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Imaging Arts MFA

Semester Requirements

Christine Shank, MFA Director, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences
(585) 475-2884, crspph@rit.edu

https://photography.rit.edu

Program overview

The MFA program in imaging arts emphasizes a broad interpretation of photography as a conceptual art form, with the intention of inspiring and nurturing the individuality of each student as a creative, productive artist. The program encourages graduate study in photography and related media as a means to personal, aesthetic, intellectual, and career development.

The curriculum provides a flexible pattern of study that is continually sensitive to the needs of each student, building upon the strengths each individual brings to the program. Successful completion of this top ten, nationally ranked program enables a student to seek careers in education, museum or gallery work, or as a self-employed visual artist.

Program goals

The program provides students with the opportunity to use the still and moving image as a means to:

  • pursue a professional career and earn a livelihood.
  • enrich their personal lives and society as a whole.
  • encourage a sense of community, creativity, scholarship, and purpose.
Accreditation
 
The MFA program and BFA program options in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). 

Curriculum

Imaging arts, MFA degree, typical course sequence

Courses Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
PHGR-701 Histories and Aesthetics of Photography I 3
PHGR-703   Imaging Core I 3
PHGR-711 Graduate Seminar 3
ARTH-605 Thinking about Making: The Practice of Art in a Global Society 3
PHGR-702 Histories and Aesthetics of Photography Il 3
PHGR-704 Imaging Core II 3
PHGR-722 Contemporary Issues 3
  Professional Electives 9
Second Year
PHGR-721 Research Core 3
PHGR-890 Thesis 6
PHGR-724 Professional Development for the Emerging Artist 3
  Professional Electives 18
Total Semester Credit Hours 60

Distribution of work within these guidelines is subject to modification based upon the candidate’s background, abilities, and interests. An individualized course of study will be prepared with the advice of the graduate faculty and made a matter of record. Modifications in this prescribed program thereafter must be approved and recorded.

Electives

Elective courses are available in animation, video, multimedia, film, printmaking, painting, sculpture, communication design, crafts, bookmaking, typography, color photography, new media, studio photography, advertising photography, computer graphics, art history, and archival preservation and conservation. There also are opportunities for independent studies and internships.

Thesis

The thesis exhibition/project must be an original body of work appropriate to the major commitment of the degree candidate. A written thesis will be prepared for inclusion in Wallace Library. Specific guidelines are available in the “MFA Guide for Students and Faculty: Policy Regarding Student Work.”

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the MFA program in imaging arts, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited college or university,
  • Present a portfolio of work that demonstrates skill, visual sophistication, and aesthetic awareness,
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Submit three letters of recommendation,
  • Submit a personal statement of purpose detailing the attributes a candidate brings to graduate study, including expectations and professional goals they wish to achieve,
  • Participate in a personal interview (optional), and
  • Complete a graduate application.

Applicants who are capable of graduate level academic work, as well as artistic visual expression, and who demonstrate an interest in the exploration of new artistic ideas and experiences will be recommended.

Portfolio

The portfolio, along with written records of achievements and recommendations, serves to inform the faculty of the applicant’s readiness for advanced graduate study. It provides a visual statement of the applicant’s performance to date in terms of his or her skills, aesthetic development, and maturity.

Applicants should submit a portfolio of 20 images--uploaded to rit.slideroom.com, the College's portfolio website, or via a personal website--representing a cohesive body or bodies of recent work. An artist’s statement accompanies the portfolio, addressing the work being presented and its creative process.

Admission selection for the fall semester is made in the spring from among all portfolios and completed applications received. Applicants should be certain that portfolios are postmarked no later than January 15 to ensure review of the application. Acceptance occurs only once a year for a fall admission.

Portfolio instructions:

  • Submit a portfolio of no more than 20 images to the College's portfolio website rit.slideroom.com or via a personal website. (Size each digital file to no more than a maximum of 1400 pixels at its longest side, at 72ppi).
  • Number images 1 to 20 in the order the applicant wishes them to be projected.
  • Include a numbered page detailing portfolio image information.
  • Include the title of the work, date, size, and medium.
  • Include a one-page artist statement discussing submitted work and applicant’s creative process.
  • Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of the portfolio. (The school cannot return portfolios lacking sufficient postage or inadequate packaging. The school will retain the work of admitted applicants.)
  • Submit the portfolio with the application material to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services.

