The VS MFA is a full-time, two-year 60-credit art and design program that promotes freedom of creative inquiry and production. Research that redefines parameters and confronts contemporary issues is encouraged. Unique abilities and potential are developed in a community of students and faculty engaged in intensive discourse, investigation, and production of challenging new work. Critical interactions with resident faculty, visiting artists, designers and critics form the core of graduate level involvement. MFA students each work with three graduate faculty who serve on their Thesis Advisory Committee. Individually and collectively, the members of this committee are responsible for critical analysis of the student’s progress. The degree culminates in an MFA thesis exhibition or alternative public presentation, a written thesis research paper, and an oral defense. Other requirements include seminars, courses in critical theory, art history and academic electives. The program is rigorous, requiring a serious work ethic and the ability to chart a course of personal development.
Students have private or semi-private secure studios with 24-7 access and may use all departmental facilities and communal labs. Shared labs support photography (digital and black-and-white non-silver), print media (lithography, intaglio, screen, digital, relief and letterpress), sculpture (full wood and metal shops, bronze foundry and digital lab with laser cutter), graphic design, video/sound recording and editing, electronics/physical computing, specialized digital output, painting, installation, performance, drawing and biological art. All studios and labs have state of the art high-speed connections.
A joint MFA venture with the Department of Media Study focusing on Emerging Practices (EP) is committed to exploring the interdisciplinary space between emerging technologies and the arts. EP students are focused on exploring the technical, tactical, cultural and communicative potential of emerging technologies such as interactive multimedia, electronic installation, networked telematic communication, robotics, biotechnology and algorithmic image synthesis.
Typically, artists and art/media programs are defined by the media forms they employ. However, we choose not to define practice based on a medium in favor of a broader strategy of techno-cultural investigation that continuously re-defines its object as well as its methods.
Students interested in this joint effort apply to either the Visual Studies or Media Study MFA program, noting in their cover letters their interest in the Emerging Practices area of study. Upon acceptance, to Media Study or Visual Studies students will be able to take courses, utilize labs and facilities, and work with EP faculty in either department.
In addition to graduate research and project supervision, Visual Studies seminars provide the MFA student with a context for both art practice and current trends in visual arts and design. During the two year residential graduate program, academic requirements include: Introduction to Critical Theory in the fall and a critique-based Graduate Seminar in the spring semester. In addition to this, 12 credits of academic electives (which can be art history or visual studies) and 3 credits of an open elective are required.
Lectures and critiques by visiting artists and designers, visits to area collections and alternative spaces, including day trips to area galleries, can be scheduled.
Apply to MFA program
> UB GrAdMIT on-line application
MFA Overview (PDF)
> Admissions requirements, applications, funding opportunities and deadlines
MFA Curriculum and Facilities
> Degree requirements, graduate studios and labs
MFA Scholarships and Financial Details (PDF)
> Estimated tuition and fees, Scholarships and Teaching Assistantships
Download Grad Brochure
> An overview of all of the Department of Visual Studies graduate programs