USC Roski School of Art and Design launches MFA in Design program

Two-year curriculum focusing on design and social practices will be housed in downtown Los Angeles’ vibrant At Mateo complex

February 23, 2018 Kirsten Schmidt

The USC Roski School of Art and Design has announced the launch of a two-year MFA in Design program that will enroll its first class this fall.

The program will focus on experimental design, social practices and teaching methods. Students will have myriad opportunities for cross-disciplinary study through electives offered in schools across USC.

The two-year studio program will be housed in the At Mateo complex in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District, USC Roski Dean Erica Muhl said.

Opening this summer, the 15,000 square-foot campus will offer an open concept design studio, makerspace, classrooms, and conference and collaboration spaces, all outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment and technologies to attract a new breed of designers.

The space will include a Designer in Residence studio, providing a deep-dive for students and select audiences into the creative processes of leading designers from around the world.

USC continues to integrate with the extraordinary city we’re part of.

Michael Quick

“USC continues to integrate with the extraordinary city we’re part of,” said Provost Michael Quick. “Roski’s new facility places our design community right in the heart of Los Angeles’ dynamic arts scene for a learning experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

“Not only will we benefit greatly from being located in the vibrant Arts District, but we will have future scholars working in profound ways with the city around them,” Quick said.

“Our program, centrally located in one of the world’s most diverse, dynamic and influential cities — and an undisputed capital of the arts and culture — will not only graduate practicing designers, but also scholars, thinkers, teachers and bold visionaries who will apply design strategy to the world’s most intractable problems,” Muhl said.

Applications for the program are now being accepted.

Maximizing the studio experience

Led by Vice Dean of Design Haven Lin-Kirk, the USC Roski MFA in Design seeks a diverse group of students who have a comprehensive undergraduate education or professional experience in the field.

The program’s aim is to maximize each student’s individual studio experience with an instructional model focused on critical dialogue. Students will work with USC Roski’s faculty, as well as an expanded community of leading professional designers, artists, historians, critics, curators and culture makers who participate in the Visiting Designer and Designer in Residence forums.

Students could also take courses that trace intellectual histories and theories of global art and design practices from USC’s renowned Critical Studies faculty.

In addition to regular studio visits and discussions with faculty and visiting professionals, the curriculum includes:

Designers in Residence Forum: This offers MFA students an opportunity to engage with visiting designers, artists, scholars, curators, historians and critics.

Design Studio Co-Lab: This provides students with a critical examination of contextual issues, theories, movements and ideas that are relevant to contemporary design practice, including advanced instruction, analytical tools and design techniques related to the collaborative process.

Contemporary Issues in Design and Design Theory seminars: These include a survey of visual communication and human-centered design, an overview of the practice of design and the history of the design fields, an introduction to key language and concepts, and discussions on creative methods used over time and in a contemporary design practice.

Design Pedagogy: This is geared toward designers who seek careers in higher education and offers an overview of the design process and process thinking as it relates to teaching; technology based instruction; and visual problem-solving as part of a teaching practice.

Field Internship Experience: This is an experiential opportunity that matches the interests of an individual design student with a design firm or independent designer who sponsors the student for a minimum of 150 hours of practical training and/or field experience.

Global Art and Design: This capitalizes on USC’s broader initiatives that promote thinking globally across disciplines. USC Roski graduate programs offer a two-seminar series investigating the histories, theories and practices of global art and design.

In addition to classroom and studio instruction, the program offers annual study and research opportunities via travel within the United States, Asia or Europe. These programs provide a changing perspective on the discipline and serve as an important alternative to learning in Los Angeles.