Three universities located in Portland offer MFA programs. These programs differ in terms of their content matter and structure, so prospective students can read more about them below to help them determine if any of the programs are a good fit for them.
Overview of Master of Fine Arts Programs in Portland, Oregon
Portland State University
At Portland State University, students have three options in terms of MFA degree programs. If they are interested in writing, the MFA program in creative writing may be of interest. In total, students must complete 48 credit hours, which includes courses, seminars, and a thesis. All students will complete the same 4 core workshop classes in addition to two seminar classes. They then are able to select four elective courses according to their interests. The program culminates with the master's thesis that counts for eight credit hours. This program is designed to be completed in two years if students are enrolled full-time, though it is possible to complete the program on a part-time basis in up to four years.
Students who are interested in art may be interested in either the Art and Social Practice MFA program or the Studio Practice MFA program. These programs differ in a number of ways, as the studio practice program is geared more towards students who are interested in the creation of art in a studio environment. This program requires that students complete at least 90 credits and culminates in a final solo project that students will exhibit.
The Art and Social Practice MFA program blends art practice with research and more experiential types of learning, like working with the community and traveling during the program. This program also requires the completion of a total of 90 credit hours. Rather than completing a thesis, students must complete a final graduate project that they will present publicly during the final year of the program.
Pacific Northwest College of Art
MFA programs offered at Pacific Northwest College of Art are available in applied craft and design, print media, visual studies, and creative writing.
The Applied Craft and Design MFA program is designed to be completed in two years. Its curriculum includes studio practice courses, critique seminars, electives, and courses in creative entrepreneurship. Additionally, students must complete a practicum throughout the second year of the program to gain valuable experience.
The Print Media MFA program requires that students complete a total of 60 credits over the two-year program timeline. Throughout the program, students will take critique courses, hands-on studio courses, and various research labs. They will also be reviewed after completing the first program and will need to complete a final capstone project during the final semester of the program.
In the Visual Studies MFA program, students can focus on a particular visual medium or multiple ones, like painting, photography, video, or sound, among other options. Students will complete studio courses in which they will work in their selected medium, critique seminars, and take courses in theory and contemporary art, as well as other elective courses. This is a thesis program, meaning students will need to complete a final thesis during the final semester of the program. The Visual Studies MFA program is also offered in a low-residency format in which students can work from home and attend two residencies on campus per year.
Another option is the Creative Writing MFA program, which is offered in a low-residency format. In this program, students can select a track in prose, cross-genre, literary translation, or poetry. Throughout the majority of the program, students can complete the requirements from any location and will be required to travel to Portland for residencies in the winter and summer.
Pacific University Oregon
Students may also be interested in the MFA program in writing offered by Pacific University Oregon. This program is offered in a low-residency format over four semesters and students can focus their studies in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. During the semesters, students will spend the majority of their time working towards their degree from home. At the beginning of each semester, students are required to attend a 10-day residency on campus in which they will attend seminars and workshops, meet with professors, and collaborate with their classmates. At the end of the program, students are expected to submit a final thesis, which also requires a presentation and reading.
Admissions Standards for MFA Programs in Portland, Oregon
Because the MFA programs discussed above are all different in terms of their focus area of study, admissions standards vary. The general admissions process however is quite standard among all programs. Applicants are typically required to submit a completed application in addition to a number of other documents and materials in order to be considered for admission. Some of these other documents may include all past academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. Depending on the nature of the program, applicants may also be required to submit samples of their creative work. For example, applicants to the creative writing program will need to submit samples of their writing, while applicants to the visual studies program may need to submit a portfolio of some of their artistic work.
Students interested in attending an MFA program in Portland, Oregon, can choose between three different schools. Each of these schools offers a different type of MFA program that focuses on a different aspect of art or writing.