Master of Fine Arts | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Master of Fine Arts: Degree Information

MCAD emphasizes a collaborative process and working with students from all professions. For this Master of Arts degree, you will take courses in several different areas adding up to 60 total credits required for graduation. 

Most credits are earned through one-on-one work with a mentor. Others are earned through critique and liberal arts seminars, as well as a range of engaging electives, which can include professional practices, internships, or selected courses from our MA programs. The final year culminates in a thesis exhibition and position paper.

Learning Outcomes

  • Practice and apply discipline-specific expertise, including the ability to research within and through various media. This includes integration of technical skill, historical context, and purposeful application(s).
  • Research the historical and contemporary issues of their creative field through library and internet research practices.
  • Present and discuss ideas related to their creative work in written forms, which could include artist statements, statements of intent, multi-page research papers, exhibition reviews, essays, reflections, etc.
  • Engage in oral communication of ideas and critical feedback through interdisciplinary group critiques, discussions, studio visits, informational interviews, and presentations.
  • Apply creative critical thinking to combine subject, form, content, and context to create a creative body of work over multiple months. 

Additionally, the MFA program offers a 3-credit Teaching Art and Design Online Certificate through Continuing Education, which counts towards one of the MFA electives and allows graduates to leave MCAD with not only an MFA degree, but also a focused certificate. Through these three 5-week mini-courses, students learn strategies to develop high-quality, online course design, help artists and designers facilitate the creative process remotely, and conduct critiques effectively online.
 

Core Required Courses

GRLA 7XXX Community and Context
1 credits

In this five-week course offered at the start of the MFA program, students reflect on personal and situational context, privilege and difference, intentions versus results, and intended audiences for their creative practices.  Students take field trips focused on different groups of people living in the Twin Cities who have influenced and shaped current cultural and social circumstances, potentially including Indigenous, Black, immigrant, and hyper-local/neighborhood-level perspectives. Artists, designers, curators, writers, or other cultural workers/thinkers are invited to help illuminate relationships to creative practice. The course establishes a framework for sustained commitment to antiracism in practice and community life by introducing related vocabulary and concepts.

GRLA7011 Criticism and Theory I
3 credits

This is one of two courses that exposes students to contemporary visual criticism and theory in art and design. This course brings together reading, discussion, writing, oral presentations, and at least three site-visits (museums, galleries, agencies, conventions, studios, etc.), to help students expand their art and design vocabulary. Students will practice verbally analyzing and articulating their practices in relationship to various histories and cultures. Via individual studio visits with the instructor early in the semester, this course becomes highly tailored to reflect the areas of foci of the enrolled students. Early in this course, students will examine concepts of privilege and difference in relationship to systems of power, both in and outside the art and design worlds. Also early in the course, students will be briefly introduced basic popular lenses for examining art and design work, including selected identity issues (race, gender, sexuality), iconography/semiotics, Marxism, and cultural studies/post-colonialism. Topics for the remainder of the course will be determined by the students’ practices, and the instructor will provide appropriate historical context as necessary.

GRLA 7012 Criticism and Theory II
3 credits

This is the second of two courses that expose students to contemporary visual criticism and theory, along with corresponding historical context. Students gain exposure to artists, designers, systems, curators, critics, and visual/textual methods influencing current practices in art and design, building beyond content/topics covered in the first course. This course brings together reading, discussion, writing, oral presentations, and at least three site-visits (museums, galleries, agencies, conventions, studios, etc.), to help students expand their art and design vocabulary. Students will practice verbally analyzing and articulating their practices in relationship to various histories and cultures. Via individual studio visits with the instructor early in the semester, this course becomes highly tailored to reflect the areas of foci of the enrolled students. With instructor guidance and classmate feedback, students draw connections between their personal practice and course materials, honing the ability to narrate, analyze, and discuss the contexts of their work using new vocabulary. There is particular focus on preparing for the Mid-Program Review’s oral presentation, written statement of intent, and a list of research sources.

