Art and Design

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In all of its graduate studio programs, the School of Art and Design strives to maintain a vital, creative environment in which emerging artists with strong motivation may develop, through intensive studio practice and appropriate scholarly support, a clear, mature, and professional focus to their creative life. The core of any program is the in-depth studio practice of individual studio disciplines and frequent, sustained contact with working professional faculty and fellow students. This work is supported and extended through formal studio course work, studies in the history of art, and through access to the many resources and opportunities inherent in a large multipurpose university.

M.F.A. Degree Program Description

The School of Art and Design offers graduate studies leading to the Master of Fine Arts degree in Art. The student is expected to select an area of emphasis among the following: 2D (Drawing, Painting and Printmaking) Ceramics, Design, Glass, Metals (Blacksmithing and Small Metals), or Sculpture. A program will be planned in consultation with the major professor in that area. Graduates are qualified to enter professional practice as artists or the field of higher education.


An undergraduate degree in art or art education, or the equivalent in coursework or experience if the undergraduate degree is in another discipline, is required for admission into the Master of Fine Arts degree program. The student must also submit transcripts of all previous undergraduate work, present a portfolio of digital images and submit letters of recommendation.

Any exception to these requirements must be approved by the faculty in the studio arts and by the Director of the School of Art and Design.

This program requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee that must be submitted with the application for Admissions to Graduate Study in Art and Design. Applicants must pay this fee by credit card. 

Instructional Support Equipment Fee

The School of Art and Design assesses all graduate art majors an instructional support equipment fee of $10 per credit hour; a maximum of 12 credit hours will be charged each for fall and spring semesters and 6 for summer.

Master of Fine Arts Degree (M.F.A.)

A minimum of 60 semester credit hours is required for the Master of Fine Arts degree in Art. All hours that are to count toward graduation must have the approval of the student’s major adviser in the studio area of emphasis. Students may emphasize the following areas in studio: drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, glass, metalsmithing/blacksmithing, and design. The length of time required to complete a 60 semester-hour program is usually five–six semesters or three academic years. Most graduate students are in residence for at least four-six semesters. Programs of residency must have the approval of the student’s major adviser. Required hours are distributed as follows: 27 hours in the primary studio emphasis, 9 hours in art history or related subjects, six hours in thesis or terminal project work, and 18 hours of elective study of which twelve hours must be in studio disciplines. The remaining hours may be elected from any area within the School of Art and Design or in the University at large.

In addition to the completion of coursework, all candidates for the M.F.A. degree must, during the last semester of academic work, present a graduate exhibition, present a terminal project or a written thesis, and pass an oral examination. The terminal project is a creative activity presented in lieu of the written thesis, and in practice, the graduate exhibition is considered to satisfy the terminal project requirement.

Graduate education in the studio areas of emphasis is expensive, and because of the individual nature of creative work, it is virtually impossible to predict the exact cost for each student. The School of Art and Design provides the faculty and the studio and shop facilities that are necessary to the programs offered, but all other costs, especially materials, that are considered necessary to the successful completion of a graduate program are borne by the student.

M.F.A. Design Concentration

The Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in Design prepares students in the fundamentals of design research, project management, and client-based interdisciplinary design collaborations. This program will afford MFA candidates with opportunities to work collaboratively with undergraduate art and design students, design faculty, and corporate sponsors in applying two and three dimensional design process theory, methods, tools, and skills in a team setting aimed at using design as an innovation change agent. This partnering will contribute to the candidates’ ability to cross boundaries of disciplines to be smarter and more creative thinkers that can result in entrepreneurial opportunities and a range of creative positions within industry. The thesis experience will include an interdisciplinary component, industry collaborator, plus development of a business plan.

Successful MFA candidates will have a range of career path options including, but not limited to: entrepreneurial brand/product development; product/graphic/brand design consulting; teaching at the higher education level; product-service brand management; consulting design team/project management; company design team management; design innovation management; plus hybrid’s of these roles. Employment opportunities may also be linked to companies sponsoring thesis projects.

A minimum of 60 semester credit hours is required for this Master of Fine Arts degree concentration. Required hours are distributed as follows; 21 hours in primary studio emphasis, nine credit hours in art history or related subjects, nine hours in studio electives, nine hours in interdisciplinary electives, plus 12 credit hours in thesis, apportioned over two semesters.

Graduate Certificate in Art History

The certificate program in Art History will enable students to develop a broad knowledge of the history of art, become familiar with the discipline’s methodology, and acquire training in teaching art history. Graduate students will be able to pursue the certificate program either independently or concurrently with an MFA.

