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MFA candidates must complete a total of 60 semester unit hours (SHUs)*

Four Graduate Seminars (2 or 4 SHUs per semester) At least 8 SHUs
Four Graduate Critique Courses (3 SHUs per semester) 12 SHUs
Four Graduate Liberal Arts and Sciences/ Non-Studio Courses (taken at anytime, including during summer session). A grade of B- or above is required in order to receive graduate program credit. 12 SHUs
Additional Studio Courses in any Area of Study (Students may opt to take more than 8 SHUs of Graduate Seminars. The number of additional Studio Courses would be reduced accordingly.)  Up to 16 SHUs
Graduate Thesis (Research and Practice studio credit in second year) 12 SHUs
Total 60 SHUs

Studio Art Requirements

MFA students must complete a minimum total of 36 semester hour units (SHUs) in studio art of the 60 total SHUs needed to complete the program. This includes the mandatory MFA Contemporary Art Practice (CAP) seminar and three graduate seminar electives.

Graduate Seminars

The graduate seminars (CAP seminar and three approved elective seminars) are part of the studio credit requirements for successful completion of the MFA degree. A student who fails to attend the CAP seminar and/or successfully complete the course must repeat the CAP seminar the following year.

Graduate Critiques

MFA students must complete a section of Graduate Group Critique in each of the four semesters of the program. In addition to these requirements, it is mandatory that all graduate students attend the graduate colloquia scheduled during the fall and/or spring semester. Please note that during the student’s second year, students may substitute MFA Individual Critiques: One-to-One for MFA Graduate Group Critique in the fall or spring semester.


The SMFA at Tufts Graduate Colloquia are conceived, proposed, and coordinated by faculty, graduate advisors, and MFA students. The Graduate Steering Committee reviews and selects proposals. These all-day events, generated around a topic relevant to contemporary art and culture, take place at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Speakers include invited guests, SMFA at Tufts faculty, and MFA students. Colloquia are an instituted part of the Master of Fine Arts curriculum. Attendance is mandatory for all first and second year MFA students. SMFA at Tufts Graduate Colloquia are open to the general public.

Art History/Graduate Liberal Arts and Sciences Courses

Over the course of the program, four upper-level or graduate-level non-studio courses are required, and must include one art history and three liberal arts electives. Electives may be art history, humanities, or a field other than humanities with advisor’s approval. Please note, graduate students may take a maximum of two of their four non-studio courses during Tufts' Summer Session. A grade of B- or above is required in order to receive graduate program credit.


All second-year MFA students are required to develop a thesis throughout the year and present a thesis exhibition at the end of the year. MFA students will 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). A thesis is never a definite conclusion, but a moment within the student's development that demonstrates their ability to carry on their work outside the confines of the institution. The thesis exhibition work carries 12 academic SHUs in both semesters of the second year. The Thesis Committee awards the final six SHUs based on each student's exhibition.

Approval for Thesis

At each student’s second Review Board, a determination is made as to whether a student can move on to their thesis year. This approval process is managed, and the specific faculty members participating in each Review Board ultimately determine approval. The outcome of the approval process is recorded in the student's Review Board folder and submitted back to the Registrar's Office.

Thesis Committee

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 second year. A third member, an arts professional, is provided by SMFA at Tufts to participate in the student's final Thesis Committee meeting and review. At no time may a current faculty member teaching at SMFA at Tufts who is not a Graduate Advisor serve on the student's Thesis Committee. The student must establish their Thesis Committee, schedule the committee meetings, and submit the names of committee members and dates of the planned committee meetings to the Graduate Programs Office by the published deadline. The student must also provide a 1000-word thesis statement—a clear and coherent textual narrative of their process and intention of their artistic practice—to the committee at each meeting. The thesis statement should continue to develop and evolve throughout the course of the thesis year and the most up-to-date version should be presented at the committee meetings. The Thesis Committee meets three times over the course of the year in order to supervise the student's development and to bring support to their project. At the end of the first meeting, the committee will determine if additional meetings will be required beyond the mandatory meetings. The meetings are typically one hour long. Failure to stay on schedule may result in delay or cancellation of the student's thesis exhibition.

Final Thesis Review

Students are required to schedule a final review of their thesis with their Thesis Committee in their exhibition space. In the case of the large group exhibition, the Associate Director of Graduate Programs creates the Thesis Committee. Graduate Advisors serving on the student's Thesis Committee have the responsibility of extending or withholding credit for the exhibition. A grade of Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory is noted, and each committee member provides a written evaluation.

Thesis Visual Documentation

During the week of a student's third and final Thesis Committee meeting and Thesis Exhibition, they must submit 15 high-resolution images on CD of artwork created during their two-year program to the Associate Director of Graduate Programs. 10 of the 15 images must be documentation of their thesis exhibition. QuickTime, AIFF files, or DVDs of moving image and sound projects should be submitted.

Final Exhibition

The thesis year culminates in a final exhibition, typically held at the end of the final semester of study. A local venue will be provided by SMFA at Tufts for students to present their exhibitions. This group exhibition includes all presenting MFA students. A student may choose to exhibit at another local venue at his or her own expense.

 *Semester Hour Units (SHUs) is the credit-hour system used by Tufts and most universities in the United States.

MFA Full Program Requirements