Furman announces new graduate-level design program

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Ross McClain, chairman of Furman University's Art Department, teaches a class of design students at the school. Photo provided.

Furman University is bringing a new addition to its selection of graduate programs — a master’s in strategic design.

The 18-month, five-term program is in partnership with the Miami Ad School at the Portfolio Center of Atlanta. Students will have their first summer term on Furman’s campus, the following three terms at the Miami Ad School in Atlanta, and their final term either at one of the campuses or through a practicum.

The degree adds some variety to Furman’s graduate programs — the school’s other options are a master’s in a science or education-related field.

The program still needs to be approved by the university’s accreditor — the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges — before classes begin, but the university expects to hear back before classes are set to start in June 2019. SACSCOC’s next two meetings are in February and June; if the organization approves the program in June, the university might have to change when classes start.

Troy Terry, executive director of graduate studies and evening studies, said the university submitted the program to SACSCOC in October, which was not in time for the organization to guarantee that it would be on the February agenda.

“We hope we will hear, and if they haven’t [discussed it], then maybe they will at least give us feedback,” Terry said.

Terry said the university is looking to recruit between eight and 15 students, who will be able to choose from three tracks — art direction, design, and copywriting.

“We have temporary housing here for summer — regular student housing — and then they work with folks at [Portfolio Center] to get housing in Atlanta, and that’s really where they’ll be based until they end,” Terry said. “In the final semester, they could come back to Greenville, they could stay in Atlanta, or they could be in another location where they’ve secured an internship.”

Terry said there aren’t many schools with graduate design programs.

“Some of the top design schools do have master’s programs. They’re primarily in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami,” Terry said.

Furman has had a relationship with the Portfolio Center of Atlanta for more than 20 years. Undergraduate alumni have transitioned from Furman to the center.

“We see it as a continuation of the Furman mission and our brand, because it really is a hands-on, engaged learning experience. These folks have lots of internships and opportunities to work with people in the field, so what they start out here is more the content-theory foundation, and then they get to go to Atlanta and sort of live it,” Terry said. “This is just a really unique fit for us and what we already do expanded at the graduate level.”

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