Students enrolled in the certificate program must maintain a GPA of no less than 3.0 in all coursework counting towards the certificate. Maximum time allowed to complete all requirements for the certificate is six years from the date of admission to the program.


Any student who has completed a bachelor’s degree is eligible to apply for admission to the certificate program. Students enrolled in the MFA program may enroll concurrently in the certificate program. They must apply for admission to the program before completing the “major part” of certificate work (50 percent of credit hours, or nine hours of art history coursework). Students seeking admission to the certificate program will be required to complete an application form and submit transcripts verifying completion of the bachelor’s degree. An application fee of $20 will be assessed to cover administrative costs.

Program Requirements

Students enrolled in the certificate program will be required to complete 18 credit hours of graduate level art history coursework. Of these, 3 credit hours will consist of AD 537, Teaching Practicum. No independent study (AD 507 Readings in Art History) courses will count towards the certificate coursework requirements. Of the 18 art history credit hours required by the certificate program, nine can count towards requirements of another graduate degree.

Eligible elective courses:

  • AD 450A   Museum Studies-Learning in Museums
  • AD 497 A-D   Research Seminar in Art History
  • AD 517    Methods and Theory of the History of Art and Visual Culture 
  • AD 597 A-D   Graduate Seminar in Art History
  • CP 460   Survey of Film History 
  • CP 470 A-I   Advanced Topics in Cinema Studies
  • MCMA 550   History of Media Arts and Culture 
  • MCMA 551   Theory of the Media Arts

At any time during their enrollment in the certificate program, students will be able to petition the art history faculty to take a comprehensive qualifying exam. The exam will be administered at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters on an “as needed” basis. The test will assess the students’ knowledge of art history (pre-history to present), pertinent terms and concepts, and general historical context. It will consist of three parts: slide identification, slide comparison, and a short essay section. A student will have to obtain a passing score on the exam in order to qualify for the Art History Certificate.

M.A. in Art History and Visual Culture

*Enrollments in Art History and Visual Culture (MA) have been suspended indefinitely.

The MA in Art History and Visual Culture is an interdisciplinary program training students in the historical analysis of art and visual culture as well as career-enhancing competencies as teachers, scholars, museum professionals and visual resources curators. Courses explore issues in the production, reception, and theory of art from antiquity to postmodernity.

The degree is housed in the Art History Program of the School of Art and Design. Students are also encouraged to take courses in complementary disciplines such as Anthropology, Cinema Studies, English, History, History and Theory of Photography, and other related fields. Students are required to take 30 credit hours, with a minimum of 15 credits earned at the 500 level: 18 hours that will constitute the core requirement (a required course in methods and theory; and five distribution electives, to include courses in pre-1800, post-1800, and design history/theory); nine hours that will constitute the free electives; and three–six hours applied to a Master’s thesis or a comprehensive examination (the student’s choice).

Students are also required to pass a language examination in the reading of a German, a Romance language, or an approved substitute.


  1. AD 517: Methods and Theory of the History of Art and Visual Culture (must be passed with a grade of an A or a B).
  2. Core Courses (15 hours): Students may choose from the following courses to fulfill the Core distribution:
    • CP 470E   Topics in the History of Photography
    • ANTH 410H   African Expressive Culture
    • ANTH 410N   Anthropology of Popular Culture
    • CP 415   Contemporary Photographic Criticism and Practice
    • AD 450A   Museum Studies- Learning in Museums
    • CP 460   Survey of Film History
    • CP 470A    Advanced Topics in Cinema Studies
    • AD 497 A-D   Research Seminar in Art History
    • ANTH 515A   Seminar in Sociocultural Anthropology
    • MCMA 550   History of Media Arts and Culture
    • MCMA 551   Theory of the Media Arts
    • MCMA 552   Seminar: Topics in the History and Theory of Media Arts
    • AD 597 A-D   Graduate Seminar in Art History
  3. Electives (9 credit hours): Depending on their area of interest, students may choose graduate course offerings from the above courses and from 500-level course offerings in departments including, but not limited to, Anthropology, Art and Design, Cinema and Photography and the college wide graduate programs in Mass Communication and Media Arts and Media Theory and Research in the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts, English, Foreign Languages, History, Philosophy, and Communication Studies, with prior approval from the Art History Graduate Advisor.
  4. Master’s Thesis or Qualifying Exam (3 credit hours): In their final semester, students must complete either AD 599: Thesis or AD 596: Master’s Qualifying Exam with a grade of an A or a B.