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Program Description

MFA in Applied Craft + Design

The MFA in Applied Craft and Design is a one-of-a-kind masters program grounded in hands-on making, entrepreneurial strategies, and social and environmental engagement. The program embraces an approach to design rooted in the culture and community of craft, emphasizing learning from materials to ground concepts.  

With a curriculum focused on developing a strong artistic voice, the realization of work that is in service to others, and entrepreneurship 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 lecture series and regional craft salons, students work one-on-one with nationally and internationally recognized designers, craftspeople, makers, and scholars in a self-directed curriculum that challenges them to bring to life the full strength of their ideas and skills.

The program welcomes students from a wide range of creative backgrounds to create work with an applied purpose.

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Student Work

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 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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History

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 Program Head, Sara Huston at sbhuston@willamette.edu, to schedule a tour or to learn more.

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