Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.), Major in Communication Design

Major Program

The master of fine arts (M.F.A.) with a major in communication design is the terminal degree in the discipline. The curriculum is designed to provide advanced study in the areas of corporate advertising art direction, graphic design, and digital media design.

The graduate program provides students with the knowledge and expertise to attain the following: exploration of advanced problem-solving methodologies, updating technological advancement relating to communication design, examining historical events, theoretical constructs within communication design, and preparation for a career teaching in higher education.

Students will have the opportunity to complete a portion of the degree by the means of online instruction, extended weekend seminars, evening courses, blended (mix of online and face-to-face), and directed study courses.

Admission Policy

For information regarding admission application requirements and deadlines, please visit The Graduate College website at http://www.gradcollege.txstate.edu/cmdes.html.

Degree Requirements

The degree will require a minimum of 60 semester credit hours:

Required Core
ARTC 5340Contemporary Issues and Criticism3
ARTC 5341Modernism and Design3
ARTC 5342Postmodernism and Typography3
ARTC 5343Communication Design Seminar3
ARTC 5370Professional Practice (Taken twice for credit)6
Prescribed Electives
Choose 30 hours from the following:30
Art Direction
Web Design
Digital Imaging
Word and Image
Typography
Corporate Identity Systems
Corporate Marketing Materials
The Experimental Book
Special Problems in Communication Design
Environmental Graphic Design Systems
Typeface Design
Sustainable Packaging Design
Interactive Design
Mobile and Social Media
Free Electives6
Choose 6 hours in consultation with the graduate advisor
Thesis Course Work
Choose a minimum 6 hours6
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Total Hours60

In addition to the required credit hours, the degree requires a Mid-Program Portfolio Review. The review will occur after students successfully complete 30 credit hours. The graduate advisor and select M.F.A. faculty will assess each Mid-Term Portfolio component. Passing Mid-Program Portfolio Review will allow the student to continue with their graduate study. The student with an unsatisfactory Mid-Program Portfolio Review will be allowed to make portfolio work revisions and resubmit (one resubmission only) the portfolio work for reassessment (one time).

If a student elects to follow the thesis option for the degree, a committee to direct the written thesis will be established. The thesis must demonstrate the student’s capability for research and independent thought. Preparation of the thesis must be in conformity with the Graduate College Guide to Preparing and Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation. The thesis handbook may be accessed at http://www.gradcollege.txstate.edu/docs/Thesis_Diss_Guide.pdf.

Thesis Proposal

The student must submit an official Master's Thesis Proposal form and proposal to his or her thesis committee. Thesis proposals vary by department and discipline. Please see your department for proposal guidelines and requirements. The required thesis proposal form may be obtained from The Graduate College at http://www.gradcollege.txstate.edu/gcforms.html. After signing the form and obtaining committee members’ signatures, graduate advisor’s signature (if required by the program), and the department chair’s signature, the student must submit the thesis proposal form with one copy of the proposal attached to the dean of The Graduate College for approval before proceeding with research on the thesis. If the thesis research involves human subjects, the student must obtain exemption or approval from the Texas State Institutional Review Board prior to submitting the proposal form to The Graduate College. If the thesis research involves vertebrate animals, the proposal form must include the Texas State IACUC approval code. It is recommended the thesis proposal form be submitted to the dean of The Graduate College by the end of the student’s enrollment in 5399A.

Thesis Committee

The thesis committee must be composed of a minimum of three approved graduate faculty members.

Thesis Enrollment and Credit

The completion of a minimum of six hours of thesis enrollment is required. Enrollment for the thesis will be in course number 5399A for a student’s initial thesis enrollment and a thesis B course for each subsequent thesis enrollment in the field in which the subject matter of the thesis falls, e.g., PS 5399A and PS 5399B. Preliminary discussions regarding the selection of a topic and assignment to a research supervisor will not require enrollment for the thesis course.

A student will be required to enroll in and pay the fee for at least one hour of the thesis course during any term in which the student will receive thesis supervision or guidance and/or in which the student is using university resources. Failure to register for the thesis course during a term in which supervision is received may result in postponement of graduation. After initial enrollment in 5399A, the student will continue to enroll in a thesis B course as long as it takes to complete the thesis. In the rare case when a student has not previously enrolled in thesis and plans to work on and complete the thesis in one term, the student will enroll in both 5399A and 5399B. The only grades assigned for thesis courses are PR (progress), CR (credit), W (withdrew), and F (failing). If acceptable progress is not being made in a thesis course, the instructor may issue a grade of F. If the student is making acceptable progress, a grade of PR is assigned until the thesis is completed. The minimum number of hours of thesis credit (“CR”) will be awarded only after the thesis is filed in the Alkek Library and the librarian has electronically returned the thesis card to the office of The Graduate College.

A student who has selected the thesis option must be registered for the thesis course during the term or Summer I (during summer the thesis course runs ten weeks for both sessions) in which the degree will be conferred.

Fee Reduction

A master’s degree candidate for graduation may be eligible for a one-time fee reduction under V.T.C.A. Education Code, Section 54.054. Please refer to the section titled Fee Reduction in the Additional Fees and Expenses chapter of this catalog for more information.

