The Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) program in the Art+Design division of the School of the Arts at Purchase College, SUNY, is a two-year, interdisciplinary graduate program in studio art. This small and highly selective program, unique in its combination of affordability and access to a wealth of resources both on campus and in the New York City area, fosters the artistic, intellectual, and professional growth of students through a melding of independent studio work and rigorous academic studies.
Students work closely with members of a vital faculty with active exhibiting careers, and are encouraged to explore all fields of artistic production. Students are encouraged to produce a significant body of work during their two years, culminating in an MFA exhibition accompanied by a written thesis. Emphasis is on studio practice and critiques, conducted not only by Purchase faculty but a wide spectrum of visiting artists, writers and curators with national and international profiles.
The program includes a two-year-long intensive seminar that combines readings in theory, literature, and art history with weekly group critiques. MFA graduate students take an art history colloquium within the MA Program in Modern and Contemporary Art, Criticism and Theory, where they gain access to expert scholars, critics, and curators who help them contextualize their practice with artistic and cultural developments of the recent past. Aiming to familiarize students with the inner workings of the professional art world, an additional course in the field brings students to the studios of eminent artists as well as to the offices of major arts organizations and institutions.
Program attributes and resources
– Twenty-five miles south of the campus, the vast art resources in New York City play a crucial role in every student’s curricular and extracurricular activities.
– At the end of the two-year program, students present a culminating exhibition at a New York gallery in one of the city’s thriving arts neighborhoods.
– State-of-the-art facilities and semi-private studios offer myriad resources and expertise to students who are eager to explore previously unfamiliar areas of artistic production. The extensive facilities include photography, video, and digital labs, a woodshop and metal shop, and printmaking and letterpress studios.
– Access to the collection and exhibitions of the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College’s campus museum and eighth largest university museum in the country.
– The School of Art+Design Visiting Artist Lecture Series brings to campus noted artists, curators, critics and historians and encourages a rigorous and diverse public conversation for students and the larger creative community. Recent visiting artists, critics and curators to the MFA program at Purchase have included Jules de Balincourt, Barnaby Furnas, Keltie Ferris, Amanda Ross-Ho, Gilad Ratman, Huma Bhabha, Jon Kessler, Janet Biggs, Martin Kersels, Raphael Rubinstein, Barry Schwabsky, Margot Norton and Alex Gartenfeld, among many others.
Purchase College offers a unique pedagogical program that combines learning and teaching. For those interested in developing teaching skills and pedagogical approaches to art making, opportunities are available to assist in the teaching of undergraduate courses and, when appropriate, to develop and offer their own classes. Beginning in the first semester, students can opt for immediate TAships, supplemented with a designated seminar on pedagogical theory and methodology. Thereafter, students may teach a course each semester, either alone or in partnership with another MFA graduate student.
Purchase College’s position in the State University of New York system offers a significant financial advantage. Half- to full-tuition scholarships are available, depending on residency status. Teaching stipends may supplement costs of attendance. In all, MFA students can expect to pay significantly less than one-half the cost of attendance of equivalent private graduate programs.
Joint MFA/MA Degree
Students may apply for a joint MFA/MA degree, the latter in Modern and Contemporary Art, Criticism and Theory, with the art history requirements completed in a third year of study.
About Purchase College
Founded on the principle that artists and scholars are indispensable to each other and to an enlightened society, Purchase College combines professional conservatory programs in the visual and performing arts and distinguished programs in the liberal arts and sciences. Located 25 miles north of Manhattan in Westchester County, the campus celebrates individuality, diversity, and creativity as we encourage students to “Think Wide Open.” At Purchase College, the arts play a special role—liberal education infuses the arts and the arts infuse the campus. Purchase College is part of the State University of New York system.