Graduate Program

**Please note: As a part of our continuing effort to go green, we are no longer sending out hard copy brochures about our program.**

Our MFA Program

Our two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Program strives to graduate artists who demonstrate an original vision in their approach to form and content and whose work will have a significant artistic and cultural impact. Incoming MFA students are expected to be already deeply engaged in their creative process and to possess technical proficiency in their chosen media. The MFA Program supports 14 graduate students per year. Graduate coursework and independent study are designed to help students develop a critical understanding of their creative work in the context of Arts, Humanities, and Sciences. A feature unique to Berkeley’s MFA Program is the requirement that our graduate students take courses from the broader university community. Our students study and collaborate with faculty and graduate students in areas as diverse as Geography, Environmental Sciences, Classics, Art History, Disability Studies, Philosophy, Cognitive Science, Interactive Design, Rhetoric, Film Studies, and Comparative Literature. Art Practice faculty are highly interdisciplinary in their work and can enable close connections between MFA students and colleagues in other fields across campus.

The Program seeks to help students develop a keen sense of their audience and to consider how they will reach, or even create, that audience for their work. We facilitate the exposure of graduate student work to a broader audience, whether that be in museums, galleries, public places, or a venue uniquely suited to the artist’s creative format.  A Visiting Artist Lecture Series and visiting artist studio visits offer graduate students the chance to make contact with internationally-known artists and to receive feedback on their work from these visitors.

Peer-to-peer discussion and critique forms the heart of Berkeley’s MFA Program. Students are expected to make their own work, respond to their classmates’ work, and learn to speak and write thoughtfully about both.  Students have the opportunity to teach in the second year, mentored and closely supported by a faculty member.  Exhibitions in the first and second year of study demand that students maintain a rigorous pace of creative research and establish a professional art practice. The final thesis exhibition, completed after the second year of study, is held at the Berkeley Art Museum.

Why an MFA from Berkeley?

Art Practice is committed to artistic innovation and intellectual rigor. We emphasize critical thinking about art and strongly encourage work that rethinks context, material form, and conceptual approach.

The department’s faculty is comprised of established and emerging figures in contemporary art practice. All students work closely with individual faculty members through a system of independent study and programmatic coursework. Every student is guided through the program by his or her mentor, a faculty member who serves as that student’s artistic and academic advisor.

Rigorous and highly selective, the MFA Program is designed to prepare students for a professional exhibiting career and for teaching at the college level.

We admit artists working in 2D, 3D, interactive- and time-based media, but the MFA curriculum is not medium-specific.

The MFA Program is exceptional for its emphasis on interdisciplinarity. MFA students have enrolled in courses offered in Physics, Asian Studies, Rhetoric, Film and Media, Peace and Conflict Studies, Art History, Environmental Science, Botany, Mathematics, Middle-Eastern Studies, Religion, Classics, English, Architecture, Philosophy, Engineering, and Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies.

The MFA Program offers unique teaching opportunities. In their second year, MFA students are invited to teach their own section of our undergraduate foundation course, Art 8: “Introduction to Visual Thinking.” Opportunities to teach this course again, and/or others, during summer sessions exist as well.

We offer our MFA students professional development support, including privileged applicant status to a number of studio residency programs and grant programs.

MFA students are matched to studios best suited to their work.

In addition to exhibiting in the Art Practice’s Worth Ryder Art Gallery, MFA students are assisted in displaying their work in an array of venues. The second-year MFA Show is held at the Berkeley Art Museum.

The MFA Program emphasizes independent studio work in the broadly defined areas of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, digital media and new genres. The aim of the program is to broaden the visual, intellectual, and aesthetic faculties of students in their pursuit of careers as professional artists. We offer our students superb studio facilities, a curriculum that emphasizes the richness of UC Berkeley’s broader research community, and close working relationships with faculty.