Master of Fine Arts

The Studio Art M.F.A. program at the University of Arkansas provides an intensive studio environment for committed individuals planning careers as practicing artists.



Our Studio Art MFA is an accredited, three-year, 60 credit-hour, in-residence studio program that combines contemporary critical engagement with technical proficiency. 

All students in the MFA Studio Art program will receive funding support during their three-years of study. We are able to provide a range of graduate assistantships, which includes a full-tuition waiver. In addition, students have the opportunity to apply for research fellowships and grants.

Students enter the program through one of 6 media areas (ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking or sculpture) and work closely with faculty and graduate students from those areas while in the program. Though it is expected students have a strong background in their chosen medium, they are encouraged to work across disciplines and across media. The curriculum is designed to support a variety of approaches to art making, coupled with rigorous theoretical inquiry, research, and social awareness. 

Propelled by transformational gifts received from the Walton Family Support Foundation and Windgate Charitable Foundation, there are ample opportunities for graduate-specific travel and research grants, summer assistantships and fellowships, and established partnerships with artist residencies and craft centers nationally. Furthermore, the Studio Art program will soon break ground on a new 145,000 square foot studio art complex to house MFA studios, art and design classrooms and studios, shared-use labs, and galleries. 

Visit Campus

Graduate students are encouraged to visit the school firsthand or to speak with the faculty about their interest in the program before applying. Graduate students can also schedule tours through the office of admissions.

To learn more about the MFA program and/or set up a tour of the School of Art, please contact Jody Thompson,, Director of Graduate Studies.     

How to Apply

The School of Art applications is free and submitted through Slideroom, a web-based portfolio and document submission system. The application deadline is January 15th at midnight, CST. Applications are reviewed once annually, for students to enter the program at the start of the subsequent fall semester. Apply to the School of Art here: 

The GRE is not required for applicants to the MFA program in the School of Art at the University of Arkansas.  

NOTE: It is not necessary to submit an application to the Graduate School until you have first been admitted to the School of Art. Applicants who have been granted admission by the School of Art will be asked to submit a secondary application to the Graduate School before they can be fully admitted to the university (a link to the application will be provided with the School of Art’s offer letter). The graduate school application fee is $60. 

The following materials should be uploaded to SlideRoom:

  1. A portfolio of 20 images/samples of your recent work (up to 5 of the 20 files can be details or alternate views). It is preferred the works be arranged in chronological order. Titles, dimensions, media, and year for each work must be provided.
  2. Information about your academic background, including a list of degree-granting institutions you have attended, your cumulative gpa, and a list of art history courses you have taken.
  3. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL, IELTS or PTE, etc.) if English is not your native language.
  4. Selection of your preferred media area of interest and an alternate media area of interest, if you would like your application to be considered by more than one media area.
  5. Information about your skills and preferences, to be used in placing you in an appropriate assistantship.
  6.  An artist’s statement. Generally, the artist statement will describe the thematic concerns of your work, the way in which your work takes form, and artists and/or theories that influence you (500 words maximum).
  7. A personal statement that addresses your reasons for applying to the University of Arkansas, motivations for pursuing an MFA, and how you understand your practice as serving the furtherance of diversity and inclusivity in the field of art. (500 words maximum).
  8. A resume/CV.
  9. The names and contact information for three references from art faculty or other art professionals who can discuss your artwork, intellectual capabilities, work habits, and potential for graduate study. The references will receive an email link from Slideroom, prompting them to upload a recommendation letter and complete a short questionnaire. All recommendations must be received no later thanJanuary 20th for full consideration.
  10. A copy of your unofficial transcript from each degree-granting institution

Assembling Your Portfolio

The portfolio of work is the primary material the faculty will look at in making their decision. Examples should feature recent work (preferably from the last 2 years) in the applicant’s proposed area(s) of concentration. Choose your best and most recent work that demonstrates your focus and informed knowledge of contemporary art. The majority of the images should emphasize a consistent line of thought rather than submitting widely varying work from undergraduate class assignments.

