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Information Design and Visualization, MFA / MS / Certificate

The Information Design and Visualization program 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 College of Arts, Media and Design offers three Information Design and Visualization graduate degree options to meet the unique goals and aspirations of individual learners: a Master of Fine Arts (MFA), a Master of Science (MS), and a Graduate Certificate. Students in the Information Design and Visualization program gain an understanding of translating data and information into visual languages and learn to integrate theoretical, visual, and technical aspects of visualizations that engage a broad range of audiences. 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. 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 http://northeastern.edu/visualization/.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) · 2-year program

The MFA program trains students in harnessing visual languages to support discovery and communicate information across a range of disciplines. 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.

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, a written thesis, and an accompanying work exhibition in our thesis show 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 in visualization technologies. 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, you will finalize your thesis and work on the thesis exhibition.

Master of Science (MS) · 1-year program

The Master of Science in Information Design and Visualization is a two-semester research and analysis-oriented program focusing on visual interfaces to communicate and explore digital information. Graduates will be professional information designers and data visualization experts able to collaborate effectively in this dynamic and burgeoning field of practice and research, prepared to work in data-driven areas including design, technology, business, health, education and public institutions. The curriculum is designed to train students in design principles, critical inquiry and the analytical and creative practices needed to assume leadership roles in an evolving interdisciplinary field. Course work focuses on the translation of data and information into visual languages, and the integration of theoretical, cognitive and technical aspects of visualizations that engage a broad range of audiences. Embedded in CAMD’s Information Design and Visualization graduate course offerings, the MS is a designated STEM degree that strengthens students’ quantitative research skills and technical competencies. From this master’s program, students have multiple options to expand their advanced studies along diverse avenues, including adding Graduate Certificates in related topics, engaging in co-op opportunities, and applying to proceed academically into a terminal Master of Fine Arts degree.

The MS in Information Design and Visualization is a 1-year, 32-credit hour program.

Semester 1 is dedicated to foundations, including introductory courses in information visualization and visual communication principles and practices, visualization technologies, design studio, and visual cognition.

Semester 2 continues foundational training in statistics and data analysis, information design theory and critical thinking, and provides an advanced studio and information design elective allowing students to focus their studies along lines of individual interest.

Graduate Certificate

The graduate certificate is intended for practitioners and students from related fields – media, design, communications, data science, and more – who would like to acquire competencies in information design and data visualization to complement their skills and address their professional needs. Embedded in the course offering of the Master of Fine Arts and the Master of Science in Information Design and Visualization program, students in the certificate program will have the opportunity to join other graduate students for guest lectures and workshops. Throughout the course of the certificate, students learn how to think visually, while also learning how to produce effective, meaningful visual information from various sources of data. Graduates are professionals who are prepared to tackle new information communication challenges and communicate and collaborate with researchers in a variety of fields, as well as stakeholders and the public. The graduate certificate consists of 16 credit hours. Students take two core courses and two electives.

View University Course Catalog

Interests of Information Design and Visualization, MFA / MS / Certificate Students

  • advocacy
  • Animation
  • Augmented Reality
  • communication
  • Computer graphics
  • computer science
  • data
  • data analysis
  • Data explanation
  • design
  • Design processes
  • digital media
  • Graphic design
  • Human-centered Design
  • information design
  • Innovation
  • interaction design and user experience
  • Interactive Data Visualization
  • New media technologies
  • Perception and cognition
  • storytelling
  • technology
  • video
  • Virtual Reality
  • visual storytelling

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
    • Data analysis
    • Design critique
    • Design process
    • Data physicalization
    • Human factors
    • Programming
    • User-scenario mapping and observation
    • User testing
  • Careers of Tomorrow
    • Design researcher
    • Data Visualization Expert
    • Information Designer
    • Interaction Designer
    • User Experience Designer
    • Visual Communication Expert
    • Visualization Researcher
    • Visual Strategist

Information Design and Visualization, MFA / MS / Certificate Requirements

*For complete program course listing, visit the University course catalog.

Resources for Current Students

Course Catalog

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

View University Course Catalog

Program Coordinators:

Pedro M. Cruz

Assistant Professor; Art + Design

p.cruz@northeastern.edu
617-373-5129

Department Chair:

Ed Andrews

Associate Professor, Interim Department Chair

e.andrews@northeastern.edu
617-373-4081

Administrators:

Cathy Bright

Graduate Enrollment Manager

c.bright@northeastern.edu
617-373-2566

Co-op Advisors:

Dori Peleg Mazor

Co-op Coordinator

d.mazor@northeastern.edu
617-373-3439

View Art + Design faculty and staff