MFA Overview

SFAI's MFA program is intended to be a full-time, four-semester program of study.

As a part of the curriculum, all MFA students must attend the Graduate Lecture Series, which brings noted artists and critics to campus for lectures, discussions, and critiques.

All MFA students are subject to the following policies:

  • MFA students have a maximum of three years to complete the degree. This includes time off for a leave of absence.
  • Full-time status is achieved by enrolling in 12 units during the fall and spring semesters. Part-time MFA students should discuss their academic plan with the Dean of Academic Affairs. To complete the program in two years, students need 15 units each semester.
  • MFA students must enroll in at least one Graduate Tutorial (three units) and one Graduate Critique Seminar (three units) per semester.
  • No more than two Graduate Tutorials may be scheduled for each semester. Exceptions to this require permission from the Dean of Academic Affairs.
  • No more than two Graduate Critique Seminars may be scheduled for each semester. Exceptions to this require permission from the Dean of Academic Affairs.
  • The Graduate Lecture Series (GLS) is required for all MFA, MA, Dual Degree and Post-Baccalaureate students.
  • MFA students must complete all outstanding coursework by the end of the summer session following participation in the MFA Exhibition.


All students must enter the MFA program with six units of art history: three units of modern or contemporary history/theory and three additional art history units. If needed, students may be required to fulfill these prerequisites within their first year of MFA study at SFAI. These prerequisite art history credits will count towards a student’s elective credit.

Teaching Assistant Stipends

Graduate students who wish to be Teaching Assistants in the third or fourth semester of their graduate programs may apply prior to priority registration for the term in which they wish to TA. All teaching assistantships are limited to regularly scheduled on-campus courses and carry no academic credit. All selected students will be eligible for TA stipends.

MFA Exhibition

Graduate students must register for MFA Exhibition in their final semester and pay an MFA Exhibition and Graduate Catalogue fee of $300. No credits are awarded, but participation is required for the degree. Please note that there are mandatory MFA Exhibition meetings in both the fall and spring semester; for example, fall Graduate Catalogue preparation meetings (dates, times, and meeting rooms to be announced).

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Conceptual Qualities. Students will gain clarity of ideas through developing strong conceptual frameworks of their work and its relationship to historical antecedents and contemporary critical discourse.
  • Formal Qualities. Students will be able to engage appropriately with the materials and tools of the media used to produce the work, demonstrating mastery of materials and technique, and the form effectively following the concept.
  • Presentation. Students will gain the knowledge to clearly articulate and present the ideas behind the work and will produce a cohesive and accomplished visual presentation.
  • Research. Students will invest an appropriate level of research to develop critical thinking, from both a conceptual and formal perspective, demonstrating effective experimentation and methodology.