Thank you for your interest in our MFA program. We’ve put together some general information to answer some commonly asked questions:
What are some of the strengths of your program?
What characterizes students that are currently in and/or accepted into your program?
How many people apply for the program and how many students are accepted each year?
For this program, are there a certain amount of spots that have to go to in-state applicants?
What is the rate of post-graduate employment for someone who completes your program?
When I apply for the graduate program, am I automatically put up for tuition waivers and assistantships or do I need to apply for those and other scholarships separately?
What time of year do you suggest visiting the department for a tour of the facilities?
What is your selection process?
If you will read through our website you will see that we have a small, intensive, three-year program that is characterized by the ability to work closely with faculty. Because of our size, we are able to give personal attention to every student so that they may develop professionally. Students have access to world-class scholars in every discipline, as well as regular offerings that include symposia, conferences, lectures, talks, film series, etc., that is, Notre Dame has an active program of visiting scholars and cultural events that all students have access to. We also offer full tuition and a stipend to every MFA student we accept.
Strong work with the potential for further development; good writing skills (our program requires art history classes and a written thesis). Please read through our website where other qualifications are listed.
We accept 7 students per year, one in each of 7 disciplines. We have a historical acceptance rate of about 6.8%.
Many of our graduates go on to teach, exhibit their artwork, and work in professional organizations.
As outlined on our website, all accepted MFA applicants receive a full tuition waiver for each of the program's three years as well as a stipend (as long as students are in good standing). MFAs have responsibilities as teaching assistants during their first year, and as teachers of their own classes during their 2nd and 3rd years (one class per semester). This experience positions our graduates well when applying for teaching jobs.
We have potential applicants visiting all year, but a particularly good time to visit would be during our Walkthroughs event held every fall at the end of October. During this event, MFAs open their studios to the public for conversation. MFA applicants that visit then could talk to current MFAs, see the facilities, see the range of work produced in the program, and arrange to meet with faculty. Another good time to visit is during semester-end reviews when you could listen in on faculty critiques of MFA work. To arrange a visit, simply email the Director of Graduate Studies (Professor Robin Rhodes) or contact our department office.
Each faculty member ranks their strongest 6-10 applicants based on the quality of the work. We then meet to compare rankings and come up with a list of approximately five semi-finalists. We then check GPAs, statements of intent, and letters of recommendation to narrow the field to 3 finalists. Those 3 finalists are then invited to visit campus (for which we can offer some modest travel compensation) to meet the faculty, spend time with the current graduate students, and get a sense for the program. If a finalist isn’t able to travel to campus, we arrange a skype conversation with faculty and current MFAs. After the visits/interviews conclude, we have the very difficult task of making a final decision. Finalists are ranked, and we make an offer to our first ranking. If for some reason that person declines, we move to the second, and so on. We are normally able to extend our offer by the end of March (depending on when finalists are able to visit campus).
As for what we look for in applications, we very consciously don’t pursue work just to be consistent with our current or former students or the work of the faculty. In other words, we’re not trying to develop or maintain a “look” to our program. As a highly contemporary program open to a variety of approaches to art studio and design, we look for the strongest work that shows consistency, ambition, and which indicates the potential to develop a sophisticated body of work in graduate study (even if that work differs from a candidate’s undergraduate work). Strong writing skills and excellent academic performance are crucial to a student’s success in our program, and as such, an applicant’s statement of intent and transcripts are important considerations in our review.