M.F.A. in Studio Art

Brittany WilliamsBrittany Williams, MFA Reviews, 2019

The College Art Association and most other professional institutions of higher education recognize the M.F.A. as the terminal degree for artists and designers. This degree has become the standard prerequisite for those who intend to teach at the college level. It is also appropriate for individuals seeking to further develop their professional careers as artists and designers. The department also awards the M.A. degree, but only to students who are not accepted to degree candidacy in the M.F.A. program.

The Department of Art, Art History, and Design offers the M.F.A. degree in studio art and design. The Master of Fine Arts degree at Notre Dame is for artists and designers with exceptional talent and strong academic skills. The program combines studio work with academic studies in art history and criticism. Students may concentrate in ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, painting, photography, printmaking, or sculpture, or in a combination of these disciplines.

Students pursue areas of interest through a system of independent study with departmental faculty and a graduate committee selected by each student. Graduate students are expected to develop a personal direction in their work that culminates in a professional exhibition of visual artwork or design. 

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Program Requirements

  • The successful completion of one credit hour of ARST 62704 (Professional Practices) each year
  • Admission to the third year of the M.F.A. program (M.F.A. Candidacy)
  • The successful completion of a written thesis approved by the student’s thesis committee
  • The completion of a thesis project: an exhibition of creative work that is approved by the art and design faculty
  • Submission of 10 images documenting the completed thesis project to the departmental slide library

Credit Hours

The M.F.A. degree is a studio and research degree that requires three years or six semesters of study and 60 graduate credit hours with a B (3.0 GPA) or better average, including nine credit hours of art history, three credit hours in ARHI 63750 (Graduate Seminar), and ten credit hours of ARST 78708 (Thesis Direction). The minimum residency requirement for the M.F.A. degree is registration in full-time status for two years or four semesters during the academic year. Students who are not in residence but still in the process of finishing an M.F.A. degree must be enrolled for a minimum of one credit hour of ARST 78706 (Non-resident Thesis) each semester.


Director of Graduate Studies
Jason Lahr
Department of Art, Art History, and Design
University of Notre Dame
322 Riley Hall of Art
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5673

ph: 574.631.5605
e: jlahr@nd.edu