Gerry Snyder
Director of the School of Art
116 Fine Arts Center
479-575-5202

School of Art Website

Degree Offered:
M.Des. in Design for Collaborative Futures (DCFM)

Program Description: The Master of Design (M.Des.) in Design for Collaborative Futures program at the University of Arkansas School of Art prepares curious students to design at the edge of what is possible and preferable for the future of communities, culture, and technology. Students consider systems-level change through interdisciplinary collaborations, discipline-defining inquiry, and transformative work and research opportunities. 

The program will create leaders and innovators at the intersection of human-centered design and emerging technologies, in both industry and academia. Through discipline-defining inquiry and collaboration, students will work to become an active force in addressing the big challenges and opportunities in companies, communities and climate, and will go on to act at the highest levels of leadership in higher education and professional practice. Elements in the program will deal with user experience, designing for complexity, identity and brand management, speculative technologies, product design, and human-centered design practices, among other topics, through an interdisciplinary lens.

The local presence of campus partners and multinational corporation headquarters in the region, along with a rich ecosystem of supporting design firms and agencies, perfectly situates our students for collaborative learning opportunities of diversity and curiosity, and the graduates for rewarding and high-level career opportunities.

Requirements for M.Des. in Design for Collaborative Futures

Master of Design (MDes) in Design for Collaborative Futures

The Master of Design (MDes) in Design for Collaborative Futures program at the University of Arkansas School of Art prepares curious students to design at the edge of what is possible and preferable for the future of communities, culture, and technology. Students consider systems-level change through interdisciplinary collaborations, discipline-defining inquiry, and transformative work + research opportunities. The program will create leaders and innovators at the intersection of human-centered design and emerging technologies, in both industry and academia. Through discipline-defining inquiry and collaboration, students will work to become an active force in addressing the big challenges and opportunities in companies, communities and climate, and will go on to act at the highest levels of leadership in higher education and professional practice. Elements in the program will deal with user experience, designing for complexity, identity and brand management, speculative technologies, product design, and human-centered design practices, among other topics, through an interdisciplinary lens. The local presence of campus partners and multinational corporation headquarters in the region, along with a rich ecosystem of supporting design firms and agencies, perfectly situates our students for collaborative learning opportunities of diversity and curiosity, and the graduates for rewarding and high-level career opportunities.

The graduate degree consists of 60 credit hours within a two year period. For those applicants who derive from interdisciplinary undergraduate degrees or require a foundational design education prior to entering the MDes' two-year sequence, a foundational year will be offered. This single year non-degree status program enables instruction in the foundational tenets necessary to succeed within the subsequent MDes program.

Admission requirements: Admission to the program requires an undergraduate degree in graphic design or a related discipline, or the equivalent in relevant work experience. The application for admission is a two-step process and may require fees associated with its completion. Candidates must be successful in both processes to be admitted to the University of Arkansas and Graduate School, as well as the School of Art and MDes graduate program. 

1. Apply to the Graduate School (https://application.uark.edu)

2. In addition to the graduate school application, submit the following materials to the School of Art using SlideRoom, web-based system, http://uarkart.slideroom.com:

a. A brief statement describing why you are interested in the Master of Design degree

b. A one to two-page autobiographical statement outlining your education, experiences, achievements, and goals for graduate study

c. A one page statement addressing your perspectives on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

d. Resumé/Curriculum Vitae

e. A professional portfolio comprising 12 projects captured as digital images and uploaded as directed with appropriate attributions. Consideration should be given to high levels of detail, consistency, and a curated body of work representing your professional and/or research interests.

The uploading of these assets must conform to outlined standards. Physical examples of work will not be accepted nor can a personal website substitute for this component of the application.

f. A PDF of unofficial transcripts from all previous colleges and universities attended.

g. Three Letters of Recommendation are required and your application is not considered complete until such are received. All individuals serving as a reference should be from representatives of higher education or professionals who are able to offer insight into the applicant's academic and research ability and potential at the graduate level.

h. English Proficiency Test Scores (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE), if necessary. (See Graduate School and International Studies admissions for more information, https://international-admissions.uark.edu/index.php.)

Application deadline is January 15 for Fall admission only. The application portal on Slideroom will close at midnight (Central time) on January 15. It is recommended that you submit your application at least two weeks prior to the deadline to allow your faculty recommenders time to upload their letters.

