Master of Fine Arts

PAFA’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program is an interdisciplinary, two-year program. Students are not divided by discipline or area of study, but instead are encouraged to experiment and further discover their voice in various media.

The curriculum is structured to help students improve their abilities to see and make while also broadening and deepening their conceptual framework and skills to discuss and write about art. At the core of the MFA program is an individual's studio practice, along with seminars in theory, contemporary art, writing, and professional practices. The MFA program culminates in a written and visual thesis; the latter of which is presented during PAFA's Annual Student Exhibition in the museum galleries.

In their studio work, students are encouraged to be independent, self-motivated, and open to the new possibilities and ideas that arise through the course of making. Through experimentation, one-on-one discussion with critics, and group critiques, students develop their work and ideas into a sustainable, thoughtful artistic practice.

Our program is not bound by the conventions and traditions of academic and technical systems, but is informed by them and aims to engage in a critical framework that strives for authenticity and open discourse. We privilege studio development, critical research, and professional practice. Our MFA candidates contribute to and benefit from a diverse community of artists, curators, writers, and problem solvers.

stuart shils

Outstanding Faculty

The low faculty-to-student ratio and one-on-one mentoring is our trademark. Our faculty’s diverse skill sets, from artists working in traditional modes to those working in new media expose students to a vast range of opinions, artistic expertise, and individual artists’ points of view. All PAFA faculty members are working artists and in a unique position to understand and nurture students.

Kennedy Yanko visiting critic

Visiting Critics Program

One of the key components of PAFA’s graduate programs, the Visiting Critics Program brings a roster of distinguished artists to campus three times each semester for one-on-one discussions with students about their work. This experience provides an invaluable opportunity for students to receive in-studio feedback on their work as it develops. Artists in the Visiting Critics Program have included Colleen Asper, Charles Burwell, Vincent Desiderio, Titus Kaphar, Virgil Marti, Mika Tajima and more.

Amy Sherald VAP lecture

Visiting Artists Program

The student-run Visiting Artists Program selects and invites a wide variety of national and international emerging artists to the school, creating connections that can propel and inspire an artistic career. Visiting artists spend one-on-one time with PAFA graduate students and critique their work, allowing an unparalleled experience of interacting with established artists. Past participants in the Visiting Artist Program have included Amy Sherald, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Polly Apfelbaum, Eileen Neff, Gary Panter, and Zoe Strauss.

Graduate Student Art Work

Melanie Delach
Melanie Delach
Claire Huber
Claire Huber
Travis Grant
Travis Grant
Ben Grzenia
Ben Grzenia
Kathy Putnam
Kathy Putnam
Jordan Lance Morgan
Jordan Lance Morgan
Emmitt Smith
Emmitt Smith
Sean Hildreth
Sean Hildreth
Ryan Busch
Ryan Busch
Sam Schetina
Sam Schetina

Curriculum

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

First Year Curriculum

Critiques
Complete the following:
    18.0 Credits
MFA 700 Visiting Critic Fall & Spring 1.5
MFA 710 Core Critique Group Fall & Spring 7.5
Seminars
Complete the following:
    6.0 Credits
MFA 730 Seminar: Reframing Theory Fall 3.0
MFA 731 Seminar: Contemporary Art Spring 3.0
Studio Courses
Complete the following:
    6.0 Credits
MFA 740 Graduate Studio Electives Fall & Spring 3.0
Electives     0-3.0 Credits
Total First Year Credits     30.0

 

Second Year Curriculum

Critiques
Complete the following:
    18.0 Credits
MFA 700 Visiting Critic Fall & Spring 1.5
MFA 700.XX Critics (3 at 2.0 Credits) Fall & Spring 6.0
MFA 710 Core Critique Group Fall & Spring 1.5
Seminars
Complete the following:
    6.0 Credits
MFA 730 Seminar: Studio and Beyond Fall 3.0
MFA 731 Seminar: Special Topics Spring 3.0
Written Thesis MFA 850 Fall 3.0 Credits
Thesis Exhibition MFA 851 Spring 3.0 Credits
Electives     0-3.0 Credits
Total Second Year Credits     30.0

 

✝Graduate students may take one undergraduate course as an elective that will count towards graduation credit. Students may also audit one undergraduate course per semester to develop particular skills.

 

Take the Next Step

With our outstanding faculty-to-student ratio, a bustling local arts community in proximity to New York and DC, plus an array of visiting critics and artists each semester, PAFA's Master of Fine Arts is the next step in furthering your artistic development.