Master of Fine Arts in Design

Design your future at UW-Stout - Master of Fine Arts in Design

Design Your Future.

Table of Contents

Welcome, from the Leadership Team:

The School of Art & Design has been an innovative, interdisciplinary creative learning environment since its inception in the 1960s. Not only that, UW–Stout was founded in 1891 on principles from the Arts & Crafts movement, showing a progressive embrace of creative thinking that predates formalized Art & Design education in the USA. In true polytechnic fashion, the program is inherently interdisciplinary, bringing ideas from multiple domains into conversation while examining those ideas from several perspectives. Led by a distinguished and robust team of faculty, the strength of the program lies in the way our students “connect the dots.” Our cutting edge technological resources allow for innovative concepts to permeate other fields in surprising ways, and our long history with traditional Design areas grounds us firmly in tradition and craft. As you can see, students in the MFA in Design can concentrate in a specific area, or blend interests together to create new and unique emphases and areas of expertise. Please look through these pages and explore the opportunities and possibilities our program can provide.

About the MFA

4 6 8


About the University

Curriculum Focus Areas


Design for Sustainability

16 18 20 22 24

Creative Thesis

Graduate Assistantships Research Dissemination

Labs & Facilities

Erik A. Evensen, MFA Director of the MFA in Design Program

Shelley Pecha, MFA Department Chair, Department of Design

Dave Beck, MA, MFA Associate Dean and Director of the School of Art & Design

MFA Alumni MFA Faculty


34 36

Application Procedure



About the MFA

The MFA in Design is a deliberately interdisciplinary program, in contrast to our highly specialized undergraduate degrees. Graduate students choose a focus area, and explore emerging design issues often beyond the reach of any one design discpline. Our program covers every major offered at the BFA level, but we have particular strengths in emerging media areas including interactive design, game design, transmedia storytelling, and user experience design. The program typically takes 3 years of postgraduate study. Coursework is primarily of an applied nature, with the program culminating in a thesis project, and related exhibition, presentation, or other public dissemination. Master of Fine Arts programs typically focus on the fine or applied arts, including visual arts, creative writing, graphic design, photography, filmmaking, dance, theatre, other performing arts and in some cases, theatre management or arts administration. The Master of Fine Arts differs from the Master of Arts in that the MFA, while still an academic program, centers on professional creative practice in the particular field, whereas programs leading to the MA usually center on the scholarly, academic, or critical study of the field. Additionally, in the United States, an MFA is recognized as a terminal degree for practitioners—meaning that it is considered the highest degree in its field, qualifying an individual to become a professor at the university level in these disciplines.

# 6


TOP 25 SINCE 2016


# 1 IN WISCONSIN ANIMATION Animation Career Review

# 1 IN WISCONSIN GRAPHIC DESIGN Animation Career Review

# 8 IN MIDWEST GAME DESIGN Animation Career Review

Student Hue Vang works on his award-winning thesis project, “Sun of the Children.”



Nestled in the town of Menomonie, bordering the Chippewa Valley region of western Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin–Stout is a campus of approximately 8,000 students. Menomonie is a vibrant college town of over 16,000, home to bike trails, craft breweries, farmer’s markets, and a thriving historic downtown. UW–Stout’s namesake is its founder, James Huff Stout, whose progressive views on industry and education were rooted in the Arts & Crafts movement. Today, his spirit lives on in the special mission of the campus, officially designated as “Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University.” With an enrollment of over 1,300 students, the School of Art & Design is the largest public Art & Design unit in the upper Midwest, and is larger than most independent art schools.



Sample Schedule


This is set up for an odd-year fall and even-year spring: ‘23–24, ‘25–26, etc.


FALL SEMESTER: 9 credits



3 cr.

3 cr.

3 cr.

Design Seminar 1 Core requirement

Research Strategies in Design Core requirement

Sustainable Design II: Global impact Focus Area

3 cr.

3 cr.

3 cr.

Visual Communication for Graduate Study Focus Area

Sustainable Design Practice Core requirement

Focus Area Independent Study

3 cr.

3 cr.

Graduate Design Studio Focus Area

Focus Elective Interdisciplinary course

We are using 9 credits as an average. full time semester. Students can (and do) enroll in 12 credits.

