Master in Visual Development

Academy of Art University

Program Description

Master in Visual Development

Academy of Art University

visual devel

The Visual Development MFA program provides advanced coursework in still life painting, figure drawing, character design, concept painting, layout design for animation, and other core skills of professional visual developers. The goal of each graduate student is the completion of a signature thesis book showcasing design work for a story-based project.

MFA Visual Development Unit Requirements

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

TOTAL 63 units

*Per director approval

MFA Visual Development 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

Graduate students will meet the following student performance criteria:

MFA Thesis Project

  • Present an original thesis concept worthy of the MFA degree
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of their thesis project
  • Produce a professional-standard project, with topical content for the industry, showcasing artistic ability

Artistic Ability

  • Demonstrate strong drawing and compositional skills
  • Create value studies that demonstrate an understanding of lighting, composition, and space

Research and Critical Thinking

  • Apply visual research to design solutions
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the production pipeline by presenting an effective timeline at the Midpoint Review (MPR only)


Collaborate effectively to produce creative projects

Visual Development

  • Apply color and design elements consistent with the overall look of the film.
  • Design elements to support the narrative
  • Demonstrate continuity in visual storytelling

Presentation Skills

  • Create visually compelling, professional-quality presentation materials
  • Pitch ideas clearly and professionally

Professional Readiness

  • Produce a professional-level digital and print portfolio suitable for seeking employment within the industry
  • Demonstrate accountability for planning complex projects, prioritizing tasks and meeting project milestones.

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 years
Full time
982 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.