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Information Design and Data Visualization, MS

The Information Design and Data Visualization program uniquely combines analytical methods with distinctive training in visual communication. Successful graduates gain expertise in the visual and technological languages of data, applying modes of visual cognition and using analytics tools to create interactive, data-driven communication and installations. This design-centric program prepares graduates to collaborate across a variety of fields and settings, crossing the bridge between technology, public communication and systems design.

Image Credit: Arushi Singh

The College of Arts, Media and Design offers three Information Design and Data 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 Data 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.

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The Master of Science in Information Design and Data 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 Data 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 Data 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.

The MS in Information Design and Data Visualization is a STEM-designated degree.

Study in Vancouver, BC

The MS in Information Design and Data Visualization program is also available at Northeastern University in Vancouver. The curriculum is designed to meet the needs of students through flexible delivery and is comprised of 9 required courses, totaling 32 semester hours.

The standard plan of study has the duration of two years, having students take two courses (8 credits) per semester. The program culminates with a written thesis on an information design/data visualization project. Students will start exploring and developing the project in the Information Design Studio 2 course and will be provided with a thesis advisor in their last semester. The thesis course accounts for individual student work and writing developed under the supervision of the advisor.

Learning Outcomes

Students will gain the skills to design and implement visual and interactive information displays that clarify complex matters, explain processes, reveal insights, elucidate concepts and relate stories. The program will guide them how to:

  • Articulate knowledge of the design principles, theories, and technologies of information design and data visualization.
  • Represent information in visual languages that take advantage of the properties of human perception and cognitive capabilities, accurately represent the underlying data structures, and support the desired tasks to be accomplished by the user.
  • Demonstrate facility with developing and investigating research questions through qualitative and quantitative methods in all stages of data collection, transformation, and analysis that accompany the production and evaluation of data visualizations.
  • Use emerging technologies and visualization techniques to explore and reveal meaningful patterns in large data sources.
  • Compare, evaluate, and critique information design artifacts based on the ethics, history, and cultures of visual communication.
  • Critically reflect on the role of data and abstract information in practices of knowledge production and society, and articulate arguments informed by the contemporary scholarly discourse and its relevant theoretical and critical positions.

Career Opportunities

  • Design researcher
  • Data Visualization Expert
  • Information Designer
  • Interaction Designer
  • User Experience Designer
  • Visual Communication Expert
  • Visualization Researcher
  • Visual Strategist

Multidisciplinary Skills

  • Data analysis
  • Human factors
  • Design critique
  • Design process
  • Data physicalization
  • Programming
  • User-scenario mapping and observation
  • User testing

Co-op Opportunities

  • The Broad Institute
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Philips Research (HealthTech and Lighting)
  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority


Additional resources

Program Coordinator

Admissions Contact