Should I Get an MFA?

How do you decide if you should get an MFA program in studio art?

A lot of the decision is based on a number of factors, is enrolling in an MFA program worth the time and cost?

This video addresses the many reasons why people attend MFA programs and weighs the pros and cons.

Do you want to get an MFA in order to be eligible to teach at the college level?

To get professional connections to enter the New York City art scene? As a personal intensive experience in your practice?

Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Lauryn Welch.

Clara banner printmaking monotype

Video Walkthrough

  • Some MFA programs employ students as Teaching Assistants.
  • There are fewer MFA programs that provide stipends and teaching opportunities.
  • Teaching different age groups requires different degrees and/or certification, do your research!
  • MFA programs vs. Ateliers
  • The MFA is the terminal degree for a studio artist.
  • Is there space for interdisciplinary work in an MFA program?
  • How an undergraduate degree affects your MFA application.
  • Visiting artists are a big part of MFA programs, location allows for more access to many artists to come.
  • What are the reasons to do an MFA beyond career reasons.

Prof Lieu’s Tips

Clara cartoon

BFA and MFA are very different degrees; really the only reason that you have to have an MFA is if you want to teach college.

Other than that, most people in the art world could care less if you have an MFA or not, it’s really only in academia where people care about the degree, and what program you attended.

Lectures & Training, Clara Lieu

I would consider what field you ultimately want to work in; if you want to do freelance illustration, imo an MFA really is not necessary at all. You’ll see that there are very, very few MFA programs in illustration.

People have a broad range of reasons why they get an MFA, some people didn’t do their BFA in visual arts, so they feel like they need the experience.

Clara Lieu

I will say that the last 2 people I advised on whether to get an MFA, realized after talking to me that the MFA really wasn’t what they needed.

One artist really just needed pro experience in the field, (an MFA won’t give you that) another person realized that an artist residency would be a better fit for them.

Lauryn Welch, banner
Lauryn Welch

MFA programs in the US are astronomically expensive, for some people the high tuition fees aren’t worth it. (most MFA programs start at $70k per year) Again, depends on the person though, for some people the expense is not an issue.

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