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Graduate Program

The JMU School of Art, Design and Art History is a collaborative community 
that fosters independent thought and creativity, embraces the diversity of cultural expression, and cultivates excellence in the making and understanding of visual art. 

A distinguished graduate faculty of practicing artists and scholars is dedicated to exemplary teaching and research, and to the professional growth of each student.  Graduate students are challenged through a rigorous curriculum of study that seeks to develop their personal practice of contemporary art, and the historical and theoretical contexts that inform it.

The JMU School of Art, Design and Art History is one of the most notable and time-honored public university visual art programs in the United States, dating its foundation to the creation of the institution in 1908. The Master of Fine Arts degree was the first terminal degree granted by the university, and today the M.F.A. is a nationally ranked program by U.S. News and World Report. 

The graduate visual art programs are administratively housed in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). All of the art programs in the college are professionally accredited making JMU one of the select few universities in the country that can boast this distinction.  The interdisciplinary interactions of music, theatre, dance and visual art students are encouraged, which in turn supports a vibrant creative environment for the serious study of art. 

MFA student receiving critique

The School of Art, Design and Art History offers the following graduate degrees:


Admission to the Graduate Program in Visual Art at JMU is selective and highly competitive. The application deadline for the M.F.A. and M.A. Studio Art program is mid-January for full consideration. The admission deadline for the M.A. in Art Education program is rolling, and extends into the late Spring of each year.

New students are enrolled in the summer for the M.A. Art Education program, and the Fall for the M.F.A. or M.A. in Studio Art curriculum.  

The M.F.A. program is a traditional 60 credit hours, three-year, residential program. The M.A. in Art Education degree may be non-residential, but students enrolled full-time may receive a tuition waiver and stipend.

Admission materials to all programs are submitted online, including the portfolio, letters of recommendation and transcripts. Once begun, the application process may be completed in part. Incomplete applications will not be considered.  The GRE is not required for admission to the Art graduate degree programs.

The admission process may be started HERE.

Studio M.F.A. and M.A. portfolio submission materials may be uploaded via SlideRoom HERE.

On-Campus Review and Open House:

Please check back this summer 2017 for date and time!

To pre-register please call 540-568-6661/6216 or email


All M.F.A. full-time students admitted to the graduate program are awarded a Graduate Assistantship with a full tuition waiver and material stipend covering their entire course of study.  Students in their third year of M.F.A. study are eligible for a Teaching Assistantship (TA), which awards a larger, living stipend.

Student’s enrolled in the M.A. Art Education program may receive a TA during their first year of study.


Students enrolled in the M.F.A. program are admitted as a cohort, and have represented a wide range of undergraduate art programs. From large, prestigious private art schools, to smaller Liberal Arts Colleges, each class represents a mix of gifted and intellectually able individuals whose contributions make the learning atmosphere a stimulating and engaging environment. A select list of undergraduate art schools represented in the M.F.A. program have included graduates from the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of California – San Diego, East Carolina University, New York University, Old Dominion University, Ringling College of Art and Design, Tampa University, Texas Tech University, Towson University, The University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Wake Forest University, Yale, and internationally, schools located in China, Colombia, South America, England, Japan, and South Korea.  


Graduates of the M.F.A. program pursue a wide range of careers after their Thesis Exhibition. Because the M.F.A. is considered the terminal degree in the discipline, many graduates have chosen to pursue academic appointments at the college or university level.  While in residence, graduates are also educated to find employment in gallery or museum settings, and find this line of work compliments their studio research.  All graduates are prepared to continue their studio practice at the professional level and lead productive and meaningful lives as practicing artists. 


The proximity of JMU to major East Coast cities fosters a regular on-campus schedule of visiting artists, scholars and designers. Invited art professionals represent a diverse range of viewpoints and practices that enrich the regular calendar of coursework and provide graduate students with personal insight and feedback through private and group critiques.  A select list of recent visitors is provided below.

Encore Exhibition Series
The Encore Series is an annual program sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts that enriches the cultural and intellectual life of the greater university community. Major figures in contemporary art that have participated in the Encore Series have included: Robert ArnesonSeymour ChwastChuck CloseMaria Magdalena Campos-PonsLesley DillMilton GlaserRed GroomsPhil MeggsElizabeth Murray, Philip PearlsteinFaith Ringgold, Leslie Saar, Raymond SaundersPeter SaulMiriam SchapiroSandy SkoglundAlan ShieldsJerry Uelsmann, and William T. Wiley, among others.

Dorothy Liskey Wampler Distinguished Professorship Of Art Series
The endowed Dorothy Liskey Wampler Distinguished Art Professorship brings to campus a program of distinguished visiting artists, scholars, and critics. Past Wampler Professors have traveled to JMU from around the world, and have included: Perry BardDr. Terry BarrettCarol BartonXu BingDr. Suzanne BlierPamela BlotnerDr. B. Stephen Carpenter IIBarbara CooperArthur DantoDr. Leah DickermanBob EbendorfJohn FosterSuzi GablikDr. W. Dwaine Greer, Dr. Fredrika Jacobs, Ivan Karp, Donald Kuspit, Rainer Goetz, Stefan Graupner, Eve LarameeAnthony LeeSusan LeopoldLucy LippardDr. Amy LyfordPeter PlagensEarl A. Powell IIIJ. Morgan PuettRosamond PurcellLawrence RinderDr. Renee SandellDr. Kirk Savage, Salvatore Scalora, Sam Shelton, Roy SieberPaul VanouseBill ViolaRichard WilsonJames WinesAmy Yoes, among others.



