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Master’s Program

Ad School. Grad School.

For the last 25+ years, we’ve been committed to developing the most prominent thinkers and creatives in the advertising and branding industry. More than 2,000 alumni have launched or accelerated their careers through our two-year, full-time master’s program for Art Direction, Copywriting, Creative Brand Management, Experience Design, and Strategy.

Combining the best of portfolio schools with the best of academic programs and operating like a real-world agency or creative studio, our program offers you a one-of-a-kind, transformative experience and provides you with unmatched career preparation.

Sixty weeks. Total transformation.

From the moment you set foot in the Brandcenter, you’ll feel part of a group of smart, creative, talented, and deeply committed people from diverse backgrounds, all working toward a common goal.

Under the mentorship of professors with extensive industry experience, you will master your craft in your chosen concentration, as well as work collaboratively with your classmates across concentrations.

Together, you will work in teams to tackle real-world problems in the world of brands and come up with ideas and solutions that have the power to truly make a difference.

The work will be intense, but the rewards will be sweet.

At the end of your sixty weeks, your work will be stronger than you could have ever imagined and you will have grown personally and professionally in ways you never thought possible. You will graduate with:

  • an M.S. in Business/Branding within your chosen concentration
  • a robust and polished portfolio of creative and strategic work
  • a mastery of your craft
  • a new approach to thinking and solving problems
  • a myriad of hard and soft skills—from collaboration to persuasion
  • a powerful network of alumni and hundreds of industry connections

“Here at Brandcenter, we’re running around like a bunch of chickens with our heads cut off. We are also a bunch of insanely talented scholars who have made a conscious choice to put another part of our lives on pause because we are fascinated by the possibilities that our creative minds possess. This school is the definition of sacrifice, and it’s also the definition of reward.”

Alex Fried (Art Direction, 2023)

The basement of the Brandcenter with a sign on the brick wall that says "Welcome to the school that will teach you to be more like yourself and less like everybody else."

The five concentrations

Each concentration represents an important industry discipline, and you’ll choose one to study. You will master your craft in your chosen concentration and work collaboratively with your classmates across concentrations.

Art Direction

Art Directors create and curate the visual expression of a brand.

Copywriting

Copywriters craft words to tell stories that create ultimate impact.

Creative Brand Management

Business-, people-, and leadership-savvy, Creative Brand Managers lead client and agency teams to accomplish business objectives through creative solutions.

Experience Design

Experience Designers use the principles of human-centered design to develop digital products and physical experiences where brands and people interact.

Strategy

Strategists use their powers of curiosity about people, culture, and brands to drive strategy for advertising and brand communications.

How to determine which concentration is for you

When choosing your concentration, consider which best aligns with your talents, potential, and career aspirations.

What do you want to do beyond the Brandcenter? Do you want to be an art director? A copywriter? A strategist or an account manager? An experience designer (or maybe a user experience (UX) designer, user interface (UI) designer, or digital product designer)?

While there are certainly other relevant and possible career paths, the concentrations focus on and prepare you to hit the ground running in these roles.

What are your skills and interests? Take a look at the prerequisites and application prompts for each concentration to see which feels most interesting or exciting or most like you.

What each concentration does on all-concentration team projects

ART DIRECTORS + COPYWRITERS

  • Using business insights from creative brand managers and consumer/cultural insights from strategists, develop creative ideas to solve business challenges, engage consumers, and bring brands to life
  • While copywriters generally focus on writing and art directors generally focus on visual design, most CW/AD teams collaborate on all creative aspects

CREATIVE BRAND MANAGERS

  • Focus on a client’s business, category, and competitors
  • Lead internal, cross-functional teams
  • Ensure creative work meets business objectives; evaluate ROI when possible

EXPERIENCE DESIGNERS

  • Develop and design digital products and/or physical experiences where brands and people interact
  • Focus on the user experience for the product or experience they’re designing
  • Provide guidance and ideas regarding new/emerging technologies

STRATEGISTS

  • Focus on consumers and culture
  • Lead research efforts (develop a research plan, conduct field research, and analyze results)
  • Turn research data into insights, develop strategic direction, and work with creative partners to create concepts/work inspired by strategic direction
Student seen through screen of a camera while shooting a video

The curriculum

Approximately 70% of the work you’ll do is collaborative, leading to creatives who think strategically, and account managers and strategists who fully understand the creative process. At the Brandcenter, no one is only creative or strategic, everyone is both. This makes the ideas bigger and smarter and the work better.

