Master of Fine Arts


Overview


Encouraging students to develop across arts disciplines while exploring critical theory and art history

The Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Nevada, Reno is an interdisciplinary degree that incorporates a comprehensive background in the visual arts and expanded development in areas of studio specialization. The degree offers students advance coursework in art history, theory and criticism combining studio practice and rigorous academic experience to provide students the opportunity to synthesize information at a higher level while engaging in original research and the development of significant creative work.

The program provides a great deal of student/faculty one-on-one engagement with our excellent professional faculty. Each graduate student receives an ample private graduate studio space with 24 hour access, and approved access to the art studio laboratories. We also offer a robust visiting artist program where students have individual studio visits with domestic and international professional artists. Our three year program includes approximately 10 students in total.

The Master of Fine Arts degree requires 60 credit hours; it is the terminal degree in the visual arts and thus, equivalent to terminal degrees in other fields such as the Ph.D. and Ed.D. The MFA degree is considered the national standard required criterion for students expecting to compete as professional artists and/or teach at the college level.

The Department of Art offers study in the areas of two- and three-dimensional art selected from but not limited to the following: book and publication arts, ceramics, digital media, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video. The studio program is supported by a strong emphasis in the areas of contemporary art, theory, and criticism.

The MFA degree program's interdisciplinary objective is to ensure that students are not bound by a single discipline or particular medium, providing the opportunity and encouragement to explore new possibilities in the search for the most effective visual format for the expression of their ideas. Students will be expected to re-define boundaries of traditional media and to incorporate materials from art history, theory, criticism and other academic disciplines of their choice. Equal emphasis is placed upon the creation of artwork and its intellectual, conceptual, and social contexts.

Prospective Students

Prospective MFA students must present a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited university, school or college. GRE test scores are not required. TOEFL is required for international students.

Entrance to the program is determined via review of a full application. Detailed attention will be given to portfolio materials. Department faculty will conduct the application and portfolio review. Students pursuing the Master of Fine Arts degree must satisfy all Graduate School requirements in addition to specific departmental requirements.

MFA candidates must be enrolled as full-time students (minimum nine credits per semester). Candidates must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. The MFA program requires a public exhibition of a cohesive body of work after 30 credit hours to confirm the student's eligibility for advancement to MFA candidacy. At the conclusion of 60 credit hours, a public solo thesis exhibition created, curated, installed and publicized by the candidate must be presented. A formal written thesis and oral examination are required at the time of the thesis exhibition.

View the MFA in Visual Arts graduate program handbook to learn more. 

Guidelines


Degree requirements

Sixty credit hours from the following:

  • Graduate Tutorial - Art 722 (required 3 credits)
  • Theory and Criticism - Art 737 (required 3 credits, may be repeated for up to 6 credits)
  • Directed Readings - Art 747 (required 3 credits, may be repeated for up to 6 credits)
  • Seminar in the Visual Arts - Art 698 (required 6 credits)
  • Graduate Intermedia - Art 642 (required 6 credits)
  • Graduate Studio Practice - Art 710 (required 24 credits)
  • Graduate Exhibition - Art 777 (required 3 credits)
  • Community Service in the Arts - Art 790 (required 3 credits, may be repeated for up to 6 credits)
  • Electives (required 3 credits, may be repeated for up to 6 credits)

MFA Committees

A list of the chosen committee members must be filed with the program graduate director by the end of the first term enrolled as a MFA student. Candidates must choose one Department of Art faculty member to serve as the MFA committee chair and advisor, two additional department faculty to serve as committee members and a fourth committee member from outside the department.

It is the responsibility of each candidate to arrange and meet committee members throughout the span of the MFA program. It is required that students meet with their committee, either as a group or individually, at least once per semester when enrolled as a MFA candidate. It is highly recommended that additional meetings be scheduled on a periodic basis. It is the responsibility of the candidate to be aware of a faculty member's inability to serve on committees during faculty or sabbatical leave; the candidate must arrange for an appropriate substitute.

Required Exhibitions (Midway Advancement to Candidacy and Thesis)

The MFA program requires a public exhibition of a cohesive body of work after 30 credit hours to confirm the student's eligibility for advancement to MFA candidacy (Midway Progress). At the conclusion of 60 credit hours, a public solo thesis exhibition must be presented.

MFA candidates are responsible for all aspects of the advancement and thesis exhibitions. This includes publicity, installation, reception, documentation, take down and clean up. The candidate's MFA committee chair and members review exhibitions, written thesis and oral examination. 

MFA students are encouraged and free to take advantage of other exhibition opportunities on or off campus.