This is set up for an even-year fall and odd-year spring: ‘24–25, ‘26–27, etc.


FALL SEMESTER: 9 credits



3 cr.

3 cr.

3 cr.

History of Design Seminar Core requirement

Critical Issues in Design Education & Practice Core requirement

Focus Area Dual-listed course

The MFA is a 60-credit, terminal degree. MFAiD students take a 30-credit “core” curriculum of courses on advanced topics in Design theory, research, application, ethics, sustainability, and history. In addition, students take a set of courses (21 credits) in a focus area of their choosing. Students also take 9 credits of electives from available graduate courses across campus, including a large number in Studio Art. CURRICULUM

3 cr.

3 cr.

Design Seminar II Core requirement

Focus Area Independent Study

3 cr.

3 cr.

Focus Elective Interdisciplinary course

Focus Area Dual-listed course

3 cr.

Ethics in Design Core requirement

WINTERM: 3 credits

CORE COURSES 21 credits / evening classes 9 credits of Thesis FOCUS AREA (your “major”) 21 credits / very flexible 9 credits of Focus Electives (interdisciplinary)


30 cr.

FALL SEMESTER : 6 credits


NOTE: There is no suggested schedule for part-time students. Part-time students sometimes take 3 credits per semester, and sometimes 6–9 credits. There are no restrictions regarding full-time vs. part-time enrollment.

3 cr.

Graduate Thesis in Design Core requirement

Graduate Thesis in Design Core requirement

30 cr.

3 cr.

Focus Elective Interdisciplinary course

Graduate Thesis in Design Core requirement


FOCUS AREA Animation & Digital Media

FOCUS AREA Cinema, Video, & Photography

# 1 IN WISCONSIN ANIMATION Animation Career Review

The Animation area benefits from high-tech computer labs and the Vicon Motion Capture lab, as well as interdisciplinary faculty with backgrounds in a variety of forms of animation and visual storytelling. Our faculty have expertise with 2D and 3D animation, 3D visualization, motion capture, stop-motion, and puppetry.

UW–Stout’s photographic areas are richly connected, drawing faculty expertise from across disciplines. Graduate students can blend disciplinary expertise in a number of ways. Faculty expertise includes advertising, documentary film, genre narrative, and web series development, as well as crossover with Animation.

FOCUS AREA & RELATED COURSES Concept Art Digital Cinema Studio (repeatable)

FOCUS AREA & RELATED COURSES Digital Cinema Studio (repeatable) Intro to Photographic Lighting Advertising Photography Transmedia Studio Color Seminar Graduate Design Studio (repeatable) Art Photography Studio Motion Graphics Advanced Video Production Virtual & Augmented Reality Visual Effects & Compositing History of Film Coming of Age in Literature & Film Visual Effects & Compositing Technology Futures

AREA FACULTY Michael Heagle, MFA Assistant Professor Augustus Hinton, BFA Lecturer Co O’Neill, MFA Lecturer Jesse Woodward, MFA Assistant Professor Kimberly Delain, PgDip. Lecturer

AFFILIATE FACULTY Jackie Cummings, MFA Lecturer, Game Design Erik Evensen, MFA Professor, Design Karl Koehle, MFA Assistant Professor, Game Design Kim Loken, MArch Associate Professor, Game Design

AREA FACULTY Michael Heagle, MFA

AFFILIATE FACULTY Morgan Barrie, MFA Assistant Professor, Studio Art Kevin Drzakowski, PhD Professor, English/Creative Writing Associate Dean of CAHS Kim Loken, MArch Associate Professor, Game Design Joan Navarre, PhD Professor, English/Film Studies Jesse Woodward, MFA Assistant Professor, Animation

3D Modeling & Animation I 3D Modeling – Hard Surface 3D Modeling – Organics 2D Animation II Animation Production

Assistant Professor Troy LaFaye, MS Lecturer

Keif Oss, MS, MFA Assistant Professor Co O’Neill, MFA Lecturer Jonathan Wheeler, MFA Lecturer

3D Character Animation Animation Capstone 1 Animation Capstone 2 History of Film Graduate Design Studio (repeatable) Transmedia Studio Virtual, Augmented, Mixed Reality Visual Effects & Compositing



