Reopen: MICA's Fall 2020 All-Online Opening

Teaching and Learning for Fall 2020

Teaching and Learning Reopening Overview

MICA provides an educational environment that empowers students to learn, to develop as professionals, and to activate their voices and their practices in the context of a critical creative community. While the pandemic has caused significant changes in how we make and share as a community, we are committed as artists, designers and educators, to the health and well-being of our community and to developing inspired solutions in the face of these new and challenging conditions.

Our reopening plan is based on an on-time start, with all classes beginning on August 31, 2020, and provisions in our calendar and instructional approach to address late arrivals, necessary quarantines, and the heightened need for strong public health measures to protect all students, staff and faculty. These public health measures will involve remapping our campus in line with requirements for physical distancing and modifying our practices of teaching, learning, and community gathering. 

High Flexibility / Low Density

Our plan is based on a high flexibility/low density approach to teaching and learning that maximizes our ability to offer online and hybrid courses, while maintaining in-person instruction (modified for public health) and access to MICA’s physical campus (including studios, shops, and labs) on a prioritized basis.

This approach allows students a range of options—from fully online to hybrid and in-person instruction — in building their academic plans and provides faculty with a high degree of flexibility in redesigning their course offerings. Our goal is to provide all continuing students with options that will allow them to progress in their degree plans, and all new students to begin their studies at MICA in the Fall of 2020.

Instructional Approach

Our preparations for the Fall 2020 reopening include:

  • Redesigning our courses and programs to use a blend of online/remote, hybrid and modified in-person teaching strategies;
  • Reworking the academic calendar to address the need to constrain travel, provide quarantine, and address other necessary public health measures; and
  • Building specific instructional and learning supports for faculty, staff and students appropriate to online/remote, hybrid and modified in-person modes of educational delivery.

For Fall 2020, most liberal arts courses will be taught in online/remote mode. Most undergraduate studio courses will be taught in online/remote or hybrid formats, with the balance between in-person and online instruction to be determined by the demands of the course, the needs for access to certain shops and facilities, and reduced space capacities associated with physical distancing and other public health measures. Graduate programs will deploy a mix of online/remote and hybrid modalities, prioritizing in-person instruction where necessary and appropriate.

All of our programs and courses are currently being redesigned in line with this approach and the remapping of campus spaces following our health and safety protocols for physical distancing and cleaning of facilities. All undergraduate and graduate programs and departments are completing curriculum redesign plans utilizing the range of online/remote, hybrid, and modified face-to-face approaches to course delivery. This modified schedule of courses will include the following designations for individual courses:

  • ONLINE (can be completed fully remotely)
  • HYBRID (can be completed mostly remotely; must be on campus for limited in-person meetings)
  • MODIFIED IN-PERSON (must be completed mostly physically; must be on campus for more extended in-person meetings)

For undergraduate students, this modified curriculum will be available in mid-July for schedule adjustments (drop/add) and advising through Student Academic Advising. This will allow every student to understand the academic and residential requirements of the courses and to construct an academic plan that addresses their specific academic, travel/immigration and wellness needs.

For graduate students, all program plans will be completed in late-July. For more information and advising regarding the academic and residential requirements of specific programs please contact the Office of Graduate Studies at:

Fall 2020 Academic Calendar

MICA will commence instruction on Monday, August 31, 2020, in line with the published dates of the 2020-2021 Academic Calendar. Given current travel guidelines, students coming to MICA from outside the United States should expect to undergo a 14-day quarantine period, which will be supported academically by ensuring that all courses will be accessible through online/remote or asynchronous assignments through the the first two weeks of classes. In addition, we will be able to support students who have travel related or other delays that prevent their arrival through September 7th, which is the end of the “add” period.

In line with the guidance we have received from public health agencies, we have built an academic calendar that includes the following special provisions for travel issues and public health concerns:

  • A two week arrival/orientation period and a two week period of classes at the beginning of the semester where students will be able to progress in their classes remotely in order to allow time, if necessary, for quarantines or related testing;
  • Fall break will be cancelled in order to maximize the time available for on-campus work before Thanksgiving and minimize the risks associated with travel;
  • All in-person teaching for undergraduates will end after Thanksgiving break and the undergraduate residence halls will be closed in order to eliminate the health risks of holiday travel and return to campus. All undergraduate courses will plan for online/remote-only instruction commencing on November 30th. All graduate programs will plan for enhanced low density instruction for the period from November 30th to December 18th.

Undergraduate Studies

MICA faculty are actively planning their fall courses in order to prioritize public health and safety protocols. All Liberal Arts courses will be delivered primarily online. All studio classes will be adapted to be taught in online/remote and hybrid modes to allow faculty, staff, and students to work online or in-person in highly controlled campus environments with greatly reduced risks. The percentage of online/remote to in-person instruction for hybrid studio courses will vary from program-to-program and course-to-course and is dependent on the course learning outcomes, the departmental curriculum, and modified space capacities relating to physical distancing requirements.

