“I’m around individuals who are making work that is making a difference. I see how hard they’re pushing and how well they’re doing and what an impact they’re making. It’s inspiring to see.”

Katie Lee Mansfield, MFA

Thesis and Exhibition

During the second year, MFA students will develop a thesis and present it during the MFA Thesis exhibition. This is the culminating event of their two-year program.


The MFA graduate program concludes with an MFA thesis exhibition from each student. In addition to the exhibition itself, this includes a written component and a final review and examination by a three-member thesis committee, which includes faculty and a visiting juror. In their work, students are expected to apply theory and method in a project, formulating a question and developing a potential answer that has a consideration of the broader implications of their practice (such as aesthetic, social, political, economic, and scientific, among others). At SMFA, a thesis is never a definite conclusion, but a moment within the student’s development that demonstrates his/her ability to carry on his/her work outside the confines of the institution. 

The student must also write a 1000-word thesis statement, defined as a clear and coherent textual narrative of their process and intention of their artistic practice. The thesis statement is intended to be developed and revised throughout the course of the thesis year. 

The Thesis Committee is comprised of two graduate faculty advisors (the student’s primary graduate studio advisor and a second graduate studio advisor), and is established in the fall semester of the student’s second year. Of critical importance is the third member of the committee, who must be an arts professional from outside the SMFA at Tufts.  

The thesis and thesis year culminate in a final exhibition which is usually held at the end of the final semester of study. The final thesis review with the student’s committee takes place in during the final Thesis Exhibition. Graduate Advisors serving on the student’s Thesis Committee have the responsibility of extending or withholding credit for the exhibition. They award a grade of Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory, and each committee member provides a written evaluation. 


The MFA Program culminates in a self-curated final exhibition, including a statement of the artist’s intention and goals. This final exhibition provides a platform for students to gain greater exposure within Boston and the Tufts community. Credit for the exhibition is awarded by the SMFA at Tufts Thesis Committee, which is comprised of the student’s academic advisor, a member of the graduate studio faculty and an external advisor. Please note that participation in the final MFA exhibition can only take place once an MFA candidate has met all graduation requirements.