Master of Fine Arts in Art

The 60-unit, three-year 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 MFA program at SFSU 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.

While affiliation with a single area of concentration is the norm, a broad approach to art-making and the development of a coherent, informed understanding of issues relevant to many forms of expression is encouraged throughout the program. The emphasis of New Practices is available to students who work across media.

Studio related seminars and individually supervised tutorials form the core of the program. Special seminars in adjunct academic fields complement the studio focus of the program. Approximately two-thirds of the program is dedicated to studio and one-third to academically related courses. While all students can expect to experience a similar range of studio, seminar and tutorial classes, individual paths through the program are worked out through consultation with a graduate adviser.

Admission to the program is highly competitive and it is not possible to admit all fully qualified individuals.

More Information

Application Procedures

Applications for the Master of Fine Arts in Art program are accepted November 1 through January 15 for admission the following fall semester. Late applications will not be accepted.

Applicants are required to file two separate applications, one to the Division of Graduate Studies, and one to the School of Art; applicants who do not complete both requirements cannot be considered for admission.

Step 1: Apply to the Division of Graduate Studies

Admission procedures and eligibility requirements are available from the Division of Graduate Studies and SF State Bulletin (Catalog):

Apply to Graduate Studies

Step 2: Apply to the School of Art Master of Fine Arts Program

Program Applications are submitted through an online application service, https://sfsu.submittable.com/submit. We no longer accept hard copies of applications. Please download the MFA Application Procedures DOC to find out all application procedure details.

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. A completed School of Art Master of Fine Arts Admissions Application. All materials for the admissions application are uploaded as a single PDF into the Submittable application. Please see the requirements below.
  4. Three letters of recommendation.
  • Letters of recommendation should be from individuals qualified to testify to applicants capabilities and readiness to enter graduate study in art.
  • Applicants will provide email addresses for three references in the Submittable application. The reference will receive an email with a link to upload a reference letter, which will be merged with the applicant's file but kept confidential from the applicant. Applicants will receive a confirmation once a letter has been submitted.
  • Your references will not receive the upload email until your Submittable application has been submitted.

5. Graduate program faculty will conduct an interview with selected finalists via video web-conference.

School of Art Master of Fine Arts Admissions Application Requirements

Applicants must put the following into a single PDF, in order and labeled, for upload into the Submittable application:

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 3 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 – 1000 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 3-year MFA program in studio art and what do you hope to get out of graduate level study?
Transcripts
  • Electronic copy of transcripts (official or unofficial) from all institutions of higher learning attended.
  • The School of Art transcript requirements are in addition to the official transcripts required in the application to the University. Applicants should note that transcripts will not be forwarded to the School of Art from the Graduate Admissions Office and vice versa.

Apply to the School of Art, Master of Fine Arts Program

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 MFA degree.

  • A student previously enrolled in any accredited MFA 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 MFA program and taken courses in an unclassified
    post-baccalaureate status may transfer no more than 12 units total.

Program Requirements and Curriculum

For graduates, the normal load during spring and fall is from nine to twelve units per semester and seven units during the summer. For international students immigration regulations require a minimum academic load of twelve 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).

Disciplines

The MFA program at SFSU 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 students have access to graduate studio space on the main SFSU 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 M.F.A. Students year-round.

Recommended 3-year Program

First Year

Fall Semester

  • ART 700: Seminar in Art Theory & Criticism 3 units, Academic Credit * (Note)
  • ART 704: Seminar in Art, 3units, Studio Credit, taken every semester
  • Studio Elective, 3 units, Studio Credit
  • Academic Elective, 3 units, Academic Credit

Semester Total: 12

Spring Semester

  • ART 704: Seminar in Art, 3 units, Studio Credit, taken every semester
  • ART 701: Seminar in Art History: Images and Meaning, 3 units, Academic Credit, must be taken this semester
  • Academic Elective, 3 units, Academic Credit

Semester Total: 9

Second Year

Fall Semester

  • ART 704: Seminar in Art, 3 units, Studio Credit, taken every semester
  • ART 780: Visiting Artist Studio, 3 units, Studio Credit
  • ART 850: Directed Experience in Public Roles, 3 units, Academic Credit

Semester Total: 9

Spring Semester

  • ART 704: Seminar in Art, 3 units, Studio Credit, taken every semester
  • ART 780: Visiting Artist Studio, 3 units, Studio Credit
  • Academic Elective, 3 units, Academic Credit
  • Studio Elective, 3 units, Studio Credit

Semester Total: 12

Third Year

Fall Semester

  • ART 704: Seminar in Art, 3 units, Studio Credit, taken every semester
  • ART 882: Tutorial, 3 units, Studio Credit
  • ART 890: Creative Work Research, 3 units, Studio Credit

Spring Semester

  • ART 704: Seminar in Art, 3 units, Studio Credit, taken every semester
  • ART 882: Tutorial, 3 units, Studio Credit
  • ART 894: Creative Work Project, 3 units, Studio Credit

Semester Total: 9

Cumulative Total: 60

Note: ART 700 is mandatory for First Year MFA Students

Fees and Expenses

Resident

  • Estimated Per Semester Resident Tuition and Fees: $3,858.00
  • Estimated 2-year Resident Tuition and Fees: $15,432.00

Nonresident (U.S. and International)

In addition to the estimated regular tuition and registration fees listed above, nonresidents of the State of California must pay an additional $372 per unit (or fraction) for nonresident tuition fee. The total nonresident tuition fee paid per term will be determined by the number of units taken.

  • Estimated Per Semester Nonresident Tuition and Fees: $7,206.00
  • Estimated 2-year Nonresident Tuition and Fees: $28,824.00

Schedule of Tuition and Fees

Mailing address

School of Art
c/o San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132