The Portrait of an Artist

What is an MFA?

The Master of Fine Arts (or MFA) is an advanced degree that typically requires two or three years of postgraduate work. One can earn this creative degree in various fields, including the visual arts, creative writing, filmmaking, dance, theater, and performance. The MFA is generally considered a terminal degree and, at least in the visual arts, qualifies the holder to teach at a college level.

There are many pros and cons to weigh when considering an MFA. The degree does not promise financial gain, and an undergraduate degree alone may provide all the necessary education for a rewarding artistic career. On the other hand, the MFA allows artists to advance to a more mature style, to refine a fully-developed body of work, and to cultivate connections in the wider field. MFA programs generally culminate in thesis exhibitions or performances that can sharpen the focus of an artistic career.

When comparing MFA programs, which can vary considerably, students should carefully consider program requirements and resources: How many years of residency are required? Are financial aid or teaching opportunities available? What are the facilities and community like? Do you see yourself working closely with any of the faculty? And many others.

Do you think an MFA might be a good fit for you? In addition to helping with job and internship searches, writing resumes and cover letters, and providing career development opportunities, career coaches at the Walter Center also aid students considering and applying to graduate school. If you’d like to strategize with a career coach, make an appointment today.

By Trevor Verrot
Trevor Verrot Career Coach Trevor Verrot