MFA Experience | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

MFA Experience

Back of Beyond, Fall Exhibition Reception, work by Nora Spiekermann; MFA Gallery in background


The program is housed in the MFA Studios and Gallery, which includes individual studios for every graduate student (available summer between first and second year), a large gallery space, computer lab, classroom space, and more. Graduate students also have access to the full production facilities and exhibition spaces at MCAD.

The MCAD community expands outside of our studios and galleries:


Scroll through MFA publications from recent years. See thesis work from our graduates and recent alumni. 

MFA Fall Exhibition, 2020


Throughout your time as a graduate student, and once you become an alumni, you will have many opportunities to showcase your work. Some of the opportunities include:

  • MFA Fall Show: During the first weeks of the fall semester, students plan and curate an exhibition introducing the new MFA candidates and showcasing recent work from the second-year students. This event is timed to coincide with an alumni reception and the opening of fall exhibitions in the main MCAD Gallery.
  • Art Sale: Annually, MCAD puts together the nation’s largest college art sale, one of the most anticipated art events in the Twin Cities. Since it began in 1997, the MCAD Art Sale has generated millions of dollars for emerging artists. MFA students and alumni successfully participate every year.
  • Mid-Program Review: In this second-semester milestone, students demonstrate and discuss how they participate in their fields of creative study for a panel of faculty and outside reviewers. Students receive oral and written feedback for their reflection and integration as they prepare for advanced work in the program. 
  • Public Research Presentations: At the end of the third semester, students each give a public presentation of their research completed in the course, Graduation Preparation I. This event is an opportunity for the community to familiarize themselves with our soon-to-be graduating MFA students and their research.
  • Thesis Exhibition: This fourth-semester exhibition showcases the graduating class and provides the setting for all thesis reviews. There is a public reception, and the end of the show overlaps with graduation, so traveling friends and families can see the work.
Alonzo Pantoja ’20 in Graduate Critique Seminar
Alonzo Pantoja ’20 in Graduate Critique Seminar

Community Agreements and Priorities

The MFA Program has articulated the following agreements and priorities. We share these publicly and during orientation, so everyone begins their MFA journey with an understanding of these foundational ideas. 

  • We want to respectfully acknowledge that the land we are occupying in Minneapolis is unceded territory, the ancestral homelands of the Dakota and Anishinaabe peoples. We acknowledge the grave harm that colonialism brought to these lands, in particular the erasure of both indigenous and African identities not only under genocide and slavery, but via racist laws that have segregated all people. We honor those who have lived– and do live, now– at these intersections of identity and experience.
  • We create a collective, equitable, inclusive, and accessible community for an interdisciplinary and diverse group of makers. We want every student to have a place and purpose in this tight-knit program, supported by a strong cohort and the MCAD community.
  • We normalize discussion of anti-racism, gender, disability, age (and the many other markers of privilege and difference), and systems of power and oppression as they relate to individuals’ creative practices.
  • We are accommodating to all religions and practices and offer spaces to students if need be.
  • We support each other’s health and safety, both physically and mentally. This includes support for victims of abuse or harassment. See Title IX resources.
  • We value transparency and patience in communication between peers, and between students and the institution. We provide opportunities and time for everyone to communicate.
  • We promote engagement with, and questioning of, contemporary discourses and contexts in students’ respective fields of study. We promote expansive, brave and courageous boundary-breaking.
  • We promote discourse with mentors, faculty, staff, undergraduates, visiting makers, and community members. We value peer review and iteration as forms of community. We acknowledge the difference between intent and impact during discussion, and know that trust takes time to build.
  • We celebrate blurring boundaries across disciplines and the fluid practices formed at the intersection of many creative modes, bodies of knowledge, and communities (mirroring real world creative practices).
  • We value personal change, evolution, and discovery throughout students’ time in the program and are open to shifting and growing practices in new and exciting ways.
  • We facilitate setting personalized creative goals, promoting self-determination, curiosity, and responsible research paths.
  • We invest in our graduates’ success after graduation, and believe ongoing community development in combination with learning tangible professional development skills builds sustainability and financial health, which is a social justice issue.
  • We provide value to a community beyond just the MCAD MFA Program through outreach in the form of public artist talks, workshops, and exhibitions. We value this community outreach.
  • We value the ways in which art and design play a vital role in a healthy, functioning, and compassionate society. By promoting creativity and fun, we help keep perspective on what we are doing in the academy.
mfa gallery
MFA Gallery ready for student work

Awards and Recognitions

Since 2013, we have had seven of our international alumni successfully secure O1 visas, a highly competitive honor.


U.S. News & World Report has listed MCAD’s master of fine arts program as one of the top sixty in the nation.


Animation Career Review has listed MCAD’s master of fine arts program as one of the top twenty in the nation for both animation and graphic design.

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Best Value Schools has list MCAD’s master of fine arts program in the top twenty in the nation.

View MCAD’s awardsaccreditation, and affiliations.

Peng Wu’s Graduate Critique Seminar III class, Fall 2021

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