Online Schools Offering MFA and Other Fine Arts Programs

Master's in Fine Arts degrees can cover a substantial range of careers and fields. These programs can cover anything from performance arts like theatre and music to visual arts like graphic design and web design. Below are several online programs for schools offering MFAs.

Full Sail University MFA in Creative Writing Full Sail University – In the Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts program at Full Sail University, students are taught the skills required to succeed in the creative writing industry. The curriculum explores storytelling through film, television, animation, and gaming. Screenwriting is also discussed in depth. Courses concentrate on developing leadership, project-management, and research skills.
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Pacifica Graduate Institute MA in Engaged Humanities & Creative Life Pacifica Graduate Institute – The MA in Engaged Humanities & Creative Life at Pacifica Graduate Institute is designed for students in the arts, advertising, marketing, product development, literature, and humanities. The curriculum explores creativity by combining intellectual rigor with creative expression. The program concludes with a large-scale creative project or portfolio. Graduates work throughout the creative field.
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Tiffin University Master of Humanities Tiffin University – At Tiffin University's Master of Humanities degree program, students are afforded a flexible and practical learning environment as they complete their education in the liberal arts, which supply added skills in critical thinking, analytical writing, and communication. The curriculum features a core course load that offers a unified, thematic perspective requiring students to become critical thinkers.
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What to Expect from an MFA Degree Program

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree is a postgraduate degree for visual arts, design, creative writing, dance, drama, music, or filmmaking. The main reason someone might consider pursuing an MFA degree is to improve their artistic skills through practice and mentorship from artist faculty members. MFA students will generally have a number of courses and projects to help them hone their particular discipline, and they will have access to excellent performing facilities and equipment, depending on their area of study. These programs also help students develop a portfolio, repertoire, manuscript, or final performance that can help them to start professional artistic careers. MFA degrees usually take about two to three years to complete, depending on the program and area of study.

Admissions Requirements for MFA Degree Programs

Admission to MFA degree programs is often very competitive. The most important part of an application is a performance audition for performing arts such as drama, dance, or music, or a portfolio for visual arts such as painting, sculpture, design, or photography. This provides the admissions board with an impression of the applicant’s artistic talent and style. Most programs also require students to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a subject closely related to their chosen area of study. Additional application requirements may include a personal essay, one or more letters of recommendation, a resume, and college transcripts. Standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) may be recommended, but are usually not required for admittance to MFA degree programs.

Information on Scholarships and Financial Aid for MFA Programs

The majority of colleges and universities offering MFA programs should also offer a number of scholarships and grants. Need-based awards are given based on economic need, while merit-based awards will likely be determined from an essay, academic merit, or more commonly, an artistic portfolio or audition. These kinds of scholarships are also available through outside organizations and can be found on various websites. Even if you do not qualify for a scholarship or grant, your college should also have a financial aid office that can help you apply for student loans to fund your education.

How to Choose an MFA Degree Program

There are a number of factors you should consider when choosing an MFA degree program:

  1. Faculty – One of the most important features is the program’s faculty, as these will be your mentors who help you grow artistically and may have a significant impact on your artistic career. Your teachers don’t have to be famous actors, writers, or musicians, but they should be excellent instructors who want to help you improve and push you to achieve your goals.
  2. Alumni – Another important factor to look at is the program’s alumni – past students whose careers have sprung from their work at the MFA program should show you that the program has something special to offer.
  3. Special Features – Since the MFA is inherently a creative degree, no two MFA programs are alike. While some will emphasize traditional disciplines within the art form, other programs might have unique features that cannot be found anywhere else. If you are looking for an experimental program or a specific niche, you may find a certain program that stands out to you for its specialties.
  4. Size – Depending on what you are looking for from an MFA degree, size can be very important. If you are interested in intimate workshops and lots of one-on-one time with a mentor, a smaller program is for you. However, if you are looking to explore a variety of topics within your discipline or would like to learn from several different artists, perhaps a larger program would be better.
  5. Location – If you choose an on-campus program, you should consider the location of your program wisely, as you may end up living there for a good part of your life. It will also give you many opportunities to network with other artists in the area while in college.
  6. Cost – College is a serious investment, both in time and money. Before deciding on a program, you should give some serious thought to the cost. It is important to keep in mind that you may have student loans you will need to make payments on upon graduation.

Celebrities with MFA Degrees

  • Kristen Chenoweth has an MFA in opera performance from Oklahoma City University. She is a singer and actress best known for her Broadway roles as Sally in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Glinda in Wicked. She has also appeared on television shows such as The West Wing, Pushing Daisies, and Glee.
  • James Franco has a MFA in writing from Columbia. The actor seems to have an unusual love of learning, having also taken classes in English, writing, and filmmaking at various institutions such as UCLA, NYU, and Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. He plans to pursue a PhD in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston in fall 2012. Some of his notable films include Spider-Man, Pineapple Express, and 127 Hours.
  • Marcia Gay Harden has an MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has appeared in several films including The First Wives Club (1996), Flubber (1997), Space Cowboys (2000), and Into the Wild (2007), and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Pollock (2000). She has also had various television and theatre roles.
  • Meryl Streep holds an MFA in drama from Yale University. She has been nominated for 16 Academy Awards, which is the record for any actor, and has won two for Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie’s Choice. She is widely known for her mastery of accents.
  • Sigourney Weaver also holds an MFA in drama from Yale University and studied there at the same time as Meryl Streep. She is known for her roles in films such as Alien, Ghostbusters, and Avatar. In fact, many of her film roles have been in science fiction films.

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