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What is an MFA?



The MFA (Master of Fine Arts) is a specialized, terminal degree available on the graduate level in both fine arts and design.

The same aspects that distinguished a BFA from a BA, distinguish an MFA from an MA. The MFA is a concentrated “professional” degree for students seeking advanced education prior to becoming practicing artists or designers. The MA, on the other hand, is usually a “liberal arts” degree with less emphasis on practice. A further distinction is that the MFA must be a two year, 60 credit program, whereas the MA need only be a one year, 30 credit program. Finally, the MFA requires between 65% and 85% of the course work to be in art or design practice, whereas the MA requires approximately 50% in studio areas.

In virtually every state in the country, the MFA is considered a “terminal” degree in fine and applied arts majors. That is, there is no higher level degree available or required for the practice oriented student.

Approximately half of AICAD’s members offer the MFA degree in studio areas, and some offer other graduate degrees in art history, art education, art therapy, etc.

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