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The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program is ranked as one of the nation;s top 15 fine arts programs by the U.S. News & World Report. The program is unique in that the course of study provides for mobility within a range of traditional and media-based components and encourages collaboration.
The program is designed to provide professional training for the student who proposes to pursue a career within the field of art -- including art-making, criticism, and theory. The scope of the UCSD MFA Program includes painting, sculpture, performance, installation, environmental art, photography, film, video, and computing for the arts. The program is unique in that the course of study provides for and encourages a student mobility within this range of traditional and media-based components. It also offers opportunities for collaborative work.
The educational path of students is focused around their particular interests in art. The Department seeks to provide an integrated and comprehensive introduction to the possibilities of contemporary art production, the intellectual structures which underlie them, and the "world view" which they entail. Graduate school can provide a period of time for experimentation and much needed critical stimulation and feedback for a young artist. All artmaking activities are considered serious intellectual endeavors, and all students in the program find themselves confronted by the need to develop their intellectual and critical abilities in the working out of their artistic positions. A body of theory-oriented core courses is required, where the practice, criticism, and historical study of art become interrelated activities. We have no craft-oriented programs or facilities; nor do we have any courses in art education or art therapy. The courses offered are intended to develop in the student a coherent and informed understanding of the past and of recent developments in art and art theory, creating a framework within which individual work is done. The program also provides for establishing a confident grasp of contemporary technological possibilities, including those involved in photography, film, electronic and digital media. Helping an artist to understand their own process and develop strategies that can respond to and grow with a dynamic cultural environment has become increasingly important.
The program includes formal education in lecture and seminar courses as well as study groups, critiques, and studio meetings. Course work is intended to place artmaking in critical and intellectual context but doesn't underestimate the central importance of the student's own production work. In fact, this aspect of the student's activity is expected to be self-motivated and forms the core around which the program of study operates and makes sense.
No two students will necessarily follow the same path through the degree program, and the constitution of individual programs will, of course, depend upon the analysis of individual needs and interests, worked out by students in collaboration with their faculty advisors.
UCSD's Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) functions to further the computer-related interests of faculty and graduate students in Visual Arts, Music, Theatre and associated fields. Our own computing program is significantly strengthened by the existence of CRCA, from its interdisciplinary thrust and from its association with UCSD's Supercomputer Center. As an organized research unit at UCSD, CRCA fosters collaborative working relationships among artists, scientists and technologists by identifying and promoting projects in which common research interests may be advanced through the application of computer-mediated strategies.
This is a two to three year program. A minimum of two years in residence is required by the University for the awarding of the MFA degree.
A total of 72 units is required (usually 4 units per class):
a. Six required Visual Arts seminars (24 units):
VIS 200 - Intro to Graduate Studies in the Visual Arts
VIS 201 - Contemporary Critical Issues
VIS 202 - Art Practice
VIS 203 - Working Critique
VIS 205 - Introduction to Graduate Studies in Art Practice
One additional seminar in either Art Practice/Theory, or Advanced Theory/Criticism/History
b. 12 units of Individual Studies (VIS 295), taken with the individual faculty advisor who is the Review Committee chair in the second or third year of the program, and specifically intended to prepare the student for the final MFA presentation.
c. 4-12 units of Apprentice Teaching (VIS 500). At least one course of VIS 500 is required, but
three may be used.
d. of the remaining 24-36 units of general course work, one graduate course must be taken in another academic department. The remaining units are usually taken in Independent Supervised Research (VIS 299). The proposal for the 299 must be submitted to the sponsoring faculty member the quarter prior to enrollment. Only one Independent Supervised Research (VIS 299) should be taken in the first quarter in the program. A total of four courses (16 units) at the upper-division (100) undergraduate level may be taken as credit toward the degree.
The student's progress through the program is monitored with care. The Department's Graduate Program Advisor is responsible for matching incoming students with appropriate provisional faculty advisors at the beginning of the Fall Quarter. All graduate students participate once a year in a departmental critique of their work, and are visited by a faculty critique committee appointed by the Department Chair. The First Year Review exhibition should occur in the first Spring Quarter, and in preparation for this review, all first year students participate in studio critiques during Winter Quarter. The MFA presentation can be made any time between the 6th and 9th quarters. The faculty advisor will make a report concerning the progress of the student to the Department Chair and to the Office of Graduate Studies in the Spring of each year by writing a spring evaluation.
The First Year Review is intended to assess the student's progress in terms of work done, study, and research. It is conducted for each student by a specially selected committee, with the student's individual faculty advisor as chairperson, and is made up of three Department faculty and one external member. The same committee will later become the student's MFA Committee, and it will decide, as a result of the Review, when the MFA presentation is to take place. For the final presentation the external member should preferably be a tenured faculty member.
