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MFA in Art


The Department of Art & Art History offers a stimulating and collegial atmosphere in which to advance your artistic practice and earn an MFA in art from Utah's only Tier-1 research institution. The graduate student to faculty member ratio provides the opportunity to receive individual and specialized attention. The open structure of our two-year, full-time MFA program allows you to work with a supervisory committee to develop your own program of study. As a graduate student, you also have access to numerous facilities beyond the workshops, labs, and studios in the Art and Sculpture Buildings: among these are the Utah Museum of Fine Arts; the Marriott Library with the Katherine W. Dumke Fine Arts and Architecture Library, the Book Arts Studio, and the Digital Matters Lab; the Make Space at Lassonde Studios; Taft-Nicholson Center in Centennial Valley, Montana; and the Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa.

The Department of Art & Art History does participate in the Graduate Tuition Benefit Program, which can provide you the opportunity to be a Teaching Assistant for two years, and help cover the cost of your education. The university also provides numerous opportunities to apply for research and teaching grants to help you finish your degree. Please explore our website as well as the graduate school's site and if you have any questions about the program, please contact us.

Program Information

The MFA Program in Studio Art welcomes applicants with an outstanding record of creative activity.  We expect that you will have a BFA degree in Art or a cognate discipline such as architecture or design and a sincere commitment to graduate study demands.  In our program, you can specialize in Community-Based Art Education, Ceramics, Graphic Design, Painting / Drawing, Photography / Digital Imaging, Printmaking, and Sculpture Intermedia.

The two-year residential MFA program in studio art is for those fully committed to their lives as artists through superior creative work, discipline, and self-motivation.  You will demonstrate a mature and intelligent conceptualization of your work and a general understanding of contemporary art's different perspectives.  In the program, you will have the opportunity to master the techniques and technologies needed to realize your career goals.

The Department has a broad range of excellent facilities with specialized equipment.  The Art and Sculpture Buildings include a woodshop and tool room, a print shop, spray booths, thermoforming and plastic fabrication, digital imaging and audio computer labs, darkrooms, plaster room, metal fabrication, and foundry rooms, photography lighting studio, ceramic wheel, and glaze rooms, and a variety of kilns, including a car kiln.  The bookmaking and letterpress studio is in the adjacent Marriott Library. Within the Art Building are the Alvin Gittins Gallery, a departmental exhibition venue, and the D. Ray Owen Reading Room/Computer lab with its collection of books, magazines on contemporary art, videos, and CD/DVDs.  The Katherine W. Dumke Fine Arts and Architecture division at the Marriott Library is an extensive art resource, including an extensive collection of artists' books and a large-format scanner.  The campus Utah Museum of Fine Arts is home to art from around the globe with concentrations in Asian, American, and 20th c. / Contemporary Art.

Our graduate students benefit enormously from meeting and working with artists invited to our Department as part of the Carmen M. Christensen Visiting Artist / Scholar Lecture Series and the Warnock Visiting Artist in Residence.  The faculty selects a slate of individuals annually for their contribution to the disciplines of the visual arts.

The Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art is composed of 60 semester credit hours of coursework.  This includes 26 hours in the primary area of studio art specialization, 9 hours of ART 6810 Graduate Seminar, 3 hours of ART 6815 Graduate Critique, 10 hours of classes in allied fields, and 6 hours of art history coursework.  A minimum of 6 hours of ART 6975 Final Project is required as preparation for the Final Project and the MFA Exhibition.  Coursework must be taken for a letter grade (no grade below B- will count for the MFA degree.)  In order to graduate a B average must be maintained.  Further explanations of the credit requirements follow; see also the Forms section in the Graduate Handbook for a semester-by-semester chronology of activity.

Students normally enroll in 12-15 credit hours each Fall and Spring Semester; some graduate students also take courses during the Summer Term to complete the program in two years.  Students who have been awarded a graduate assistantship or a teaching assistantship are required to register for a minimum of 9 credit hours.  The Graduate School's tuition benefit program for a teaching assistantship or graduate assistantship applies only to the first 12 hours of a student's course during the academic year; tuition for the remaining hours, as well as full tuition in the Summer Term, is the obligation of the student; see the TA Handbook.

Studio Art Specialization

You will complete 26 hours with the faculty in your primary area of specialization.  You will enroll in the 6000-level Graduate Project courses as directed studies.  Before the semester begins, you must meet with the faculty member you wish to work with and formulate the goals of the class.  Your Graduate Study Contract (available online or from the department graduate coordinator) should include a description of the objectives, an outline of the frequency and scheduling of critiques, and be signed by you and the faculty member before returning it to the department graduate secretary.  When you pay the course fee to the Department, the graduate secretary will issue you the class number/permission number to enroll in the course.  All graduate coursework, except for a few classes such as ART 6810 Graduate Seminar (3 credits), have variable credit, generally from 2 – 6.  You and the faculty member will decide on how many credits for the 6000-level Graduate Project in the semester.

