Master of Fine Arts in the US- Rankings, Top Universities and Courses, Requirements

by rishika.saluja

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a 2- year program offered by the universities in the US specially dedicated to those artists who are honed by creative thinking, soft skills and other areas of creative intelligence. The MFA program lets its students learn advanced education or say attain in-depth knowledge in the field of art and design, opening various avenues to join depending upon their long-term career goal.

Why Study Master of Fine Arts in the US?

Being home to around the world’s most prestigious universities, the United States of America housed around 1.1 million international students as per the latest count. Studying in the US not only offers you the opportunity of learning in the world class universities with the help of best possible faculties but also it allows you to compete and collaborate with the most creative minds internationally.

How to become a preferred candidate for an MFA degree?

  • an ability to create your ideas and collaborate with others
  • a zest to learn from what is around you and convert it into
  • creative problem-solving abilities
  • ability to take criticism positively and working upon it.
  • entrepreneurial skills thereby leading you to have your own business in the future

In 2018, US News and World Report released a list of top universities in the US which offer Master of Fine Arts:

Yale University
University of California
Virginia Commonwealth University
University of California
Rhode Island School of Design
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Carnegie Mellon University
Columbia University
Cranbrook Academy of Art
Alfred University – New York State College of Ceramics

QS World University Ranking 2018 of Top Universities in the US: Art & Design

According to QS World University Ranking 2018, a list of top 10 US universities for Art and Design has been released. Also, deadlines of these universities for their Masters in Arts and Design have also been provided for you to know by when can you apply for their programmes.

RankUniversity NameApplication Deadlines
2Parsons School of Design at the New School-
3Rhode Island School of Design-
4Massachusetts Institute of Technology-
7Pratt Institute-
8School of the Art Institute of Chicago-
10Stanford University-
13Carnegie Mellon University-
14Art Center College of Design-
15California Institute of the Arts-
17School of Visual Arts-

Types of Master of Fine Arts

A candidate interested in learning Fine arts as a Master’s program can do it in two ways:

  • MFA (Full time)
  • Online MFA

What is Online MFA?

These are generally low-residency programs with a duration of 3 years divided into 60-credits. This course is ideally suited for all those working artists and curators, who are unable to attend a full-time course.

Your Master of Fine Arts gives you an array of options to choose from a variety of specializations available. These specializations are niche and more detailed giving you a deeper understanding of your chosen field. The specializations are the following:

  • Ceramic
  • Fiber Arts
  • Glass
  • Graphic Design
  • Metal/ Jewelry
  • Painting/Drawing
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Visual Arts
  • Film Making
  • Dance
  • Creative Writing
  • Sculpture

Master of Fine Arts- Requirements

For taking admission in Master of Fine Arts, an applicant needs to have these following things ready before applying:

  1. Transcripts

These are the documents which certify your academic qualifications after graduating from secondary school i.e. your last studied bachelor’s degree, other academic achievements, etc. For a Masters in Fine Arts, you need to just have a 3-year bachelor’s degree in any discipline and not Bachelor in Fine Arts (BFA) in particular. Also, if the transcripts are not in English(but are in native language) then they have to be converted into English language and a scanned copy of it along with the original has to be sent to the University for admission.

  1. English Language Proficiency

All the international students who have not done their education with English as their first language are required to take an English proficiency test. The candidate can choose any of the IELFTS, TOEFL or PTE exams to appear for this.

  1. 2 Letters of Recommendation

The applicant has to submit 2 letters of recommendation (LORs) to the applied university which have to be from their present or past employers, professors or from someone who can testify their potential for the MFA program. Also, it is highly recommended that you submit these LORs online, as it will immediately show up there when you will make the submission.

  1. Other documents

Some of the art and design universities require you to submit a few additional documents, for instance, a couple of them require you to pass a written test whereas some want you to send across a portfolio of work done in the last 2-3 years. Auditions, artist statements are also a handful of requirements.

Cost of Doing Masters in Fine Arts

Cost of doing a graduate program in Fine Arts ranges from around $50,000 as the tuition fee, along with other expenses like student activity fee, accommodation fee, food, stationary, etc. Students will also be required to pay Health Insurance fees if they are not covered under their family health policy.

Job Opportunities after doing Master of Fine Arts from the US?

After earning your MFA degree, you can kick start your career in any of the following fields, depending upon your future career goals:

  • Illustrator
  • Multimedia artists
  • Animators
  • Fine Artist
  • Graphic Designer
  • Printmaker
  • Art Gallery Manager
  • Secondary School Teacher, etc.
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