Back to Graduate Art + Design Programs


Information Design and Visualization, MFA

The Master of Fine Arts in Information Design and Visualization focuses on the analytical and visual communication of information. Successful graduates are experts in the visual languages of data who produce effective and meaningful visual displays of abstract information. They collaborate with other professionals, researchers, or clients in a variety of fields and settings.


  • Academics
  • Experiences
  • Interests

The first MFA program entirely dedicated to Information Design and Visualization trains students in harnessing visual languages to support discovery and communicate information across a range of socially relevant issues. Graduates will be professional information designers and data visualization experts able to collaborate effectively in this dynamic and burgeoning field of practice and research. They will be prepared to work in design agencies, research institutions, companies, and public institutions. The program intends to produce professionals skilled in design principles and practices needed to assume leadership roles in an evolving interdisciplinary field. Students will also be well positioned to pursue PhDs and academic careers. Our students have the unique advantage of studying at a major research university known for interdisciplinary collaboration located in Boston, a global center for technology, science, and education and a hotspot for information design and data visualization. We seek applicants from diverse backgrounds who are interested in exploring data, visual and auditory design, perception and creative inquiry.

Students have an opportunity to gain an understanding of translating data and information into visual languages and to learn to integrate theoretical, visual, and technical aspects of visualizations that engage a broad range of audiences. The curriculum is built upon an established undergraduate program in graphic, information, and interaction design and seeks applicants from diverse fields of study who are interested in information visualization and communication of information. Practicing professionals and recent undergraduates in a variety of fields (architecture, graphic design, journalism, communications, business, the humanities, and sciences) who desire a fluency in information design should apply.

Learn more about our projects, students and faculty at

View University Course Catalog

Interests of Information Design and Visualization, MFA Students

  • Augmented Reality
  • Creative Coding and Prototyping
  • data
  • data analysis
  • design
  • Ethics and social implications of digital technology
  • Human-centered Design
  • information design
  • Innovation
  • interaction design and user experience
  • Interactive Data Visualization
  • Mixed Reality
  • Perception and cognition
  • technology
  • video
  • Virtual Reality
  • Visual Languages and Communication
  • visual storytelling
  • Visual strategy and interdisciplinary collaboration

Co-op Opportunities

  • The Broad Institute
    Cambridge, MA
  • Thomson Reuters
    Cambridge, MA
  • Philips Research (HealthTech and Lighting)
    Cambridge, MA
  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
    Boston, MA
View all co-ops for Art + Design

Career Opportunities

  • Multidisciplinary Skills
    • Programming
    • Scripting
    • User mapping
    • User stories
    • User observation
    • Personas
    • Human factors
    • 3D modeling
    • User testing
  • Careers of Tomorrow
    • Information Designer
    • Data Visualization Expert
    • User Experience Designer
    • Interaction Designer
    • Visual Strategist
    • Visual Communication Expert
    • Researcher
    • Entrepreneur

Resources for Current Students

Course Catalog

Visit the Registrar website for a course catalog and information on university core requirements.

View University Course Catalog

Course Plan

The degree requires 60 credit hours over two academic years, with an option to engage in Northeastern’s renowned cooperative education (co-op) program. A thesis project and an accompanying written thesis are required. The program offers studio courses and seminars in design, data analysis, programming, research methodologies and historical and cultural literacy plus lectures from visiting artists and researchers.

Fall semester 1 is dedicated to foundations, including an introductory course in information visualization and visual communication, a seminar on the history of visualization, a studio course, and an introduction to programming with d3. Students with strong prior experience in programming can replace the latter course with an elective.

Spring semester 2 is dedicated to the exploration of diverse research topics. In Studio 2 you will create an interactive visualization project; in information design theory, you will obtain theoretical background in design theory and concept mapping; the research methods class will prepare you for the thesis process by introducing you to different research methods; and an open elective will allow you to pick a research theme you are interested in.

Fall semester 3 is dedicated to developing your thesis in theory and practice. All courses in this semester are dedicated to this goal, including the research seminar and the Studio 3 course. Two electives allow you to add competencies related to your thesis topic.

During spring semester 4, Students will finalize their thesis and work on the thesis exhibition.

Fall Semester 1
ARTG 5100. Information Design Studio 1: Principles

ARTG 5110. Information Design History

ARTG 5130. Visual Communication for Information Design

ARTG 5330. Visualization Technologies 1

Spring Semester 2
ARTG 6100. Information Design Studio 2: Dynamic Mapping and Models

ARTG 6110. Information Design Theory and Critical Thinking

ARTG 5120. Research Methods for Design

Information Design Elective

Fall Semester 3
ARTG 6200. Information Design Studio 3: Synthesis

ARTG 7100. Thesis Seminar for Design

Information Design Elective

Information Design Elective

Spring Semester 4
ARTG 7990. Thesis.

Information Design Elective

Program Coordinators:

Dietmar Offenhuber

Associate Professor; Art + Design and Public Policy; Head of Information Design and Visualization graduate program

Department Chair:

Tad Hirsch

Department Chair, Professor


Cathy Bright

Graduate Enrollment Manager

Co-op Advisors:

Dori Peleg Mazor

Co-op Coordinator

View Art + Design faculty and staff