student work diagrams posted on a wall

About xdMFA

photos of election propaganda pinned to a wallIn Fall 2016, xdMFA students dissected past elections to explore the role of design in politics.

When you order an Uber, track your run on a Fitbit, buy groceries at a megastore, or check a sick friend into a hospital, you are encountering experience design. Some designs limit and frustrate people while other design outcomes empower them. The rise of people-driven design research, pervasive and ubiquitous technology, and increasingly complex systems of interaction require a new kind of designer. The Experience Design MFA graduate program at Miami is where learners develop the transdisciplinary expertise necessary for the highest levels of research and practice of design for a diverse human experience.

The xdMFA is a distance learning program that allows students who are not physically located in Oxford, Ohio to pursue an MFA in Experience Design. Every course in the xdMFA program has been designed for distance learning, enabling learners who can not physically leave the working world or their families while in graduate school to level up or change their careers. The curricular design of the xdMFA reflects the emerging nature of Experience Design and the rapidly changing realities of contemporary design practice, while still facilitating a learning experience that’s "higher-touch" than a purely online program.

What Will You Learn During this Program?

Faculty in the xdMFA are active designers and researchers. As a result, we believe in clear outcomes and deliverables. These seven outcomes drive everything from curriculum development to Destination Weekend planning in the program. Learners who successfully complete the MFA will be able to

  • Conduct Research: develop and conduct in-depth research on human and system behavior for design innovation.
  • Embrace Complexity: analyze and visualize real and perceived factors at a systemic level.
  • Apply Theory: apply a wide range of theories and frameworks to experience-centered design processes.
  • Build Productive Partnerships: develop outcomes with stakeholders via engaging and empowering co-creative processes.
  • Implement Detailed Design: create design prototypes and plans with a high degree of formal and functional detail.
  • Promote Cultural Alignment: Create culturally relevant design outcomes informed by research.
  • Generate Effective Reporting: Report design analyses and recommendations effectively for a wide range of audiences.

Each course in the xdMFA has its own unique objectives that guide learning experiences. Learn more about xdMFA courses and curriculum.

MFA: a Terminal Degree Achievement

Graduates will earn a Master of Fine Arts degree, a terminal degree in the field of design which enables graduates to pursue Tenure Track and other long-term positions in higher education. Because the MFA is a terminal degree, its requirements are more robust than most Master of Arts degrees or their equivalents. Students must successfully complete 61 credit hours to earn the MFA in Experience Design, spread across three years of study of nine hours per semester (full-time graduate studies).

Many Modes of Learning: a Hybrid Approach

The xdMFA is a hybrid program, designed for "higher touch" learning. Over the course of the degree, students will travel to different locations across the United States, visit Oxford, Ohio for workshops, and participate in online courses where self-directed learning and virtual studios will take place. No everyone learns the same way, so by mixing modes, students can be distant, but not feel distanced.

buildings on the Miami University campus
Oxford

Oxford Weekend

At the start of their degree work, new students meet in Oxford, Ohio for a long weekend of workshops, events, and exploration to launch their experience design journey.

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Online

Online Learning

Participate in discussions, critique work asynchronously, share progress, engage in collaborative group work, and complete lessons—all when it fits into your weekly schedule.

students using a webcam to talk with others
Video Chat

Virtual Studios

Several times each semester, learners participate in courses via video hangouts—reconnecting with students and faculty for a long lunch of learning, critique, and camaraderie.

santa fe adobe buildings
Destination

Destination Weekends

Once every semester, students and faculty meet at a different destination for an immersive, long weekend of applied design research.

Flexibility Enhances Learning

The flexibility of this degree allows students to complete the degree from almost anywhere. Benefits of this curricular design mean that

  • Students away from Oxford can keep their existing careers or care for loved ones while remaining a full-time student.
  • Students in Oxford who wish to teach can teach as adjunct instructors in the BFA in Communication Design, the Communication Design Minor, or Interactive Media Studies to gain experience and mentoring before pursuing a career in design education.
  • Students in Oxford who want to research can actively work with faculty as collaborators on research projects.
  • Students in Oxford can take courses that are only offered on-site in Oxford, while still completing online/hybrid xdMFA coursework.
  • Students completing the xdMFA Thesis can conduct field research anywhere in the world while completing their final year of coursework.
  • Students who can live in San Francisco or Cincinnati for a semester can participate in the Interactive Media Studies Digital Innovation Center Program.

The flexibility of the xdMFA is not just functionally convenient; it enables learners a wide range of experiences that can enhance their degree and future careers.

A Degree for the Curious

Experience design engages thinking, knowledge, and skills in field research, coding, physical construction, visual design, marketing, and presentation. If you're a degreed expert and have a portfolio of work to prove it, you may have the makings of an experience designer. The Experience Design MFA is intended for people with formal design training as well as those from design-related fields such as social science or communications researchers who study effects of design, marketers, or software developers. This program benefits people from different expertise areas in various ways.

a designer drawing a logo

Designers

Those who come from a range of design practices will develop knowledge and skills in research methods that provide evidence for design innovations and skills for developing and testing digital and physical prototypes.

a woman writing notes in a book at an interview

Researchers

Researchers from the social sciences, humanities, and other disciplines will practice design thinking and doing—expanding their understanding of designing and conducting research into products and services.

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Technologists

Developers will grow their design skills to make their outcomes more polished, engaging, and endearing to the people who use them as well as the user experience research methods to find out why.

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Marketers

Business professionals will expand their knowledge of design thinking processes that can yield successful innovations in the marketplace and will learn how to lead human-centered design teams.

A Rigorous, Accredited Degree

The MFA in Experience Design is has been reviewed and approved by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) the Ohio Chancellor's Council on Graduate Studies (CCGS), and the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). NASAD accreditation was awarded in Fall 2017.