Grad Hallway and Grad StudioGrad Hallway and Grad Private Studios

Each student in the M.F.A. and M.A. Studio program is provided a private studio in the Grace Street Building. The Grace Street Building is located approximately five minutes walking time apart from Duke Hall, the administrative home for the School of Art, Design and Art History. Each private studio in the Grace Street Building is equipped with a computer and access to the Internet. Graduate students in the M.A. Art Education program are accommodated in Duke Hall in the Art Education Center.  All studio graduates have full access to the studios and equipment located in Duke Hall and the Memorial Hall Art Complex. 


Multiple galleries are located on campus. The Duke Fine Art Gallery (located in Duke Hall) hosts national and international exhibitions of contemporary art. The Duke Fine Arts Gallery also serves as the venue for all M.F.A. Thesis Exhibitions.

The Madison Art Collection contains over 35,000 cultural objects from the Neolithic through the 20th Century. Exhibitions from the permanent collection are displayed in the Lisanby Museum.

The Prism Gallery is dedicated to exhibiting works that emphasize aspects of diversity, including areas of culture, religion, gender and sexuality.

The Prism International Gallery is dedicated to exhibiting works that explore global culture.

The Institute for Visual Studies (IVS) at James Madison University is a center for scholarly, scientific and creative inquiry into the nature and workings of images. An incubator of new ideas, the institute fosters discovery, and the generation of artworks, scholarly products, and applications by multidisciplinary teams of students and faculty. 

artWorks GALLERY is located at 131 Grace Street, adjacent to the Graduate Studios. artWorks Gallery is a loft space and is JMU’s student-run gallery, exhibiting work by undergraduate and graduate students. The gallery features moveable walls; hardwood floors; large windows; and a high, open ceiling. Exhibits change, on average, every two weeks.

New Image Gallery is also located at 131 Grace Street, inside of artWorks Gallery. New Image Gallery features contemporary photography and small works on paper and installations by regional, national, and international artists.


Graduate Studies Handbook (2014/2015)

Graduate Studies Handbook (2015/2016)


M.F.A. and M.A. in Studio Art
Cole Welter, Professor of Art and Graduate Program Director 540.568.6322

M.A. in Art Education
Karin Tollefson-Hall, Assistant Professor of Art Education and Art Education Graduate Program Director 540.568.4304


Dr. Aderonke Adesanya, Associate Professor of Art History
Ph.D.,M.A. University of Ibadan, Nigeria; B.A. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria 540-568-3486

Dr. Sarah Brooks, Associate Professor of Art History
Ph.D., M.A. Institute of Fine Arts, NYU; B.A. Art History, Dartmouth College 540-568-6642

Sukjin Choi, Associate Professor of Art
M.F.A. Cranbrook Academy of Art, M.F.A and B.F.A.E. Womans University in Seoul, Korea 540.568.6370

Corinne Diop, Studio Art Coordinator, Professor of Art
M.F.A. University of Washington; B.S. James Madison University 540.568.6485

Dr. David Ehrenpreis, Professor of Art History
Ph.D., M.A. Boston University; B.A. Foreign Languages, Hamilton College 540.568.2527

Gary Freeburg, Duke Hall Gallery Director, Associate Professor of Art
M.F.A. University of Iowa, M.A. Minnesota State University Mankato, B.F.A. Minnesota State University Mankato 540.568.6407/6918

Dr. Linda Halpern, Professor of Art History
Ph.D., M.A. Yale University, B.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 540.568.2852

Dr. Laura Katzman, Associate Professor of Art History
M.A., MPhil and PhD Art History, Yale University;B.A. Fine Arts, New York University 540.568.6372

Dr. John Ott, Associate Professor of Art History
Ph.D., M.A. University of California Los Angeles; B.A. Stanford University 540.568.6319

Mark Rooker, Associate Professor of Art
M.F.A., B.F.A. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 540.568.6410

Dr. Katherine A. Schwartz, Professor of Art and Art Education, Director of the School of Art, Design, and Art History
Ph.D. University of Arizona; M.S. Florida State University; B.S. Radford University 540.568.6464

Rebecca Silberman, Associate Professor of Art
M.F.A. Bowling Green State University; B.F.A. Longwood University 540.568.6335

Dr. Kathryn Stevens,Assistant Professorof Art History
Ph.D. Virginia Commonwealth University; M.A. James Madison University; B.S. Anthropology, James Madison University

Greg Stewart, Associate Professor of Art
M.F.A. Ohio University; B.F.A. State University of New York at Brockport 540.568.6816

Kenneth Szmagaj, Professor of Art
M.F.A. M.A. The University of Iowa; B.F.A. Wayne State University 540.568.6312

Allyson Taylor, Assistant Professor of Studio Art
M.F.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.F.A. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design 540.568.3859

Dr. Karin Tollefson-Hall, Assistant Professor of Art and Art Education
Ph.D. The University of Iowa, Iowa City; M.A. The University of Iowa, Iowa City; B.A. The University of Iowa 540.568.4304

Dr. Roger Tomhave, Associate Professor of Art and Art Education
Ph.D, M.A. The University of Minnesota; B.S.E., University of Wisconsin-River Falls 540.568.6219

Lisa Tubach, Foundations Coordinator, Associate Professor of Art
M.F.A. Michigan State University, B.A. Macalester College, Certificate in Digital Video, New York University 540.568.3856

Cole Welter, Professor of Art
Ph.D. Texas Tech University; M.F.A. The University of Texas at Austin;
B.F.A. with Honors The University of Texas at Austin 540.568.6216

Dr. William Wightman, Professor of Art and Art Education
Ph.D. The Ohio State University; M.F.A. Radford University; B.A. Virginia Wesleyan College 540.568.6216

Susan Zurbrigg, Professor of Art
M.F.A. Indiana University; B.A. Bard College 540.568.3203

For more information on JMU's Graduate School, visit: Graduate School