FOCUS AREA Game Design & Development

Graphic Design & Interactive Media is the largest and most robust disciplinary area in the School of Art & Design. Students in the MFA in Design can focus on a generalist approach, or specialize in Interactive Media & UX Design. Graphic Design & related faculty are widely published and recognized. FOCUS AREA Graphic Design & Interactive Media


# 1 IN WISCONSIN GRAPHIC DESIGN Animation Career Review

With its Vicon Motion Capture lab, robust computer labs, and high-profile creative output, UW–Stout’s Game Design area has been nationally ranked by the Princeton Review and Animation Career Review since its inception. The MFA in Design is currently #6 among public institutions.

FOCUS AREA & RELATED COURSES Digital Illustration Signage and Exhibition Design Publication Design Introduction to Web Design Interactive Media Design Advanced Interactive Design User Experience Design Advanced UX Design Healthcare UX Design Transmedia Studio Color Seminar Graduate Design Studio (repeatable) Art Photography Studio Technology Futures User-Centered Research



AFFILIATE FACULTY Seth Berrier, PhD Professor, Computer Science Holly Clark, MFA Lecturer, Design Jackie Cummings, MFA Lecturer, Design Erik Evensen, MFA Professor, Design Jesse Woodward, MFA Assistant Professor, Animation

3D Modeling & Animation I 3D Modeling – Hard Surface 3D Modeling – Organics 3D Character Animation Game Art & Engines

AREA FACULTY Calee A. H. Cecconi, MFA Assistant Professor Alex DeArmond, MFA Professor Robert Fraher, MFA, PhD (c) Professor Katherine Lupton, MFA Assistant Professor Nagesh Shinde, MFA Professor

AFFILIATE FACULTY Erik Evensen, MFA Professor, Design

Professor; Associate Dean of CAHS, Director of the School of Art & Design Karl Koehle, MFA Assistant Professor Kim Loken, MArch Associate Professor Andrew Williams, PhD Professor

Wendy Jedlicka, MIM, EdD (c) Sr. Lecturer, Sustainable Design

Game Design/Dev Capstone 1 Game Design/Dev Capstone 2 History of Interactive Media Color Seminar Graduate Design Studio (repeatable) Transmedia Studio Tech and Professional Comm. in the Games Industry Technology Futures

Dan Lang, BFA Lecturer, Design Jackson Yang, MFA Lecturer, Design



FOCUS AREA Industrial & Product Design

FOCUS AREA Interior Design



UW-Stout affords opportunities for graduate students to become generalists or specialists. Our faculty are widely published as designers and researchers, and hold dozens of design patents, as well as gold and silver IDEA awards.

UW–Stout’s Interior Design area allows students to work in interdisciplinary projects, sustainability, and adaptive reuse. Our faculty include WELL-certified and LEED-certified professionals and certified Sustainability Excellence Associates.



Product Interface Design Design for Manufacture Advanced Design Drawing Capstone I: Adv. Research Methods Capstone II: Thesis Graduate Design Studio (repeatable) Sustainable Design Studio Sustainable Design II: Global Impact Color Seminar Transmedia Studio Architectural Preservation Technology Futures The Built Environment Sustainable Engineering Cultural and Historical Foundations of Sustainability

Interior Design Studio 2 Interior Design Studio 3 Interior Design Senior Studio Transmedia Studio Color Seminar Sustainable Construction Architectural Preservation

AREA FACULTY Jennifer Astwood, MFA Professor; Associate Dean Dan Banasik, MFA Lecturer Andy Janetski, MFA(c) SEA Lecturer Emily Pieper, BFA Lecturer Dave Richter-O’Connell, MFA Associate Professor

AFFILIATE FACULTY Erik Evensen, MFA Professor, Design

AREA FACULTY Shelley Pecha, MFA NCIDQ, WELL-AP Professor; Department Chair Julie Peterson, PhD NCIDQ, WELL-AP Professor Nicolette Brehm, MFA NCIDQ, WELL-AP Assistant Professor Leanne Larson, BFA NCIDQ, LEED-AP Lecturer Cassie Savela, BFA NCIDQ, ASID Lecturer

