For a comprehensive Q&A on our program, please see our Q&A page.
To begin your application process, please see the Graduate Division website.
Our MFA Program
The two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Program supports 12 graduate students per year, and strives to graduate working artists who will continue to demonstrate significant artistic, critical and cultural impacts across a wide array of disciplines. Incoming MFA students are expected to be already deeply engaged in their creative practice and possess technical proficiency in their chosen media. Graduate coursework and independent study are designed to help students develop a critical understanding of their creative work in the multiple contexts of specific localities and global contemporary art. Our graduate students are encouraged to take university-wide and cross-disciplinary courses linked to their research interests, studying and collaborating 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.
The Program seeks to help students develop a keen sense of their audience and to consider how they will reach, or generate, that audience for their work. Art Practice faculty will help to facilitate the exposure of graduate student work to a broader public, whether in museums, galleries, public places, or through other forms of engagement and dissemination.
Peer-to-peer discussion and critique form the heart of Berkeley’s MFA Program. Students respond to their classmates’ work, and learn to think, speak and write critically about art’s functions and possibilities. A Visiting Artist Lecture Series, along with studio visits, offer graduate students the chance to connect with internationally-known artists. Students also will 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 require students to 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 and strongly encourage work that rethinks context, material form, and conceptual approach. The program aims to broaden the productive, conceptual, and critical faculties of students in their pursuit of careers as professional artists.
The department’s faculty consists of established and emerging artists. 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 a faculty mentor, who serves as that student’s artistic and academic advisor.
The program emphasizes making within a highly rigorous conceptual and critical approach, and is designed to prepare students for a professional exhibiting career and for teaching at the college level. The curriculum emphasizes the richness of UC Berkeley’s broader research community, and close working relationships with faculty. Opportunities exist for assisted and faculty-accompanied travel abroad.
The MFA Program promotes interdisciplinarity, with a facility to pursue and realize ideas through the most appropriate media. Students test ideas and work in a wide range of media and disciplines, which include but are not limited to broadly defined areas of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, printmaking, digital and new media, performance, and social practice. MFA students have enrolled in courses offered in Physics, Asian Studies, Rhetoric, Film and Media, Peace and Conflict Studies, Art History, Anthropology, Music, 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 exist to teach this course again, and/or other courses during summer sessions.
We offer our MFA students professional development support, including privileged applicant status to a number of studio residency programs and grant programs. In consultation with a faculty advisor, each student will select and work closely with a thesis committee consisting of departmental and external members.
We offer our students semi-independent studio facilities, with each student matched to a studio that best suits their work. Ten studios are located off-campus, at the Richmond Field Station; two studios are located on-campus in Wurster Hall.
In addition to exhibiting in the Art Practice department’s Worth Ryder Art Gallery, MFA students are assisted in displaying their work in an array of regional venues. The second-year MFA Show is held at the newly-reopened Berkeley Art Museum, and students work closely with museum curators and staff to select and install their work.
**We have a very extensive Q&A regarding our MFA program. You can find that page here.**