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New graduate program in communication design

In late October, KU announced that it will offer a Master’s of Fine Arts in Communication Design.
According to University Relations, this is a unique program, because KU is the first Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) school to offer it.
This graduate program is the terminal degree in Fine Arts, making it equivalent to a PhD according to Todd McFeely, the chair of the Department of Communication Design.
The program consists of 64 credits and can be completed in 5 semesters.
According to McFeely, students applying should have work experience. Therefore, they cannot come right from the undergraduate program. The program recommends that applicants have three years of work experience. McFeely said this is due to the necessary experience that is gained from an entry-level job that would benefit the graduate work.
“We don’t anticipate any undergraduate students moving right into the graduate program,” said McFeely.
McFeely said the program would be different from the undergraduate program by being more “self-directed.”
The graduate program in Communication Design will require academic electives. According to University Relations, students can take electives such as Product Design, Jewelry Design, Wood Design, Sculpture, Printmaking, Painting, Drawing and Photography, and in other areas like English and computer science to complement the program.
“Hopefully, the different departments will work together and do interdisciplinary electives,” said McFeely.
Another important aspect is the three thesis classes: the first is for researching, the second is for transforming the research into a creative project and the third is for exhibiting and presenting a project.
According to McFeely, graduate students will be able to take classes involving professional exploration, emerging media and contemporary topics. The classes will incorporate the latest technology in the communication design field. They will also have the opportunity to submit abstracts to conferences.
McFeely said there are several ways that students can use the program. First, if they work in areas of communication design that they do not like, they can go into another by receiving retraining. Also, recipients of a MFA degree often start their own small businesses. Lastly, by graduating from this program, they are qualified to teach in two or four year colleges and universities.
Besides benefiting students, the program will expand the College of Visual and Performing Arts. According to University Relations, the College of Visual and Performing Arts has 1,008 students currently.
“It will help enhance the creative atmosphere on campus,” said McFeely.
There will also be a need for more staff in the Communication Design Department. McFeely said that senior staff will teach the graduate classes, while some new junior faculty members will be hired to teach undergraduate classes.
McFeely is anticipating a small program with about eight students per class.
The program will begin in the Fall 2014 semester.

By Emily Leayman

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