Whatever your medium, you can expect courses that span the aesthetic experience, from drawing and filmmaking to the relativity of color, gender dialectics, and critical theory.
And in addition to the studio and mentorship focus of Yale’s MFA curriculum, students also engage in the School of Art’s lecture series, a program that brings in visiting artists and professionals from around the world for track-specific counsel, campus-wide lectures, and even work critiques.
We first chose programs with the most renowned academic reputation and from those pared the list down to those with high retention rates—a reflection of student satisfaction—added those with the most economical accessibility, and finally we included the averages of early career salaries (care of Pittsburgh is a great place to continue your arts education, as it is home to multiple museums, a vibrant and growing art scene, and the top-rated MFA program in the country: Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
Though a known tech and STEM school, CMU is also home to world-class arts programs.
The curriculum itself, whether you’re studying ceramics or photography, emphasizes current critical and theoretical thought and it addresses contemporary issues in the art world, both through the classroom and through the Visiting Artists Lecture Series.
Cornell University offers two kinds of MFAs, one in writing and the other in visual arts.
The School of the Arts at Columbia offers both a MFA in creative writing (with specialization in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) and in visual arts.
The former is workshop heavy, with a curriculum (created for writers by writers) that examines literature from a practitioner’s viewpoint, rather than that of a scholar of theorist.
Los Angeles is a mecca for artists whose mediums range from fine visual arts to screenwriting and film production, and UCLA’s MFA program offers concentrated studies in each.
With over half a dozen tracks to choose from, students are encouraged to specialize even more through elective studies, media exploration, and cross-departmental study.