Care should be taken to represent the art works as accurately as possible. Images should be properly lit, exposed, and cropped, with no other distracting information in the frame.

Portfolio Submission

You must upload 20 images to SlideRoom. The maximum size allowed is 5MB. If needed, you may also upload videos of no more than 5 minutes.

Arrange images in chronological order, oldest to newest. Images/videos can be labeled and ordered after they are uploaded into SlideRoom. You will need to provide the title of each image, the medium, year created, and dimensions. Up to five of these images may be details if appropriate for large scale or 3-dimensional pieces.

SlideRoom has comprehensive instructions for resizing and submitting work online:


More Information About the M.F.A. Program

Three Years, 60 Semester Credit Hours Total

  • 48-51 credit hours in studio courses, plus 9-12 hours in art history courses
Major Area of Study – 24 Credit Hours:
  • For each semester in residence, excluding summers and the final semester, MFA students enroll in a minimum of 3 hours in their chosen major area of study (ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture) as advised by the head of their major area.
General Studio Seminars – 6 Credit Hours:
    • First Year Graduate Studio Seminar (ARTS 5923) and Second Year Graduate Studio Seminar (ARTS 5933), 3 credits each.
Studio Art Electives – 12-15 Credit Hours:
  • Studio courses outside of your major area may include an additional 3 hours of Art History or Art Education, and up to 6 hours outside the department, with prior approval. 
Art History and/or Criticism – 9-12 Credit Hours:

12 hours (4 classes) of art history. *Students admitted to the program with 12 or more hours of prior college level art history courses may elect to take only 9 hours of Art History, with a corresponding extra 3 hours of electives. 

Requirements include:

  • Contemporary Art History (ARTS 4933)
  • Critical Theory (ARTS 4763)  
  • 3-6 additional hours of art history courses
MFA Exhibition – 6 credit hours
  • The required final semester in the M.F.A. program is to be devoted to work on the MFA exhibition (ARTS 601V, 6 credit hours). The production and presentation—under the direction of a graduate committee—of a one-person exhibition of art work is the focus of the student’s final term. Beyond the thesis exhibition, the MFA candidate will be responsible for making an acceptable digital presentation of the exhibition and exhibition statements, which will be retained by the School of Art and the University Library. 
First Year
Fall Spring
  • 3 Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 3 elective
  • 3 ARTS 5923 First Year Graduate Studio Seminar
  • 3 ARHS 4922 Contemporary Art History
  • 12 total
  • 3 Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 3 ARHS elective
  • 3 elective
  • 9 total
Second Year
Fall Spring
  • 3 Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 3 elective
  • 3 ARTS 5913 Graduate Studio Seminar
  • 3 ARHS 4763 Critical Theory
  • 12 total
  • 3 Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 3 additional studio hours in major 
  • 3 ARHS elective (if needed) or other elective
  • 9 total
Third Year
Fall Spring
  • 3 Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 3 additional studio hours in major
  • 3 elective
  • 9 total
  • 6 Thesis exhibition, ARTS 601V
  • Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 9 total

Summer and Intersession Options:

Coursework may be taken in summer sessions (June/July, July/August) or intersessions (May, August, January) to lessen the regular semester course load. A summer Graduate Assistantship or summer research fellowship waives the tuition for courses taken in May intersession, and Summer Sessions I & II. Summer Graduate Assistantships are offered each summer, and they are assigned based on departmental need, student’s availability and expertise, and student performance in GA duties.

Additional Requirements:

Graduate Critiques:

All MFA students are required to participate in regular reviews critiquing their works. These reviews include mid-term and final critiques attended by a selection of graduate studio art faculty and MFA students. These critiques occur for the first two years in the program. After MFA students receive candidacy at the end of their second year, reviews will be conducted by their chosen thesis committee.

