International Master of Design


Program Description

The Visual Communication Institute HGK FHNW, in Basel offers internationally accredited curricula on the Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. level reflecting the rich tradition of the Basel School of Design in particular and Swiss Graphic Design in general.

The City of Basel, located in the tri-national Rhine river valley, is a unique cultural environment with easy access to France and Germany.

While our Bachelor course focuses on the students’ ability to conduct a creative process, our Master programs strive to extend the students’ individual design vocabulary and to reach a higher level of reflection through the students’ ability to include knowledge and methodologies of scientific disciplines into the creative process. We offer a Master of Arts in Visual Communication and Iconic Research and an International Master of Design, which we conduct in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Both Master programs are based on the following assessment: In the context of the digital flood of images, expanded qualifications are required. A design practice based purely on craftsmanship or technical skills no longer meets the demands of visual communication, nor does a reflection on visual messages entirely derived from theory. Connecting design practice with iconic- and media theory, generates new qualifications in the conception and design of visual messages for the context of a current, digitalized, iconic communication.

International Master of Design UIC/HGK Basel

The MDes UIC/HGK addresses students who want to be part of an international program influenced by the tradition of Swiss Graphic Design and the current academic perspective and standards of the Visual Communication Institute, The Basel School of Design HGK FHNW. Of special interest for students is the opportunity to graduate with an internationally accredited Master of Design (MDes) from UIC and the Swiss equivalent, MAS in Graphic Design I– Iconicism and Graphic Design II– Mediality from the HGK. Students are matriculated and registered at UIC with classes being held at the FHNW/HGK Visual Communication Institute in Basel.

Graphic Design, Visual Communication, and Media Design give visual form to messages that become a part of our everyday lives. Although these disciplines contribute to the much-discussed "image flood" in today’s societies, we find implicit knowledge about the meaning of images, the process of creating them and their media references of extreme importance. It is on this central theme that the MDes is focused. Therefore, the goal of the program is the deepening of process-oriented design skills through project-oriented design work with enhanced analytical competence in image theory and the media sciences.

Key Issues

The international partnership between UIC and the HGK Basel generates a variety of opportunities for the participants of the program, such as international internships, studying in a foreign cultural environment, and an international group of students and professors.

The unique methodology of The Basel School of Design, its tradition and its focus make the MDes program an extraordinary opportunity to achieve a high level of practical and theoretical design competence.

The MDes program is involved in the current discussions of the internationally oriented design practice and its issues of design research. In combination with the strong practical background of The Basel School of Design, graduate students are given the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of discourse concerning image theory and design-oriented research. This can be found through our close collaboration with the Swiss Design Network (SDN) and eikones, The National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) "Iconic Criticism – The Power and Meaning of Images"

Duration of Study/Costs

4 semesters/120 ECTS/60 US Credit Points. The master’s thesis is integrated into the fourth semester.

Language of instruction: English

Tuition MDes: Tuition is CHF 25,000, for US Citizens CHF 20’000.00 / per year and may be paid on a year, semester or quarter basis

USD $12’500.– per semester Accredited by the British Skill Funding Agency (PCDL listed institution).

Application Dead Line

The Master’s Program in Visual Communication and Iconic Research and the International Master in Design begin in September.

You can still apply for the waitinglist 2018.

Last updated Jan 2020

About the School

The Basel School of Design and its students have influenced the international Graphic Design community since the 1960’s. Under the direction of Armin Hofmann and Emil Ruder courses for Graphic Design ... Read More

The Basel School of Design and its students have influenced the international Graphic Design community since the 1960’s. Under the direction of Armin Hofmann and Emil Ruder courses for Graphic Design and Typography were developed. They were outstanding models for a modernist design education. Read less