AFFILIATE FACULTY James E. Bryan, PhD Professor, Design History:

History of Interiors & Furnishings Wendy Jedlicka, MIM SEA, CPP Sr. Lecturer, Sustainable Design Kim Loken, MArch LEED-AP Associate Professor, Game Design Dave Richter-O’Connell, MFA Associate Professor, Industrial & Product Design

Wendy Jedlicka, MIM SEA, CPP Sr. Lecturer, Sustainable Design Kim Loken, MArch LEED-AP Associate Professor, Game Design

The Built Environment Cultural and Historical Foundations of Sustainability Environmental Concerns in Construction Signage and Exhibition Design Graduate Design Studio (repeatable) Sustainable Design Studio Sustainable Design II: Global Impact



SPECIALTY AREA Sustainable Design

UW-Stout’s commitment to sustainability in Design Education includes a roster of accredited and certified faculty and electives from a range of departments across campus. Students are encouraged to build a course plan that identifies sustainability initiatives within their own disciplines.

ACCREDITED & CERTIFIED FACULTY Wendy Jedlicka, MIM, Ed.D(c) SEA, CPP Senior Lecturer, Sustainable Design Kim Loken, MArch LEED-AP Associate Professor, Game Design

Shelley Pecha, MFA NCIDQ, WELL-AP Professor, Interior Design Julie Peterson, PhD NCIDQ, WELL-AP Professor, Interior Design Nicolette Brehm, MFA NCIDQ, WELL-AP Assistant Professor, Interior Design

Andy Janetski, MFA(c) SEA Lecturer, Industrial Design


Alesch, Jonathan. Flow and Aura: Arts and Crafts philosophies made manifest in present-day, hands-on research. Proceedings of the Polytechnic Summit 2022 in Darmstadt (Germany), June 28–30, 2022. Cummings, J., Feng, L., Hannen, D., Kromrie, J., Stan, T., Yang, J. (2020), “Post COVID-19 Green Recovery) researchgate Wigdahl, Matthew (2020), “Lake Menomin Project: Exploring an Outdoor Museum Piece using Design Research techniques.” Dialogue (p. 106), the proceedings from the AIGA Design Educators Community conferences. Brehm, Nicolette (2020), “From Vacant Shopping Malls to Thriving Senior Living Facilities.” Master of Fine Arts thesis in Design. Koss, Zach (2018), “Current climate: adaptive approaches to communicating Minnesota’s climate challenges through graphic design.” Master of Fine Arts thesis in Design.

CERTIFICATE in DESIGN FOR SUSTAINABILITY The Department of Design is proud to offer its first-ever graduate certificate program in Design for Sustainability. The program can be completed entirely using courses from the MFA in Design program. It is also a stand-alone program for students only interested in a 12-credit experience.

3 cr.

3 cr.

Sustainable Design Practice Core requirement

Sustainable Design II: Global Impact Focus Area

3 cr.

3 cr.

Ethics in Design Core requirement

Elective Focus Area or Focus Selective

FOR MORE INFO, CONTACT: Wendy Jedlicka, MIM, Ed.D(c) Sr. Lecturer, Sustainable Design



The Creative Thesis

Jackie Cummings Hue Vang

Morgan Brantner

MFA core faculty Robert Fraher and Erik Evensen review Mary Rohl’s 2016 MFA thesis exhibition, “The Heart and Design Project.”

Nicolette Brehm Drew Hagen

The MFA in Design culminates with the production of a year-long creative thesis project in a design discipline of your choice, under a thesis committee of your choice. Students first take Design Seminar II, a thesis preparation class, and Creative Thesis in Design, an independent production class. The project is supported by a written paper and exhibited in a public venue.

Jackson Yang

Zi-Xu Tian


Graduate Assistantships

The MFA in Design offers Graduate Assistant positions for students enrolled full-time in the program. Assistantships are 25% time appointments, and offer an annual stipend salary. Assistantships consist of classroom support positions, lab or research assistants, and a School of Art & Design media assistant. Position descriptions change periodically. Additional graduate assistantships are available across campus, outside the School of Art & Design.

