The journey is as important as the destination.
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University is where talented and curious students become artists with purpose. For generations, our graduates have worked across mediums, disciplines, and techniques to produce art that provokes thought and inspires change. It's a community fueled by big ideas, and the energy of those who seek to make them a reality. At SMFA, process matters every bit as much as the final product, and the questions are just as important as the answers.
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts offers BFA and Combined Degree (BFA+BA/BS) undergraduate programs, as well as graduate and non-degree programs, with areas of study that run the gamut from painting and sculpture to performance to virtual reality.
Students work with faculty across two campuses that together encompass almost 450,000 square feet of classroom, library, and studio space. We are closely connected with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and part of Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences. Our graduates go out into the world as highly skilled scholar-artists ready to make a difference.
At SMFA you won't find rigid curricula or one-size-fits-all general education requirements. Instead, our students design individualized programs of study that include intensive studio coursework and relevant liberal arts and sciences courses on both the SMFA and Medford/Somerville campuses. They explore and research ideas, grapple with complex challenges, and build technical skills under close mentorship from faculty, staff, and other community members.
An ongoing loop of discussion and feedback is a crucial element of the SMFA experience. Each semester, students participate in critiques known as review boards, during which they present their work to a small group of faculty and peers and discuss their progress as artist-thinkers and makers. Each artist produces a written statement about their work in advance, and their reviewers produce summaries of their impressions of the work and suggest ways for the student to hone their practice—for example, suggesting the student look up the work of a sympatico artist or recommending reading material relevant to the student's interests and passions, thereby helping the student take a research-based approach to their development as artists and scholars. Review boards also inform each student's curricular pathway, often in surprising ways. It's a flexible, challenging, highly personal, and rewarding process of learning how to stretch oneself continuously—and for a lifetime—as an artist.
Founded in 1876 as part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts was conceived as both a technical institute of drawing and painting and a school dedicated to exploring ideas by building visual literacy and expression. In 1945, SMFA began a partnership with Tufts University to offer joint degrees. This relationship continued and evolved until 2016, when the school formally became part of Tufts. This unique partnership—a major museum, a top-ranked research university, and one of the nation's oldest art schools—has produced a legacy of creative leadership and cultural impact that endures today.
As an SMFA student, you'll take advantage of Boston, a vibrant, welcoming city where art, culture, and entertainment are everywhere. Across the Charles River, at our Medford/Somerville campus, you can take liberal arts and sciences classes and dig into a world of activities, clubs, and community groups. Whether hanging out with friends at campus events, checking out a show at a club, or searching for the city's best food truck, you'll choose your own adventure—inside the classroom, and beyond.
Our longstanding relationship with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, gives SMFA students special access to one of the world's most prestigious art institutions. Our students go behind the scenes to explore the museum's rich collections, libraries, and archives. They network with artists and art professionals, develop working relationships with curators, pursue jobs and internships, and enjoy exclusive exhibition opportunities. Our unique partnership with the museum brings a new dimension to your art school education.
Our administrators believe passionately in the power of art to change the world. Many of them are accomplished artists as well. Through their work at SMFA, they help the next generation of artists to find their way and have their say.