A Master's in Fine Arts degree is recognized as an academic terminal degree in the fine arts and performing arts field. A MFA typically requires two to three years of postgraduate study after a bachelor's degree.
When you think “fine arts,” you might have a very specific image in your head. You might envision masters such as Leonardo da Vinci laboring over classical works – sculptures and paintings. While these traditional visual art forms are included under the umbrella term of “fine arts,” that’s only scratching the surface!
A Master's in Fine Arts also encompasses a vast array of concentrations such as video game design, video and film production, creative writing, fashion, interior design, music, graphic design, and performing arts among other creative specialties.
Is an artistic endeavor calling your name? Are you looking to elevate and develop your current set of creative skills? Looking to hone your aesthetic capabilities? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might want to consider a Master in Fine Arts program.
As you begin your research into a MFA degree program, you may come across its possible benefits: having access to the constructive criticism of industry professionals, gaining inspiration from a community of your peers, and pushing your boundaries with new methods that have hereto been left unexplored. While the search may be daunting, choosing from one of the many Master of Fine Arts programs could be a great way for you to obtain your artistic goals.
It’s hard to narrow down standard curriculum for Master of Fine Arts & Design Programs. Those concentrating in theatre aren’t going to learn the same material as a sculpting concentration. What could be said is that master’s degree programs have the same end goal for their students. Each degree program aims to help students develop the techniques and methods to elevate and excel in their chosen medium through intense study, practical application, and faculty assistance.
With a myriad of concentrations offered by universities, it’s no wonder that there is a wide assortment of future career paths that artists could pursue post-graduation. Depending on the focus of your master’s degree program, you could pursue one of these potential careers:
Anyone who has considered a degree in the arts has probably had friends, family, and acquaintances worry about their future employment. While there is a plethora of career path options available, what of the career outlook? Some of these potential career paths appear to be growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics project the following possible growth for the listed careers from 2014 to 2024:
Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, artists’ incomes are often tied with the economy – when there is a surplus, people are more likely to make art purchases.[x] Though post-graduation compensation could vary by concentration, when taking artists and related workers into consideration, they earned, on a median, $58,450 in May of 2015.[xi]
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$126,680||1,500|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$123,780||330|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||$119,280||4,040|
|San Diego-Carlsbad, CA||$111,080||250|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$111,010||7,990|
Master of Fine Arts Programs are many – if there’s an art form, there is probably a degree program to match it. To narrow things down, keep in mind your own educational goals and necessities. What career do you wish to pursue post-graduation? How much time do you want to spend earning a degree? How could you incorporate class time into your weekly routine? Keeping this info in mind could be a great way to eliminate less than perfect fine arts design master’s degree programs.
If you’ve been researching fine arts design master’s degree programs, you may have noticed there are generally two types offered at universities: a master’s of fine arts (MFA) or a master of arts (MA) degree.
A master of fine arts (MFA) places its emphasis on the development of the art as a skill. Students could expect to engage with their chosen medium often – practical applications are this program’s MO. The intention behind this is to provide students with instruction that they may take with them into their future creative careers. In short, these degree programs focus on artists making art.
A master of arts (MA) takes a more liberal arts approach in its education. These degree programs emphasize scholastic coursework in student’s pursuit of the arts, often focusing on curation, critique, and administration. These degrees may often prepare students to pursue future careers in arts administration roles.
|Maine Media College||Maine Media Workshops and College||MS|
|Arts Administration||Baruch College, City University Of New York||MAAA|
|American Film Institute Conservatory||American Film Institute||MS|
|Music||City University of New York (CUNY) Lehman College||MM|
|Master of Music in Performance||McNally Smith College of Music||MS|
|Jazz Studies||Berklee College of Music||MS|
|Art and Design||Iowa State University||MS|
|Craft||Nova Scotia College of Art and Design||MS|
|Master of Arts in Management||Rockhurst University||N/A|
|Master of Arts in Museum Studies||Johns Hopkins University||AM|
|Master of Arts in Music Industry Administration||California State University, Northridge||MA|
|Media Design MFA||Full Sail University||MS|
As stated, there’s a lot of concentrations in fine arts design degree programs! While many generalities are hard to pull out, when it comes to admission requirements, there are a few similarities. For admission, students may be required to supply a 2.5 to 3.0 undergraduate GPA with their application.Variation may occur with required supplemental application materials. Depending on your intended concentration, you may be requested to submit previous work such as portfolios, sketch books, auditions, or musical recordings. These criteria may be department specific, so be sure to check your school’s requirements.
Completion time also varies by concentration and school. Students may expect to complete a degree in anywhere from 1 to 5 years depending on the intensity of the program and graduation requirements. While students may not be required to submit a dissertation, they may be required to complete a culminating project. This could include things such as a gallery showing, a recital, or a fully-staged performance.
As you have probably gathered, there are certainly a large amount of fine arts design master’s degree programs, to say the least. Here is just a brief list of degree programs you might find in your search:
By now, you might have a better grasp on what degree program fits into your unique goals. Great! There’s another aspect of your education to consider – fitting your education into your schedule. Picking one of the below formats could help your education fit seamlessly into your established lifestyle.
Sources:[i]bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/craft-and-fine-artists.htm#tab-8 | [ii]bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/musicians-and-singers.htm | [iii]bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/dancers-and-choreographers.htm |[iv]bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/mobile/actors.htm | [v]bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/craft-and-fine-artists.htm | [vi]bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/craft-and-fine-artists.htm#tab-6 | [vii] bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/mobile/actors.htm | [viii]bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/dancers-and-choreographers.htm#tab-6 | [ix] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/curators-museum-technicians-and-conservators.htm#tab-6 | [x] bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/craft-and-fine-artists.htm#tab-6 | [xi]bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/craft-and-fine-artists.htm#tab-5