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Interactive Design and Media (M.S.)

Program Coordinator: Sherman Finch

Mission

The mission of the M.S. in Interactive Design and Media is to prepare students to be professionals who will change standards by which society communicates and interacts. When one looks at websites, mobile communications devices, graphic user interfaces, or integrated systems, one sees the importance of interaction in communicating a rich media experience. For businesses, success depends on a well-designed, engaging, dynamic and robust user experience. The M.S. in Interactive Design and Media program provides students the necessary skillsets and promotes the critical thinking that is vital to this evolving field.

The predominant feature of the M.S. in Interactive Design and Media program is the development of new and innovative ways of communicating and learning to work as a team. The program offers students a unique opportunity to study in an interdisciplinary atmosphere. While learning to be successful members of an interdisciplinary design team, students acquire skills to manipulate digital technology, communicate ideas, visualize design proposals and manage information.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the M.S. in Interactive Design and Media will be able to apply the following skills, knowledge and habits of critical thinking:

Best Practices in Visual Communication, Information Literacy 

  • Use principles of design, such as visual organization, information hierarchy, typography, narrative and aesthetics to solve problems.
  • Plan and design usable sites by collecting data through various methods.
  • Analyze and evaluate data, plan and execute intuitive interfaces, user experiences and rich interactive designs.

Practical Interactive Knowledge and Technological Skills

  • Use equipment, technology and resources that represent current trends in the field.
  • Analyze and design functional prototypes.
  • Apply user experience design principles.
  • Evaluate and respond to user needs and develop solutions to usability problems.
  • Apply fundamental concepts of Internet and digital marketing including social media and email marketing. 
  • Create and analyze system architecture such as Content Management Systems, web development, user interactions and database development.

Development, Production and Post-Production Knowledge

  • Use computer languages, compilers, interpreters and assembler products to produce code and output to meet specifications.
  • Illustrate an understanding of digital technologies in the creation, production and use of visual communication. 
  • Utilize and synthesize digital tools including software, photography, time-based and interactive media to create effective visual designs. 

The M.S. in Interactive Design and Media program emphasizes the following:

  • Skills in planning, organizing and executing an interactive visual design.
  •  Critical thinking skills and problem-solving for complex interactive design projects on both a formal and conceptual level.
  •  Competence in digital technologies, analytics, information design, strategy and methods of usability.
  •  The importance of collaborative and interdisciplinary work, which is fundamental to the success of graduates in the digital design field.
  •  A strong understanding of and appreciation for cultural diversity and the ability to serve society in a responsible and ethical way.
  •  The major accomplishments in the history of interactive design, including the works and intentions of leading visionaries, developers and designers in the past and present.

The M.S. in Interactive Design and Media program concludes with a final capstone research project. In this synthesis studio, students will develop a final working prototype of a product, service, entertainment or publication of their choice that synthesizes all of their knowledge and skill from the previous semesters. The final project demonstrates marketability and/or successful functionality within the larger community. This project prepares the student to enter the rapidly expanding field of interactive design by closely emulating the professional interactive design environment. It prepares the student to enter a profession that requires innovative designers with the ability to work within a collaborative interdisciplinary team.


Admissions Criteria

M.S. in Interactive Design and Media 2-Year Program

An undergraduate degree in design is highly recommended for this 2-year program.

Applicants must demonstrate a high degree of technical proficiency in interactive design as well as an ability to conceptualize and produce at a sophisticated level of communication. The background for this skill set could come from significant professional experience and/or previous study. An online interactive design portfolio is necessary, along with two letters of recommendation, transcripts, a resume, and a letter of intent specifying the student’s goals for the period of study.


M.S. in Interactive Design and Media 3-Year Program

Applicants must demonstrate an understanding of and aptitude for design or the visual arts, either through professional experience and/or previous study. A portfolio demonstrating the candidate’s creativity is required. This portfolio can be in the form of a CD and does not have to be online. Also required are two letters of recommendation, transcripts a resume along with a letter of intent specifying the student’s goals for the period of study. The initial courses in this track provide an appropriate foundation for students who have a background in the visual disciplines but need additional design or interactive experience before they start two years of immersive graduate coursework. In some cases students from other disciplines who demonstrate a particular aptitude for design may be accepted into the program.

Curriculum Sequence

Because of the interdisciplinary emphasis of the Interactive Design and Media program, it is anticipated that prospective students will come from various backgrounds and levels of expertise. Both programs are designed to accommodate these different backgrounds by offering two distinct curricular sequences.

The 2-year program is open to students who already possess an undergraduate degree or professional experience in design. They must demonstrate a high level of technical and conceptual competency in a core group of technological abilities including skills in web design, video production and rich media.

The 3-year program is open to students who possess an undergraduate degree in a field other than design, or have professional experience. They must demonstrate mid-level technical and conceptual competency in a core group of technological abilities. This type of student will benefit from an additional year of interactive foundations, where they will acquire the necessary technical and design skills and critical thinking abilities needed to perform in the 2-year program. 

2-Year Program

(36 graduate credits)

Year I

Fall Semester

IDD-621  Digital Experience Design  6
IDD-623 Theory of Electronic Communication II (Graduate seminar) 3

Spring Semester

IDD-631 Digital Innovation Design 6
IDD-632 Database Management and Scripting 3

Year II

Fall Semester

IDD-635 Interactive Narrative/Drama 3
IDD-941 Interactive Design Synthesis Project Preparation 3
  Free Elective 3

Spring Semester

IDD-942 Interactive Design Synthesis Project 6
  Free Elective 3

TOTAL CREDIT HOURS: 36 Credits


3-Year Program

(18 foundation credits and 36 graduate credits)

This program is open to students with a bachelor’s degree. Typically this degree will be in a visually based discipline, although in some cases students from other disciplines who demonstrate a particular aptitude for design could also be accepted in the program. Students in the 3-year program will be required to take 18 credits of foundation courses in their first year. After a summer break, they will begin master’s-level coursework.

Year I

Fall Semester

Foundation Courses

IDF-502 Electronic Imaging 3
IDF-511 Interactive Design III (Undergraduate-level studio) 6

Spring Semester

Foundation Courses

IDF-512 Interactive Design IV (Undergraduate-level studio) 6
  Free Elective 3

FOUNDATION CREDIT HOURS: 18 Credits

Year II

Fall Semester

IDD-621 Digital Experience Design 6
IDD-623 Theory of Electronic Communication II (Graduate seminar) 3

Spring Semester

IDD-631 Digital Innovation Design 6
IDD-632 Database Management and Scripting 3

Year III

Fall Semester

IDD-635 Interactive Narrative/Drama 3
IDD-941 Interactive Design Synthesis Project Preparation  3
Free Elective 3

Spring Semester

IDD-942 Interactive Design Synthesis Project 6
Free Elective 3

GRADUATE CREDIT HOURS: 36 credits

TOTAL CREDIT HOURS: 54 credits