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This archived information is dated to the 2011-12 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Master of Fine Arts in Design

University requirements for the M.F.A. are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.


Working jointly, the departments of Art & Art History and Mechanical Engineering offer graduate degrees in product and visual design. A large physical environment, the Design Yard, provides professional studio space and well-equipped shops. Flexible programs may include graduate courses in fields such as engineering design, biotechnology, marketing, microcomputers, or the studio and art history curriculum. The program centers on a master's project and may also include work in advanced art and design. The program is structured to balance independent concentration with the use of the University and community, and interaction with the students and faculty of the graduate Design program. Cross-disciplinary interaction is encouraged by a four-person graduate Design faculty.

  1. The applicant must have a B.A., B.F.A., or B.S. from an accredited school. It is expected that the applicant will have a strong background in studio art, either an undergraduate degree or at least three years of independent studio practice.
  2. Applications and portfolios for the design program must be received by January 10, 2012. Students accepted to the program are admitted for the beginning of the following Autumn Quarter. No applicants for mid-year entrance are considered.
  3. Portfolio Specifications:
    1. A portfolio or book containing 12-24 photographs, originals, or printouts of creative work, appropriately labeled and identified.
    2. A DVD showing works in action. Total run time should not exceed five minutes, and the disc should be playable in any standard DVD player. CD-ROMs are not accepted.

Fields of study for the M.F.A. degree are offered in Product or Visual Design.

These fields of study are not declared on Axess; they are not printed on the transcript or the diploma.

  1. Residency—The student must complete a minimum of two years (six quarters) of graduate work in residence at Stanford.
  2. Units—The student must complete 57 units of course work chosen in consultation with an adviser in the department. At least 18 of the 57 units must be in ARTSTUDI 360A,B,C, Master's Project: Design and ME 316A,B,C, Product Design: MS Project (12 units in the ARTSTUDI series and 6 units in the ME series). Typically, students working for the M.F.A. degree are encouraged to take full advantage of both sides of the Joint Program in Design, as well as courses that tap the broader resources of the university.
  3. Required Courses (6 courses, 19-22 units)
    1. ARTSTUDI 160. Design I: Fundamental Visual Language
    2. ARTSTUDI 260. Design II: The Bridge
    3. ME 203. Design and Manufacturing
    4. ME 312. Advanced Product Design: Formgiving
    5. ME 313. Human Values and Innovation in Design
    6. Any one course sponsored by the
  4. One course from the following (4 units)
    1. ARTSTUDI 269. Professional Design Exploration
    2. ARTSTUDI 268. Design Synthesis
    3. ARTSTUDI 269. Advanced Creative Studies
  5. Two courses from the following (6-8 units)
    1. ARTSTUDI 161. Catalyst for Design
    2. ARTSTUDI 166. Design in Motion
    3. ARTSTUDI 167. Introduction to Animation
    4. ARTSTUDI 180. Color
    5. ARTSTUDI 263. Paper
    6. ME 120. History and Philosophy of Design
    7. ME 216A. Advanced Product Design: Needfinding
  6. Thesis Requirements (6 courses, 18 units)
    1. ARTSTUDI 360A,B,C (9 units)
    2. ME 316A,B,C (9 units)
  7. Electives (2 courses, 6 units)—Any two courses at student's discretion.

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