A Master of Fine Arts degree program usually includes a mix of critical and practical study of a specific art form. There are several different types of MFA programs, including those in the fields of visual art, creative writing, acting, and dance, among others. In this article, we will explore some specific California-based MFA programs, covering coursework, thesis, and entrance requirements.
California-Based MFA Programs
MFA in Creative Writing at San Diego State University
At San Diego State University, you can earn an MFA in Creative Writing with a focus on fiction or poetry. This is a 3-year program that requires 54 units with classes on the form of theory of fiction or poetry, writing seminars, and courses on British literature, major authors, or comparative literature. A book-length thesis in your chosen genre is required, as well. This program also gives you opportunities to teach as a graduate teaching associate or work as an editorial intern with the program's publications Poetry International and Fiction International.
MFA in Screenwriting at California State University, Northridge
California State University, Northridge's MFA in Screenwriting is a 42-unit degree program. The aim of this MFA program is to give you a solid foundation in both film and television screenwriting while also preparing you to teach screenwriting at the university level as well. Your core coursework in this program allows you to study such subjects as film analysis, history of cinema, scene writing, television writing, and film writing. Your final thesis project consists of a feature-film length screenplay, and you will need to take both a thesis script preparation course and a thesis screenplay course.
MFA in Dance at Saint Mary's College of California
Located in Moraga, Saint Mary's College of California offers an MFA in Dance that allows you to choose a concentration in design and production or creative practice. Both of these areas of focus require 60 units of coursework. The creative practice focus usually requires classes on dance pedagogy, dance technique, and dance for the camera while the design and production focus usually requires classes on lighting, scenery, and costume. This program takes about 2 years to complete with a final thesis project that includes either a full evening of choreographic work or a project in production, digital media, theoretical studies, or design and a written report that documents your project.
MFA in Visual Art at Azusa Pacific University
Azusa Pacific University, located in Azusa, has an MFA in Visual Art degree that requires 60 total units. In this program, you will likely take a range of courses on critical issues in art as well as practice-based classes that include independent studio time and critique. This low-residency program is designed to be completed in 3 years with summers included and requires two residencies each year, which consist of workshops and classes. Outside of the residencies, you work independently on your art with faculty instruction and critique. To complete your degree, you create a graduate exhibition of your original work.
MFA in Acting at the University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles, offers a 94-unit MFA in Acting that focuses on the study of classical and contemporary acting in the realms of film, television, and the stage. The required courses in this program include classes in movement, production, voice, and speech. This is a 3-year program that includes a required student showcase in the final year of study. In order to earn your MFA in Acting, you also need to pass a comprehensive examination that centers on the critical evaluation of production projects that you have completed in the program.
Admittance Requirements for MFA Programs
Most MFA programs have a common set of admittance materials that could likely include an application, an application fee, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. You will also need to hold a bachelor's degree; however, your undergraduate degree usually doesn't have to be in the same field you are applying to. MFA programs require that you submit an artistic sample in your chosen field, which could be a writing sample, an art portfolio, or an audition. The GRE is not a common requirement for MFA programs, but it's best to check with your desired program regarding any test scores.
Most MFA programs require that you complete graduate-level coursework and complete a final thesis or project that showcases your artistic skills. To apply to these types of programs, you likely need to prove your readiness to study at a graduate level and your aptitude in your specific art form, whether that be creative writing, acting, or studio art.