Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Programs in San Francisco, CA

Oct 15, 2019

This article explores six opportunities for students of the arts to obtain a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in the San Francisco Bay area. Disciplines range from live theater to traditional painting.

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The San Francisco Bay area has a rich art history and offers many opportunities for artists to extend their education to its maximum potential. This article explores six different MFA programs in the San Francisco Bay area.

Universities in San Francisco, California offering an MFA

University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco offers an MFA in Writing for students who need a flexible schedule. Classes meet twice a week in the evenings, with Tuesdays focused on workshops and Thursdays focused on seminars. The entire program is 33 units and takes two-and-a-half years to complete. Students finish the program with a book-length thesis that can be one genre or a cross of several. Students are encouraged to explore and expand during their time studying at the University of San Francisco including participating in literary internships and service organizations.

San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University provides individual as well as communal studio spaces for its MFA students in Art. All of the traditional disciplines are offered--painting, drawing, ceramics, textiles, sculpture, photography, printmaking--as well as some newer disciplines such as emerging technology and digital media. Sixty units make up the total curriculum including a minimum of 39 studio units and 21 academic units. Some example courses include Professional Practices for Visual Artists and an Interdisciplinary Critique Seminar. Rigorous research and writing skills are accompanied with the students' media skills, including a solid foundation in art history.

California College of the Arts

California College of the Arts focuses on a socially engaged interdisciplinary curriculum in which students can become immersed in the artistic local community. Students may explore art in areas such as textiles, ceramics, painting, sculpture, photography, glass, printmaking, and metals. This program is also 60 units in length and takes four semesters or two years to complete. An MFA in film is also available. Graduates from California College of the Arts have gone on to be filmmakers, community activists, curators, and many other careers.

California Institute of Integral Studies

California Institute of Integral Studies' MFA in art program is 39 units and takes 5 semesters to complete, 2 years plus a summer semester. Summer intensive seminars are available in the United Kingdom and Greece. Students can travel to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh if they take part in the program at the University of Chichester in the UK. Class sizes range from eight to 12 students and some are offered online. Sample courses are Creative Inquiry for Artists, Arts in Context, and Art Making: Global Influences. The program culminates with a final art project.

San Francisco Art Institute

The San Francisco Art Institute offers both a low residency and a full time on campus studio art MFA. The low residency option takes 3 years and includes intensive summer seminars on location at the campus. The traditional MFA takes 2 years to complete. This program engages students with local and international art communities through graduate lecture series. The program culminates with an MFA exhibition.

American Conservatory Theater

The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco offers an MFA in theater. The three-year program is often ranked in the top programs in the country, according to the school website, and has a rigorous schedule. There are no electives, and students must follow the prescribed curriculum, which includes specialty and scheduled classes, individual tutorials, rehearsals, performances, and evaluations. Classes are held Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm, although evening classes and rehearsals may be required. Strict attendance is required.

Program Admittance Requirements for an MFA in San Francisco

While some programs may require GRE scores, others do not. Applicants can expect either to live audition or send in video clips for performance MFAs or portfolios for non-performance MFAs. Letters of recommendation, transcripts, and personal essays are usual requirements for MFA applications. The programs in San Francisco can be highly selective, and applicants must show their best work to be accepted. Some programs will allow walk-in auditions. Applications are processed in rounds, and applicants who make the first cut may be called back for additional interviews and/or auditions.

San Francisco, California, has many prestigious opportunities for art students to earn an MFA in a community-minded setting. Programs range from film and live theater to traditional studio arts, such as sculpture and ceramics.

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