Master of Fine Arts
Push boundaries – starting with your own.
Through a research-based studio curriculum, our MFA program emphasizes advanced individual studio practice, creative collaboration, mentorships, and rigorous academic discourse. During the program, you'll join a vibrant and supportive community committed to making art that shapes our global society and collective future. The MFA is a two-year program with a third-year option.
As an MFA student, you'll develop your studio practice by contemplating your work across disciplines. You’ll work closely with faculty and staff to develop a personalized studio curriculum, and will have access to resources across Tufts.
MFA students also take part in seminars that explore a variety of subjects within contemporary art. Seminars provide intensive individual guidance, mentoring, and a combination of individual and group critique. You'll advance your presentation, research, and art-making skills, and position yourself for a long and productive independent art practice.
At SMFA, each area of study is a chance to immerse yourself in a specific discipline, or explore a range of different creative modes. Areas of study are how you'll deepen and expand your practice while exploring what it will take for you to realize your vision. You'll build an individualized set of skills and experiences that carry with you into your professional career.
A Master of Fine Arts from SMFA combines intensive studio arts training with the immersive liberal arts curriculum of a major research university. All MFA students take one graduate-level art history class and three liberal arts and sciences electives that are important to their thesis, studio practice, and artistic development.
Some MFA students may choose to also apply to the Tufts Museum Studies program. If accepted, the Museum Studies program's five courses count toward a student's non-studio course requirements for the MFA program.
Critiques are a crucial part of our MFA program, and a driving force in the growth and transformation of your practice. You'll receive ongoing feedback through informal discussions with faculty, fellow students, visiting artists, and curators, while formal critiques like Review Boards and the Graduate Group Critique are important checkpoints for assessing progress and growth. Every step of your SMFA journey is a chance to think about the ideas and techniques that propel your work and creative voice.
MFA candidates have expanded opportunities for research in an optional third year in residence at the SMFA with no additional cost of tuition. The third year fosters interdisciplinary work across schools and academic disciplines of Tufts University after their second year of the program. Students may also opt to travel and work in the field while maintaining university affiliation and access to libraries and facilities. Students may continue working in the production labs and studios. Students receive an individual studio where they can produce work and conduct studio visits with artists, curators and scholars.
The MFA program culminates in a self-curated final exhibition where you consider the broad implications of your practice and the questions that your work seeks to answer. You'll also write a thesis that articulates the process, research, and intention that anchors your work, and defend it before a committee of faculty and a visiting juror. Both the thesis and the exhibition are significant achievements and a celebration of your evolution as an artist. They demonstrate that you are ready to succeed as a working professional artist, whatever form your career might take.
The Graduate Colloquium is a forum for graduate students, faculty, and invited professional artists to discuss diverse and current topics in visual art and art theory. Colloquia are conceived, proposed, and coordinated by faculty, gallery curators, advisors, and MFA students. The Graduate Steering Committee reviews and selects proposals. These all-day events take place at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and are open to the public.
In addition to building upon your artistic skills, learning new techniques and further developing your art practice, your time at SMFA is also an opportunity to further your professional development. You can take full advantage of countless student exhibition opportunities, visiting artists, and the resources of our Career Center.
As an MFA student at SMFA you will have the opportunity to apply for the Hamburg Exchange Program and the Montague Travel Grant. Through these programs, our students travel internationally prior to the completion of their degree.
MFA students must complete a total of 60 semester hour units. Coursework is primarily in studio art but also includes art history and liberal arts electives. The mandatory MFA Contemporary Art Practice (CAP) seminar and three graduate seminar electives are also required.
"I was serious about my work, and the faculty acknowledged that and took me seriously from day one."
We sat down with Graduate Program Director Jeannie Simms and MFA students Jamie Kay and Kimberly Barnes, for a discussion on contemporary art practice through the lens of their experiences at SMFA.
"Being an artist is a pretty self-motivated occupation, and I think it was helpful to be in an environment where you had to push yourself."