NOTE: The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required for applicants to the Master of Design program in the School of Art at the University of Arkansas.

NOTE: Students who are accepted into the Foundational Year are also conditionally accepted into the MDES degree tract concurrently [Foundation Year 1 + MDES Year 1 + MDES Year 2 = 3 Total Years]. However, at the end of the Foundational Year, students must undergo an extensive academic, research, and grade review. Students whose performance does not meet the assessment criteria could be asked to leave prior to commencing the MDES' first year. While years 1 and 2 of the MDes are funded through the endowment, the Foundational Year is not.

Program Requirements: The program requires 60 graduate credit hours from the following:

Graduate Studios (33 credit hours)33
GDES 6306 DESIGN AND COMMUNITIES
Course GDES 6306 DESIGN AND COMMUNITIES Not Found
GDES 6346 CULTURE OF DESIGN
Course GDES 6346 CULTURE OF DESIGN Not Found
GDES 6316 DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY
Course GDES 6316 DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY Not Found
GDES 6366 THESIS PREPARATION
Course GDES 6366 THESIS PREPARATION Not Found
GDES 6399 DESIGN THESIS
Course GDES 6399 DESIGN THESIS Not Found
Graduate Seminars (12 credit hours)12
GDES 5333 DESIGN RESEARCH METHODS
Course GDES 5333 DESIGN RESEARCH METHODS Not Found
GDES 5303 DESIGN PEDAGOGY AND LEADERSHIP
Course GDES 5303 DESIGN PEDAGOGY AND LEADERSHIP Not Found
GDES 5383 DESIGN WRITING AND DISSEMINATION
Course GDES 5383 DESIGN WRITING AND DISSEMINATION Not Found
GDES 5393 DESIGN THEORY: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
Course GDES 5393 DESIGN THEORY: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE Not Found
Graduate Special Topics (Must complete three times for 9 credit hours total)9
GDES 6353 GRADUATE SPECIAL TOPICS
Course GDES 6353 GRADUATE SPECIAL TOPICS Not Found
Approved electives (6 credit hours). Requires prior approval from the Graduate Program Director. 6
Total Hours60

Courses

GDES 5303. Design Pedagogy and Leadership. 3 Hours.

Explores the history and application of pedagogy related to careers in academia and professional practice. Focuses on methodologies for teaching, assessment, and curriculum writing. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 5313. Interactive Language. 3 Hours.

(Formerly ARTS 4313.) Advanced course utilizing interactive languages to create responsive experiences for the web, touch screens. Exploration of the intersection of linear and non-linear design experiences in the application of motion to web. Graduate degree credit will not be given for both GDES 4313 and GDES 5313. (Typically offered: Spring)

GDES 5323. Technology in Context. 3 Hours.

(Formerly ARTS 4323.) Advanced course focusing on speculative explorations in the world of interaction design. Much of the work will be touch and gesture based and dealing with the built environment. Application of knowledge about proper workflow and execution in an advanced way. Graduate degree credit will not be given for both GDES 4323 and GDES 5323. Prerequisite: GDES 4303 and GDES 4313 or GDES 5313 (formerly GDES 4313). (Typically offered: Fall)

GDES 5333. Design Research Methods. 3 Hours.

Examines research methods from other disciplines to apply those methods to contemporary design practice, focusing on the means of collecting information throughout the creative process, and incorporating the roles of visual research, including imaging, modeling, prototyping, and diagramming. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 5343. Identity Systems. 3 Hours.

(Formerly ARTS 4343.) Advanced identity design course emphasizing creating cohesive messaging systems that cover a wide range of media. Creation of identity systems that are based on research and appropriate to content, context and audience. Media may span environmental, motion, print, web and packaging. Graduate degree credit will not be given for both GDES 4343 and GDES 5343. Prerequisite: GDES 4303 and GDES 4313 or GDES 5313 (formerly GDES 4313). (Typically offered: Fall)

GDES 5353. Human Centered Design. 3 Hours.

(Formerly ARTS 4353.) Research-based studio introducing design methods that focus on an audience centric process. Exposure to communication theory, modes of persuasion, sustainability, how to design for niche audiences. Graduate degree credit will not be given for both GDES 4353 and GDES 5353. Prerequisite: GDES 4303 and GDES 4313. (Typically offered: Fall)

GDES 5363. Design Co-op. 3 Hours.