Thesis Deadlines and Approval Process

Thesis deadlines are posted at the following web page: http://www.gradcollege.txstate.edu/Thes-Diss_Info/T-D_Deadlines.html. The completed thesis must be submitted to the chair of the thesis committee no later than 41 days before the date of the commencement at which the degree is to be conferred.

The following must be submitted to the office of The Graduate College no later than 24 days, not counting weekends or holidays, before the date of commencement at which the degree is to be conferred (see The Graduate College webpage for specific deadlines):

  1. The Thesis/Dissertation Committee Approval form bearing original signatures of the student and all committee members.
  2. One (1) copy of the thesis in final form, approved by all committee members, on standard paper (Hard-copy Submission Option) or PDF of the thesis in final form, approved by all committee members, uploaded in the on-line Vireo submission system (Vireo On-line Submission Option).

After the dean of The Graduate College approves the thesis, the process is as follows:

  1. For the Vireo On-line Submission Option:
    1. No copies are required to be submitted to the Alkek Library. However, Alkek will bind copies submitted that the student wants bound for personal use. Personal copies are not required to be printed on archival quality paper. The student will take the personal copies to the Alkek Library and pay the binding fee for personal copies.

Master's level courses in Art and Design: ARTC, ARTH, ARTS, ARTT

Courses Offered

Communication Design (ARTC)

ARTC 5199B. Thesis.

This course represents a student's continuing thesis enrollments. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Graded on a credit (CR), progress (PR), no credit (F) basis.
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1 Credit Hour. 1 Lecture Contact Hour. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

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ARTC 5299B. Thesis.

This course represents a student's continuing thesis enrollments. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Graded on a credit (CR), progress (PR), no credit (F) basis.
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2 Credit Hours. 2 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

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ARTC 5300. Graduate Assistant Development.

This course is required as a condition of employment for graduate teaching and instructional assistants. It will provide in-service training and evaluations of instructional philosophies, techniques and responsibilities. This course does not earn graduate degree credit. Graded on a credit (CR), no credit (F) basis.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Graduate Assistantship|Exclude from Graduate GPA
Grade Mode: Leveling/Assistantships

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ARTC 5301. Communication Design Foundations.

This course may be taken only to fulfill communication design background. Students will acquire knowledge and graphic design skills necessary for advanced studies. This course does not earn graduate degree credit. Prerequisites: Consent of the graduate advisor. Repeatable with different emphasis. Graded on a credit (CR), no credit (F) basis.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from Graduate GPA|Leveling
Grade Mode: Leveling/Assistantships

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ARTC 5310. Art Direction.

Advanced in-depth instruction involving conceptual principles, design, copy strategies, and branding methods in print, broadcast, and e-commerce advertising art direction and design. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5313. Communication Design Advanced Problems.

An independent study in communication design, which requires students to pursue complex design problems. Goals and objectives will be outlined in a written format. May be repeated with different emphasis for additional credit. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 3 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5320. Web Design.

Students will research, create, and produce advanced online products for Internet. Emphasis is placed on information architecture, interface design, and navigation constructs in order to produce unique online communications. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5321. Digital Imaging.

Exploration and experimental usage of digital black and white and color imagery utilizing non-traditional approaches to image making. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5322. Word and Image.

Exploration and experimental usage of the written word integrated with visual forms by using digital and traditional photographic, illustrated, and graphic media. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5330. Typography.

This course examines the traditional and experimental advanced usage of type and its relationship to the symbolic or communicative message. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5331. Corporate Identity Systems.

Students explore complex corporate and institutional identity systems. Concept, design, program continuity, and branding in the marketplace will be emphasized. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5332. Corporate Marketing Materials.

This course will explore advanced development of typographic elements, layout grid constructs, photo-imagery, and illustration for publication of corporate marketing materials. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5333. The Experimental Book.

Students explore the experimental printed book including concept, design, and unique production such as unique binding methods. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5340. Contemporary Issues and Criticism.

This course examines emerging issues in graphic design and design criticism, primarily from the turn of the 21st century to the present. Students will learn to analyze and critique graphic design, and will produce a work of critical writing.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5341. Modernism and Design.

This course explores the modernist movement in design, as it emerged in Europe and America in the early twentieth century. Topics include: visual cultural theory, the origins of modernism, Dada, Constructivism, DeStijl, the Bauhaus, and American modernism.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5342. Postmodernism and Typography.

This course explores the relationship between form and content through the lens of graphic design and typography from the 1960s through 1990s, with a focus on postmodernism. Topics include: new wave and experimental typography, design authorship, appropriation, deconstruction, narrative structures, and new media.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5343. Communication Design Seminar.

This course examines communication design research methods, modes of practice, and models of the creative process. Students will engage in individual research inquiries, in order to develop the topic for their master’s thesis in Communication Design.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5350. Special Problems in Communication Design.

An independent study requiring complex problem-solving in communication design. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360C. Environmental Graphic Design Systems.

