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School of Visual Art and Design

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Graduate Programs

As a graduate student at the School of Visual Art and Design, you can pursue one of seven degrees.

Art Education

A graduate degree in art education prepares students to teach art at various levels, from K-12 to the college level. 

Explore the three degree programs in art education:


Art History

Students in our  Master of Arts in Art History program have the opportunity to pursue in-depth knowledge in an area of European, American, or Asian art and architecture, and well as photographic and film history.

Media Arts

We prepare agile, independent artists who are ready to succeed as worker, partners, innovators, and entrepreneurs in America's biggest export. Our graduates are driving the next wave of media culture.

When you begin pursuing your Master of Arts in Media Arts, you'll take the helm of a media art production project. Every course in between puts you at the center of a practical curriculum that is also intellectually challenging. 

You have a creative drive, and you want to turn that into a satisfying career. Our professional facilities have the right equipment to turn those ideas into reality. Our courses inspire you to meet your goals, dig deeper, and go further. 

Studio Art

The Master of Arts degree allows students to create their own works of art and broaden their knowledge of art in ceramics, drawing,  painting, 3-D studies, printmaking, graphic design, and photography. Completion of the Master of Fine Arts affirms a candidate's mastery in studio production.  



Today’s art program should provide options for individual self-development. We recognize that the artist’s role has become more complex; technology has opened new frontiers, and divisions between mediums have all but disappeared. During the graduate years, students are expected to work as maturing artists motivated by independent ideas. In the sculpture area at SVAD, students find an atmosphere of stylistic freedom, which allows the realization of their visual concepts.

Sculpture at UofSC occupies more than 4,000 square feet of studio and shop space. Graduate studios are in a building separate from the undergraduate area. Each graduate student has approximately 400 square feet of individual studio space. Additionally, due to the generally mild climate, students take advantage of the large covered outdoor working area. Graduate students have 24-hour access to their studios and studio equipment. The sculpture facilities include equipment appropriate for most sculptural techniques.

Table saws, band saws, scroll saw, radial arm saws, chop saws, drill presses, belt and disc sanders, planer, four mobile oxyacetylene rigs, mig and arc welders, plasma cutter, bench grinders, foundry and mold making area, large metal cutting horizontal band saw, various pneumatic tools, large sandblasting cabinet and mobile pressure pot, forge with treadle hammer, paved, lighted and covered outdoor work area, fork lift, and most major hand and power tools.

Visiting Artists
The faculty is committed to an ongoing program of visiting artists. This policy gives our students exposure to the realities of the professional art world along with a chance to exchange ideas with some of today’s top artists. Visiting artists have included:

James Surls, Greg Elliott, William Martin, Nam June Paik, Leo Castelli, William Wegman, Gregory Armanoff, Alfred Leslie, Shaun Cassidy, Robert and Paula Winokur, Norwood Viviano, Bernadette Vielbig, James Alexander, John Douglas Powers, and Jason Ferguson, to name a few.

Our program offers a B.F.A., M.A., and M.F.A. degrees in Ceramics. Ceramics students' personal interests vary from a strong vessel orientation to sculptural and conceptual art forms in clay. Students are encouraged to develop a sense of ceramic history and contemporary art issues through graduate seminars, guest speakers and Art History classes. The size of our program allows for considerable interaction between students and faculty. The M.A. degree is a two year program and involves a minimum of 30 hours of course credit. The M.F.A. degree is a three year program and involves a minimum of 60 credit hours.

The drawing program is designed to provide a wide range of drawing experiences and approaches. Introductory courses (100 level) heighten visual awareness and develop traditional drawing skills. Figure Structure is offered at the 200 level with the option of taking subsequent classes. Inter-mediate level courses (300 level) introduce more physical and tactile materials and techniques as well as theoretical and expressive concepts. Drawing projects are set up to make you more aware of your culture with an emphasis placed on personal creative thinking. Advanced courses (400 level) offer the opportunity to learn to be more independent and creative through mentored personal investigations and thematic drawing series leading to portfolio preparation for career opportunities after graduation. Class enrollments are limited to ensure lots of one-on-one instruction.

There are three dedicated drawing studio classrooms (two for general drawing and one for figure drawing) that are available for students both during classes and during off class hours. Each studio has a high ceiling, lots of windows and overhead specialty lighting.

The drawing faculty are all exhibiting professional artists and excellent teachers who look forward to working with you to achieve your creative potential. Numerous visiting and adjunct faculty also teach in the drawing area.

