Fine Arts Studio Master of fine arts degree

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Develop a mastery of skills to experiment, create, and critique within a supportive, diverse environment devoted to individual growth.

As you pursue a masters in fine arts you’ll explore the role of contemporary art through painting, printmaking, sculpture, and expanded forms.

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 is committed to collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches both within the four major fine arts areas of study and the entire College of Art and Design. The program's structure allows for personal growth, experimentation, collaboration, and unique, non-discipline specific results to occur in the thesis. Courses are meant to concentrate on creative visual work while also thinking about making and sustaining a dialogue.


  • Performing and Fine Arts

  • Fashion

  • Design

  • Museums

  • Retail Stores

Typical Job Titles

Fine Artist Studio Artist
Sculptor Art Teacher
Photographer Gallery Owner/Assistant
Art Auctioneer Advertising Director
Mural Artist Caricaturist
Art Buyer Print Maker
Greeting Card Artist Art Exhibit Coordinator
Silkscreen Artist Exhibit Designer
Museum Curator Book/Magazine Illustrator
Custom Printer Retoucher
Art Director (book, editorial) Creative Director
Courtroom Artist

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Fine arts studio, MFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
Thinking About Making: The Practice of Art in a Global Society
A discussion based art history elective for graduate students. The course seeks to bridge the gap between studio practice and contemporary art history. Students will explore very 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.
Fine Art Research
Graduate students prepare for the written component of the thesis through practice with research, critical judgment, and development of outlines and essays. Contemporary art issues are clarified through discussion and readings in art history, art criticism, artist statements and interviews.
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.
Business Practices
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.
Fine Arts Studio Major Courses*
Art History (Contemporary) Course†
CIAS Studio Elective
Second Year
Research and Thesis
In this first of two thesis courses students will choose their committee members and work with them to finalize and approve a thesis proposal while beginning the thesis body of work. Through several mandatory meetings faculty advisors will give feedback on writing, direction and visual studio work produced in preparation for the thesis exhibition.
Research and Thesis
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.
Fine Arts Studio Major Courses
CIAS Studio Elective
Free Electives
Total Semester Credit Hours

† Art history (contemporary) courses may be selected from any graduate level art history course offered by CIAS or the College of Liberal Arts in which the major content of the course reflects the study of art since World War I.

Admission Requirements

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

  • Complete a graduate application.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college of fine arts.
  • Submit a portfolio containing a cohesive body of artwork that demonstrates both technical skill and visualization of conceptual thought. (Refer to Graduate Portfolio Requirements for more information.)
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Submit a personal statement of educational objectives, including why the candidates is interested in earning an MFA, the selection of RIT for the MFA degree, and professional goals to be achieved.
  • Submit an artist’s statement explaining the intention behind the portfolio.
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 80 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 6.5 is required. The English language test score requirement is waived for native speakers of English or for those submitting transcripts from degrees earned at American institutions.

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