Visual Communication Design

Be a leader in design-driven innovation

Herron's M.F.A. program in visual communication design prepares future design leaders to foster interdisciplinary collaboration with organizations, communities, and society in order to strategize meaningful change.

Founded in 2007, our two-year intensive degree program focuses on the use of design thinking to lead the development of innovative products, services, environments, and business models. Visual communication design is approached as a sensemaking practice linking experiences, information, and skills in collaborative problem-solving.

We teach you to use design's ability to clarify, humanize, energize and solve complex problems at all levels through research, writing, and studio practice.

  This program is currently being redesigned, and applications for the 2022-23 academic year will not be accepted. If you have any questions, please contact Herron's Office of Admissions and Student Services at 317-278-9400 or

Collaborative external projects

In a partnership with the City of Indianapolis, the graduate cohort envisioned a sustainable transport network including dockless electric scooters. The students conducted a literature review, product analysis, onsite observations, and stakeholder interviews to better understand the challenges and opportunities posed by scooters.

Learn more about the project

Sustained career growth

Once you learn the mindsets and approaches of people-centered design, you'll dive deeper into design leadership and facilitation as a second-year graduate student. Working directly with a variety of professionals and community partners on and off campus will position you for a sought-after future after graduation.

Explore Career Services

Year 1, Fall Semester

  • Introduction to Design Thinking
  • Introduction to Human Factors in Design
  • Intro Design Thinking for Tackling Wicked Problems and Sensemaking
  • Design Methods for Framing Problems
  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 1
  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 2

Year 1, Spring Semester

  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 3
  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 4
  • Design Methods for Ideating
  • Design Methods for Prototyping
  • Interdisciplinary Elective

Year 2, Fall Semester

  • Leadership in Design Practice
  • Leadership in Design Education
  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 5
  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 6
  • Thesis Writing 1
  • Thesis Studio 1
  • Interdisciplinary Elective

Year 2, Spring Semester

  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 7
  • Collaborative Action Research in Design 8
  • Thesis Writing 2
  • Thesis Studio 2

Ideal candidates

Herron's visual communication design graduate program is truly interdisciplinary. We focus on methodical approaches for people-centered innovation. An ideal candidate is someone who wishes to investigate design processes and their role in making positive social changes.

We welcome professionals, practitioners, or recent graduates interested in business, healthcare, public service, nonprofit organizations, technology, and education innovation.

This program focuses on thought process. We approach design as a verb, a purposeful course of thinking and action.

Youngbok Hong, director of visual communication design programs, professor

Design thinking stories

Pamela Napier

(M.F.A. VCD '09)

In this round of "Five Questions," Pamela Napier shares her sage advice and insights about people-centered design.

Meet Pamela

Aleicha Ostler

(M.F.A. VCD '18)

Aleicha Ostler used 17 years of experience working in Indianapolis Public Schools to gain approval to start her own charter school.

Meet Aleicha

Juhi Singh

(M.F.A. VCD '11)

A passion for design research using design to build empathy with people has led Juhi Singh to work on some exciting projects around the globe.

Read Juhi's Q&A

Career placements

Upon completing a master's degree in visual communication design, life after Herron may lead to a career in sectors such as like healthcare, information technology (IT), service design, or higher education.

Our graduates are strategists, user experience designers, faculty members, entrepreneurs, and many more, and have found meaningful careers at powerful companies, such as:

  • Airbnb
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Anthem
  • Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Science
  • Chase Bank
  • Collabo Creative
  • Community Health Network
  • Cummins
  • ExxonMobil
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority
  • Humana
  • Indiana University Health
  • Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Mad*Pow
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Meituan-Dianping
  • OurHealth
  • Regenstrief Institute
  • Riverview Health
  • Richard L. Roudebush Veterans' Administration Medical Center
  • Salesforce
  • Studio Science
  • Texas Tech University
  • The University of Cuenca, Ecuador

Join Indiana’s premier school of art and design

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