Colleges Offering a Masters in Fine Art in the U.S.

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree is the terminal degree for art students in the United States. A master's degree program in the fine arts focuses on developing a student's creativity and authorial voice through the completion of studio-based courses and a final thesis. MFA programs are offered in creative writing, film production, photography, craft and design and many other arts-related areas.

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Advanced artists can improve and hone their skills by earning an MFA in their area of artistic expertise. It is important to choose a school that offers the resources you need to grow as an artist.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Art
  • Art History
  • Arts Management
  • Ceramics
  • Drawing
  • Metal and Jewelry Art
  • Multimedia Arts
  • Painting
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Weaving and Textile Arts

Top 10 Masters in Fine Arts Programs

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked the following universities as having the top ten MFA programs in the country:

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition (2015-2016)*
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, private not-for-profit $38,700
University of California - Los Angeles Lost Angeles, CA 4-year, public $11,220 in-state, $26,322 out-of-state
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 4-year, public $10,710 in-state, $21,933 out-of-state
Rhode Island School of Design Providence, RI 4-year, private not-for-profit $45,530
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, private not-for-profit $45,810
California Institute of the Arts Valencia, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit $43,400
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, private not-for-profit $40,625
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, private not-for-profit $42,280
Cranbrook Academy of Art Bloomfield Hills, MI 4-year, private not-for-profit $33,406
Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore, MD 4-year, private not-for-profit $42,280

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

The following advice may be helpful for artists deciding where they want to earn an MFA:

  • When choosing a fine arts school, applicants should take into account the emphasis areas that are offered, such as photography, film production, creative writing and numerous other areas. That way, they can choose a school that allows for study in their subfield of interest.
  • Students should make sure that the school has adequate facilities and equipment to support intensive work in their subfield.
  • For students who have a full-time job or family responsibilities, low-residency MFA programs are available.
  • MFA programs can be expensive, so students should explore the financial aid options available at different schools.

There are many schools that offer MFA programs. Prospective students must find one that adequately supports their artistic interests, whether by providing flexible course formats, up-to-date facilities or adequate financial aid.

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