ART 6810 Graduate Seminar & ART 6815 Graduate Critique

You must take ART 6810 for a total of 9 hours & ART 6815 Graduate Critique for 3 hours.  The courses are offered Fall and Spring semesters of the two-year MFA program.  The course rotates among full-time faculty who bring a different perspective each time they teach the class.  The class is taught from conceptual issues to practical matters of preparing a teaching portfolio.

Allied Studio Credits

Allied fields are defined as work outside your studio specialization perhaps in another discipline.  You need to take a minimum of 10 hours. With the approval of your Supervisory Committee, you may take a graduate course in another department (5000 level or above), Coursework from elsewhere in the University should enrich your studio work or increase your awareness of the arts and humanities.

Art History Credits

The Art History Program has established ARTH 6000-6005 for the required 6 hours of art history coursework. The art history faculty member uses one of the numbers in conjunction with one of their 4000-level lecture courses.  You should consult the online class schedule to find the 4000-level course in which you are interested. Then contact the faculty member teaching the course for permission for the appropriate ARTH 6000-level number. You will work with the Graduate Coordinator to obtain the corresponding course number and add code. Graduate students are allowed to sign up for other graduate-level art history courses with permission from the instructor.

ART 6975 Final Project:  MFA

The course gives credit for studio work and Final Project Paper research and writing that leads to the MFA Exhibition.  It has variable credit of 1-6 hours, and you have the option of taking the course once or multiple times for a total of 6 hours.  The department chair serves as the instructor of record and will issue a "T" grade 9signifying continuing work) until the final requirements are completed (MFA Exhibition, Final Oral Examination, Final Project paper, and MFA Exhibition Documentation).

Final Oral Examination

The examination occurs at the time of the MFA Exhibition and is held in the space where the show is installed.  You will be asked to discuss your conceptual insight and technical proficiency concerning your own studio work as well as a general professional awareness of contemporary art.  You must be registered for a minimum of 3 hours of ART 6975 MFA Final Project during the semester of the MFA Exhibition and Final Oral Examination.

Final Project Paper

In consultation with your Supervisory Committee, you will write a comprehensive essay, approximately 10-20 pages in length, that reveals the state of your creative research.  The paper is designed to represent formally the culmination of two years of graduate work.  A revised draft should be submitted to your Supervisory Committee before the Final Oral Examination as the written counterpart to the MFA Exhibition.  An official bound copy will be cataloged in the Department Owen Reading Room, and you may purchase additional copies of the bound paper for your own collection.  See the Appendix for a fuller description of the contents of the final project paper and the "Final Responsibilities" section in this handbook for the procedure on submission of the final version to the University.

MFA Exhibition Documentation

You must document your complete MFA Exhibition in a digital format and provide a USB thumb drive or shareable URL with the images.  Twenty or more images become the property of the Department and will be housed in its Visual Resources Collection.

The Department of Art & Art History provides students opportunities to serve as teaching assistants during the two-year program as part of the Tuition Benefit Program. We also offer some scholarship assistance to incoming students who are studying specific artist practices. Graduate students in good standing are eligible to apply for the Graduate Research Fellowship or Graduate Teaching Assistantship ($18,900 plus tuition) for their second year. You may consult the Graduate Fellowship Opportunity website for further information on this and other financial aid resources.

The Graduate School Research Supplemental Travel Award is available to graduate students who will present their creative research at a professional conference. Application is made through the Graduate School up to $500 may be granted, to be matched by department funding. The online form is available through the Graduate School website.

Individual Studio Space

The Department attempts to provide to all MFA graduate students an individual studio space in the Art Building. Space is currently at a premium, and you may be required to share or relinquish your studio if it is insufficiently used. The Director of Graduate Studies reviews studio assignments each August. Students in good standing may retain their studio for the length of the 2-year MFA program.

Building Access and Shared Facilities

The Art and Sculpture Buildings are wired for security and controlled access. Students need to have a University ID or U-Card to get access to the building. Graduate students need to obtain their U-Card from the University Student Union Bldg. Once a student has their card, a department staff member can code the card through the C-cure system (pronounced "secure"). Graduate students are granted access to exterior doors and several shared shops/labs in the Art and Sculpture Buildings, including a computer lab (ART 169), darkroom (ART 264), print shop (ART 252), dry mount /copy stand / FAB room (ART 160G), woodshop and tool room (SCULP 184-185), plaster room (SCULP 181), kilns (SCULP 195), foundry (SCULP 182), sandblasting booth (ART 180), three spray booths (painting, woodshop, ceramics). Woodshop and sandblasting access is granted after learning safety and equipment operation procedures in a Fall Semester orientation led by the Facilities Supervisor.

