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School of Visual Art and Design

M.F.A. in Studio Art

The Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Studio Art is a 60 credit, three-year program of study that allows students to pursue major and minor areas of concentration from among the following studio art areas: drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, ceramics, and sculpture (3D studies). Completion of the degree primarily affirms a candidate’s mastery of studio production in their major and minor areas of concentration. The University of South Carolina's M.F.A. program offers competitively assigned assistantships, allowing candidates to develop professional competency in the teaching of studio art at the college and university level while completing their studies. 

The M.F.A. degree requires a minimum of 60 hours of graduate level course credit in the following areas:

  • 33 hours studio art, to include 18 hours in the major area of concentration, 9 hours in the minor area of concentration, and 6 hours of studio art electives.
  • 12 hours from art history and/or art education.
  • 6 to 9 hours of the MFA Project (ARTS 896 and 897), including a written proposal and project documentation, and oral defense.
  • 6 to 9 hours of graduate electives.

All MFA candidates are also required to complete a first semester critique with the studio art faculty. The critique is non-evaluative, allowing for open discussion of the student’s work produced during the semester.

MFA candidates must then successfully complete and pass two progress reviews, one each at the completion of the second and third semesters. Each review intends to provide a forum for discussion and evaluation of work produced during the semester, to give students an opportunity for contact with studio faculty and to monitor the candidate’s progress. The reviews are equivalent to master’s comprehensive exams.

Failure to pass will result in a re-review at the end of the next semester by the entire faculty. Candidates who do not pass re-reviews may not continue in the program. Students will not be allowed to register for ARTS 896 (Project Proposal) prior to successfully completing the two reviews. Upon completing the program, students will complete a creative terminal project (MFA thesis) and pass an oral defense. 


Admissions Guidelines


Fall Application Deadline: January 15 

Application Documents
  • Graduate School application
  • Official Transcripts
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation (at least one must be from a professor)
  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Portfolio:  Please upload a digital portfolio of 20 images of recent work and an identifying list of works, as a single .pdf document. Applicants are encouraged to include their strongest artwork.
  • For international applicants whose native language is not English: submission of a satisfactory score on the TOEFL or the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam; or Pearson Test of English (Academic). The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 80 (computer-based) or 550 (paper-based); the minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5; and the minimum Pearson Score is 59.

Note: It is presupposed that a minimum of 60 semester hours in Art (Art Studio and up to 12 credits in Art Education and/or Art History) have been completed at the undergraduate level.

Areas of Concentration

  • 3D Studies
  • Ceramics
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Printmaking

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.