Graduate Program Overview

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. 


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


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.


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. 

On-Campus Portfolio Review and Open House:
Please check back this summer 2018 for date and time!  To pre-register please call 540-568-6661/6216 or email

Start Your Admission Process HERE!

Submit Your Studio M.F.A. and M.A. Portfolio Materials HERE!


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. 


Grad Studio room; left-side, occupied; right-side, unoccupied

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. 


M.F.A. and M.A. in Studio Art:
Cole Welter,Professor of Art and Graduate Program Director
Ph.D. Texas Tech university; M.F.A University of Texas at Austin; B.F.A. with Honors, University of Texas at Austin 540.568.6322

M.A. in Art Education
Karin Tollefson-Hall, Assistant Professor of Art Education and Art Education Graduate Program Director
Ph.D. Art Education, The University of Iowa; M.A. Art Education, The University of Iowa; B.A. Education, University of Northern Iowa 540.568.4304

Graduate Faculty

Dr. Aderonke Adesanya

Associate Professor of Art History


Dr. Sarah Brooks

Art History Coordinator, Associate Professor of Art History


Sukjin Choi

Ceramics Head, Associate Professor of Art


Corinne Diop

Associate Director of SADAH, Director of New Image Gallery, Photography Head, Professor of Art


Dr. David Ehrenpreis

Professor of Art History


Dr. Linda Halpern

Professor of Art History


Richard Hilliard

Associate Professor of Graphic Design


Dr. Laura Katzman

Professor of Art History


R. Mertens

Art Studio Coordinator, Fiber Arts and Weaving Head, Assistant Professor


Dr. John Ott

Professor of Art History


Mark Rooker

Metals & Jewelry Head, Professor of Art


John Ros

Director and Chief Curator of Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art; Assistant Professor of Art


Dr. Katherine Schwartz

Director of School of Art, Design and Art History, Professor of Art and Art Education


Dr. Maureen Shanahan

Professor of Art History


Rebecca Silberman

Professor of Art, Photography


Dr. Wren River Stevens

Director of the Madison Art Collection; Assessment Coordinator; Associate Professor of Art History


Greg Stewart

Sculpture Head, Professor of Art


Allyson Mellberg Taylor

Foundations Coordinator, Associate Professor of Art, Foundations


Dr. Karin Tollefson-Hall

Associate Director of SADAH, Director of Summer Art at JMU; Art Education Coordinator; Assistant Professor of Art Education


Dr. Roger Tomhave

Associate Professor of Art and Art Education, Director Art Education Student Teaching


Lisa Tubach

Professor of Art, Foundations


Dr. Cole Welter

Graduate Program Director, Professor of Art, Painting & Drawing


Dr. William Wightman

NASAD Coordinator; Art Education MA Coordinator; Professor of Art and Art Education


Susan Zurbrigg

Painting & Drawing Area Head, Professor of Art

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