Candidacy Application and Review:

After four semesters in the MFA program, the student will make application to be a candidate for completion of the MFA degree. Studio art faculty will conduct a formal review of the applicant’s work and progress in the program. The awarding of candidacy will be dependent upon a three-fourths majority vote by the student’s graduate faculty committee based on the following criteria: 1) a demonstrated formal and technical proficiency in the applicant’s major studio area; 2) conceptual development as demonstrated by growth in ideas supporting the applicant’s creative research; 3) an ability to locate their research in the context of issues and practices within contemporary and historical art issues; and 4) the ability to communicate the intention and basis of their research in coherent written and verbal form. At least two regular semesters of residence must be completed after acceptance as a degree candidate. Students who do not pass the candidacy review will be allowed one additional opportunity held during the following regular semester. Students failing to pass candidacy on their second attempt will be dismissed from the program.

Graduate Committee and Major Adviser:

When the student has been accepted as a degree candidate, the student will select a major adviser from the graduate studio art faculty. The major adviser will serve as adviser to the student in planning the completion of the program of study. At least one semester before graduation, a four- or five-member committee of graduate art faculty will be selected. The student’s major adviser will be chairperson of this committee, and one member of the graduate committee will represent the art history area. The degree candidate may select one additional committee member from a discipline outside the School of Art.

Final Examination:

Final approval for the completion of the MFA degree will be the responsibility of the candidate’s graduate thesis committee and will require an oral examination over the candidate’s exhibition of creative works, written thesis, and related aspects of the student’s program of study.

Residency Requirements:

To meet the residency requirements, the student is required to complete a minimum of 60 semester hours of graduate credit and study in-residence for a minimum of four regular semesters on the Fayetteville campus. All degree requirements must be completed within six consecutive calendar years from the date of first enrollment. With approval of the school director and the Graduate School, up to 12 credit hours of graduate level work in studio art or art history may be transferred from another recognized graduate school and applied to degree requirements.

View the Catalog of Studies for the M.F.A.

The graduate faculty embraces an interdisciplinary approach to making art in the 21st century to reflect contemporary practices. Although students may pursue and demonstrate mastery in their media of focus, the majority of our graduate students by the time they reach their thesis exhibition, operate outside of these traditional boundaries. We believe that by offering our graduate students a multitude of technical processes and approaches to art-making, we are equipping our graduates with the necessary tools for successful careers in today’s multi-modal art world. MFA students are expected to be socially aware critical thinkers, questioning the processes they select in production as contributing to meaning. Each student is required to take Contemporary Art History and Critical Theory early in the MFA program and is expected through intensive research to gradually solidify a foundation for a lifetime of further artistic investigation.

While many well-respected Studio Art programs nationwide are surplusing equipment for traditional processes such as wet photography, analog printmaking, and metal casting, we have made a deliberate decision to offer both traditional processes and technologically advanced processes. Our approach reflects not only the history and tradition of the Ozarks in which artisanal skills and self-reliance are paramount, but also the progressive creative industry developing in Northwest Arkansas. Students often take advantage of our advanced technology labs, experimental media lab, and social practice courses and expertise to bolster their existing interests and competencies.

Generously-sized private and shared MFA studios range from 150-350 square feet and may be found at the following locations: One East Center on the downtown Fayetteville square, Stone House on the eastern edge of main campus, the Ceramics Studio and Printmaking Studio on the southern end of campus, and the new Sculpture facility at the Art + Design District south of campus. All facilities offer 24-hour access to MFA students.

All studio art facilities will soon migrate to the Windgate Art and Design District in South Fayetteville, where our sculpture and foundations programs already reside. A new, state of the art facility is under development, to house ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, and graphic design. This 145,000 square foot facility will represent one of the most generously appointed studio facilities in the mid-south.


