Broad Horizons: Full Sail’s Media Design MFA Program Supports Designers Looking to Expand Their Expertise
Published on Apr 5, 2020 by Abby Stassen
These days, brands rely on creative content strategies to connect with consumers. To keep up with an ever-changing market, successful designers are widening their scope to encompass all facets of media design – including aspects of print, web, audio, and video.
Full Sail's Media Design MFA program offers working professionals the chance to branch out and push their craft to the next level. The program combines foundations in research and development with practical project application, providing graduates with a comprehensive portfolio they can then present to potential clients.
"We've designed the program in a way that builds skills through the progression of courses," says Program Director Don Larson.
Students begin with basic mastery courses focused on building leadership skills and identifying client needs. From there, they move on to learning about how clients’ brands are developed and communicated to stakeholders and consumers.
Other classes that are unique to Full Sail’s approach are the Effective Copywriting and Design Research courses, which teach students to become better communicators.
"Traditionally, designers do not write copy," says Larson. "But they will spend their professional lives working with copywriters. A well-rounded designer should be able to do more, whether that means writing a design brief, competently reworking copy for layout purposes, or having a working knowledge of the fundamentals of copywriting to better support their team members. Design research informs the process of creating visual communications that effectively communicate brand attributes to consumers."
Halfway through the program, students submit their partially completed portfolios to a faculty committee for review. Based on the feedback they receive, the students can either move forward with a more advanced project or enter a cycle of revision where they refine their previous projects as they continue to develop their technical skills.
"Most of our students are coming into the program with some design experience," says Larson. "But at varying levels of mastery. The portfolio review allows students with less experience to get up to speed, while challenging the more advanced students to rise to higher levels."
Personalized attention is a hallmark of the program. Smaller class sizes (about 15 people on average) mean more one-on-one time with instructors. And since students are encouraged to develop the knowledge and skills that are most relevant to them as individuals, the options for professional applications are endless – from creating a stellar interview showpiece to building an array of smaller, unique portfolio pieces.
Rounding out the program are courses in multimedia platforms and design effectiveness, where students can explore design concepts for different content mediums and measure performance values for each platform. The program culminates with a thesis presentation.
"The point of the program is to open new doors to designers who want to take their creative work to the next level," says Larson. "The type of people who do well in this program are the ones who want to dig deeper and try something new. We give them the tools, and then we give them the time to hone their skills."
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