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Online MFA Painting Programs

Apr 16, 2019

Whether they're offered completely online or as low-residency programs, online MFAs in painting offer students a flexible schedule to fit their education needs. Keep reading to learn more about these programs' formats, coursework, and admissions requirements.

Online MFA painting programs offer a flexible education for art students so that they can balance school with their other obligations. Some programs can be completed one hundred percent online while others require summer residencies on campus. All MFA options give students a reasonable schedule along with the tools they need to be successful in the art industry.

Colleges Offering Online MFA Painting Programs

Savannah College of Art and Design

At SCAD, the majority of the MFA painting program can be completed online. The curriculum consists of 95 to 115 credit hours, depending on students' undergraduate background. Throughout the program, students have opportunities to focus on online lessons about contemporary art and various art techniques. They also undertake plenty of studio classes to work on their own pieces. In-person requirements include graduate internships. This program helps prepare artists for a wide selection of professional careers, either as painters or in related positions, such as an art director or gallery owner.

Academy of Art University

All MFA courses at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco can be completed online. Students are provided with interactive courses and instructional videos on a variety of art projects, consisting primarily of drawing and painting. The MFA contains a total of 63 credits, including a final thesis project. The program is designed to help students gain professional skills for the art industry as well as create successful works throughout their classes.

Maine College of Art

Located in Portland, the Maine College of Art's MFA is a low-residency program that requires 60 credits. Part of the residency portion takes place for eight weeks over the summer. Students return to campus for a week in the winter and eight weeks in May, but the majority of the program is completed online. Students can complete their work from home and meet with a local studio advisor for critiques and assistance. Faculty members are also easily accessible online for students. Coursework is typically completed through discussion boards, studio work, and online lectures.

Lesley University

At Lesley University, the visual art MFA program takes about two years to complete. It is primarily online, but there are ten-day residency periods in January and June. These take place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and consist of collaborative activities for students to interact with faculty and visiting artists. The rest of the program can be completed online and is flexible. Students work on crafting a portfolio as well as gaining skills for the art industry. The program requires 60 credits, the majority of which consist of studio work in an area of interest that students are able to complete independently.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

The MFA program offered at PAFA consists of mainly online work but requires some on-campus learning over the summer. During these residencies, students must stay on-site for eight weeks to engage in their independent work. They are offered their own studio space and get the opportunity to participate in group critiques. During the rest of the year, students get to work online as part of a virtual art community, receiving feedback from peers and faculty. The program is a total of 60 credits and consists of theory, art history, and critique courses.

Program Admittance Requirements

All MFA art programs require applicants to submit some additional documents with their online applications. These materials typically include a transcript from a previous bachelor's degree along with a portfolio of work. Portfolios could need about 15 to 20 works in order to be considered, but each college may have slightly different requirements. A resume, letter of recommendation, and personal statement may also be needed with the application. Make sure to have all the required documents prepared before applying.

For students looking for a flexible MFA program, online or low-residency formats could be the perfect option. These programs allow students to work on their own time to further their art education while still being able to hold a job on the side if needed.


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