MFA Thesis Paper

The final thesis paper is a required, tandem component of the Thesis Exhibition. It is an opportunity for MFA candidates to express in written form the theoretical and conceptual basis of their work, as well as to evaluate the evolution of their practice and production over the course of the MFA program. Candidates are expected to discuss their work within a larger historical context, to consider concrete relationships between their work and relevant antecedents, as well as contemporary art practices. The written thesis should reflect topics pursued in course work including Directed Readings, Seminar in the Visual Arts, and Theory and Criticism.

Format

  1. The text must be a minimum of 25 pages, typed, 1.5-spaced, 12-point font, and 1" margins. (Approximately 9,000 - 10,000 word minimum)
  2. In addition to the minimum 25 typed pages, the thesis must include a cover page with title, annotated bibliography with a minimum of twenty sources (in MLA or Chicago Style), and cited images of the work discussed.

Third Year Written Thesis Deadlines

FALL

  • No later than Nov. 15, the candidate must submit an outline of the written thesis for review to his/her thesis chair.
  • By Dec. 1, the thesis chair must provide written feedback on the outline. Ideally, by the end of the fall semester, the candidate and the thesis chair will discuss the outline in person so that both the candidate and the thesis chair are in verbal agreement as to the proposed content of the written thesis.
  • By Dec. 15, the candidate should also touch base with all additional committee members with regard to the character and content of the final thesis exhibition and written thesis.

SPRING

  • By Feb. 1, the candidate, in consultation with the thesis chair and committee members, must schedule the time and date for his/her oral defense.
  • By Feb. 15, the candidate must meet with his/her thesis chair to discuss the progress of the written thesis.
  • No less than five weeks before the defense date, the candidate must submit a full draft in hard copy of the written thesis to the thesis chair for review. At the committee chair's recommendation, additional feedback from committee members may be solicited at this time.
  • Within two weeks of receiving the candidate's full draft of the written thesis, the thesis chair must provide feedback and recommendations for any necessary changes to be made to the text.
  • No less than two weeks before the defense date, the candidate must submit a final hard copy of the written thesis to the full committee.
  • No later than May 15, the candidate must file a final hard copy of the written thesis with the Graduate Program Director.

*Failure to comply with the written thesis paper requirements and due dates will result in postponing the thesis approval and graduation.

Courses


Recommended Course of Study

The following recommended course of study is intended to be flexible allowing students to focus on individual needs. It is highly advised that students plan two semesters at 12 credit hours, and four semesters at 9 credit hours, taking into consideration the time demands of their midway and thesis exhibition presentation semesters. Recommended Course of Study minimum requirements in bold; additional credit options in italics.

FIRST YEAR

Fall Semester (9 credits):

  • Graduate Tutorial (ART 722 - 3 credits)
  • Graduate Studio Practice (ART 710 - 3 credits)
  • Seminar in the Visual Arts (ART 698 - 3 credits)

(Establish MFA Committee)

Spring Semester (12 credits):

  • Graduate Studio Practice (ART 710 - 3 credits)
  • Graduate Inter-media Studio (ART 642 - 3 credits)
  • Two of the following (total 6 credits): Theory and Criticism (ART 737 - 3 credits), Community Service in the Arts (ART 790 - 3 Credits), Elective (3 credits)

SECOND YEAR

Fall Semester (9 credits):

  • Graduate Studio Practice (ART 710 - 3 credits)
  • Seminar in the Visual Arts (ART 698 - 3 credits)
  • One of the following (3 credits): Community Service in the Arts (ART 790 - 3 Credits), Directed Readings (ART 747 - 3 Credits), Elective (3 credits)

(Mid-Way Advancement to Candidacy Exhibition and Review)

Spring Semester (12 credits):

  • Graduate Studio Practice (ART 710 - 3 credits)
  • Graduate Inter-media Studio (ART 642 - 3 credits)
  • Two of the following (6 credits): Theory and Criticism (ART 737 - 3 Credits), Community Service in the Arts (ART 790 - 3 Credits), Directed Readings (ART 747 - 3 Credits), Elective (3 credits)

THIRD YEAR

Fall Semester (9 credits):

  • Graduate Studio Practice (ART 710 - 6 credits)
  • Directed Readings (ART 747 - 3 Credits) - with Thsis Committee Chair

Spring Semester (9 credits):

  • Graduate Studio Practice (ART 710 - 6 credits)
  • Graduate Exhibition (ART 777 - 3 credits) - with Thsis Committee Chair

(Written Thesis Paper and Oral Defense)

Course Descriptions

Intermedia - Art 642 (3 credits)
Emphasis on interdisciplinary issues and techniques in studio production. Prerequisites: graduate standing in art.

Seminar in Visual Arts - Art 698 (3 credits)
Critical dialogue dealing with the relationship of the student's artwork to contemporary issues. Prerequisites: graduate standing in art.

Graduate Studio Practice - Art 710 (3 credits)
Directed individual studio production with choice of medium and faculty. May be repeated. Prerequisite: graduate standing in art.

