M.F.A. in Art

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. 

Program Requirements and Curriculum

For graduates, the normal load during spring and fall is from nine to 12 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.

Studio Space

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. A critique/project space is available to all master of fine arts students year-round.

Recommended Three-year Program

M.F.A. Recommended Three-year program
Semester 1st year 2nd year 3rd year
Fall ART 700 * ART 704 * ART 704 *
  ART 704 * ART 780 * ART 882 *
  Studio Elective ART 850 ART 890 *
  Academic Elective    
Semester Total 12 units 9 units 9 units
Spring ART 701 or 705 * ART 704 * ART 704 *
  ART 704 *  ART 780 *  ART 882 *
  Academic Elective Academic Elective ART 894 *
    Studio Elective  
Semester Total 9 units 12 units 9 units

Cumulative Total: 60 units

* Course is required to be taken that semester.

Application Procedures

Applications for the master of fine arts in art program are accepted November 1 through February 1 for admission the following fall semester. Late applications will not be accepted.

The graduate admission application to SF State is a two-part process. Part One is the University application submitted to the Division of Graduate Studies. Part Two is the academic department application submitted to the Graduate Coordinator for your intended degree program. Both parts are accessible in the online application, Cal State Apply. Applicants must submit Part One and Part Two of the graduate admission application simultaneously by the February 1st deadline to be considered for admission

Part 1: Apply to the Division of Graduate Studies (Cal State Apply)

  1. 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. Note: The Office of Graduate Admissions no longer accepts paper applications to graduate programs.
  2. Pay the $55 USD application fee. We recommend that you pay online by credit card at the moment you submit your application. If you selected the option to pay the application fee by check or money order, make the check payable to “San Francisco State University”
  3. Send all required documents noted on your online SF Gateway Portal “To Do List” to the Division of Graduate Studies:

Graduate Admissions
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave., ADM 250
San Francisco, CA 94132

Electronic transcripts can be sent to: graddocs@sfsu.edu

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.

Graduate Studies at SF State Application Information:

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:

  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.

  3. M.F.A. admissions application (details below).

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.

Written statement

  • 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.