Heidi Bartlett Exhibition

Graduate Programs in Media, Social Practice, and Design

You are here

The Media, Social Practice, and Design area is home to Animation, Photography, Graphic Design, and Intermedia. Studying in MSPD provides students the opportunity to develop the visual vocabulary, social responsibility, and cross-media literacies required by the rapidly changing contemporary world. Studio laboratories are updated annually with cutting edge digital imaging equipment and high-definition video production facilities to provide students in MSPD up-to-date learning environments. Our programs stress interdisciplinarity, community engagement, and the union between theory and practice. Our rich visiting artist series introduces students to national and international leaders in the field, while a varied, diverse, and professionally active faculty ensures that the area is contemporary in its approach and pluralistic in its scope.


Student wearing animation clothing to record movement on a computerThe Animation curriculum enables students to work across the disciplines Graphic Design, Photography and Intermedia as represented in the Media, Social Practice and Design Area. Wide varieties of skills are explored to animate images into motion graphics, produce digital video to create imaginative stories and adding voice and sound through the post-production process. Combining art and technology, students will use powerful computer hardware and industry level animation software to perform tasks in the entire animation pipeline from preproduction to post production. Concept art, storyboarding, character design, computer modeling, texturing, rigging, lighting, animation, rendering, compositing and sound design are all areas students will have the opportunity to conceptualize. The media theater showcases animation on a 40 foot screen and has advanced technology in place to support the concepts and practices of the future, such as motion capture cameras, stereoscopic imaging, face recognition software and advanced render farming. The Animation discipline understands its cross disciplinary nature and uses in visualization, education, commercials, TV, movies and video games in the context of history, culture and society.

Faculty: Peter Chanthanakone

Graphic Design

Students working on a Graphic Design project in the classroomThe graduate Graphic Design program focuses on development of individualized, advanced design thinking and design education processes. The M.A. artist statement and M.F.A. Thesis in Graphic Design allow innovative exploration of topics relevant to the delicate balance of theory and practice.

In Graduate Workshop students explore a range of contemporary topics including social engagement and advocacy, sustainability, communication methods and models, user experience, and emerging modes of visual literacy. This course, along with a shared Graduate Graphic Design studio space, invites free exchange of ideas among peers.

Through teaching and research assistantships, Graduate students in this program are provided valuable experiences in the processes specific to contemporary graphic design education. As a result of these unique teaching and assistantship opportunities, past graduates of the Graphic Design M.F.A. program now hold teaching positions at national and international colleges and universities.

Grad Archive, Graphic Design

Faculty: Bradley Dicharry, Ab Gratama, Jeremy Swanston


A student exhibition in IntermediaOur MA/MFA program stresses the conceptual, aesthetic, and technical development of our students' individual practices, contextualized by current discourse in contemporary art and cultural production. The core graduate course, Intermedia Workshop, attracts students from across the School and university, generating a lively, rigorous, and supportive interdisciplinary dialogue. Intermedia students are encouraged to participate fully in campus intellectual life and often pursue coursework in other arts and humanities disciplines to support their creative development.

All Intermedia graduate students receive computer-equipped studio spaces and have unlimited access to facilities outfitted with the latest technology for video and sound production, Internet-based work, and creative research. A limited number of graduate assistantships and competitive fellowships provide most students with full tuition waivers and an opportunity to teach during part of their graduate study. Other resources include a vital program of visiting artists and critics, regular exhibition opportunities on and off-campus, and close collaborative relationships with nonprofit art spaces and community-based organizations in Iowa City and beyond.

Intermedia graduates have gone on to professional success in the art, higher education, nonprofit, and business worlds. In addition to maintaining active creative and research practices, recent alumni have found teaching positions at some of the country's best academic institutions, including Carnegie Mellon, Alfred University, the University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University, the College of Creative Studies at Wayne State University, Texas State University, and the University of Maine.

Grad Archive, Intermedia

Faculty: Rachel Williams, Jon Winet


Students viewing student workThe photography department supports the exploration of visual literacy through the encouragement of traditional and cross disciplinary practices. 

Importance is placed on student’s personal growth in concept and technique. Graduate photography workshops are designed to provide a contemporary framework for current trends in the medium through readings, offsite visits to artists’ studios, galleries and museums, and through group discussion of works. Students have the opportunity to present their work to visiting artists and curators brought in annually to the photography program.

Students can augment their studies by using School of Art & Art History and university resources, which include traditional media, projection mapping technologies, robotics, cultural studies, the Writer's Workshop, and the Center for the Book.

The majority of graduate students in photography are awarded teaching assistantships upon their acceptance into the program. Additionally, students have 24-hour access to wide format Epson printers, Imacon and drum scanning technologies, state of the art lighting studio, darkroom, and studio space. The department has an impressive inventory of cameras available for long term checkout including: Canon 5D mark II and III’s, Mamiya 645 digital backs, and large and medium format film cameras. 

Grad Archive, Photography

Faculty: Rachel Cox

Visiting Speakers in Media, Social Practice, and Design