Additional information

Faculty

Thirteen full-time faculty members, all critically regarded for their artistic work in exhibition and publication, contribute to the MFA program. The faculty brings individual expertise and dedication to their work with graduate students, encouraging intellectual inquiry of contemporary art-making practices and aesthetics. The MFA program is also supported by a staff of 40 full-time faculty members from the schools of Photographic Arts and Sciences, Print Media, Art, and adjunct faculty members from George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, as well as noted regional, national, and international practitioners, critics, and historians. To learn about the MFA faculty, facilities, equipment cage, MFA events and curriculum, please visit https://photography.rit.edu or RIT School of Photographic Arts and Sciences on Facebook. 

Transfer credit

Graduate-level course work taken prior to admission should be submitted for approval upon entrance into the program. Up to 8 semester hours of graduate work with a minimum grade of a B (3.0) or higher is transferable toward the degree, with the approval of the graduate coordinator.

Grades and maximum time limit

The average of all grades for graduate credit taken at the university must be at least a B (3.0) to qualify for the degree. Thesis hours are usually taken over several semesters. University policy requires that graduate programs be completed within seven years of the student's initial registration for courses in the program. Bridge courses are excluded.

Policy regarding student work

The School of Photographic Arts and Sciences reserves the right to retain at least one original piece of work from a student’s MFA thesis show for inclusion in the MFA Collection, to be used for educational, promotional, and exhibition purposes. Graduates must also leave the school a CD containing 20 images of thesis work completed for the master’s degree.

William Harris Gallery

William Harris Gallery (http://cias.rit.edu/spas-gallery/) supports the exhibition of graduate thesis work, student work, and the works of contemporary imagemakers. It maintains an academic year calendar of exhibitions, public lectures and receptions. Importantly, it also provides real world experience for interested graduate students, where they learn firsthand about gallery operations, installation, and communications.

[arrow] Click to view program requirements in the Quarter Calendar

Quarter Curriculum - For Reference Only

Effective fall 2013, RIT will convert its academic calendar from quarters to semesters. The following content has been made available as reference only. Currently matriculated students who began their academic programs in quarters should consult their academic adviser for guidance and course selection.

Program overview

The master of fine arts program in imaging arts emphasizes a broad interpretation of photography as a conceptual art form, with the intention of inspiring and nurturing the individuality of each student as a creative, productive artist. The program encourages graduate study in photography and related media as a means to personal, aesthetic, intellectual, and career development.

The MFA curriculum provides a flexible pattern of study that is continually sensitive to the needs of each student, building upon the strengths each individual brings to the program. Successful completion of the program enables a student to seek careers in education, museum or gallery work, or as a self-employed professional.

Program goals

The program’s goals provide students with the opportunity to use the still and moving image as a means to

  • pursue a professional career and earn a livelihood.
  • enrich their personal lives and society as a whole.
  • encourage a sense of community, creativity, scholarship, and purpose.

Curriculum

Semester conversion
Effective fall 2013, RIT will convert its academic calendar from quarters to semesters. Each program and its associated courses have been sent to the New York State Department of Education for approval of the semester plan. For reference, the following charts illustrate the typical course sequence for this program in both quarters and semesters. Students should consult their graduate program adviser with questions regarding planning and course selection.

Imaging arts, MFA degree, typical course sequence (quarters)

CoursesQtr. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
2039-415 Thinking About Making 3
2066-701 History and Aesthetics I 3
2066-702 History and Aesthetics II 3
2066-703 History and Aesthetics III 3
2066-711 Photography Core 4
2066-712 Photography Core 4
2066-713 Photography Core 4
2066-771 Graduate Seminar 2
  History and Criticism 3
  Electives 20
Second Year
2066-752 Special Topics: Photography Core II 4
  Electives 21
  History and Criticism 3
2066-842 Research Seminar 2
2066-753 Graduate Thesis Seminar 2
  Research and Thesis 12
Total Quarter Credit Hours
90

Imaging arts, MFA degree, typical course sequence (semesters), effective fall 2013

CoursesSem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
PHGR-701 Histories and Aesthetics of Photography I 3
PHGR-703   Imaging Core I 3
PHGR-711 Graduate Seminar 3
ARTH-605 Thinking about Making: The Practice of Art in a Global Society 3
PHGR-702 Histories and Aesthetics of Photography Il 3
PHGR-704 Imaging Core II 3
PHGR-722 Contemporary Issues 3
  Professional Electives 9
Second Year
PHGR-721 Research Core 3
PHGR-890 Thesis 6
PHGR-724 Professional Development for the Emerging Artist 3
  Professional Electives 18
Total Semester Credit Hours 60

Distribution of work within these guidelines is subject to modification based upon the candidate’s background, abilities, and interests. An individualized course of study will be prepared with the advice of the graduate faculty and made a matter of record. Modifications in this prescribed program thereafter must be approved and recorded.

