In graduate fine art education a distinction between an MA and an MFA is often made. An MA is a one year full-time (or two years part-time) education in fine art that introduces students to the subject at the graduate level. By contrast, the MFA is a two-year full time professional education aimed at preparing students for professional practice as an artist. The MFA takes students further into becoming an artist than the MA. Internationally the best fine art master's courses share this two-year full-time structure and professional orientation. In the USA the Master of Fine Art is generally accepted as the terminal degree in studio arts and is a pre-requisite for teaching in university level education.
Our MFA programme is unique. The environment of this programme gives students the time and space to create and debate art in the inspirational landscape of the Burren, free from urban distractions. This is an ideal location for high level reflection and energetic creation. The remote yet internationally connected aspects of the college combine to place it at the confluence of European and American cultures. This is a place of international ideas yet it has its own distinctive cultural heritage that is five thousand years old.
The programme is operated as an integrated and progressive learning experience resulting in students' readiness for artistic practice and public exhibition. The modules deal with distinct aspects of artistic practice but are operated together as parts of one holistic experience.
Studio Research: These modules introduce students to the concepts and methods of art research that envision studio based artistic endeavour as a process of enquiry that can generate new knowledge and understanding. As the core of the programme, they enable students to contribute to knowledge and understanding of art by means of their own artistic production. The fields of enquiry are determined individually for each student by negotiation between the student and the Dean. These modules conclude in a thesis exhibition.