The mission for the Master of Fine Arts Program is to challenge and support independently motivated artists in their intellectual, philosophical and artistic development. The graduate program encourages life long learning, career success and community involvement.


• To provide a safe, healthy and well-equipped studio environment promoting the development of each candidate's creative life.
• To offer study in collaboration with an exemplary faculty who challenge candidates to develop artistic skills demonstratiting a professional competence.
• To advance each candidate's ability to articulate a personal aesthetic, philosophical and conceptual mode of individual inquiry.
• To equip candidates with a deepened knowledge of artistic history and culture as it relates to their chosen area(s) of artistic pursuit.
• To graduate candidates who have a heightened awareness of contemporary issues and who are prepared to develop an artistic career beyond the university as engaged and productive members of their communities.


The Master of Fine Arts degree is considered the professional and terminal degree in studio art. The degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours. In addition to the general admission requirements, the prospective graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts program must have an undergraduate degree with a minimum of 33 credit hours in studio art and nine credit hours in art history. The art history hours must include six hours surveying the history of Western art and three hours in upper-level art history. 

Three letters of recommendation and a portfolio of the applicant's work must be submitted as an indication of preparation for graduate study.  The applicant must have at least half of the artwork in the portfolio in the intended area of emphasis.  This portfolio must be submitted to the School of Art, Design and Art History for examination before action on an application for graduate admission takes place.  The GRE is NOT required.

The Master of Fine Arts degree in studio art is awarded for a high level of professional competence. The student will select an emphasis in a studio area.  Those now available are ceramics, metals, painting and drawing, photography, sculpture, and intermedia, a non-discipline-specific concentration that allows students to work in a variety of studio-based genres or between genres. 

MFA Slideshow

During the semester in which the student completes eighteen hours in the MFA program, the student must apply in writing to the Graduate Coordinator to request continuance in the program and to ask that an 18-Hour Review be arranged. The Graduate Coordinator will then appoint a temporary 18-Hour Review Committee to determine whether the student’s growth and potential merit continuation in the program. Near the end of the program of study, the Master of Fine Arts candidate must produce an exhibition of his/her personal graduate artwork, a digital portfolio of the exhibition (to be retained by the university) and a written statement clarifying the student’s work, its development, and its cultural and historical references. An oral comprehensive examination, generally in conjunction with the exhibition and closely related to the written statement, will also be held.The minimum requirement for the Master of Fine Arts degree in studio art is 60 hours of graduate credit including 39 credit hours in studio art, 12 - 18 of which must be in the Concentration (Painting & Drawing, Photography, Ceramics, Fibers, Sculpture, Metals, or Intermedia) and 12 in Graduate Studio; 12 credit hours in art history, with a minimum of three in Modern Art Since 1945 and three credits of non-Western recommended; and three credit hours in Contemporary Art Theory. Six credit hours of electives may be taken in or out of the field of art. A Master of Fine Arts candidacy review will be held after 18 credit hours have been completed to determine whether the student’s growth and potential merit continuation in the Master of Fine Arts program. A Graduate Review will take place at the end of each semester where each student will formally present his/her work for group discussion. All graduate students and participating graduate faculty will attend all discussions. 

Up to 30 hours of graduate credit from other accredited institutions may be accepted toward the Master of Fine Arts degree if a) the credits were earned within the last six years, b) the student received a grade of "B" or better, c) the transfer credit is from an institution offering a comparable degree and d) the student submits this request with the application to the College of Graduate and Professional Programs and the application is supported by slides, transcripts and artwork from the courses taken at other institutions.

No more than nine hours of transfer credit will be accepted in the student’s area of concentration.


Studio (12-18 credit-hour minimum in Concentration) (39)

Art History (3 credit Non-Western recommended) (12)

Contemporary Art Theory

Electives (Art or Non-Art) (6)

Total           60

For more information, please contact:


Cole Welter
Graduate Program Director, Professor of Art
e-mail: welterch@jmu.edu 
Phone: 540.568.6216

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