The Facilities Supervisor is charged with maintaining specialized machines and equipment (excepting Dumke and computer labs) and should be informed immediately of theft or damage. The custodial staff does not clean these spaces, so all graduate students are expected to clean up after themselves and store their materials away from public areas. Graduate students have access to the Owen Reading Room (ART 365), a supplement to the Katherine W. Dumke Fine Arts and Architecture Division in the University's Marriott Library. The Reading Room has a collection of books, videos/CDs/DVDs, and subscriptions to current issues of some art and art history periodicals. Back issues of all periodicals in the Reading Room are housed at Marriott Library. Checkout of materials in the Reading Room for short periods is restricted to faculty and TAs as the instructor of record for a class.

Student Insurance

Graduate students have an option to get affordable health insurance coverage through the Graduate School as part of the Tuition Benefit Program. The details of the program can be found at http://gradschool.utah.edu/tbp/insurance-information/.

Safety & Wellness

Your safety is our top priority. In an emergency, dial 911 or seek a nearby emergency phone (throughout campus). Report any crimes or suspicious people to 801-585-COPS; this number will get you to a dispatch officer at the University of Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS; dps.utah.edu). If at any time, you would like to be escorted by a security officer to or from areas on campus, DPS will help — just give a call.

The University of Utah seeks to provide a safe and healthy experience for students, employees, and others who make use of campus facilities.  In support fo this goal, the University has established confidential resources and support services to assist students who may have been affected by harassment, abusive relationships, or sexual misconduct. A detailed listing of University Resources for campus safety can be found at https://registrar.utah.edu/handbook/campussafety.php

Your well-being is key to your personal safety. If you are in crisis, call 801-587-3000; help is close.

The university has additional excellent resources to promote emotional and physical wellness, including the Counseling Center (https://counselingcenter.utah.edu), the Wellness Center (https://wellness.utah.edu), and the Women’s Resource Center (https://womenscenter.utah.edu). Counselors and advocates in these centers can help guide you to other resources to address a range of issues, including substance abuse and addiction.

University of Utah Title IX Information

The University does not discriminate on the basis of sex in the education program or activity that it operates, as required by Title IX and 34 CFR part 106. The requirement not to discriminate in education programs or activities extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its regulations may be referred to the Title IX, the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, etc.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, we encourage you to report it to Title IX in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Sherrie Hayashi, Director
Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator
Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO/AA)
201 South Presidents Circle, Rm.135
Salt Lake City, UT, 84112
801-581-8365
801-585-5746 (fax)
oeo@utah.edu
www.oeo.utah.edu
Online reports may be submitted at oeo.utah.edu

For further information, please see:

Department of Art & Art History MFA Family Leave Policy

Students who need time off for caregiving can take up to 16 weeks for a Family Leave of absence. Students who experience a medical condition associated with their pregnancy and need accommodations recommended by their medical provider should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Title IX. https://oeo.utah.edu/

The OEO office will work with the student, cognizant faculty, and administration to determine reasonable and effective accommodations. The student will be ineligible for financial support and may be required to relinquish individual studio space during the semester of familial leave.

Please talk with the Director of MFA Graduate Studies if you wish to apply for Family Leave.

By University policy, you must maintain minimum registration (Fall and Spring) of one semester hour per semester until you complete all MFA degree requirements, including the semester in which you schedule your MFA Exhibition and Final Oral Examination. Summer terms are not included in this requirement. You are not obligated to register for any course after you have defended your final project but will not graduate until all Department, College, and Graduate School requirements described in this handbook are satisfied. If you do not maintain minimum registration or submit an official Graduate Student Request for Leave of Absence (www.gradschool.utah.edu/students/forms/leave.pdf) for College of Fine Arts approval, your Supervisory Committee will be terminated, and you will be put on inactive status by the Graduate School. You would need to reapply to the Graduate School Admissions Office to reactivate your file. According to University policy, four consecutive calendar years are the maximum length for completing MFA degree requirements. Your permanent record is maintained in the College of Fine Arts.

Please download the Graduate Handbook for full details about the program.

To learn more about the application requirements, or start an application, press the button below.

Our application is a two-part process, so please make sure to submit all the necessary documents for each portion.

Applications are due by January 15th.

Meet & Greet Events

Dates for the Fall 2022 Events will be posted in early 2022.

If you have questions...

If you are interested in learning more about the program, the department conducts Prospective Graduate Student Meet & Greet events during the fall semester so you can learn why our MFA program is where you should go to further your creative research.  The events will explain what we have to offer an MFA candidate, provide you a tour of the facilities, give you a chance to meet some of the faculty, help answer questions, and how to apply to the program.

Dates for the Fall 2022 events will be posted in early 2022. Please check back.

In the meantime, please contact Lewis J. Crawford, the Director of MFA Graduate Studies, with any questions.

Check out what our current (and previous) graduate students are up to!