The art school will offer a master’s program in design starting in fall 2022

School of Art, Anna Jacobs Design

The University of Arkansas and the School of Art at the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences will offer a new Masters in Design starting fall 2022.

The Master of Design program focuses on communication and participatory design that will show students how to help strengthen their community, the state of Arkansas, and beyond through design.

“Everyone at the School of Art is proud to offer another extraordinary master’s program,” said Gerry Snyder, Executive Director of the School of Art. “This program will prepare students to advance their professional practice as culturally-aware designers and bring community-centered mindsets to leadership positions in any industry or sector.”

The program will accept students with diverse educational and professional experience, offering three-year and two-year study plan options.

The three-year Master of Design plan is for candidates who do not have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a similar field. This cohort of students will receive a foundation year of study preparing them to enter the standard two-year study plan.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, all graduate students accepted into the program will receive funding during their study years.

“The Master of Design program hopes to welcome a diverse group of designers and art school students,” said Marty Maxwell Lane, principal of the art school and associate professor of graphic design. “We believe designers have a unique opportunity to inspire meaningful change through design. The extraordinary faculty are dedicated to providing education, resources, and design accountability to translate the concept of building a better world in action.”

Through applied and speculative studio work, the Master of Design program prepares students for the emerging roles the field can play in engaging communities in participatory design processes that generate equitable and sustainable solutions to design problems.

The program also addresses a research-driven professional context increasingly defined by the ecologies of information, products and services in which digital technologies are the primary means of delivery and sites of experiences for citizens and consumers.

“Whether students are interested in design leadership positions in industry, teaching in academia, or doing community-focused design work, they will learn skills and strategies that will prepare them to shape the future of the design discipline,” said Alison Place, Graphic Design Program. director and assistant professor.

Students will also have the opportunity to host and participate in activities with the Design Clinic, a community space dedicated to raising awareness through design that supports the advancement of social justice causes and reaches out to the nonprofit community. lucrative and entrepreneurial business in northwest Arkansas and the surrounding area. The Design Clinic will be housed in the new Windgate Studio and Design Center, which is expected to open in spring 2023.

Bree McMahon, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, will lead the program as Director of Graduate Studies.

“This program will provide students with exciting opportunities and learning styles unique to the region,” McMahon said. “We very much look forward to continuing to enrich the design community in Arkansas alongside incredible colleagues, collaborators, and supporters. Students in the program will have experiences that will prepare them for many design roles, especially those concerned with their communities. We look forward to seeing how their work will shine through Northwest Arkansas and beyond.”

McMahon is a passionate educator, designer, and student mentor.

Along with various collaborators, McMahon develops and facilitates workshops for design students that examine complex topics through dialogical project prompts that encourage critical perspective and learning. More recently, her research explores how design can respond to the complexities of the maternal health system in Arkansas.

“Bree’s experience with students and her own research – exploring methods to disrupt traditional approaches to design pedagogy – bring important insights to the new Masters in Design program,” said Christopher Schulte, deputy director of the ‘Art school and teacher with art education. “The interests and ethics that shape Bree’s practice as a designer will serve as a powerful resource for students, their work, and the learning they experience in this new program.”

Applications for the new program are now being accepted for the 2022-23 academic year.

Those interested in applying are encouraged to register and attend an information session on January 18, 2022 with the Faculty of Graphic Design. All applications must be submitted by March 15, 2022. For more information on the U of A Graduate School and Master of Design application process, please visit

Abdul J. Gaspar