Masters in Fine Arts

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  • Course description
    The pedagogical goals of the MFA program in Art Practice represent a continuation and deepening of our undergraduate educational mission.  We strive to graduate artists who  demonstrate an original, inventive, and singular vision in their approach to form and content, and whose work will  have a significant artistic and cultural impact.

    A feature unique to Berkeley's MFA program is the curricular requirement that our graduate students take courses from the broader university community. Our students connect and study with faculty and other graduate students in areas as diverse as Geography, Environmental Sciences, Classics, Art History, Disability Studies, Philosophy, Cognitive Science, Interactive Design, Rhetoric, Film Studies, Comparative Literature, etc.  Art Practice Faculty are highly interdisciplinary in their work on campus, and can enable close connections between our students and our colleagues in other fields.  

    Incoming MFA students are expected to already be deeply engaged in their creative process, and to possess technical proficiency in their chosen media.  Graduate coursework and independent study are designed to help students develop a critical understanding of their creative work in the context of different Arts, Humanities and Sciences. The program seeks to help students develop a keen sense of their audience, and to consider how they will reach, or even create, that audience for their work. We support and endeavor to facilitate the exposure of graduate student work to a broader audience, whether that be in museum contexts, galleries, public places, or a venue uniquely suited to the artist's creative format.  A visiting artist lecture series, and visiting artist studio visits offer graduate students the chance to make contact with internationally-known artists, and to receive feedback on their work from these visitors.

    Peer to peer discussion and critique forms the heart of Berkeley's MFA program. Students are expected to spend a great deal of time making your own work, considering their classmates' work, and learning to speak and write thoughtfully about both.  Students have the opportunity to teach in the second year, and are mentored and closely supported by a faculty mentor.  Exhibitions in the first and second year of study demand that students maintain a rigorous pace of creative research and an established professional practice.

    Why an MFA from Berkeley?

    INNOVATION Art Practice is committed to artistic innovation and intellectual rigor. We emphasize critical thinking about art, and strongly encourage work that rethinks context, material form, and conceptual approach.

    FACULTY The department's faculty is comprised of established and emerging figures in contemporary art practice. All students work closely with individual faculty members through a system of independent study and programmatic coursework. Every student is guided through the program by his or her mentor, a faculty member who serves as that student's artistic and academic advisor.

    ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE In just the past three years, MFA students have enrolled in courses offered in Physics; Asian Studies, Rhetoric, Film Studies; Peace and Conflict Studies; Art History; Environmental Science; Botany; Mathematics; Middle-Eastern Studies; Religion; Classics; Poetry; Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies; Architecture; Philosophy; and Engineering. We see the outstanding faculty and academic programs of UC Berkeley as a powerful force in the educating of developing as well as the more established artists who enter our MFA program.

    The graduate program leading to the MFA degree in the Department of Art Practice at Berkeley is a two-year course of study that emphasizes independent studio work in the broadly defined areas of painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, digital media and new genres.The aim of the program is to broaden the visual, intellectual and aesthetic faculties of students in their pursuit of careers as professional artists.

    The MFA program in Art Practice is exceptional for its emphasis on inter-disciplinarity and its unique teaching opportunities. We offer our students superb studio facilitites, a curriculum that emphasizes the richness of UC Berkeley's broader research community, and close working relationships with faculty.

    Rigorous and highly selective, the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program is designed to prepare students for a professional exhibiting career, and for teaching at the college level. The MFA program supports 14 graduate students per year, and the degree is a two-year program. The final thesis exhibition, completed after the second year of study, is held at Berkeley Art Museum.

    We admit artists working in 2D, 3D, interactive- and time-based media; and the MFA curriculum is not medium-specific.

    Key aspects of the program include:

        * A curriculum that integrates Art Department faculty and visitors, as well as courses taught in other University departments (of the student's choice).
        * Professional development supports, including privileged applicant status to various studio residency programs and grant programs.
        * Significant teaching experience in the second year: MFA students are invited to teach their own section of our undergraduate foundation course, Art 8. Opportunities to teach this course again, and/or others, during summer sessions exist as well.

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