Undergraduate Studies will assist in supporting all faculty this academic year in the implementation of anti-racist training and ongoing longer-term pedagogical change. Our community intends to provide all new and returning students with the safest possible environment for an art, design and liberal arts education relevant to the creative challenges and opportunities of our times.

In anticipation of prolonged delays in arrival for first-year international students, we have developed a full-semester online option for first-year international undergraduate students: MICA First Year International (FYI) online program. This program will allow any international student who cannot arrive on campus in time for the August 31 start due to visa delays or travel restrictions the ability to complete the Fall semester online and join their first year cohort FYE class in the Spring. Incoming first-year international students should remain in active communication with the Academic Advisor for FYE, their Admissions counselor and the Office of International Education ( regarding their travel plans.

In addition, MICA undergraduate faculty are preparing program and course plans that will provide options for most students to progress in their degree plans either mostly or entirely online. A complete list of this modified curriculum will be available in mid-July for schedule adjustments (drop/add) and advising through Student Academic Advising. Students who want to pursue a mostly or entirely online fall course schedule will need to follow the Adjustments to Learning process and can submit the request form prior to the release of the modified curriculum.

For more information please contact Undergraduate Studies at:

Graduate Studies

The 14 programs within Graduate Studies have four qualities in common: small cohorts of students, specialized rigorous curricula, a campus location with space and resources customized to program needs, and faculty and guests recognized for their expertise in the discipline. Within these four shared qualities, each program is quite distinctive. Therefore, Graduate Studies is taking a program-by-program approach to planning instruction for the 2020-2021 Academic Year:

  • Through regular contact with new and returning students in advance of the fall semester, cohorts will be informed about program-specific plans as those are developed;
  • by creating a blend of in-person and online educational experiences that support a program’s specialized and rigorous curriculum, faculty will engage students with the theories and practices central to the fall curricula;
  • by integrating unique program needs with pan-institutional guidelines and resources, each program space will be prepared to facilitate physical distancing protocols and the well-being of everyone working in the space;
  • and students, faculty, staff, and program guests will follow the MICA community health and safety guidelines in order to best assure their own health and well-being as well as that of the entire community.

Note that the percentage of online/remote instruction available will vary from program to program. Students who want to pursue a mostly or entirely online fall course schedule will need to follow the Adjustments to Learning process and can submit the request form prior to the release of the modified curriculum.

In addition to this program-by-program approach, Graduate Studies will support all programs in a community-wide effort to: enhance support for BIPoC students, implement anti-racist curricular and pedagogical change, and transform as necessary in order to afford everyone the safest possible environment within which to undertake a graduate art-and-design education relevant to the creative challenges and opportunities of our times. Relatedly, since campus-wide implementation of public safety measures will be underway throughout the first two phases of reopening, with limited staff permitted on campus, graduate student access to individually-assigned spaces will begin in late August. Please contact Graduate Studies with any questions:

MA/MBA Design Leadership

The Foundations of Design Leadership course (required summer session), scheduled for August 4-20, 2020 has been moved online. Students entering their first year of the Master of Arts/Master of Business Administration in Design Leadership will attend this summer session remotely. Fall 1 (8/31-10/23) and Fall 2 (10/26-12/18) academic terms are currently scheduled to be on MICA’s campus. Details are being finalized to ensure access to classroom and other academic resources. Students should anticipate a need for physical distancing and limits on numbers of individuals in classrooms and labs. MICA will also supplement live classroom experiences with digital instruction to guarantee full access to program curriculum.

Master of Professional Studies (MPS) Programs

Open Studies offers three online Master of Professional Studies (MPS) programs: Business of Art and Design (BAD), Data Analytics and Visualization (DAV), and User Experience Design (UXD). All MPS programs are offered exclusively online and will continue in that mode. Program residencies that have typically been hosted on MICA’s campus will be online for the fall term.

Community Education & Professional Practice

For lifelong learners and art and design professionals Open Studies offers classes through our Community Education (CE) and Professional Practices (PP) programs. For Fall 2020 MICA will offer all CE and PP classes remotely. There will be no onsite classes at the MICA campus.

Please contact Open Studies with any questions at:

Youth Programs

For children and teens, Open Studies offers art and design classes through our Young People’s Studios (YPS) and the Art and Design College Accelerator Program (ADCAP) programs. For Fall 2020 MICA will offer all YPS classes and ADCAP programming remotely. There will be no classes offered at the MICA campus or through our partnership with the St. Paul’s Schools in Brooklandville, Maryland.

Please contact Open Studies with any questions at: (for YPS) and (for ADCAP)