Low-Residency MFA

The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (Low-Res MFA) program is designed for students who desire the community, support, and rigor of a traditional MFA, but with a more flexible structure to fit their lives and schedules.

Similar to our traditional MFA, the Low-Residency program focuses on independent studio work and is interdisciplinary in nature, welcoming a wide range of approaches to art-making. The Low-Residency MFA gives students the tools to engage deeply and critically with making their work while thinking about their practice in relation to contemporary and historical art and ideas.

The Low-Res MFA consists of on-site and off-site learning. At the program's core are three summer terms completed on-site at PAFA's campus. For these intensive, eight-week sessions, students have their own private studio and are engaged in independent work. Individual studio research is complemented by seminar courses, regular visits with faculty, group critiques, and an outstanding roster of visiting artists.

During the Fall and Spring semesters, students are off-site, and supported by a vital online community with virtual studios, critic meetings and courses in art history, contemporary art, theory, writing and professional practices.

Stories from Low-Res MFA

Chris Belton working summer 2021

For this art teacher, devoting summers to her PAFA in-person studio is a perfect fit. "I love to teach. For me, my personal practice supports my teaching and my teaching supports my personal practice and it makes this fantastic circle."

Lyn Townes (MFA '19) installs work in the School of Fine Arts gallery

“Coming here during the summers was good for my process. ... I was finally able to make work without it being for someone else or a grade. It was making work for me and it was amazing.”

Anne Greenwood working in the studio

"...you get to extract yourself from your home-world and do different things than you would normally. You go and do something in a different environment and place, where you don’t have to think about who you usually show with or where you show and the certain expectations people have...”

Take the Next Step

With an outstanding student-to-faculty ratio, a bustling local arts community, plus the flexibility of remote study during Fall and Spring Semesters, PAFA's Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts is the next step in furthering your artistic career.


The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts degree at PAFA requires 60 credits total.

First Year (23 Credits)

Summer I (On-Site, 8 Weeks)

MFA 705A Professional Practices: Online Tools 1 credit
MFA 710 Core Critique Group 3 credits
MFA 730 Reframing Theory 3 credits
MFA 740X Graduate Studio Elective 3 credits
MFA 800 Visiting Artist Program 1 credit
Total   11 credits

Fall I (Off-Site, 15 Weeks)

MFA 715 Off-Site Studio Critique 3 credits
MFA 820 Writing on Art for Artists 3 credits
Total   6 credits

Spring I (Off-Site, 15 Weeks)

MFA 715 Off-Site Studio Critique 3 credits
MFA 742 20th Century Art 3 credits
Total   6 credits

Second Year (26 Credits)

Summer II (On-Site, 8 Weeks)

MFA 705B Professional Practices: Career Skills 1 credit
MFA 710 Core Critique Group 3 credits
MFA 750 Art in the City 3 credits
MFA 740X Graduate Studio Elective 3 credits
MFA 800 Visiting Artist Program 1 credit
Total   11 credits

Fall II (Off-Site, 15 Weeks)

MFA 715 Off-Site Studio Critique 3 credits
MFA 825 Critical Issues 3 credits
MFA 850 Written Thesis I 1.5 credits
Total   7.5 credits

Spring II (Off-Site, 15 Weeks)

MFA 715 Off-Site Studio Critique 3 credits
MFA 830 The Studio and Beyond 3 credits
MFA 855 Written Thesis II 1.5 credits
Total   7.5 credits

Third Year (11 Credits)

Summer III (On-Site, 8 Weeks)

MFA 710 Core Critique Group 3 credits
MFA 740X Graduate Studio Elective 3 credits
MFA 800 Visiting Artist Program 1 credit
MFA 860 Visual Thesis 4 credits
Total   11 credits

About Distance Learning at PAFA

PAFA provides support to the Low-Residency MFA program to ensure that it meets all program and curricular standards. Resources include Canvas, iPads for incoming students, new summer initiatives, and dedicated technical support provided by the Instructional Technologist, the Director of Information Technology, and the Director of the Library and Information Services.

Delivery systems used for the LRMFA include Blackbaud Student Information System (SIS), Canvas LMS, and iPads. Blackbuad is used for student registration, scheduling and official grades. Canvas is used for the delivery of online courses, on-site course support, program information, the program calendar, and PAFA support services information.

The students use the iPads to document and share studio work during the off-site semesters and participate in synchronous video-based critiques. Blackbaud and Canvas are both password protected systems and this coupled with the requirement of off-site, synchronous video critiques ensures that the student who receives academic credit is the same one who participates in the program.

Students need to have access to high-speed internet to complete the online semesters and other than this there is no technical proficiency requirement. With the assistance of the Instructional Technologist anyone with an interest and basic aptitude is able to participate and succeed in the program. To address the range of technical skills students come in with, students take a Professional Practices course during their first summer in residence at PAFA taught by PAFA’s Instructional Technologist.

Upon successful completion of the course students will be able to:

  1. Access course materials in Canvas.
  2. Use interactive tools in Canvas like the discussion board, assignments, quizzes, calendar,  scheduler, etc.
  3. Use an iPad to document, discuss and share studio work asynchronously.
  4. Use an iPad to communicate synchronously with other classmates and instructors.
  5. Identify and use PAFA support resources as needed (e.g. technology, library, student services, and program policies).

The Instructional Technologist is available to give extra assistance to any students who need it, and she also works with faculty to help them successfully implement their courses online. All online courses clearly state student expectations for achievement and evaluation criteria. All student communications are through Canvas or official PAFA e-mail.

Accessing Canvas

Canvas is PAFA's LMS. Students with classes that use online content and electronic reserves within Canvas may access them at https://pafa.instructure.com 

Enter your username and password to sign in. 

  • They are the same as your Blackbaud username and password. 
  • If you forget your password you can reset it by clicking on the “Don’t know your password?” link and using your official PAFA e-mail address. 

Problems? Contact Bethany Souza, PAFA’s Online Learning Coordinator: bsouza@pobox.pafa.edu