Fine Arts Studio Master of Fine Arts Degree
Fine Arts Studio
Master of Fine Arts Degree
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School of Art
This master’s in fine arts explores the role of contemporary art through painting, printmaking, sculpture, and expanded forms.
Overview for Fine Arts Studio MFA
The MFA in fine arts studio is committed to collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches both within the four major fine arts areas of study (painting, printmaking, sculpture, or expanded forms) and the entire College of Art and Design.
What is Fine Arts?
Fine arts refers to creating artwork through painting, sculpture, printmaking, illustration, expanded forms, and other visual arts. Those earning an MFA in fine arts work as artists, art educators, art instructors, curators, gallery directors, archivists, or administrators of arts and cultural institutions.
RIT’s Master’s in Fine Arts
The MFA in fine arts studio is a rigorous two-year program comprised of major studio courses; studio electives such as glass, ceramics, film, and photography; theory and research seminars; as well as thesis credits. The program’s structure allows for personal growth, experimentation, collaboration, and unique, non-discipline-specific results to occur in the thesis, which is a public exhibition of the student's work. Courses are meant to concentrate on creative visual work while also thinking about making and sustaining a dialogue.
RIT undergraduates qualify for a tuition scholarship when they choose an RIT Master’s program.
Join us for Fall 2023
Many programs accept applications on a rolling, space-available basis.
Performing and Fine Arts
Careers and Experiential Learning
Typical Job Titles
|Art Teacher||Fine Artist|
|Assistant Archivist||Gallery Director|
|Mural Artist||Studio Artist|
Salary and Career Information for Fine Arts Studio MFA
Cooperative Education and Internships
What makes an RIT education exceptional? It’s the ability to complete relevant, hands-on career experience. At the graduate level, and paired with an advanced degree, cooperative education and internships give you the unparalleled credentials that truly set you apart. Learn more about graduate co-op and how it provides you with the career experience employers look for in their next top hires.
Co-ops and internships take your knowledge and turn it into know-how. Your art and design co-ops will provide hands-on experience that enables you to apply your artistic capabilities in dynamic professional settings while you make valuable connections between classwork and real-world applications.
Cooperative education, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities are strongly encouraged for graduate students in the MFA in fine arts studio.
Painting the Natural World
A collection of paintings created by undergraduate and graduate students in Painting the Natural World classes taught by RIT School of Art Senior Lecturer Emily Glass. The course examines the natural...
Professor Eileen Feeney Bushnell was awarded Best in Show at Print Club of Rochester's 90th annual Member Exhibition in 2021 for her printmaking work, "The 60th Year" (Intaglio, Monoprint...
"In my life as a child, wife, mother and artist, the issues related to relationships and connections to others have defined the parameters of my journey. Bonds that link or separate us, desire,...
Embracing creativity and exploration
Alex Lobos, Gregory Halpern, Elizabeth Kronfield, Todd Jokl
The College of Art and Design at RIT offers distinctive graduate degrees that combine the best of art, design, creativity and technology. Our diverse portfolio of graduate program offerings includes...
Class of 2021 Reflections
College of Art and Design Class of 2021 graduates share their favorite RIT memories and offer inspirational words for their peers.
Bradley Butler ’10 MFA (Fine Arts Studio) and Sarah Butler ’08 (Graphic Design), together since high school, run Clifton Springs, N.Y.'s Main Street Arts gallery.
Curriculum for Fine Arts Studio MFA
Fine Arts Studio, MFA degree, typical course sequence
|Course||Sem. Cr. Hrs.|
Technology in the Studio
This course will introduce a contemporary technology used by the course instructor in their studio practice. Students will be encouraged to investigate how this technology may be applied in their making process. The subjects offered in the course will vary according to the faculty teaching the class. The course can be taken multiple times with faculty permission. Studio 6 (Fall or Spring).
Studio Art Research
This course will prepare graduate students for the written component of the thesis. Course content will cover defining research in the arts, arts based research, research through practice, critical judgment, writing strategically and critically for reflective thinking and scholarly dissemination. At the completion of this course students will be able to write a thesis proposal addressing a research question or direction along with objectives, context, and methods. (Prerequisites: STAR-701 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Ideation and Series
Creative flow, having an endless stream of ideas, alternatives, and choices for solutions, helps creative work evolve and reach more advanced levels. In this course students develop appropriate skills and strategies to generate ideas and develop them effectively into a cohesive body of work. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the FNAS-MFA or GLASS-MFA or METAL-MFA or CCER-MFA or WOOD-MFA programs.) Studio 6 (Fall).
Major Studio Courses*
Business Practices for Studio Artists
This class is devoted to business issues that artists must address including portfolio management, pricing and marketing strategies, and public relations for pursuit of a professional career as studio artists. Financial and communication skills are highlighted as are networking skills for the advancement of an artist’s work. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the FNAS-MFA or GLASS-MFA or METAL-MFA or CCER-MFA or WOOD-MFA programs.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Research Methods and Publication
Students will conduct research appropriate for individual thesis directions, incorporate that research into writing, analyze and review their thesis body of work then produce and publish their written thesis document. (Prerequisites: STAR-702 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Research and Thesis
This is the first of two courses designed to advance a student towards completion of their thesis. Students will work independently on their approved proposal while meeting on a regular basis with their committee chair. Students are required to meet at least twice with their full committee during the semester. (Prerequisites: STAR-702 or equivalent course.) Thesis (Fall).
