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Program Description

MFA in Applied Craft + Design

Connecting design thinking to design doing, the MFA in Applied Craft + Design program is grounded in hands-on making, entrepreneurial strategies, and social and environmental engagement.

With a curriculum focused on the development of a strong artistic voice, the realization of work for a specific community or client, and entrepreneurism that connects making a living with making a difference, the MFA in Applied Craft and Design is the only graduate program of its kind.

Combining a mentor-based approach with an exceptional visiting artists program, students work one-on-one with nationally and internationally recognized designers, makers, and scholars in a self-directed curriculum that challenges them to bring to life the full strength of their ideas and skills.

Encouraging a cross-disciplinary studio environment in which the workshop is a lab to collaboratively explore design and making processes, the mentor-based MFA in Applied Craft and Design welcomes students from a wide range of creative backgrounds to make original work with an applied purpose.

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Student Work

Portfolio Day

Sign up for a portfolio review with Applied Craft + Design

2021 AC+D Portfolio Review Days:
January 16, 2021 - open for registration now!
March 13, 2021 - registration opens February 1, 2021

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I was especially drawn to the program's focus on "thinking through making" as I've always been able to think best when I'm making things.

Bukola Koiki '15

Program Highlight

Design Build

Every fall the program kicks off with a two-week Design Build project in with a community group. Design Build 2012 resulted in a public bike repair shop and community hub. From day one, incoming students learn to practice effective communication and gain familiarity with studio workshops and tools to establish a strong foundation for the rest of their graduate experience.

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In 2009, the MFA in Applied Craft + Design was founded jointly by Pacific Northwest College of Art and Oregon College of Art and Craft. It was and remains an innovative program, the first of its kind, that embraces design thinking with the hand…with an entrepreneurial bent. The launch of the program followed comprehensive feasibility studies by an MFA Task Force of OCAC and PNCA faculty members. The OCAC/PNCA MFA program accepted 15 students in its first year. JP Reuer, architect and founding member of DesignBox, was the founding chair. Award winning artist Heidi Schwegler, followed as chair until 2018 when she left to launch the Yucca Valley Material Lab.

From 2009 to 2019 the program was headquartered in the Bison Building in NE Portland. In 2019, the program moved to PNCA’s Glass Building at 2139 N Kerby.

In 2019 Oregon College of Art and Craft closed, and the MFA in Applied Craft and Design is now housed solely among the eight graduate programs of the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies at PNCA.

Get in Touch

Get in touch with MFA in Applied Craft + Design Chair, Sara Huston at, to schedule a tour or to learn more.

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