Animation student Danielle Pedersen demonstrates UW-Stout’s Vicon Motion Capture equipment in the Emerging Technologies Laboratory, one of the possible Graduate Assistantship areas.

CLASSROOM SUPPORT Assisting in the classroom;

LAB ASSISTANT Photo/Video Studios Motion Capture Lab Digital Processes Lab

OTHER SOAD Publicity & Marketing Assistant Research Assistant (varies)

depends on student background/expertise

Graduate Assistantships are professional opportunities that serve in key areas on campus. Graduate Assistantships can help prepare students to find related positions after graduating. Examples include:

Jonny Wheeler Former Graduate Assistant, Classroom Support Lecturer of Video Production, UW–Stout

Morgan Brantner Former Graduate Assistant, Motion Capture Lab MoCap Generalist, Rouge MoCap, Los Angeles, CA

Terri Stan Former Graduate Assistant, Classroom Support Faculty, Graphic Design, Chippewa Valley Technical College



Research Dissemination

Graduate students have a number of opportunities for funded travel related to academic conferences, international study, creative research, and other scholarly experiences. The work of our MFA students has recently been presented in a variety of venues:

Matt Wigdahl, MFA ‘21 presented a research poster, “Lake Menomin Project: Exploring an Outdoor Museum Piece,” based on a class project, at DECIPHER 2018: an AIGA Design Research Conference held at the University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art & Design.



Labs & Facilities

The School of Art & Design’s on-campus studios and labs include everything from computer labs to video production suites, to ceramics, fine art, and jewelry studios. Our Polytechnic mission allows for an ideal environment for production, as students explore ideas, develop prototypes, and execute creative projects.


Wacom digital drawing & sculpting labs Game Design central studio Gaming & Digital Innovation Lab

Photogrammetry Lab Green Screen studio Recording studios Photography studios Editing suites

Digital Fabrication Lab Traditional Process Lab Furlong Gallery

The green screen studio in Sorensen Hall is heavily used by students taking Cinema, Photography, and Video Production classes.



Since our first graduate in 2015, our MFA alumni have gone on to strong careers in industry as specialists, creative directors, and leaders, and in academia as instructors and tenure-track faculty. *

MFA Alumni

Nicolette Brehm, MFA ‘20 Assistant Professor of Interior Design, UW-Stout my knowledge on the topics and allowed me to look at them from a different lens.” “I loved having classmates from diverse design backgrounds. Their perspectives broadened

“I was really looking to hone my skills, and I’m interested in design leadership. I liked the cross-disciplinary approach of the program and the theoretical issues we tackled.”

Andrew Murphy, MFA ‘18 Head of Strategic Projects, Apple

Michelle Mailey Noben, MFA ‘17 Sr. Manager of User Experience, Grainger “My experience in the program has had a remarkable impact on my career, income, and future prospects. It’s honestly been the best investment I’ve ever made.”

“The strong support from my professors was nothing short of a gift. I’ve learned a lot from them beyond art and design that helped me grow as a person.”

“We’re thinking about the ‘why’ of design and questioning the role design plays in society. It’s a much broader perspective.”

Zach Koss, MFA ‘18 Associate Creative Director, Snapfish

Hue Vang, MFA ‘18 Matte Painter, Dreamworks Animation



*positions may not still be current

“I’m proud of how my art and design improved and seeing where I am now.” —JACKSON CHUFENG YANG, MFA ‘23