Semester 1

Course (Who takes it)

  • The Business of Branding (All concentrations)
  • Craft for Experience Designers (Experience Design)
  • Craft for Strategists (Strategy)
  • Creative Thinking (All concentrations)
  • Physical Computing I (Experience Design)
  • Problem Solving for Art Directors (Art Direction)
  • Problem Solving for Copywriters (Copywriting)
  • Research Methodologies (Creative Brand Management)
  • Strategic Thinking (Creative Brand Management + Strategy)
  • Visual Storytelling (Art Direction + Copywriting)
Semester 2

Course (Who takes it)

  • Accounting (Creative Brand Management)
  • Brand Analytics (Creative Brand Management)
  • Brand Design for Brand Managers (Creative Brand Management)
  • Brand Engagement (Copywriting)
  • Comms Planning + UX (Strategy)
  • Concept Development (Art Direction + Copywriting)
  • Craft for Creative Brand Managers (Creative Brand Management)
  • Craft for Art Directors (Art Direction)
  • Craft for Copywriters (Copywriting)
  • Persuasion for Strategists (Strategy)
  • Strategy + Design (Experience Design + Strategy)
  • User Participation Platforms (Art Direction + Experience Design)
  • Visual Storytelling (Experience Design)
  • Visual Storytelling (Strategy)
Semester 3

Course (Who takes it)

  • Advanced Brand Management (Creative Brand Management)
  • Brand Experiences (All concentrations)
  • Creating Gravitational Pull (Experience Design)
  • Creative Fusion (Art Direction + Copywriting + Strategy)
  • Cultural Impact: Advanced Account Planning (Strategy)
  • Experimentation (Art Direction + Copywriting + Experience Design)
  • Persuasion (Creative Brand Management)
  • Physical Computing II (Experience Design)
  • Portfolio Development (Art Direction + Copywriting)
Semester 4

Course (Who takes it)

  • Advanced Portfolio for Creative Brand Managers (Creative Brand Management)
  • Advanced Portfolio for Art Directors (Art Direction)
  • Advanced Portfolio for Copywriters (Copywriting)
  • Advanced Portfolio for Experience Designers (Experience Design)
  • Advanced Portfolio for Strategists (Strategy)
  • Applied Brand Management (Creative Brand Management)
  • Creating Gravitational Pull (Strategy)
  • Innovation (All concentrations)
  • Persuasion (Art Direction + Copywriting + Experience Design)

You’ll also have the opportunity to work with real clients from agencies and brands on real projects solving real business problems, through in-class projects, side projects, and our five-day Sprint competition.

See our recent partners

The Martin Agency logo
FCB Chicago logo
Walmart logo
airbnb logo
Google logo
AXE logo
Lumē logo
Clorox logo
Amazon Music logo
Oatly! logo
Upwork logo
WORN logo
Hardywood Brewery logo
iHop logo
Spotify logo
Lyft logo
Pinterest logo
Capital One logo
Old Elk logo
Ritz logo
Buffalo Wild Wings logo
Nonfiction research logo
Door Dash logo

And, we’ll provide you with numerous opportunities to learn from, be inspired by, and connect with industry leaders each week at Forum. See our Forum lineup.

The work

Want a glimpse of our students’ inspiring and creative work? Check out the portfolios of our most recent grads.

Student Portfolios

View the portfolios of the Brandcenter's most recent graduating class.

The placement

When it comes to job placement, internships, and career preparation, we’ll give you the tools and exposure you need.

Placement

See where Brandcenter students and grads are hired and how we help prepare them for their careers.

Our students

By the Numbers

  • 20-51 | Age Range
  • 39% | Racial, Ethnic Diversity
  • 54% In-State & 46% Out-Of-State, representing 5+ countries
  • 3.4 | Average Undergrad GPA
  • 66% | Prior Work Experience (in various fields & industries)

Tales from Sixty—Student Stories

On our Tales from Sixty blog, our students and alumni share what brought them to the Brandcenter, what they gained from their time here, and more. Read their stories.

  • News

    Ed poses with his son, Graham, in the Brandcenter basement

    News

    Bad timing, baby

    November 6, 2023

    Ed Keithly (Strategy, 2024) decided to make a career pivot. The timing could not have been worse … or better. His first year at Brandcenter coincided with the birth of his first son.

  • News

    An image showing the two versions of Jade—the finance Jade and the artist Jade—sitting on the couch together.

    News

    On uncertainty

    October 10, 2023

    Jade Chen (Art Direction, 2024) worked in finance before the Brandcenter. Feeling called to embrace her creative side, and with fear of being trapped on a path she hated, she pursued art direction.

  • News

    Headshot of Taylor Martin

    News

    There’s a job for that

    September 12, 2023

    Taylor Martin (Art Direction, 2024) was a third-grade teacher. To satisfy her craving to create, she started anew at the Brandcenter and is on the path to becoming an art director.

View All

Students posing after a kickball game

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Apply

Apply for our two-year, full-time master's program for art direction, copywriting, creative brand management, experience design, and strategy.

Visit

To learn more about the Brandcenter and our programs, schedule a meeting with admissions, sign up for a visit, or register for an event.

Tuition & Aid

Tuition and scholarship information for the Brandcenter master's program, plus other resources to fund your education.