Graduate Programs in Fine Arts in New York City with Degree Info

Nov 07, 2018

Graduate programs in the fine arts can be found at several New York City schools, all located in the borough of Manhattan. Learn about degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three of these schools to make an informed education decision.

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New York City Schools with Graduate Fine Arts Programs

New York City has multiple schools for people interested in working toward a graduate degree in the fine arts, including two private universities and the Fashion Institute of Technology, a member of the State University of New York (SUNY). Learn what these three schools have to offer in terms of degree and course options, and use the comparison table to find information about program costs. This resource also includes a brief paragraph about other area schools with graduate programs in the fine arts.

  • New York University, the largest of the three schools, offers graduate degrees in the fine arts through its Tisch School of the Arts, located in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.
  • In Upper Manhattan, Columbia University features an Artist's Resource Center, in addition to summer and global programs.
  • The Fashion Institute of Technology, located in Manhattan's Garment District, has been building its graduate program since 1985 and boasts an award-winning faculty.

Comparison of Schools

Cost of attendance can be a significant factor when it comes to choosing a graduate school. Find information about tuition below, as well as graduate enrollment figures for our three featured schools.

New York University Columbia University Fashion Institute of Technology
School Type Four-year, private not-for-profit Four-year, private not-for-profit Four-year, primarily associate's, public
Total Enrollment (2017)* 51,123 30,454 8,846
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Graduate Tuition (2017-2018)* $41,352 $44,864 $11,205 in-state
$22,898 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

New York University

NYU's Tisch School of the Arts offers graduate degree programs in film, acting and cinema studies. The school features several departments, including the Institute of Performing Arts, Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television, Skirball Center for New Media, Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music and Tisch Game Center.

Master of Arts (MA) in Musical Theatre Writing

Every year, 30 students are selected to join the musical theatre writing program. This is a 2-year program and boasted as the only kind in the world. By the end of the program, students will have created original full-length scores. In the second year, students complete a residency at the Goodspeed Opera House, where three musicals are performed each season.

Master of Arts in Performance Studies

The 1-year MA in Performance Studies is a 3-semester program that includes a semester at the Summer Institute. In addition to completing two required courses in performance studies and the rest are graduate electives.

Master of Fine Arts in Acting

This 3-year program teaches students the art of voice and speech, acting and movement. Students spend the first year becoming in tune with their bodies, imaginations and voices. Year two focuses on the application of the skills learned. The final year prepares students for work in the professional world and emphasizes dialect and tutorial work, as well as preparation for a final showcase.

Master of Fine Arts in Dance/Master of Arts in Teaching Dance

The 76-credit MFA program dual degree is designed for students who want to become a professional dancer or a teacher. After completion of the program, students will be able to seek certification for teaching dance at schools of all grades. Students will study pedagogical methods, teaching dance, dance education, kinesthetics and dance theory.

Master of Fine Arts in Design for Film and Stage

The MFA in Design for Film and Stage is a 3-year program in which students are asked to choose one or two areas of specialization. These areas include set, film, costume and lighting. While students take classes in art, music and history, they also create sets in class together. Students have the opportunity to gain hands-on training through several productions, which take place in the second and third years.

Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking

Offered in New York and Singapore, this 3- or 4-year training program combines instruction in both fiction and documentary filmmaking. Students graduate with a portfolio of short films and a feature-length script. They take classes in directing, aesthetics, editing, producing and sound design, as well as complete hands-on projects.

Master of Fine Arts in Game Design

This degree program takes advantage of the NYU Game Center, which explores the value of gaming and game design. The 2-year MFA curriculum combines the creation, programming and visualization of games. Students can also take advantage of internship opportunities in game development companies.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Performance Studies

For individuals who wish to become leaders in their field, there is a Ph.D. in Performance Studies program. Up to four students are accepted annually, and the program typically takes five years to complete. Requirements include specialized examinations and a dissertation. Only four students are accepted each year to the program, but all tuition and health insurance is covered.

Columbia University

Columbia University, a private Ivy League school in New York City, has one of the oldest graduate schools in the nation. Columbia's School of the Arts is an innovative professional school with 19 full-time faculty members. Several faculty members have the highest accolades in their fields, including Academy and Tony awards, MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim fellowships, Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards and the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Master of Fine Arts in Film

Designed for students with an undergraduate background in film, the 60-credit film program includes courses in historiography, film theory, cinema and media. Students also complete a graduate research thesis in their final semester. Students can concentrate in screenwriting/directing or creative producing.

Master of Arts in Film and Media Studies

There are four core courses that students must take in this program: two in film history, a thesis prep seminar, and a graduate thesis research semester. This is a 30-credit program taken over three semesters. Students from various bachelor's degree backgrounds are accepted to the program.

Master of Fine Arts in Theatre

Columbia University's School of the Arts offers an MFA program with concentrations in stage or theatre management, acting, directing, playwriting, dramaturgy and producing. Students complete coursework in theatre management, stage management and dramaturgy, as well as hands-on experiences both on and off campus. The third year of the program is devoted to a thesis production or project, and internships at award-winning theatre houses are available.

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts

The visual arts program is a student-driven course of study that takes two years to complete. Rather than focusing on one specific medium, students can choose to pursue studio work in digital media, drawing, painting and photography, as well as printmaking, sculpture, installation, performance and video art. In addition to graduate studios and critiques, students complete an exhibition, thesis project, mentor program and open studio courses.

Master of Fine Arts in Writing

The 60-credit writing program has concentrations in fiction, literary translation, poetry or nonfiction. A writing workshop is at the core of the curriculum, in addition to over 20 seminars, lectures and craft-oriented literature courses. Workshops are small, around 7-12 students. Additionally, students complete a thesis.

Ph.D. in Theatre

The doctoral degree program in theatre includes advanced studies in criticism, theory and performance. Students are required to write and defend a dissertation. The program is offered in conjunction with the English Department.

Fashion Institute of Technology

The Fashion Institute of Technology School of Graduate Studies began with its first Master of Arts program in 1985. Today, the school offers Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts and Master of Professional Studies programs. The only fine arts major currently available is the Master of Fine Arts in Illustration. Included in the prestigious faculty are current and past presidents of the Society of Illustrators and winners of the Society of Illustrators Educator of the Year Award.

Master of Fine Arts in Illustration

The Master of Fine Arts program typically takes three years, or nine semesters, to complete. Applicants are expected to have a Bachelor of Fine Arts and industry experience prior to beginning the graduate program. In addition to completion of a visual thesis, student take coursework in drawing, media, narrative art, character creation and artistic voice. Students are also required to complete three thesis courses.

Other School Options

Graduate degree programs in fine arts are also available at New York Academy of Art, located in Manhattan, as well as at Adelphi University, located 18.7 miles away.

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