United States Masters of Fine Arts Programs
Masters of Fine Arts
Masters of Fine Arts, also called MFA degrees, offer graduate students the opportunity to study diverse subjects, from film-making and theater to creative writing and graphic design. MFA programs typically require 2-3 years of full time study and may offer some practical and applied learning, as well as lessons in technique and theory.
How Can I Earn a MFA Degree?
A Masters of Fine Arts (MFA, or M.F.A.) degree is considered a ‘terminal’ degree, meaning it is the highest academic degree available in the Fine Arts. Though there are exceptions, an MFA is typically enough credential for individuals aspiring to teach Visual Art, Design, Dance, Photography, Theatre, Film/Video, New Media, and Creative Writing at the university level. To apply for admission into a Master of Fine Arts program, students must possess a Bachelor’s degree, such as a Bachelors of Fine Art. Some MFA degree programs may also require a portfolio or audition as part of the admission procedure.
Working towards a MFA degree allows students of the arts to demonstrate and refine artistic and creative abilities, enhance conceptual development and improve techniques within a specialty field. Students may choose to focus their MFA program on a number of different areas, including administrative roles such as theatre management or arts administration. Potential areas of focus are listed below.
- Visual arts
- Creative writing
- Graphic design
- Performing arts
Masters of Fine Arts Programs Potential Curriculum
General Master of Fine Arts Degrees are typically oriented toward creative production. Many classes are designed to help each student acquire the technical and theoretical resources, as well as the confidence, to set up professional practice in today's art world. Individualism of thought and execution is often encouraged so that artists develop in order to meet the challenges in professional careers. Masters of Fine Arts courses may be offered in a wide range of subjects, as today’s artist works in different careers, mediums and industries. That said, common topics students in MFA programs might explore may include those listed below.
- Fine Arts: including theory and techniques to compose, produce or perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, painting, printmaking, and sculpture, studio arts, art history
- Design: techniques, tools and principles involved in precise technical plans, blueprints or drawings
- Personal service: meeting quality standards, professionalism and client care
- Sales and marketing: how to show, promote or sell products and services with marketing strategy and other sales techniques
We asked Michael Graber, Managing Partner for Southern Growth Studio, how earning a MFA degree has influence in the business sector:
“MFAs listen to the wants and needs of real people. They gain a critical contextual awareness for whom they are designing products.” Click to Tweet!
Michael Graber, Managing Partner for Southern Growth Studio
What Can I Do With A Master in Fine Arts?
Fine Artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original artwork using a variety of different methods and media. Some of the industries with the highest levels of employment in this occupation include:
- Independent artists, writers, performers
- Motion picture and video industries
- Miscellaneous store retailers
- Newspaper, periodical book, and directory publishers
- Software Publishers
Other potential career paths for graduates of Masters of Fine Arts programs might include:
- Art Directors: responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, movie and television productions
- Photographers: use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that visually tell stories
- Multimedia Artists and Animators: create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games and other media
- Web Developers: design and create websites
- Graphic Designers: create visual concepts by hand or computer software and develop layout and production design for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports
- Technical Writers: prepare instruction manuals, journal articles and other documents
- Writers and Authors: develop content for advertisements, books, magazines, movies, television, songs and other publications
- Art, Drama and Music Teachers: teach courses in drama, music, and the arts including fine and applied art, such as painting and sculpture, or design and crafts. Some do a combination of both teaching and research.
The Master of Fine Arts differs from the Master of Arts in that the MFA, while an academic program, centers around practice in the particular field, whereas programs leading to the MA usually center on the scholarly, academic, or critical study of the field.
Find Masters of Fine Arts Degree Programs
Whatever creative path you are drawn to, earning a Master in Fine Arts Degree might help you refine your talents, cultivate new skills and prepare for a variety of career paths. Advanced education might provide artists an opportunity to develop their portfolio, which is essential, because art directors, clients, and others look at them when deciding whether to hire the artist or to buy their work. Search GradSchools.com to help you find an MFA program that will take your ingenuity and artistry to the next level!
- San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
California Institute of Integral Studies
An innovative interdisciplinary MFA program for a changing world.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
One of the best online graduate education programs in the country, according to the 2013 U.S. News and World Report survey.
- West Hartford, CTWest Hartford, CT
University of Hartford
This prestigious program is the ONLY Low Residency MFA in the country that is dedicated exclusively to Illustration.
- New York City, NYNew York City, NY
This full-time graduate program provides an in-depth study of the relationships between art, law and business and how they influence the commercial art world...
- New York City, NY
- Columbus, OHColumbus, OH
Columbus College of Art & Design
The MFA focuses on individual artistic/design development and creative leadership.
- Brooklyn, NYBrooklyn, NY
The mission of graduate studies in the History of Art & Design Department is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to pursue careers as art and design historians and professionals in museums, galleries, and libraries, or to pursue graduate...
- Brooklyn, NY
- Nacogdoches, TXNacogdoches, TX
Stephen F Austin State University
- Manhattan, KSManhattan, KS
Kansas State University
As established by the College Art Association and accepted by all accredited universities, the master of fine arts degree is the terminal degree in vi...
- Ashland, OHAshland, OH
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing: Poetry and Creative Nonfiction...
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Northwestern State University offers a comprehensive Master’s degree for the transitional professional.
- Memphis, TNMemphis, TN
Memphis College Of Art
As a studio intensive program, the MFA at Memphis College of Art offers a catalytic environment with the goal of developing artistic practices that co...
- Oswego, NYOswego, NY
- Purchase, NYPurchase, NY
Purchase College - State University Of New York
The MA Program in Modern and Contemporary Art, Criticism and Theory at Purchase College offers a unique interdisciplinary approach.
- Purchase, NY
- Statesboro, GAStatesboro, GA
Georgia Southern University
The Master of Fine Arts degree is the terminal graduate degree in studio art.
- East Lansing, MIEast Lansing, MI
Michigan State University
Designed as an intimate and intensive program, MFA students are provided ample studio space to develop a mature body of work in one of five studio-art disciplines. Study incorporates active studio practice coupled with rigorous intellectual inquiry thou...
- New York City, NYNew York City, NY
Baruch College, City University Of New York
Located in the heart of New York City, this is a leadership program for activists, educators and managers in the arts.
- Philadelphia, PAPhiladelphia, PA
University of the Arts, The
Intensive summer program with concentrations in several areas of fine art and design.
- Philadelphia, PA
- Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
University of Southern California
The Master of Fine Arts degree offers concentrations in the following areas: painting and drawing, sculpture, plastic media, printmaking, photography,...