Master of Fine Arts in Art

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

The three-year Master of Fine Arts in Art program is designed to provide professional competency for the student pursuing a career as an artist including working in a range of public roles. Students are accepted into the program in the following areas of emphasis: ceramics, conceptual and information arts, new practices, painting and drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, or textiles. While affiliation with a single emphasis is the norm, a broad approach to art-making and the development of a coherent, informed understanding of issues relevant to many forms of expression is encouraged throughout the program. The emphasis of new practices is available to students who work across media.

Studio related seminars and individually supervised tutorials form the core of the program. Special seminars in adjunct academic fields complement the studio focus of the program. Approximately two-thirds of the program is dedicated to studio and one-third to academically related courses. While all students can expect to experience a similar range of studio, seminar and tutorial classes, individual paths through the program are worked out through consultation with a graduate advisor/mentor.

Admission to Program

Applications for the M.F.A. program are accepted November 1 through January 15 for admission the following fall.

Applicants are required to file two separate applications, one to the University, and one to the Art Department. Applicants who do not complete both requirements cannot be considered for admission. Both the University’s Graduate Studies Division and the Art Department must accept applicants. Admission to the program is highly competitive and it is not possible to admit all fully qualified individuals.

  1. An undergraduate art degree or equivalent preparatory degree, with three units of contemporary art history taken within the last five years. If the applicant does not complete this upon admission to the program, enrollment in a contemporary art history class during the first semester is required.
  2. A 3.0 grade point average in the last 60 units completed in undergraduate degree.

The M.F.A. admission application requirements are listed below. All application materials are submitted to the department electronically through an online application site. Application procedures and the M.F.A. admissions application can be found on the department’s website.

  1. A completed Department of Art M.F.A. Admissions Application
  2. One copy of either official or unofficial transcripts from all institutions of higher learning attended. These must be included in your application package. (The department’s transcript requirements are in addition to the official transcripts required in the application to the University.) Note that transcripts will not be forwarded to the Art Department from the Graduate Admissions Office and vice versa.
  3. One copy of your current resume/CV.
  4. A two-page double-spaced Statement of Purpose describing your interests and background in art, reasons for pursuing the M.F.A. degree, and reasons for selecting San Francisco State University.
  5. Three letters of recommendation should come from individuals qualified to testify to your capabilities and readiness to enter graduate study in art. Applicants provide email addresses for their references in the application. Referees receive an email with a link to upload a reference letter which is merged with the applicant’s file.
  6. Creative work portfolio.

Up to 12 classified graduate units taken while completing a master’s degree in art at any accredited institution may be transferred towards credit for the M.F.A. degree. No more than 12 units (a maximum of 6 units in studio courses) of work taken in unclassified post-baccalaureate status may be transferred towards credit for the M.F.A. degree. All transfer of credit must be approved on a course-by-course basis by a departmental graduate advisor, graduate coordinator, and the Division of Graduate Studies.

A department review of each student’s progress is required at the end of each year in the program.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

All students in graduate programs at SF State must demonstrate Level One (entry) and Level Two (exit) writing proficiency in accordance with university, departmental and or programmatic guidelines.

Level One

Level One is satisfied with the successful completion of ART 700.

Level Two

Level Two is satisfied by the successful completion of ART 705.

Completion of the Degree

In order to complete the M.F.A., students must satisfy all University and Department requirements. Department requirements are described in detail in the M.F.A. General Information brochure. In addition to satisfactory completion of the course of study, other requirements include satisfactory performance on yearly departmental reviews, a creative work exhibition and review, and creative work documentation. The department accepts transfer units on a course-by-course basis, only upon advisement, and in accordance with the limits established in the section entitled Transfer of Credit for Previous Graduate Work of the M.F.A. General Information brochure. If the creative work project is not complete in the final semester of the program, students must enroll in ART 899 in the semester they intend to graduate. Students are required to be enrolled during the semester in which they graduate.

Art (M.F.A.) — minimum 60 units

Studio Requirements (minimum 42 units)

ART 704Interdisciplinary Critique Seminar (taken each of six semesters at 3 units/semester, on advisement.)3
ART 780Graduate Visiting Artist/Scholar Studio (taken twice at 3 units/semester)3
ART 882Tutorial in Studio (taken twice at 3 units/semester)3
Studio Electives 16
ART 890Creative Work Research3
ART 894Creative Work Project3

 Academic Requirements (minimum 18 units)

ART 700Contemporary Art History: Practice, Theory, Criticism3
ART 705Contemporary Art3
ART 850Directed Experience in Public Roles for Artists3
Academic Electives 29

Select two courses of 3 units each. May be taken in Art or in any other department, by advisement.


9 units, by advisement may be taken in any department and may include additional academic art courses/seminars in theory, criticism, history, and directed experience, including ART 750.