Jackson Chufeng Yang, MFA ‘23

Jackson Yang’s education at UW-Stout has given him confidence in himself and his artwork, but his journey was deeper than his degrees. Yang’s education also led him on a spiritual journey of rediscovering his Hmong culture through the arts. Yang struggled to embrace his culture for much of his life, until the second year of his undergrad. “I grew up rejecting that part of my identity, and Stout helped me find love for my community again and to dive into and re-embrace my culture,” he said. During his undergrad, Yang joined Hmong Stout Student Organization, and his cousin Kalvin, a student team member in the Multicultural Student Services office, helped him learn about traditional Hmong arts. “It was the art and wanting to make my mom proud that was my gateway back into the Hmong culture. I want to pay respect to my culture,” Yang said. And for students who want to re-embrace their culture, he thinks, “You have to find something that you can connect with. It could be something simple or big. It all comes down to who you are as a person.” Transforming tradition into modern-day storytelling As a graphic designer and illustrator, Yang’s dream is to work with the Hmong community, teaching the next generation about the traditional arts through design, children’s book illustrations or comics. His graduate research is dedicated to Hmong culture, bringing elements of traditional story cloths and flower cloths – Paj Ntaub – and their embroidered motifs and aesthetics into contemporary digital storytelling. “Jackson explored these themes through the lens of an illustrated YA novel for kids who find themselves navigating between two cultural identities,” said Erik Evensen, MFA in design program director and Yang’s thesis adviser. “Working with Jackson has been nothing short of delightful. He is incredibly thoughtful and motivated, and his work is well crafted and quite beautiful.”

While sharing the history of Paj Ntaub, Yang also illustrates the story of To Broken Souls, using the story cloth style, telling the story of Ben, a young Hmong man, and a leaf frond spirit and the connections they make. Yang’s mother played a role in his educational journey as well. “A large portion of why I wanted to reconnect with my culture was for my mother. I wanted to make her proud and show her just how much she means to me, which was one of the reasons why I pursued the MFA and focused on the Hmong arts. “She loved making flower cloths, so her eyes would always light up when I showed any kind of interest in it, especially for my education,” Yang said. Yang learned the story cloths and Paj Ntaub were art forms pioneered by women. He studied their selection of colors used in the textiles, the spacing of images and texture. “The embroidery creates a natural texture, even in the placement of the direction of the stitches,” he said. “I admire the intricate designs of the folding and sewing techniques they use. It’s very difficult.” Yang is thankful for the support he received during his time at UW-Stout, naming mentors Tanya Gunkel, Educational Materials Center librarian; Aubrey Huff, former librarian; as well as his thesis committee members – Evensen; Associate Professor Mitchell Ogden, English, philosophy and communication; and Assistant Professor Mary Climes, of comics. “I had originally wanted to include my mother in some capacity for my thesis. She unfortunately will never be able to see what I had planned for the future after graduation,” he said. “My brother, sister-in-law and sister have supported me in my mother’s place.” Jackson Yang graduated in Spring, 2023, and accepted a full-time teaching position as a Lecturer at UW-Stout. Yang’s mother died in 2022 from COVID.

“Working with Jackson has been nothing short of delightful. He is incredibly thoughtful and motivated, and his work is well crafted and quite beautiful.” —ERIK EVENSEN, THESIS ADVISOR

MFA Alumni

Adapted from a story originally written by Abby Goers, May 2023



My experience at Stout, both as an undergraduate and graduate, has changed me to become a better designer.

The MFA program definitely helped with my project management skills. I do think I’m a better artist and better storyteller overall.”



Terri Stan, MFA ‘22 Terri Stan was a graphic designer at Shopko in Appleton when she decided to switch careers from corporate design work to teaching in higher education. She met her goals even before earning her M.F.A. in design from UW-Stout. Stan is the program director of the Associate of Arts in graphic design at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire. But her road to her new career was long, literally– she put in countless hours and miles driving to and from Menomonie and Appleton to earn her degree. “Stan’s master’s thesis on ‘Graphic Design Education and Neurodiversity’ is based on her life experience and allows her to reach her students at CVTC, filling a void in the discourse of design pedagogy,” said Erik Evensen, Program Director for the MFA in Design. “The challenge of earning my M.F.A. was living across the state and traveling to Stout once or twice a week to attend class. I’d leave work at 1 p.m. and arrive home around 1 a.m. But every time I walked on campus, it felt right; this is where I was supposed to be.” How has your Stout education and experience changed you? “My experience at Stout, both as an undergraduate and graduate, has changed me to become a better designer, given me the ability to voice my thoughts and guided me into a job that for the first time I am proud of. The courses provided gave me confidence and the opportunity to become a graduate assistant in a virtual classroom. I am proud of my thesis, design project, research and the friendships that will last beyond graduation.” What stands out about your Stout experience? “What stood out to me was my student colleagues in the School of Art and Design. It was a great group to go through the program with; they were supportive.” What was it like to enroll in a hybrid program?