Graduate Tutorial - Art 722 (3 credits)
Individual problems in the studio with scheduled visits by all department faculty. Cannot be repeated. Prerequisite: graduate standing in art.

Theory and Criticism - Art 737 (3 credits)
Aspects of art criticism and theory, and their influence on art making in the 19th , 20th  and 21st centuries. May be repeated with change of subject up to 6 credits.

Directed Reading - Art 747 (3 credits)
Topic-based readings culminating in discussion and writing related to the development of student's artwork in preparation for MFA Thesis Project. Specifics agreed upon by student and faculty. May be repeated up to 6 credits.

Graduate Exhibition - Art 777 (3 credits)
Individual tutorial for graduate exhibition; completion of thesis paper. To be taken in final semester. May not be repeated. Prerequisite: graduate standing in art.

Community Service in the Arts - Art 790 (3 credits)
Individual, supervised volunteer experience in museum/gallery management, preparatory work, arts administration and/or arts activism. May be repeated up to 6 credits. Prerequisite: graduate standing in art.

How to Apply


APPLICATION DEADLINE: FEB. 1

Application (Part I) 

Submit the following required application materials with the University of Nevada, Reno Graduate School application. 

Letters of Recommendation:
Letters of recommendation from three professional references are required. 

Statement of Purpose: 
A statement of intent/purpose is required in a PDF format. Talk about your artwork and address why you wish to pursue the MFA degree and what you wish to accomplish in the MFA program. Please include your name at the top. 

List of Artwork in Your Portfolio:
A corresponding numbered image inventory list in a PDF format is required by the Art Department. (Please see Part II for the portfolio requirement.) Please include your name, title, dimensions, date completed, and specific media. It may include brief descriptions where necessary. Upload this list to the "Attachments" section of the Graduate School Application.

Graduate School website and application:
Graduate School Website: www.unr.edu/grad
Graduate Admissions: www.unr.edu/grad/admissions

Campus Address:
Student Service Building, Room 225
Phone: (775) 784-6869 Fax: (775) 784-6064
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Email:
Prospective student inquiries: gradadmissions@unr.edu
Current student inquiries: gradschool@unr.edu
Prospective international student inquiries: gradadmissions@unr.edu

Application (Part II)

Mail your portfolio to University of Nevada, Reno Department of Art. (requrired) 

Portfolio:
Show examples of your art work by submitting 20 jpeg images on a USB flash drive (image size: not exceeding 2000 pixels on longest side). Please title images as: Your Last Name_two digit numbers in sequence. (Example: Murphy_01, Murphy_02, Murphy_03). For installation, performance, video, and interactive media, submit a three to five minute video with clips clearly labeled. For Web-specific artworks send URL. Please label submitted media with your name.

Please mail your USB drive to the department's address below. Please enclose a self-addressed-stamped-envelope for the return of your USB if so desired. Unless it is provided, your USB will not be returned.

Department of Art
Mail Stop 0224
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557
ATTN: MFA Program

Campus Address:
Church of Fine Arts Building
Department of Art Main Office Room 209
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Contact information for the MFA Program:
Professor Miya Hannan - MFA Graduate Program Director
(775) 784-6779
miyah@unr.edu

Funding


Tuition and Fees

You can find the cost of tuition and fees on this page here.
Assistantship in the Art Department is 10 hours if you are awarded (Please see below for more details).

Funding Opportunities

The following are the funding opportunities for graduate students in visual art:

Scholarship:
The Department of Art MFA Scholarships historically ranged from $2,000 -$4,000 a year. Historically, all students received a scholarship every year as long as they were in good standing.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA-ships):
GTA-ships are generally awarded to second and third year graduate students through a competitive process. Historically, more than 80% of the students received GTA-ships. GTA appointments offer the benefit of a tuition reduction ($105.71 per credit), and they pay $8,000 stipend for a 10-month, 10 hour per week GTA appointment. GTAs also completely waive the non-resident tuition if the student is from out of state (It does not apply to international students). The actual amount of tuition and fees are available here. The very left column of the chart is what you pay without a GTA-ship, and the very right column (10 hours) is what you pay with a GTA-ship.

Nevada Residency:
A student who is financially independent and has established residence in the state of Nevada for a minimum of 12 months can receive a Nevada residency, which eliminates out-of-state tuition (international students are not qualified). This means that with either a GTA-ship or resident status, a student can eliminate the out-of-state fee for the 2nd and 3rd years.

Work-study:
Graduate students are allowed to work up to 20 hours (sometimes 30 hours). If you are an international student, you can work only on campus. Many jobs on campus require work-study award. You can receive the award by filling out FAFSA and work-study forms in spring for the following school year.



Related Degrees and Programs

Contact College of Liberal Arts

Phone (775) 784-6155
Fax (775) 784-1478
Location Ansari Business Building
Address University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557