GRLA 7013 Thesis Preparation I
3 credits

This course is designed to help students articulate the theoretical basis of their work in relation to acknowledged contemporary works and culture. Students research, outline, and write the first three-quarters of their thesis paper on the nature of their current practice. The semester concludes with public presentations based on the students’ work over the course of the semester. OutcomesInvestigate the theoretical basis of one’s own creative practice.Find, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize appropriate literary sources using online and library-based resources.Compose, edit, and revise written papers based on feedback.Present the results of thesis research in an oral presentation.

GRLA 7014 Thesis Preparation II
2 credits

This course is designed to guide students through the process of final thesis development. Students will meet throughout the semester to ensure work is moving forward according to various requirements and deadlines. There will be a writing intensive component at the end of the semester to complete the required final quarter of the thesis paper. The instructor will submit the final grade for the paper as a part of this course. This course also guides students through the process of finalizing the thesis paper for submission to the college.OutcomesDemonstrate effective time-management, communication, and organizational skills through working with a thesis committee.Engage in reflective thinking and writing to formulate personal responses to experiences, situations, events, or new information.Follow instructions to prepare a final written thesis for submission to the college repository.

GRST 7004 Graduate Critique Seminar
3 credits

The Graduate Critique Seminar provides all graduate students structured group critiques of their work and that of their peers. Students develop a methodology of critique and the ability to discuss work across disciplines. A rotation of guest artists, designers, and critics visit throughout the semester. The visitors present their own work and discuss their practice and then participate in student critiques. Each student has a minimum of two formal critiques each semester with options for additional critiques throughout the semester as time permits. The seminar includes contemporary readings and conversations about contemporary art, successful critiquing strategies, and methods for describing intent, content, meaning, and form of presented artwork.

GRST 7003 Graduate Critique Seminar 2
3 credits

The Graduate Critique Seminar provides all graduate students structured group critiques of their work and that of their peers. Students develop a methodology of critique and the ability to discuss work across disciplines. A rotation of guest artists, designers, and critics visit throughout the semester. The visitors present their own work and discuss their practice and then participate in student critiques. Each student has a minimum of two formal critiques each semester with options for additional critiques throughout the semester as time permits. The seminar includes contemporary readings and conversations about contemporary art, successful critiquing strategies, and methods for describing intent, content, meaning, and form of presented artwork.

GRST 7004 Graduate Critique Seminar 3
3 credits

The Graduate Critique Seminar provides all graduate students structured group critiques of their work and that of their peers. Students develop a methodology of critique and the ability to discuss work across disciplines. A rotation of guest artists, designers, and critics visit throughout the semester. The visitors present their own work and discuss their practice and then participate in student critiques. Each student has a minimum of two formal critiques each semester with options for additional critiques throughout the semester as time permits. The seminar includes contemporary readings and conversations about contemporary art, successful critiquing strategies, and methods for describing intent, content, meaning, and form of presented artwork.

GRST GM99 Mentored Credits
32 credits

Mentorship is regarded as the core of the MCAD graduate curriculum. Students can expect to spend approximately one hour per week with their mentor (or equivalent). Each semester the student and mentor determine its content, which is summarized in a Learning Contract in context with the student Long-Range Learning Plan. Students work one-on-one with their mentor in the advancement of studio work, studio research, and professional practice. Mentor Credits coursework is structured to facilitate discussions and assess goals on a weekly basis. Credits may also include attending visiting artist/designer lectures, exhibitions and workshops, audited courses, seminars, and internship and externship opportunities.

Varying Master of Fine Arts Electives
6 credits

Students must take 6 credits of electives to graduate. These credits can be taken at any time during the four semesters. 

GRST 7019 Thesis Exhibition with Mentor
1 credits

This capstone project is the completion of the student’s required studio work for the Thesis Exhibition under the guidance of a mentor in preparation for the final thesis review. The process is guided by graduate candidates in consultation with their mentor and the Thesis/Exhibition Review Committee.

Total Credit Hours
60