Jackie Cummings, MFA ‘22 In relationships, a decision, an unexpected event, a behavior can change everything, leading those involved down a path they may not have expected and are unprepared to handle. Octopus Pot is Jackie Cummings’ graduate thesis project, a computer-based, interactive experience that tells a story while making an adventure of it by giving the players options. It operates similar to online dating simulators, which Cummings says are fun to play. Having experienced a relationship breakup, Cummings decided to use the common life experience as the basis for a game, but Octopus Pot also is more than a game. “It provides a cathartic and compassionate look at relationship erosion and eventual breakup to people who’ve had that experience. Everybody has a breakup story, even if it’s not their own,” Cummings said. “I want some people to feel like it was a healing experience to play the game, and I also wanted it to be fun.” Players experience the perspectives of both main characters, Maysa and Shelby, to help them see both sides of a relationship. They have “ownership of the narrative by deciding to do one thing over another” with what Cummings calls branching dialogue, or prompts that force the player to choose. Cummings, of Bemidji, Minn., based the game on more than personal experience. She did qualitative research, conducting a survey and interviewing people who have had breakups. The “affinity mapping” Adapted from a story originally written by Jerry Poling, April 2022

MFA Alumni

research provided themes to help Cummings determine how the game would play out, she said. “The research told me what the characters should be feeling, and that’s what’s important,” she said. “This game is about heartbreak.”

Jackie is now a full-time Lecturer of Game Design at UW-Stout.

Adapted from a story originally written by Jerry Poling, December 2022



Featured MFA Faculty

MFA Leadership

Erik A. Evensen, MFA | AIGA, IDSA, CSS Professor of Design + Program Director, MFA in Design

Robert Fraher, MFA, PhD(c) | AIGA, ACM Professor, Graphic Design & Interactive Media

Professor Fraher is an award-winning designer, interactive developer, and creative producer. Robert’s research explores interface design as a context for emotional and cognitive engagement, individual expression, and community involvement. Professor Fraher has been honored as the Dahlgren Professor and as a University Research Fellow. He teaches Design Education & Practice.



BA, STUDIO ART: DRAWING & PAINTING University of New Hampshire

Erik Evensen is a Professor of Design and director of the MFA program. His creative work, research, and teaching focus on the synthesis of illustration and visual communication design—his course load has included studio courses in design drawing, illustration, concept art, graphic design, and typography. He began his career as a graphic designer and illustrator in the Boston area, with works honored by Graphic Design USA and the Print Excellence and Knowledge (PEAK) Awards. He has a number of design credits in the entertainment industry, including the New Hampshire Film Festival, Manhattan Short Film Festival, the award-winning documentary Dirty Country, the short films Glue Man, Star and the Snowman, and Discrepancy, and comedy tours for the Found Footage Festival and Chris Hardwick. As an illustrator, his comics industry credits include the “Ghostbusters” and “Back to the Future” comic series from IDW Publishing, and the Xeric-winning graphic novel Gods of Asgard, the definitive comics adaptation of the Norse myths, which has been the subject of many academic papers and adopted as a textbook at several universities. He is the art director, game artist, and co-producer for the tabletop games Marrying Mr. Darcy and Distilled . Erik has presented at and reviewed for academic conferences sponsored by the Design and Emotion Society, IASDR, MODE Summit, AIGA, the Congress of Medieval Studies, M+DEV: Midwest GameDev Conference, and the Polytechnic Summit. A former student of Design Research pioneer Liz Sanders, his academic research on educational board game design is a featured case study in her textbook, Convivial Toolbox: Generative Research for the Front End of Design. As an instructor, he has been recognized with the College of Arts & Human Sciences’ Outstanding Teaching Award, as a finalist for Outstanding Graduate Faculty, and as a Faculty Ally. As Program Director for the MFA, Erik serves as the main point of contact and primary academic advisor for all students in the program, and provides leadership on issues related to curriculum, assessment, outreach, and development. He regularly teaches courses in the program such as Design Seminars I & II, Research Strategies in Design, and Critical Issues in Design Education & Practice.

