores the contemporary history of graphic design from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary inspiration, varied cultural influences, technological innovation, and expanded applications. Great emphasis is placed on thorough research as an integral part of the ideation process. Throughout the course, weekly exercises and small projects that build on one another provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of the discipline of graphic design.

GWD 6420 Typography
3 credits

This course covers research, ideation, and application related to large-scale projects in branding, publications, signage, mapping, and identity systems and includes work experience with outside professionals to explore real-world needs. Students investigate conceptual possibilities utilizing research, knowledge of historical and contemporary perspectives, experimental strategies using hand tools and digital software, and personalized design methodologies. Students are challenged to develop original solutions and promote their own visual sensibilities. Projects are designed to advance the understanding of how typography can be used to articulate meaning as it relates to a variety of topics including typographic and language systems, identity, conceptual narratives, and sequential implementation.

GWD 6460 User Experience Design
3 credits

This course explores the UX Design process and leverages it to bridge the gap between functionality and aesthetics, creating a better experience for users. Guided by user-centered design processes, students design visual and experiential systems for web and mobile apps that are shaped by such things as: stakeholder interviews, requirement gathering, usability testing, competitor benchmarking, and analytics. In the process, visuals such as task maps, customer experience maps, user journeys, personas, wireframing, quick sketches, and prototypes will be developed to communicate and generate ideas.

GWD 6620 Programming for the Web
3 credits

This course introduces the fundamentals of programming using the language of the web, JavaScript. Students explore program and data structures, types and objects, functions, bugs and error handling, the Document Object Model, events, asynchronous programming, Canvas, HTTP, and regular expressions.

Prerequisites: Web Development

GWD 7410 Web Design
3 credits

In this course, students will apply both traditional and web-specific concepts, best practices, and strategies as they learn advanced concepts and skills in web design. Topics covered include: advanced techniques for page layouts; building responsive web pages; and universal design concepts. From concept to delivery, students will work to develop a fully developed website, through each step of the design process including ideation, wireframing, using advanced design tools and techniques, and preparing and presenting a design for client review. Students will complete a final web design project and continue building and refining their web portfolio.

Prerequisites: Typography, Web Development

GWD 7415 Motion Design
3 credits

Students incorporate movement with time-based application of established graphic form to enhance communication delivery. Through broadcast, video, and web technology-based practices, students advance their capstone project proposal as part of a multi-faceted design approach. Animation and motion graphics are utilized as practical solutions to ongoing design challenges.

GWD 7630 Experimental Interaction
3 credits

Functioning as a platform for discourse and coded-based experimentation, this course is structured to provide students with a means of approaching digital projects holistically. Students will respond to the contemporary conditions inherent to digitally balancing both research and production. While working through projects students are expected to work within their means technically and develop an approach that balances the pragmatic and the abstract.  Topics and projects will examine digitality implications and best practices.

Prerequisites: Programming for the Web, Design Studio

GWD 7810 Design Studio
3 credits

Design Studio focuses on the development of research-oriented projects with logical design solutions for broad audiences ranging from personal initiatives to public forums. The culmination of students’ knowledge and skillsets is further refined throughout the long-form research, studio projects, and portfolio with a focus on the final project that is completed parallel with the Capstone course. Networking strategies are utilized to connect with industry representatives and a professional practice strategy is implemented.

Prerequisites: Web Development, Typography

GWD 7800 Capstone
3 credits

In consultation with faculty and the coordinator, students complete a final project as a culmination of research and
studio work that has been assembled and produced throughout their progression in the program. The project is
documented and presented as part of a final web portfolio displaying and articulating the arrival at a solution to an
in-depth design problem. Features of the project and process are utilized to discuss best practices for career
networking, client communication, and connecting with an audience.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of mid-program review, Design Studio
Total Credit Hours