The ceramics facility can accommodate all standard ceramics processes, with dedicated spaces for clay and glaze mixing, plaster handling, material storage, photo documentation and a computer workstation. Full program information can be found here.

Drawing and Painting

The drawing and painting areas currently occupy spaces in four separate facilities, and offer generous spaces for all MFA students. Beyond the standard equipment and fixtures expected, we offer a vinyl cutter for cutting stencils, paint masks, and adhesive vinyl, a full professional-level documentation set-up, and a painting-specific priming and assembly space with hand-working tools, cordless power tools, and air tools. Further information about these programs can be found here and here.


Our photography facilities have the capability and equipment for work in digital photography, alternative processes, black and white film, color film, and large-format photography. We have a fully equipped lighting studio, medium and large-format inkjet printers, and two black and white darkrooms. A full list of equipment and facilities is found here.


Printmaking currently occupies a 5000 square foot, stand-alone facility on the southwest corner of campus. The studio features equipment and facilities for intaglio, relief, lithography, letterpress, and screenprinting, among other processes. Full program information can be found here.


In 2016 sculpture opened a new 33,000 square-foot facility, which houses new wood and metal shops, foundry, sand and slurry lab, wax/plastics/rubber fabrication lab, advanced technologies lab, sculpture classrooms, installation and documentation spaces and M.F.A. and BFA studio spaces all under one roof. A full list of equipment can be found here.

SOA Shops and Labs

In addition to the facilities and equipment housed within each studio area, The School of Art maintains two advanced technology labs (AT2D and AT3D), woodshop, and metal shop for shared use with graduate students. More complete information can be found here.

Many of our grad students teach or TA as part of their Graduate Assistantship duties. Interested MFA’s generally begin as TA’s for our innovative Foundations program.

Subsequent opportunities include being instructor of record for Foundations sections or for courses in the grad student’s primary media area. In an effort to foster good teaching practices, as an initial assignment students spend their hours observing and participating in an existing course led by full-time faculty. These assistantships offer every student a way to become actively involved in the education of our undergraduate students. 


Funding: Assistantships, Grants and Travel Scholarships

All accepted MFA’s are eligible to receive a full Graduate Assistantship which includes a full tuition waiver and an annual stipend of $15,200. In addition, graduates are eligible to apply for a Graduate Fellowship in the amount of $4,000 per year.

Graduate Assistantships are renewable for up to three years, contingent on making satisfactory academic progress and fulfillment of assistantship duties. Graduate Assistant duties consist of 20 hours of work per week in the School of Art. Duties are assigned by the School of Art, based on the needs of the School and taking into consideration the student’s interests, experience, and expertise. Examples of Graduate Assistant duties include teaching support, teaching, gallery, and media area assistance, directing sUgAR, the student-run gallery, and coordinating the visiting artist program.

Summer graduate assistantships and summer research fellowships may be available for those who wish to enroll in summer courses, but are not guaranteed.

Students in the MFA program have the opportunity to apply for specific project grants within the School of Art. These grants help support creative research and professional development that would otherwise be impossible. Recent awardees have used funds to purchase materials and equipment, curate and organize exhibitions, and travel for special projects.

Students have the opportunity to apply for travel grants for several workshops, residencies, and other professional development opportunities in the summer, including the UA Art in Rome program, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Vermont Studio Center, Penland School of Crafts, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Chautauqua Institute Visual Arts Program, the New York Studio School, Mount Gretna School of Art, and MASS MoCA residency program, among others.

Graduate Students interested in a longer-term study abroad experience may apply for a $15,000 Fulbright College-sponsored Sturgis International Fellowship, which supports travel for periods of four months or longer.

Additionally, the graduate school offers potential travel grants through a competitive application of $1,100 to support graduate student travel to present their work are offered through the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.



Quick Info

Areas of Concentration
Studio Art

(479) 575-5202
Jody Thompson

Studio + Design Center
696 W. Praxis Lane
Fayetteville, AR 72701