Wendy Jedlička, MIM, Ed.D(c) | CPP, SEA Senior Lecturer, Sustainable Design

Professor Jedlicka is a leading global expert on sustainable design. Jedlička is the contributing editor of two books, including Packaging Sustainability and Sustainable Graphic Design , and the “Applied Sustainability” chapter author for Handbook of Sustainable Design. She teaches courses related to Design, Sustainability, and Entrepreneurship.

Julie E. Peterson, PhD | NCIDQ, WRID, WELL-AP Professor, Interior Design

Dr. Peterson spent half of her career in industry practice before transitioning to higher education. She specializes in lighting design, business practices, ethics, materials, finishes, codes, and specifications. She has been honored as Outstanding Graduate Faculty and as a University Research Fellow. Her current research explores a sense of place, community, and emotional well-being for students and how this was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrew Williams, PhD Professor, History of Design & Game Design

Andrew Williams is a Game Designer, Creative Director, and Games Historian. Dr. Williams’ research includes projects related to Games and History as both a historian and creative producer, including interactive exhibits at the Minnesota History Center, the Akron Art Museum, as Art Director for ImmersionED, and the digital game Witness to the Revolution. He is the author of History of Digital Games: Developments in Art, Design and Interaction , and teaches History of Design Seminar and various Game Design courses.




Application Procedure

APPLY NOW UW-Stout welcomes MFA candidates who demonstrate strong academic and design skills through their education, background, and creative experience. The application process is intentionally designed to ensure any accepted candidates are likely to succeed in the program. If you have questions about the application process, please don’t hesitate to contact APPLY Application is a 2-step process: You will apply to both the university and the MFA program—acceptance to one does not immediately grant acceptance to the other. More instructions are available at the link above. UPLOAD Portfolio | 10–15 examples of creative/professional work from your area(s) of expertise. Include brief written descriptions. A limit of 5 motion/video examples will be accepted as part of the total 10–15 examples. For interactive/game design examples, please use your best judgement or contact the program director for assistance. Statement of Interest | This 2–3 page statement should describe your goals for graduate study, your topics of interest for research and exploration, and should provide context for your work included in the visual portfolio. PDF preferred. CV/Resume | Your most current resume or CV, uploaded via SlideRoom. Three Letters of Recommendation | Recommenders should upload via SlideRoom. Transcripts (official) | Upload transcript(s) via SlideRoom.

INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS In addition to completing the application procedures previously listed, International applicants must include the following materials: Official TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo scores | contact OIE for more details Declaration of Finances | Submit an official bank statement certifying that you or your sponsor has sufficient funds on deposit (in US dollars) to ensure full payment of expenses for your first year of graduate study. Refer to OIE’s Estimate of Expenses to see current amount required. Transcripts | Please submit your academic records from all secondary and higher education institutions you’ve attended. Send your official/attested academic records translated into English. For graduate-level programs, it is in your best interest to use a credential evaluator. This will give our evaluators the best possible information as we consider your transferable credits. Contact OIE for more details. GRADUATE FINANCIAL AID Graduate School is an investment in yourself and your future. The best way to make this investment is to take advantage of financial aid. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) To be considered for need-based financial aid, a completed FAFSA is required. All U.S. graduate students are strongly encouraged to complete the application. Visit for more information. Graduate Assistantships UW-Stout offers a limited number of Graduate Assistantships, outlined earlier in this viewbook. Contact the program director for more information. Scholarships and Grants Funding assistance can be found through the UW-Stout Foundation, and through various external entities such as the Multicultural Student Center, IDSA, AIGA, etc. The program itself does not offer any financial assistance other than graduate assistantships. The program maintains a list of external scholarships and grants in its program handbook (available online).

DEADLINES April 1: Priority *

* For students who want to ensure full consideration for scheduling, assistantships, and additional financial aid, April 1 should be used. However, UW-Stout extends a rolling admission process into the summer.



If education alone can change lives, then a polytechnic education can change the world.

And by connecting the mind, the hand and the heart, the University of Wisconsin–Stout does just that — we put applied learning to work. And when we do, REMARKABLE THINGS HAPPEN.




COUNCIL FOR INTERIOR DESIGN ACCREDITATION (CIDA) 205 Grandville Avene, Suite 350 Grand Rapids, MI 49503-4014

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