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How to Succeed in the Media Design MFA Program

In today’s multimedia world, designers need more than artistic chops if they want to work with big brands and launch successful campaigns. A great designer has visual skills and an expertise in brand development, copywriting, and research – which is what makes Full Sail’s 12-month, online Media Design MFA stand out.

“Our students learn to combine research methodologies with brand development and copywriting to create multimedia campaigns,” says Don Larson, the Media Design MFA program director. “The emphasis is on visual and verbal communications that speak to specific audiences, along with teaching students how to explain the process and rationale behind their decisions.”

In other words, great design emerges from great strategy; multifaceted designers will know how to create a beautiful campaign and be able to explain to executives why it will work.

Post-graduation, many Media Design MFA grads have earned new jobs, promotion opportunities, and teaching positions in design-related fields. For example, grad Jon Vernon is an art director at AT&T; grads Kyla Glucky and Meredith Barber used their skills to open an advocacy marketing agency; and grad Julia Loyal earned a promotion at a Savannah, Georgia-based design firm shortly after finishing the program. “She was extremely driven to produce outstanding work while in the program, and her employer noticed that and promoted her,” Larson says. “She’ll most likely go on to become a creative director or executive director in the future.”

Here are some of the traits and skills you need to bring to the table – or in this case, the online classroom – to succeed in the Media Design MFA program:

Before entering the Media Design MFA program, a strong background in graphic design is a must, Larson emphasizes. “Ideal students also have experience with the software used in creating prototypes for print, web, and video,” he says. “This is important because most of the emphasis throughout the program is on research and concept development, and students will need to be able to quickly and accurately create visualizations of their concepts.”

Beyond design knowledge, it’s important to bring a practical side to this program, too: “Students need to understand that the work they do will be for clients and/or employers that have specific business goals they must address,” Larson says. Many students are already working in the design field when they enroll in the Media Design MFA program, and they use it as an opportunity to learn how to produce higher-level work and move up in their careers.

Be Ready For: Students can expect to spend 35-40 hours per week on coursework, which includes reading assignments, research papers, design projects, and discussion posts. You’ll be busy, which is why it’s crucial to already have design and software experience before enrolling.

Great Media Design MFA students have innovative approaches to design; they’re critical thinkers and self-starters; and they have a good handle on time management, which is one of the most important skills to master while at Full Sail. The university’s accelerated track means you’re getting a master’s degree in one year instead of the typical two. It’s a huge benefit – you get a head start in the industry and you can get your master’s while working full-time – but it definitely requires commitment and organization.

The ideal Media Design student is passionate and motivated. “[Our most successful students] listen to feedback and apply new research to take their work to higher levels,” Larson says. “They understand the industry and what it takes to achieve mastery, and they’ve set goals for themselves to be successful during and after the time they are in school.”

More questions? Check out the Media Design MFA degree page here or call an admissions representative at 800.226.7625.

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