Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Programs in North Carolina

Oct 18, 2019

This article describes five schools in North Carolina offering a Master of Fine Arts degree, emphasizing Art, Studio Art, Dance, Creative Writing, and Experimental and Documentary Arts. MFA program admittance information is included.

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North Carolina has many schools that offer a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree, the highest available degree in fine arts. Below are some of the schools in North Carolina offering Master of Fine Arts degrees with emphases in Art, Studio Art, Dance, Creative Writing, and Experimental and Documentary Arts. Admittance information for MFA programs is included.

North Carolina Universities Offering Master of Fine Arts Programs

MFA programs in North Carolina are varied. Below are five such programs with areas of study emphasis included. These are only some of the creative offerings in North Carolina.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)

Located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) offers a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts degree. UNC admits six to eight students, on average, to the MFA program annually.

Students have the option of exploring a variety of media to express goals in an interdisciplinary approach, or choose a traditionally focused emphasis on the pursuit of intellectual and aesthetic studies.

The MFA program at UNC is a two-year program. Students are provided with studio space and earn 26 of the 60 required credits through independent study under a faculty member or visiting artist. Students can engage with all faculty members, receiving both technical information and critique.

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University (WCU) is a public university located in Cullowhee, North Carolina. The university confers a Master of Fine Arts in Art degrees.

The MFA program at WCU is a three-year residential program. This is a studio art program where students are provided studio space and the choice to pursue work in a specific emphasis or across different mediums. The areas of study are ceramics, photography, painting/drawing, sculpture, and printmaking + book arts.

East Carolina University

In Greenville, North Carolina, the School of Art and Design at East Carolina University (ECU) offers a Master of Arts in Art degree. The MFA program at ECU has concentrations available in graphic design, ceramics, metal design, printmaking, sculpture, textile design, photography, and painting.

Of note, East Carolina University has a low residency program for an MFA in Art with a concentration in ceramics. For ceramics students in this program, the school offers a combination of online, remote and on-campus instruction geared at working professionals.

Duke University

Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University offers a Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts, and a new program, the Master of Fine Arts in Dance.

In the experimental and documentary arts program, students take an interdisciplinary approach to analog, digital, and computational media. Those accepted into the program are sophisticated artists who seek advanced education on documentary traditions and cultures. Students express their artwork using advanced technologies and experimental new media.

The inaugural year of the MFA dance program at Duke has dance students learning with embodied knowledge and practice-led movement discourses. This program lasts two years. Here, contemporary dance and practice-based studies encourage students to use their art in an impactful way on society.

NC State

NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Specialization choices are poetry or fiction. The MFA program consists of two years of study, interdisciplinary coursework, workshops, and a final thesis of literary work.

NC State accepts about 12 students per year into the MFA in Creative Writing program. Students work with faculty at a 1:1 ratio and receive a fully-funded graduate teaching assistantship to all admitted students.

MFA Program Admittance Requirements

Applicants to Master of Fine Art programs are encouraged to have a strong educational background and a maturity evident in the life and artistic work.

The general requirements for applicants include:

  • Completed school application and application fee
  • Official transcripts and a bachelor's degree
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Portfolio of creative work

Most colleges accept a bachelor's degree in any field, while a few require an art-related undergraduate degree. Some programs require 30 credits in undergraduate studio coursework, but most allow for experience and talent to fulfill that requirement. Others require a minimum number of art or art history undergraduate credits.

North Carolina colleges offer the Master of Fine Arts degree in several areas of study. Admissions requirements are unique to each school, but general requirements seem universal.

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