Master of Fine Arts

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A Master of Fine Arts (MFA or M.F.A.)[1][2][3][4] is a creative degree in fine arts, including visual arts, creative writing, graphic design, photography, filmmaking, dance, theatre, other performing arts and in some cases, theatre management[5][6][7] or arts administration.[8] It is a graduate degree that typically requires two to three years of postgraduate study after a bachelor's degree, though the term of study varies by country or university. The MFA is a terminal degree.[9] Coursework is primarily of an applied or performing nature with the program often culminating in a major work or performance. The first university to admit a student to the degree of Master of Fine Arts was the University of Iowa in 1940.[10]

Low residency MFA programs is an option for full time dance professionals that are unable to relocate for graduate school. [11]


Entry to an MFA program generally requires a bachelor's degree prior to admission, but many institutions do not require that an undergraduate major be exactly the same as the MFA field of study. Admissions requirements often consist of a sample portfolio of artworks or a performance audition.[citation needed] Some schools have GPA restrictions, such as the University of Colorado Boulder, which requires an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75. [12]

MFA dance programs are typically for students that hold a Bachelors in dance or have a significant amount of dance experience. When applying, applicants should have at least five years of experience, letters of recommendation, a resume, artistic/personal statement, and be prepared to audition.[13]

Comparison with related degrees[edit]

The Master of Fine Arts differs from the Master of Arts in that the MFA, while still an academic program, centers around professional artistic practice in the particular field, whereas programs leading to the MA usually center on the scholarly, academic, or critical study of the field. Additionally, in the United States, an MFA is typically recognized as a terminal degree for practitioners of visual art, design, dance, photography, theatre, film/video, new media, and creative writing—meaning that it is considered the highest degree in its field, and is the qualification to become a professor at the university level in these disciplines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "College Art Association Standards and Guidelines Document: MFA Standards - Adopted by the CAA Board of Directors on April 16, 1977; revised on October 12, 1991, and October 26, 2008". College Art Association. Archived from the original on March 4, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  2. ^ "Association of Writers & Writing Programs Standards and Guidelines Document: AWP Hallmarks of a Successful MFA Program in Creative Writing". Association of Writers & Writing Programs. Archived from the original on March 23, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  3. ^ "The Master of Fine Arts Degree and Faculty Policies" (PDF). Co-published by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 14, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  4. ^ Bukalski, Peter J.; Barbier, Annette (2000). "The University Film and Video Association Guidelines for MFA Programs". Journal of Film and Video. University Film and Video Association (UFVA). 52 (1): 33–47. JSTOR 20688233.
  5. ^ "Brooklyn College". Archived from the original on 2015-04-29. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
  6. ^ "Design and Production | Programs". 2012-04-12. Archived from the original on 2015-05-20. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
  7. ^ "Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts - 2014-15 CSULB Catalog". Archived from the original on 2015-01-02. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
  8. ^ "Master of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership - Graduate Degrees - College of Arts and Sciences - Seattle University". Archived from the original on 2015-04-21. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
  9. ^ Association, College Art. "CAA Guidelines - Standards & Guidelines - CAA". Archived from the original on 5 January 2018. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
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Further reading[edit]