Art electives

Elective courses are available in animation, video, multimedia, film, printmaking, painting, sculpture, communication design, crafts, bookmaking, typography, color photography, new media, studio photography, advertising photography, computer graphics, art history, and archival preservation and conservation. There also are opportunities for independent studies and internships.

Thesis

The thesis exhibition/project must be an original body of work appropriate to the major commitment of the degree candidate. A written thesis will be prepared for inclusion in Wallace Library. Specific guidelines are available in the “MFA Guide for Students and Faculty: Policy Regarding Student Work.”

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the MFA program in imaging arts, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited college or university,
  • Present a portfolio of work that demonstrates skill, visual sophistication, and aesthetic awareness,
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Submit three letters of recommendation,
  • Submit a personal statement of purpose detailing the attributes a candidate brings to graduate study, including expectations and professional goals they wish to achieve,
  • Particiate in a personal interview (optional), and
  • Complete a graduate application.

Applicants who are capable of graduate level academic work, as well as artistic visual expression, and who demonstrate an interest in the exploration of new artistic ideas and experiences will be recommended.

Portfolio

The portfolio, along with written records of achievements and recommendations, serves to inform the faculty of the applicant’s readiness for advanced graduate study. It provides a visual statement of the applicant’s performance to date in terms of his or her skills, aesthetic development, and maturity.

Applicants should send 20 images on a CD and/or DVD, representing a cohesive body or bodies of recent work. An artist’s statement accompanies the portfolio, addressing the work being presented and its creative process.

Admission selection for the fall quarter is made in the spring from among all portfolios and completed applications received. Applicants should be certain that portfolios are postmarked no later than January 15 to ensure review of the application. Acceptance occurs only once a year for a fall admission.

Portfolio instructions include the following:

  • Submit no more than 20 images on CDs and/or DVDs. (Size each digital file to no more than a maximum of 1400 pixels at its longest side, at 72ppi.)
  • Number images 1 to 20 in the order the applicant wishes them to be projected.
  • Include a numbered page detailing the CD and/or DVD image information.
  • Include the title of the work, date, size, and medium.
  • Include a one-page artist statement discussing submitted work and applicant’s creative process.
  • Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of the portfolio. (The school cannot return portfolios lacking sufficient postage or inadequate packaging. The school will retain the work of admitted applicants.)
  • Submit the portfolio with the application material to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services.

Additional information

Faculty

Ten full-time faculty members, all critically regarded for their artistic work in exhibition and publication, contribute to the MFA program. The faculty brings individual expertise and dedication to their work with graduate students, encouraging intellectual inquiry of contemporary art-making practices and aesthetics. The MFA program is also supported by a staff of 40 full-time faculty members from the schools of Photographic Arts and Sciences, Print Media, Art, and adjunct faculty members from George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, as well as noted regional, national, and international practitioners, critics, and historians.

Transfer credit

Graduate-level course work taken prior to admission should be submitted for approval upon entrance into the program. Up to 12 quarter credit hours (8 semester hours) of graduate work with a minimum grade of a B or higher is transferable toward the degree, with the approval of the graduate coordinator.

Grades and maximum time limit

The average of all grades for graduate credit taken at the university must be at least a B (3.0) to qualify for the degree. Thesis hours are usually taken over several quarters. All course work, including an accepted thesis, must be completed within seven years of entrance into the program.

Policy regarding student work

The School of Photographic Arts and Sciences reserves the right to retain at least one original piece of work from a student’s MFA thesis show for inclusion in the MFA Collection, to be used for educational, promotional, and exhibition purposes. Graduates must also leave the school a CD containing 20 images of thesis work completed for the master’s degree.

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (SPAS) Gallery

The SPAS Gallery supports the exhibition of graduate thesis work, student work, and the works of contemporary imagemakers. It maintains a calendar of exhibitions, public lectures and receptions. Importantly, it also provides real world experience for interested graduate students, where they learn firsthand about gallery operations, installation, and communications.