MFA Interaction Design, Day 1

Qing Qing greets the students at Day 1 of the MFA in Interaction Design program.

On the last night of August, 2009, the MFA in Interaction Design at School of Visual Arts opened its doors to eighteen gifted students. The intense program will be like Project Runway, except that it lasts two years, and nobody will be “out.”

Created and chaired by Liz Danzico and Steven Heller, SVA’s MFA in Interaction Design is one of the only graduate-level degrees dedicated to interaction design in the U.S. Over two years of night classes, the program teaches students from diverse backgrounds (including design, computer programming, architecture, and even majors in English literature) to envision and create experiences across all manner of media, including the real world.

Students in this program will not merely become better web or interaction designers. They will develop user experience conventions in media where no such conventions exist.

In a beautiful post at Bobulate, Liz places the opening of the new program in the context of SVA’s history.

As a faculty member, I attended the opening orientation and have the crummy iPhone pictures to prove it.

It was a thrill to meet these talented students, who will spend the next two years haunting the program’s beautiful new design space at night (most of them after working at their day jobs, an SVA tradition).

To attend the program’s many free events, or simply to enjoy it vicariously, follow And keep watching the skies.


12 thoughts on “MFA Interaction Design, Day 1

  1. This program looks unbelievable! As a recent graduate of an undergrad program in Web Design and Interactive Media, I have been looking at grad schools to further my education. This program has stuck out from all the rest as being the most sound and well put together, without even having a class yet!

    I am looking forward to updates about the inaugural class and their progress. I am looking forward to applying in the next few years.

  2. having read Liz’s posts and yours it seems clear to me there is only one logic next step for this program…roll out to London next year. Please.

  3. I didn’t realize the classes were all at night. At RISD most of our grad programs are pretty much full time, there’s no way to really have a job at the same time. Up until now I had considered grad school pretty much off limits for at least a few years if ever. I also didn’t think a second graphic design degree would be useful to me. This would be incredibly useful. Very exciting! I hope the momentum keeps up in the next few years.

  4. “As a faculty member…”

    Starting next year, I’ll be teaching a class on, you should excuse the expression, “Selling Design” (AKA “Defense Against the Dark Arts”).

    If you can’t sell your work, you’ll be frustrated creatively and professionally and your soul will die by degrees.

    Persuading clients, bosses, and colleagues to understand and support your best work is an essential design skill—maybe even the essential design skill (since produced work is the foundation of a career, and you can’t produce what they don’t buy).

    I’m looking forward to teaching—and to auditing some of the classes taught by my distinguished fellow faculty members.

  5. @Mark: Currently there are no courses within the Interaction Design department that non-matriculated students can audit/enroll in, but there are a number of ways for them to get involved: events (lectures both w/in the department and outside the department), workshops (weekday and weekend, hosted by people such as Marc Rettig and Dan Mall), and the annual Summer Intensive Program (an intense month in summer coursework). That’s where we’re starting, but as a new program, we’re listening and watching what’s needed, and adjusting the model to fit.

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