For this final thesis course students continue working with their committee to evaluate work produced, and select the work to be exhibited. In addition, students will work with gallery coordinators and curators to install and exhibit their final body of work. Students are expected to defend their work to the committee through an oral defense and a written document. (Prerequisite: STAR-790 or equivalent course.) Thesis (Spring).
Major Studio Courses*
|Total Semester Credit Hours||
* Students may choose any combination of the following major studio courses: Painting (PAIT-601), Printmaking (PRNT-601), Sculpture (SCUL-601), or Expanded Forms (SCUL-611).
Any ARTH 600 level course or above
Thinking About Making: The Practice of Art in a Global Society
The course seeks to bridge the gap between studio practice and contemporary art history. Course content will explore current work and ask questions about what is art, who is the audience, what is “our” art making practice, and how does that fit within the larger context of the current state of the global art world. How do we measure success and artistic failure? The course emphasizes observation, critical analysis, and written interpretation. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
College Teaching and Learning
This course will provide students with an introduction to the scholarship of teaching and learning in the university environment. Students will explore a range of perspectives on pedagogical practice, curriculum development and the assessment of learning in a studio, lab and seminar based classroom. Additionally, students will focus on ways that students learn, how learning can be improved, and different methods of conducting research into teaching and learning. Students are expected to write critical papers and essays, develop curriculum resources, and to participate in weekly small and large format discussion groups. Online technology is utilized in addition to lectures, videos, and other forms of media. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Curating and Managing Art Spaces
This course explores the roles of contemporary, traditional, and alternative art spaces through curatorial studies, exhibition evaluation and criticism. Student will consider gallery administration roles and supporting operations, and undertake site visitations and gallery research. Students will organize and install a final exhibition project in an approved exhibition venue. (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Art Exhibition Critique
This course will explore the role of the art exhibition and its effect on the discourse and practice of art. Course content will focus on: contemporary and historical exhibition studies, individual and group projects. Student will also conduct site visitations and evaluation, and critique work in the context of exhibition. (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Studio Art Critique
Students will explore the process of critical analysis of studio work. Content will focus on the structure and form of the critique process. They will discuss, defend, and interpret existing studio work as they work towards their thesis. Faculty led critiques will include studio visits for in depth analysis of works in progress. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the FNAS-MFA or GLASS-MFA or METAL-MFA or CCER-MFA or WOOD-MFA programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Admissions and Financial Aid
This program is available on-campus only.
|Offered||Admit Term(s)||Application Deadline||STEM Designated|
|Full‑time||Fall||February 1 priority deadline, rolling thereafter||No|
Full-time study is 9+ semester credit hours. International students requiring a visa to study at the RIT Rochester campus must study full‑time.
To be considered for admission to the Fine Arts Studio MFA program, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:
- Complete an online graduate application.
- Submit copies of official transcript(s) (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work, including any transfer credit earned.
- Hold a baccalaureate degree (or US equivalent) from an accredited university or college.
- A recommended minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
- Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
- Submit a personal statement of educational objectives.
- Submit two letters of recommendation.
- Entrance exam requirements: None
- Submit a portfolio. View portfolio requirements.
- Writing samples are optional.
- Submit English language test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic), if required. Details are below.
English Language Test Scores
International applicants whose native language is not English must submit one of the following official English language test scores. Some international applicants may be considered for an English test requirement waiver.
International students below the minimum requirement may be considered for conditional admission. Each program requires balanced sub-scores when determining an applicant’s need for additional English language courses.
How to Apply Start or Manage Your Application
Cost and Financial Aid
An RIT graduate degree is an investment with lifelong returns. Graduate tuition varies by degree, the number of credits taken per semester, and delivery method. View the general cost of attendance or estimate the cost of your graduate degree.
A combination of sources can help fund your graduate degree. Learn how to fund your degree
March 1, 2023
Ceramics alumna enjoys a life dedicated to art
Painter. Potter. Printmaker. Sculptor. Tarrant Clements '68 MFA (ceramics) has worked in a variety of mediums throughout her career, and still does today.
January 17, 2023
Faculty, alumnus add allure to Rochester Museum and Science Center exhibit
The RIT connections to the Rochester Museum and Science Center's newest exhibit can be seen in a reproduction of a painting by Professor Luvon Sheppard and a warship replica that Jacob Dambra '22 helped construct.
October 5, 2022
Alumnus-curated exhibition pays homage to historical efforts of Rochester artists
Unique Fair ’19, '21 MFA curated a group show at RIT City Art Space titled "All of Us" that inherits its namesake from the pioneering efforts of local artists like RIT Professor Luvon Sheppard.