The 60-unit, Master of Fine Arts in Art degree program at SF State is designed to provide professional competency for the student pursuing a career as an artist including working in public roles.
The Master of Fine Arts program in Art provides a dynamic interdisciplinary environment within which students are encouraged to develop their creative practice as professional artists. The School of Art has facilities for printmaking, painting and drawing, sculpture, photography, textiles, digital media and emerging technology, and ceramics. MFA students have access to all of the School of Art facilitates as well as individual and communal MFA studio workspaces. Our faculty are distinguished and professionally active artists and art historians. Students work closely with a graduate advisor/mentor to chart their individual path through the program, including studio seminars, critiques, and individually supervised tutorials. Coursework and seminars in art history and other academic fields complement studio courses, and students are encouraged to develop rigorous research and writing skills to enrich and complement their art practice. All students are provided with individual studio spaces, and there are opportunities for teaching, either as a teaching assistant or instructor of record. Our vibrant visiting artist program introduces students to artists in the Bay Area and beyond, connecting students to the local art community. The M.F.A. degree culminates with a written thesis report and a thesis exhibition in which students exhibit an original body of work. The program may be completed in 2 or 3 years, depending on how many classes are taken each semester. Students should decide before the beginning of their first semester whether they intend to complete the program in 2 or 3 years and meet early on with the graduate coordinator to plan accordingly.
For graduates, the normal load during spring and fall is from nine to 15 units per semester and seven units during the summer. For international students immigration regulations require a minimum academic load of 12 units for undergraduates and eight units for graduates for spring, fall and summer semesters.
Additional details about the master of fine arts in art are available from the SF State bulletin (Catalog).
The master of fine arts in art program at SF State is interdisciplinary and allows students to work across media or focus their studio practice within traditionally defined areas of ceramics, digital media and emerging technology, painting and drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture or textiles.
All master of fine arts in art students have access to graduate studio space on the main SF State campus. A communal graduate space located on the second floor of the Fine Arts building provides studios for up to 10 graduate students. Other, medium-specific studio spaces located throughout the building are available to graduate students based upon need.
Application Procedures and Admission to the Program
Applications for the M.F.A. in Art program are accepted October 1 through February 1 for admission the following fall semester. Late applications will not be accepted.
The graduate admission application to SFSU consists of a two part review. Part One: The Division of Graduate Studies reviews your application for general university admission requirements and requires you to upload copies of transcripts from every college or university attended, including study abroad coursework, community college coursework even if transfer credit appears on your degree transcript. Upload all transcripts to the Program Materials “documents” section of this application. Make sure you resolve any financial obligations at previously attended institutions so they will release your transcripts. You must submit clear legible copies of transcripts that document your complete academic history. Part Two: The School of Art will review your application for program and discipline-specific criteria. Applicants must complete the Cal State Apply application by the February 1st deadline to be considered for admission.
Part 1: Apply to the Division of Graduate Studies (Cal State Apply)
Apply online through Cal State Apply for a Graduate Program. You will be required to create a personal login to manage your application. Select "San Francisco" for campus, and "Art" for degree program.
Pay the $55 USD application fee online by credit card at the moment you submit your application.
upload copies of transcripts from every college or university attended, including study abroad coursework, community college coursework even if transfer credit appears on your degree transcript. Upload all transcripts to the Program Materials “documents” section of this application. If selected for admission, you will be required to submit official transcripts. If an International Applicant, TOEFL Scores of 550 or better or Internet-Based Test TOEFL Scores of 80 or better are required, taken within two (2) years of the semester you wish to attend. The TOEFL is a requirement by the CSU and cannot be waived.
Part 2: Upload Supplemental Materials for the Program to Cal State Apply
Compile the following supplemental documents for your program file ahead of time to upload in the "Program Materials" portal of the Cal State Apply application:
Program application requirements include:
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.
A 3.0 grade point average in the last 60 units completed in undergraduate degree.
M.F.A. admissions application (details below).
We are pleased to announce that the M.F.A program is now part the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) which enables students in 16 Western states and territories to enroll in participating public graduate programs as nonresidents, yet pay the lower resident tuition rate.
Master of Fine Arts Admissions Application Requirements:
Current Resume/Curriculum Vitae
Categories should include: Education, Exhibitions, Publications, Special Activities and Awards, Related Employment.
List information with most recent activity first.
Creative Work Portfolio
The submitted portfolio is one of the most critical components of the application.
The Graduate Selection Committee, composed of the entire full-time art faculty, screens documentation of work in search of candidates with strong artistic direction and with promise of continuing in a sustained, independent and exploratory manner.
Portfolios not meeting the following requirements will not be reviewed. The organization of your materials is an element that will be considered in evaluating your application.
The Selection Committee will review a maximum of 20 images from each candidate.
Images should be labeled with the work’s title, date, media, size and other significant information.
Where appropriate, other documentary material is admissible in place of images. This may include films, audio and/or video, or web-based work. If applicable, please include a link in the PDF of the URL for video and/or digital based work.
Due to time constraints, time-based digital media and films should be cued and cannot exceed three minutes. Short segments should be excerpted from longer pieces. Full-length versions of time-based media can be included as a supplement but should be labeled as such. These versions will not be considered during the first round of the review process.
Please submit a 500 – 1,000 word artist statement that addresses the following: Describe the significance of your work and the concepts, research, and/or processes that drive your studio practice within the context of contemporary artistic practice. Why do you think you are prepared for a master of fine arts program in studio art and what do you hope to get out of graduate level study?
Letters of Recommendation
Three letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should be from individuals qualified to testify to applicant's capabilities and readiness to enter graduate study in art.
Provide transcripts from all institutions of higher learning attended.
Transfer of Credit for Previous Graduate Work
All transfer of credit must be approved on a course-by-course basis by a graduate advisor, the graduate coordinator and the Office of Graduate Studies. This transfer should be arranged before the first semester of graduate studies begins.
A maximum of 12 units total may be transferred towards credit for the master of fine arts in art degree.
A student previously enrolled in any accredited master of fine arts in art program may transfer up to 12 units from that program.
A student who has taken graduate courses in an unclassified post-baccalaureate status may transfer no more than six units in studio, and six units of other, creditable, coursework, for a total of 12 units.
A student who has accrued credits both as an enrolled candidate in an accredited master of fine arts in art program and taken courses in an unclassified post-baccalaureate status may transfer no more than 12 units total.
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 is satisfied by the successful completion of ARTH 700.
Level Two is satisfied by the successful completion of ART 706.
Completion of the Degree
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 (generally in the form of a written thesis report). 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.