Masters of Fine Arts Degree Programs with Course Information

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is an advanced degree in a creative or arts-related field. MFA students may pursue study in various forms of visual and performing arts, film, writing and music.

Essential Information

Master of Fine Arts, or MFA, programs are designed for bachelor's degree graduates who wish to advance their abilities and knowledge through focused study in a chosen creative field. MFA programs teach students creative and technical skills to prepare them for jobs in their chosen artistic fields. MFA programs vary depending on the student's chosen creative discipline, which may include creative writing, painting, sculpting, filmmaking, photography and performing arts, among others.

For example, where MFA students in a creative writing program may learn about producing written work, self-editing, peer editing and the process of getting work published, students in a filmmaking program might study all aspects of creating a film, including writing, acting, directing and editing. MFA programs usually require a bachelor's degree, portfolio of previous work and GRE scores, depending on the specific program.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Most schools require master's-level applicants to have completed a 4-year bachelor's degree, sometimes in the same field to which they are applying. A portfolio or examples of the student's previous work is typically required as well, and is often a major factor in the admissions process. Additionally, some programs require students to take the GRE exam, though this is not universal.

The majority of students' time in a Master of Fine Arts program is spent in a studio rather than a lecture hall, allowing them to develop and fine tune individual projects or performances. These programs often culminate with a creative portfolio, which may be an exhibition of photography, full-length novel or completed short film. Courses tend to vary widely depending on the student's concentration area, but may include the following common topics:

  • Poetry writing
  • Critical theory
  • Sound engineering
  • Cinematography
  • Digital photography editing
  • Figure painting

Popular Career Options

A graduate's career options are entirely based on the individual student's interests and the field they choose to enter. In many cases, a MFA is considered a terminal degree. Some potential careers include:

  • Photojournalist
  • Sculptor
  • Screenwriter
  • Film director
  • Actor
  • Graphic designer

Masters of Fine Arts programs allow students with creative inclinations to pursue more intensive studies in fields including art, film and music. Students in MFA programs build a portfolio of their best work and develop their creative skills in preparation for their preferred career.

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