Master in Illustration

Academy of Art University

Program Description

Master in Illustration

Academy of Art University

The School of Illustration's MFA program provides advanced study in the illustrative arts with an emphasis on personal style using the most appropriate tools. Art skills and the development of oral, written, and visual presentation skills play a daily role throughout the program. Students graduate with a vibrant portfolio and are well equipped to perform at a high level as they embark on professional careers as illustrators.

MFA Illustration Unit Requirements

  • Major 27 units
  • Directed Study 18 units
  • Graduate Liberal Arts 12 units
  • Electives* 6 units

TOTAL 63 units

*Per director approval

MFA Illustration Degree Requirements

  • Successful completion of Final Thesis Project
  • Minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA
  • Minimum grade of C in all required 63 units

MFA Program Learning Outcomes

The MFA Illustration Graduate School curriculum emphasizes visual communication and a mastery of technical and conceptual abilities and involves intensive education in the formulation of ideas, problem solving and artistic skill. Students are asked to stretch their talents and refine the skills that will enhance their art, broadening the opportunities for their work. Development of the individual's style and viewpoint is a focus of graduate studies in Illustration.

Graduate students receive classical art instruction and an exposure to new media. The graduate student will develop a portfolio that demonstrates a personal style and a high level of professional skills. A refined illustrative style and voice will culminate in the graduate student's individual focus for their Final Project in areas such as editorial, advertising, graphic novel and children's books. The Final Project is exhibited to the public upon approval of the Final Review committee.

MFA graduates of the School of Illustration will meet the following student performance criteria:

MFA Thesis Project

  • Plan a portfolio of works directed towards legitimate markets
  • Produce a professional-level portfolio consisting of 15 works directed towards legitimate markets

Artistic Ability

  • Demonstrate the skills necessary in the chosen medium or mediums to successfully complete their thesis project
  • Create compelling images
  • Maintain a consistent “language” or “signature style”

Research and Conceptualization Skills

  • Clearly identify their audience
  • Conduct research for reference

Presentation Skills

Professionally present and discuss their work with a review committee.

Professional Readiness

  • Develop both digital and print materials to market themselves and their work
  • Demonstrate an understanding of current trends and visual industry standards by describing how their work will address a specific market

Visit to learn more about total costs, median student loan debt, potential occupations and other information. Accredited Member WSCUC, NASAD, CIDA (BFA-IAD, MFA-IAD), NAAB (B.ARCH*, M.ARCH), CTC (California Teacher Credential). Acting degree program is currently not offering online courses. **B.ARCH is currently in candidacy status.

All international students will require a VISA to enter the US and an OPT application to extend their stay after graduation. Selecting a STEM approved program allows for the benefit of being able to apply for an extended 24-month Optional Practical Training (OPT) stay to work in the country after graduation.

The following Academy majors qualify for the 24-month STEM Extension: Advanced Architectural Design; Advertising; Advertising & Branded Media Technology; Animation & Visual Effects; Architecture; Architectural Design; Art Education; Communications & Media Technologies; Game Development; Game Programming; Graphic Design; Graphic Design & Digital Media; Industrial Design; Interior Architecture & Design; New Media & Web Design. For more information on approved STEM programs, how to apply, and more common questions about studying as an international student at the Academy of Art University, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page here.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated February 21, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus or Online
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
2 - 3 years
Full time
935 USD
USA - San Francisco, California
Start date: Sept. 2017
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2017
USA - San Francisco, California
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
per unit - 3 units per class.