This course will explore complex corporate, consumer, and institutional environmental systems. Concept, design, program continuity, and environmental graphic design systems (EGDS) in the marketplace will be emphasized. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360D. Typeface Design.

This course explores the detailed anatomy of typefaces in order to design custom typefaces through various applications. Students with an advanced knowledge of typography will research detailed type anatomy as well as historical and cultural typographic constructs. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360E. Sustainable Packaging Design.

Students will explore the role of sustainable package design in context to meeting the requirements of clients and consumers in the global marketplace. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360F. Communication Design Business Strategies.

In this course, the student will be exposed to the principles of project, studio, marketing, and business development management as it relates to the business operations of a communication design studio. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360G. Interactive Design.

This course explores the concept of interactivity in all its form, from the digital to the physical as it relates to communication design. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360H. Mobile and Social Media.

In this course, the student explores the implications of social networking and mobile communications in contemporary communication design. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360I. Editorial Design.

This course develops typographic skills pertaining to page layout through the use of functional and aesthetic type and its application within the digital environment. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360J. International Perspective in Typography.

This course studies the international perspectives of typography. This course requires a field trip abroad and will conclude with one extensive communication design assessment based upon the field trip experience. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360K. Data Visualization.

This course explores methods of combining visual aesthetics with real data to create meaningful and at times complex visualizations. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360L. User Experience Design.

This course explores advanced concepts in user-centered mobile applications, Web site, and operating system interface design. Students will solve design problems that take into account a holistic view of the user and how they interact with software. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360M. Design for Social Impact.

This course will provide a platform to explore the ways that design processes can be applied in order to enable positive social change. The course reconsiders the role of the designer in the context of the social sector. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of emphasis change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360N. Alternative Printing Methods.

This course will explore hands-on printing methods for designers. Letterpress, screen-printing and other alternative printing methods will be explored to visually express design concepts. Repeatable up to 3 times when the area(s) of study change.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360O. Kinetic Typography.

Students will study the creation of moving typography as an extension of typography and animation. The history and development of typography and motion graphics in art will be examined. Students will engage in innovative development of kinetic typography using current digital technology combined with experimental techniques. Repeatable up to 3 times for credit.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360P. International Design Student Synergy Project.

Students will collaborate with students from the MFA program at the Jade Hochschule in Wilhelmshaven. This course requires a one-week stay in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. It will conclude with one extensive communication design project that showcases their research done abroad. Students will research German Design values while on location and discuss with German design students, while also presenting American design values. Restricted to students enrolled in the MFA Communication Design major.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5360Q. Experience Design.

Students will learn how the evolution of computing information has changed the role of technology and experience designers. Students will generate a variety of Web and Mobile applications using Artificial Intelligence as the core technology. Restricted to Communication Design MFA majors.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5370. Professional Practice.

Students are placed in regional and national advertising agencies, digital media studios, or graphic design firms to gain professional practice experience. Repeatable once for credit.
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3 Credit Hours. 0 Lecture Contact Hours. 5 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTC 5399A. Thesis.

The course represents a student’s initial thesis enrollment. No thesis credit is awarded until the student has completed the thesis in ARTC 5399B. Graded on a credit (CR), program (PR), no-credit (F) basis.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

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ARTC 5399B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollments. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Graded on a credit (CR), progress (PR), no-credit (F) basis.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

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ARTC 5599B. Thesis.

This course represents a student's continuing thesis enrollments. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Graded on a credit (CR), progress (PR), no credit (F) basis.
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5 Credit Hours. 5 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

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ARTC 5999B. Thesis.

This course represents a student's continuing thesis enrollments. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding. Graded on a credit (CR), progress (PR), no credit (F) basis.
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9 Credit Hours. 9 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

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Art History (ARTH)

ARTH 5302. Special Problems Advanced.

An independent study course involved with art history, aesthetics, and criticism. The emphasis of the course in on scholarship, research, and writing. May be repeated with different emphasis for additional credit. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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Studio Art (ARTS)

ARTS 5301. 2-D Advanced Special Problems.

An independent study in 2-D studio art, which requires a student to pursue a personal conceptual direction and to develop the technical and critical skills necessary for creating a cohesive body of artwork. May be repeated with different emphasis for additional credit. Permission of instructor required to enroll.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 3 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTS 5302. 3-D Advanced Special Problems.

An independent study in studio art, which requires a student to pursue a personal conceptual direction and to develop the technical and critical skills necessary for creating a cohesive body of artwork. May be repeated with different emphasis for additional credit. Permission of instructor required to enroll.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 3 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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Art Theory & Practice (ARTT)

ARTT 5376. Research in Art Theory and Practice for Children.

Individualized study focusing on art skill and knowledge development related to children’s art learning experiences. May be repeated with different emphasis for additional credit. Teaching experience or admission to graduate degree program and permission of instructor required.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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ARTT 5377. Research in Art Theory and Practice for Adolescents and Adults.

Individualized study focusing on art skill and knowledge development related to adolescent and/or adult art experiences. May be repeated with different emphasis for additional credit. Teaching experience or admission to graduate degree and permission of instructor required.
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3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

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