(Formerly ARTS 4363.) Collaboration with an organization, or design firm, providing opportunity to address problems existing outside of the classroom with the focus shifting between design for good initiatives. Collaboration, research, problem seeking and solving will be addressed. Graduate degree credit will not be given for both GDES 4363 and GDES 5363. Prerequisite: GDES 5323, GDES 5343, and GDES 5353. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 5373. Advanced Typography. 3 Hours.

(Formerly ARTS 4373.) Culminating typography course, exploration of typography at an advanced level through a variety of projects. Projects may range from type design to type in motion to complex publication design. Exhibition of the utmost professional ideation, process, execution and craft expected. Graduate degree credit will not be given for both GDES 4373 and GDES 5373. Prerequisite: GDES 5323, GDES 5343, and GDES 5353. (Typically offered: Spring)

GDES 5383. Design Writing and Dissemination. 3 Hours.

Explores diverse modes of writing in design, including reviews and the peer-review process, journal articles and abstracts, books, popular culture, grant and funding applications, thesis writing, and other mediums. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 5393. Design Theory: Past, Present, and the Future. 3 Hours.

Explores design theory that is both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary. Examines the application of theory and frameworks within the context of design, including the history of design theory as well as contemporary and future practices. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 5663. Visual Design: Motion Design. 3 Hours.

(Formerly ARTS 4663.) In this course, students will explore motion graphic design as it combines 2D and 3D animation, typography, video footage photography and sound. The projects will explore elements of storytelling, moving compositions and animation principles that focus on Web delivery, using mainly Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects. Graduate degree credit will not be given for both GDES 4663 and GDES 5663. Prerequisite: GDES 3363. (Typically offered: Spring)

GDES 569V. Special Problems In Interactive Design. 1-6 Hour.

(Formerly ARTS 469V.) Students work on special projects on an individual basis with instructor, exploring innovative interface design, in-depth projects potentially exploring solutions to and awareness of social issues, with various types of media, from DVD and digital video to Web and motion graphics. Cross-discipline collaboration is encouraged. (Typically offered: Irregular) May be repeated for up to 6 hours of degree credit.

GDES 594V. Graphic Design Internship. 1-6 Hour.

(Formerly ARTS 494V.) Credit for practical experience gained through internship in graphic design. Report required form intern and field supervisor on progress and significant accomplishments. 3 credit hours per semester. Graduate degree credit will not be given for both GDES 494V and GDES 594V. Prerequisite: Any 4000 level GDES visual design course except GDES 4343. (Typically offered: Fall, Spring and Summer) May be repeated for up to 6 hours of degree credit.

GDES 6306. Design and Communities. 6 Hours.

Community-based design research focusing primarily on people and users, covering topics related to "wicked problems" and complexity in design that require a system-level approach. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 6316. Design and Technology. 6 Hours.

Explores emerging technologies through the lens of what is plausible, possible, and preferable in the future of design. Examines topics related to data, policy, and the future of making while also considering interdisciplinary approaches and potential design outcomes. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 632V. Graduate Design. 1-6 Hour.

Individual problems in two and three dimensional design. Prerequisite: Graduate standing. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring) May be repeated for degree credit.

GDES 6333. Graduate Graphic Design Studio. 3 Hours.

Research-based studio which introduces students to design methods, focusing on an audience-centric process. This exploratory study will provide both artists and designers a broader perspective into creating work that strongly resonates with audiences. Through reading, writing, discussion, critique, and research, students will examine and question contemporary discourse. (Typically offered: Irregular) May be repeated for up to 18 hours of degree credit.

GDES 6346. Design and Culture. 6 Hours.

Examines the culture of the design discipline to further provoke the confines of the discipline, and understand the ways in which practitioners are accountable for design outcomes through interdisciplinary approaches. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 6353. Graduate Special Topics. 3 Hours.

Topics dealing with trends, movements, and new elements within the design field, such as entrepreneurship, diversity, sustainability, critical issues, and data. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring) May be repeated for up to 12 hours of degree credit.

GDES 6366. Thesis Preparation. 6 Hours.

Develops a written thesis project proposal that demonstrates a viable project with a clear research direction. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

GDES 6399. Design Thesis. 9 Hours.

Students will complete a thesis project that includes a designed system, written research paper, and public presentation. The thesis project should demonstrate the ability to tackle significant design and research challenges. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)