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The MFA graduate program culminates with an MFA thesis exhibition from each student. This is an opportunity to apply theory and method in a project, formulating a question and developing a potential answer. You'll explore the broader implications of your practice through aesthetic, social, political, economic, and scientific considerations. At SMFA, a thesis is never a definite conclusion, but a moment within the student's artistic development that demonstrates the ability to continue work outside the confines of the institution.

In addition to the exhibition itself, the thesis contains a written component and a final defense with a three-member thesis committee, which includes faculty and a visiting juror. The student's 1000-word thesis statement serves as a clear and coherent textual narrative of their process, research, and intention within 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 or field-specific professional from outside SMFA at Tufts.

Past committee external reviewers:
Makeda Best, Harvard Art Museums, 2019
Ellen Tani, Institute of Contemporary Art, 2019
Daisy Nam, Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, Harvard University, 2019
Sam Toabe, University of Massachusetts, Boston Art Galleries, 2019

The final thesis review with the student's committee takes place 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 final exhibition propels graduates into the contemporary art community and launches their professional career as artists. 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.

Past MFA Thesis Exhibitions

2022 MFA Thesis Exhibition: Forever in Ten Days

Forever in Ten Days features the work of 13 graduating master of fine arts students from the School of The Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts.

Learn More about the 2022 exhibition

2022 MFA Thesis Exhibition: You're on Mute

You're on Mute features the work of 12 graduating master of fine arts students from the School of The Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts.

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2021 MFA Thesis Exhibition: Waiting Room

Waiting Room features the work of eight MFA students.

Learn more about the 2021 exhibition

2020 MFA Thesis Exhibition: As Above, So Below

As Above So Below presents the work of 17 MFA candidates who completed their thesis work in the midst of the COVID-19 2020 global pandemic.

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2019 MFA Thesis Exhibition: no time for laundry

The phrase “no time for laundry” humorously sums up the singular focus of an MFA Thesis student’s life. School, art and political engagement swallow up daily life leaving little time for much else.

Learn more about the 2019 exhibition

2018 MFA Thesis Exhibition: (T)HERE

(T)HERE represents the collapse of “here” and “there” into one unified paradigm. The artists see our globalized world as both “here” and “there”; that problems of the past are the problems of today. It acknowledges that the contemporary moment synthesizes the mainstream and the periphery, theory and experience, history and future.

Learn more about the 2018 exhibition

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