It is the mission of the UofSC graphic design faculty to make our students as competitive and prepared for the working world as possible. We want this transition from student to professional to be seamless.

The M.A. graphic design program teaches the theory, history and practice of visual communications design by providing students a firm foundation in formal and conceptual design. Our courses cover publication and editorial design, logo design and branding, packaging, illustration, poster design, multimedia, motion graphics and interactive design.

Graphic design, at its most effective, should communicate intelligently and appropriately to the intended audience. Solving client-based requirements is a major component of the designers' task in our program and in the profession.

The graphic design program has two full-time faculty and several instructors that work professionally in the field. Columbia is also home to the South Carolina Chapter of The AIGA, a national organization for professional graphic designers. AIGA SC offers a wide variety of programming that includes internationally- renowned guest speakers, workshops, and special design related events such as a summer design film series.

The painting program is coordinated by David Voros and Pam Bowers, practicing painters who exhibit their work internationally. The focus of our faculty, on both graduate as well as undergraduate levels, is to create a community in which students can develop as serious committed artists who express themselves through painting. Our objective is to expose students to the history and aesthetic breadth of the medium, to challenge them to develop their own initiatives and to pursue excellence. Our focus is broad and interdisciplinary, it follows no ideological agenda, yet remains centered in a celebration of the medium of painting.

The photography program at UofSC is run by professor Kathleen Robbins. We offer a classroom with print finishing and display areas, two black & white darkrooms with a total of 20 enlargers (including 3 new Saunders 4x5 VCCE's), a film developing area, and a fully equipped lighting studio. Digital facilities include: film and flatbed scanners, large-format inkjet printers, piezography and archival inkjet output, a comprehensive ICC profile library, and 20 calibrated E-Mac workstations. A selection of cameras and equipment are available for check-out through Media Services.

In the Studio Art photography program, emphasis is on personal exploration of ideas within the context of contemporary art and critical theory. BFA photography students will explore a variety of techniques & concepts including: advanced black & white printing, medium & large-format, studio lighting, digital imaging, non-silver, early processes, critical theory, and career practices. At the 400-level, students pursue individual projects in depth and work to create a course web gallery and an editioned portfolio project. Additionally, 400-level students complete an individual portfolio and group exhibition.

The photography concentration in Studio Art prepares students for a variety of careers including: fine art photographer, educator, curator, critic, gallery owner, and arts administrator.

The M.F.A. degree in photography consists of a 60 hour program of study, which typically takes three years to complete. Successful completion of the program requires an understanding of one's work within the context of critical theory and contemporary art. Upon completion of the degree rquirements, students are expected to demonstrate expertise within the field of photography through the exhibition of a substantial body of work.

 The Printmaking program is coordinated by professor Mary Robinson. Our facilities are equipped for all the major printmaking processes: relief, intaglio, serigraphy, lithography, and digital imaging. There are two hand-driven lithograph presses (and many stones to go with them), three hand-driven etching presses, a large vacuum table for screen printing, an exposure unit for large-format screen printing, and a photographic plate maker. There is also a well-equipped computer lab with a large plotter printer.

In addition to the facilities in McMaster College, there is a variety of letterpress and papermaking equipment in the new UofSC Studio for Book Arts. Along with the presses, there is another large vacuum table for screen printing and a motorized fiber beater for papermaking.

The creative atmosphere is one of tradition, experimentation, and variety in terms of format and technique. In addition to creating prints in traditional methods, many students create installations and combine printmaking processes with photography, drawing, painting, or three-dimensional work. There is a strong communal aspect among students and faculty, and a great deal of interaction with the other areas and programs in the School of Visual Art and Design.

Note: Graphic Design is a concentration only in the Master of Arts (M.A.) program.


Assistantships and Financial Aid

The School of Visual Art and Design offers competitive assistantships for graduate students in our degree programs. Students are automatically considered for assistantships after admission into any of our graduate programs. 

Graduate Instructional Assistants (GIAs) assist professors with a course in studio art, art education, art history, and media arts. Studio Art MFA students may become Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) after 18 credits of graduate level coursework. As a GTA, the student is the instructor on record for a studio art course. 

Students are encouraged to apply for scholarships to assist them with their graduate studies. 

Tuition and Fees

The current rate of tuition and required fees for graduate students is available from the University Bursar's Office. Out-of-state graduate students who receive a graduate assistantship are automatically granted the in-state tuition rate set forth by the Bursar's Office.

Graduate Program Requirements and Regulations

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.