The First Year Review consists of an exhibition -- or other more appropriate mode of presentation -- of the student's work, a short paper discussing that work and its relation to the field, and an oral examination. Passing the Review implies that the student is doing well and is expected to be able to graduate not later than the 9th quarter. If the Review Committee has doubts as to the satisfactory progress of the work, or feels that the presentation does not afford an adequate basis for decision, the student may be asked to re-review within one quarter. The Re-review must take place no later than the 4th quarter. Out and out failure of the Review (or Re-review) means that the student's progress has been quite unsatisfactory, and he or she will be asked not to register for the following quarter.
The final MFA presentation has a similar form, though there are in fact several thesis options available to the student, depending on the nature of the work.
The major purpose of this monitoring system is to remove from the student the stress imposed by an arbitrary time-frame, and to allow a high degree of individualization in the handling of the student's needs and development. The same intent has determined the size of the graduate school.
We have 45-50 students to a faculty of 29 in the present year and a fairly rigorous admissions procedure. In the absence of special circumstances applicants are required to have an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 with approximately 3.5 in the major (which need not necessarily be in art). All applicants are required to write a Statement of Purpose (1 to 3 pages in length) about themselves,influences on their art practice and about the direction of their work in relation to contemporary art. Where there are special issues relating to the presence of particular faculty members, applicants are encouraged to discuss them; aberrant interests are equally welcome, however.
We do not exclusively accept applicants who have orthodox art major undergraduate backgrounds, and tend to look very seriously at the unorthodox. We have always taken a proportion of students who have been out of school for some time. The biggest single impediment to a coherent program is the lack of background in art history. A broad understanding of culture and history becomes extremely important in the development of artwork; therefore, the best graduate students come to us having a solid technical background, but also a commitment to critical and theoretical inquiry and a good understanding of contemporary art context. We normally require at least six quarters (24 units) at the undergraduate level, regardless of the applicant's history. Successful applicants who do not have this minimum background may be required to make up the deficiency by
taking courses in excess of the 72 units required for the MFA.
The Visual Arts Department is housed in two separate buildings. The Mandeville Center for the Arts provides space for undergraduate teaching studios, undergraduate photography lab, film editing facilities, undergraduate woodshop, undergraduate gallery and administrative offices. All permanent faculty have studios on campus in the Visual Arts Facility; graduate students are given studio space in this same building. Other facilities for faculty and graduate student research in the Visual Arts Facility include performance space, graduate gallery, woodshop, metal shop, computing lab, non-linear editing facilities, electronics lab, B&W/color photography darkroom, and film and video production and viewing rooms. Facilities for video and film are also available to graduate students in the campus-wide Media Center. Additional film equipment available includes animation stand, optical printer, and two sound mixing studios.
The campus-wide Slide Collection is housed in the Geisel Library with holdings in excess of 308,000 slides. There are three art galleries on campus. The University Art Gallery displays a continually changing series of exhibitions. The Mandeville Annex Gallery is for the use of Visual Arts undergraduates and is located in the Mandeville Center. The Visual Arts Graduate Gallery provides exhibition space in the Visual Arts Facility for graduate first year review shows and MFA exhibitions.
Most applicants are necessarily concerned about possible funding. The main source of support is in the form of Teaching Assistantships. At present, the Department will provide 33% Teaching Assistantships for at least three quarters during each graduate student's career. Additional funding after receiving the guaranteed three positions is administered on the basis of availability, the needs of the Department, and the student's overall previous funding. Some Research Assistantships are available on a short-term basis; however, this form of funding does not constitute a main source, as is the case in the Sciences. Generous support for graduate students comes in the form of tuition and fee scholarships available through funding we receive from the Office of Graduate Studies. To be eligible, applicants should check the appropriate box under Financial Assistance on the application form.
The University of California, San Diego has made a commitment to increase the enrollment of graduate students from those groups such as minorities, women, the older student, and the physically challenged, which have been historically underrepresented in the university as a result of economic, educational, or societal inequities. Several forms of financial assistance are available to applicants who demonstrate the academic potential to complete requirements for the MFA Degree. The Office of Graduate Studies and the Visual Arts Department administer fellowships, scholarships, traineeships, nonresident tuition scholarships, teaching or language assistantships, and research assistantships - all of which are available on a competitive basis.
The policy of UC San Diego is to admit for the Fall Quarter only. Applications for admission must be postmarked January 16 2013, and selections will be made by April 1st.
If this program interests you and you want to apply, please visit the Office of Graduate Studies and Research's website to access the online application.
If you have questions about the admissions process, or MFA program please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
We look forward to hearing from you.