The state has approved a new SUNY Oswego master’s program in graphic design and digital media, equipping graduate students with skills that could propel them into higher-level jobs in a variety of visually intensive fields.
The college continues to offer a Master of Arts in Fine Art, with the option to study in other areas of studio art, such as painting, sculpture, and printmaking. According to Cynthia Clabough, chair of the art department, the new degree makes it “more transparent” for candidates wishing to learn specific skills in the growing areas of graphic design impacted by digital media.
“The new graduate degree has an interdisciplinary appeal,” Clabough said. “We’ve had interest in a Graphic Design degree in Digital Media from students in Theatre, Film and Screen Studies, and Communications.”
Brad Korbesmeyer, dean of graduate studies, said he believes the new program will encourage cross-departmental projects as candidates work on portfolios in disciplines including human-computer interaction, film studies and screen and broadcasting.
“We’re just really excited about graphic design and digital media because we think with this program students can specialize more,” he said. “We now have master’s programs that encompass the full range of artistic interests.”
SUNY Oswego also offers a Master of Arts in Art Education to prepare K-12 teachers in traditional and digital art.
Clabough said the new curriculum will offer two emphases – specialist and generalist. Those choosing the honors track will likely have an undergraduate background in graphic design, allowing them to focus on a specific medium, such as web, interactive, or digital print, or on a specific type of production – promotional, informative, illustrative. or multimedia. This could open up career opportunities in areas such as visual identity, branding, packaging, and interactive media.
Generalists may be students who want broader exposure to the many facets of graphic design or who have not had as much exposure to the discipline before. “This track opens up the degree program to people who want to enrich their undergraduate experience,” Clabough said.
Both tracks will include courses in the history, theory and practice of graphic design. All applicants will be required to complete thesis and portfolio requirements, culminating in exposure.
Recent Master of Arts thesis exhibitions bode well for the types of projects Tyler Art Gallery attendees can expect to see from new degree candidates, Clabough said. She listed students who studied typography as a form of communication, the interplay of type and paint, and the intersection between fine art and commercial art as examples.
“Students will define the box they run in,” she said. “They’ll call the hits on the theme.”