Dec 11, 2018  
2014-2015 UMass Dartmouth Graduate Catalog 
2014-2015 UMass Dartmouth Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges, Departments, and Programs

The completion of a minimum of 60 credits is required for the Master of Fine Arts degree.  Studies in the three MFA programs, Artisanry, Fine Arts, and Design, culminate in a visual thesis exhibition and an accompanying written report. The core requirements for the three MFA programs are the same. The curriculum requires a minimum of two years to complete. Students in some areas devote three years to complete coursework, make up deficiencies, and develop the professional body of work required for the visual thesis. While Artisanry students typically spend three years in graduate study, students in Design and Fine Arts may spend two or three. The schedule which is best for you should be formed in consultation with your advisor and the MFA Director.  Your Graduate Committee may suggest changes in your timetable as it monitors your progress.

When the student has completed all academic requirements, the graduate advisor will do a preliminary certification, and then forward this form to the Graduate Director’s office for final certification.


All students take the following: 21 credits

Academic/studio electives: 12 credits

as decided in individual study plans and as noted below

  • XXX University-wide elective; selected from graduate courses across the university
  • XXX Academic/studio elective (3) - CVPA academic or studio course
  • XXX Academic/studio elective (3) - CVPA academic or studio course

Graduate Studio Sequence: 27 credits

  • ART Graduate Studio I - 9 credits


  • ART Graduate Studio I - 6 credits AND
  • ART Graduate Studio Elective - 3 credits
  • ART Graduate Studio II - 9 credits


  • ART Graduate Studio II - 6 credits AND
  • ART Graduate Studio Elective - 3 credits
  • ART Graduate Studio III - 9 credits


  • ART Graduate Studio III - 6 credits AND
  • ART Graduate Studio Elective - 3 credits


  • ART Graduate Studio III - 3 credits AND
  • ART Graduate Studio Elective - 3 credits AND
  • ART Academic Elective - 3 credits

Total credits: 60

Additional conditions

  • Students may take an UNDERGRADUATE course as a studio or academic elective FOR GRADUATE CREDIT under the following arrangement. Graduate-level Directed Study (ART 596) is used to permit a student to take an existing undergraduate CVPA course; the student sits in on the course but does additional, graduate-level work. Only existing 300 and 400-level courses can be taken as Directed Studies.
  • At times, it may be appropriate for a graduate student to need the introductory studio information contained in 100 and 200-level courses. In special circumstances (as determined by the advisor, the Chair, Graduate Program Director, and Dean), a student may receive graduate-level credit for coursework at the 100, 200 or 300-level by proposing a Directed Study (ART 596), which includes attendance in the introductory class as well as additional graduate-level work with the faculty sponsor outside of class.
  • Graduate level Independent Study may also be used for a specific area of interest or research that is not covered by an existing CVPA graduate or undergraduate course.
  • For both Directed and Independent Studies, students must file the appropriate forms and obtain required approvals. Studies outside of CVPA would use the Independent Study process.
  • Up to six 400-level credits may be applied to the MFA with a grade of B or better. These credits may be used for art history (see Admission with Deficiencies above), or academic/studio elective coursework.
  • A maximum of nine studio credits is recommended per semester.
  • Waiver of a required course must be approved by the Major Advisor, Graduate Director, and Dean. The waiver of a course is not a waiver of credits, which must be completed fully. Notation of waiver will be entered into a student’s record.
  • The allowed six transfer credits may be applied as elective credits but not major studio credits.


Progression requirements

  • 60 credit hours
  • Two-year length of study: Design, Fine Arts (Painting, Drawing, Printmaking)
  • Three-year length of study: Artisanry, Design, Fine Arts (Sculpture)
  • Average course load per semester is 15 credits
  • Minimum of nine studio credits are required for full-time enrollment

At Admission

Appointment of Primary Advisor, who specializes in the chosen medium; identification of academic deficiencies (see Admission with deficiencies, above)

Semester 1

  • Definition of Graduate Committee (Artisanry)
  • Mid-semester Review;
  • Semester-end Review

Semester 2

  • Definition of Graduate Committee (Fine Arts and Visual Design)
  • Mid-semester Review;
  • Semester-end Review

Semester 3

  • Presentation of thesis proposal and its approval by Graduate Committee and Program Director
  • Mid-semester Review;
  • Semester-end Review

Semester 4

  • Mid-semester Review
  • Visual Thesis Exhibition
  • Submission of written report and its approval by the committee and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs/Graduate Studies.
  • Discussion/critique by visiting critic.
  • Oral defense of the written report and visual thesis before the college community. The student’s committee will give advice concerning final grades.
  • If all course work has been completed and the student has registered for ART 512 Visual Thesis and ART 516 Written Report for credit, but the student has not completed all thesis components, s/he must register for ART 512 and ART 516 as zero-credit Continuation courses until all components are completed and other requirements are met.


The Major Advisor will do a preliminary certification and then forward it to the Graduate Director for approval and recommendation of graduation to the Dean. Completion and approval are required of both the visual thesis and written report.


A student is liable for academic dismissal if:

  • the grade point average falls below 3.0,
  • more than 8 credits graded C+ or below are received, or
  • progress toward developing work of an appropriate level of quality is inadequate in the opinion of the Graduate Committee, the Director of MFA Programs, and the Dean.


The MFA Graduate Program Director (GPD) for each area (Artisanry, Fine Arts, Visual Design) guides all phases of the degree programs within their area and assures uniformity in the administration of their program. The Assistant Dean exercises overall authority of the Graduate Program below the level of the Dean. In instances where matters of policy are involved or when consultation is in order, the Assistant Dean and GPD’s confer with the college’s Graduate Committee. The Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts retains final authority in the college for the graduate programs.

Upon admission to the university, students are assigned a primary faculty advisor. At the same time or before the middle of the second semester, a Graduate Committee (normally two members of the college faculty in addition to the primary advisor) will be identified. The Graduate Program Director in the student’s discipline takes part in advising, solving problems with graduate committees, dismissals, and leaves of absence. The GPD also has discussions with graduate committees & graduate students regarding progress through the program. The GPD reviews, signs and forwards Directed and Independent Studies. The student’s primary thesis advisor must approve all course registrations and programs of study.

It is customary for the student’s graduate committee to remain in place for the duration of his or her studies. To make a change in the committee membership, approval by the primary advisor and other members of the committee is required, as is consent by those faculty the student wishes to add to his or her committee. The Graduate Program Director’s approval is also required before forwarding to the Assistant Dean.

The role of the committee is to help students meet the demands of the program and to counsel on the development of their work. Its major task is to review the student’s work. Twice each semester, at the mid-point and at the end, the committee meets to do this. It identifies important problems which need to be addressed and provides verbal and written opinions concerning progress. These reviews are obligatory and essential parts of the total graduate experience. The committee also approves students’ thesis topics and the visual thesis and written reports.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges, Departments, and Programs