Fine Arts, Visual Studies

Graduate programs

Master of Fine Arts, Visual Studies

Program description

Advanced study in Visual Arts and Design with an emphasis placed on the student’s individual research. The curriculum is specifically designed to be flexible to meet the individual research needs within contemporary, traditional and interdisciplinary approaches and media. The Department of Art and Design offers a wide range of facilities including graduate studios.

A variety of students with differing backgrounds and research interests is considered an important factor in the development of a scholarship community with an interest in developing original research.

Admission requirements

Admission requires approval of a departmental entrance committee who will examine the applicant’s potential for further professional success in Visual Art and/or Design and the ability of the department to support the applicant’s stated path of study. For priority consideration deadlines, contact the department office.

Admission to the program is based on the following:

  1. A bachelor’s degree with extensive preparation in the Visual Arts or Design and at least 9 hours in art history, art theory/criticism, or a related discipline (other options exist, see notation below);
  2. A completed Missouri State University Application for Graduate Admission; and
  3. The following materials must be received in the Art and Design Department (see the department website for specific details):
  • portfolio documentation in an appropriate digital format;
  • a 300 to 800-word statement describing the reasons and goals behind the applicant’s interest in graduate study and the direction of intended research;
  • at least three letters of recommendation from individuals able to speak of the applicant’s academic achievements and potential;
  • a completed Graduate Assistantship Application if prospective student would like to be considered for this award.

Applicants will be notified by mail once their application is complete. Students who do not meet requirement 1 listed above, but show high promise, may be admitted conditionally. Conditions for such admission may require additional coursework.

Degree Requirements (Minimum of 60 hours)

A minimum of 60 hours of coursework is required, ordinarily distributed over six semesters and three years.

Core Courses

Course Code

Course Title

Credit Hours

ART 692

Art and Theory

3 hrs

ART 699

Graduate Studio

15-21 hrs

ART 701

Directed Graduate Studio I

3 hrs

ART 702

Directed Graduate Studio II

3 hrs

ART 703

Directed Graduate Studio III     

3 hrs

ART 704

Directed Graduate Studio IV

3 hrs

ART 710

Professional Practices

3 hrs

ART 798

Graduate Studio Seminar

6 hrs

ART 799

Graduate Studio Thesis

12 hrs

ART 797

Teaching Practicum

0-3 hrs


Approved Elective

0-3 hrs

 In addition to the above, select 3-6 hours from the following Art History courses:

Course Code

Course Title

Credit Hours

ART 672

Medieval Art

3 hrs

ART 675

Art of the Renaissance

3 hrs

ART 678

Baroque Art

3 hrs

ART 680

Modern Art

3 hrs

ART 684

Contemporary Art

3 hrs

ART 685

Art of Mesoamerica

3 hrs

ART 688

Basic Conservation of Art and Artifacts

3 hrs

Students are encouraged to incorporate coursework from other departments in the university as appropriate to their research.  Courses that could be considered as substitutes for ART 699 and an art history elective, pending advisor approval, are listed below.  Note that prerequisites may apply.  Other courses could be considered on an individual basis, pending Graduate Coordinator approval. 

Course Code

Course Title

Credit Hours

LIS 604


3 hrs

LIS 634

Introduction to Storytelling

3 hrs

MED 661

Sound Mixing

3 hrs

MED 662


MED 697

Digital Filmmaking


Advanced Studies in Media

3 hrs

LIS 602

History of Books and Libraries

3 hrs

MED 681

Issues in Media Ethics

3 hrs

MED 670


MED 680

Film Theory


Media in Politics

3 hrs

Additional Degree Requirements

A student’s Program of Study is subject to the approval of the Graduate Coordinator in consultation with the major professor or faculty from the area of directed research.  Additional coursework may be required to accommodate undergraduate deficiencies.

A probationary review will be conducted at the end of the third semester (during ART 703) evaluating a student’s progress toward his or her thesis development and a unified body of work.  A less than satisfactory review could result in dismissal or additional coursework with a follow up review to assess progress.

The thesis requirement consists of the following:

  1. the graduate exhibition/presentation of a substantial and accomplished body of original works of art of design during the final semester of the student’s program;
  2. a written document pertaining to the work exhibited/presented, the character of which is determined by the area of study;
  3. a final oral examination will be taken when the student has completed the program of study and the graduate exhibition/presentation, and a copy of the written document has been distributed to each member of the supervisory committee;
  4. approved documentation of the graduate exhibition/presentation is to be submitted for the record to be kept by the Art and Design department.

 For the awarding of the MFA degree, the following is required:

  1. satisfactory completion of all coursework (no grades lower than a “B” in any graduate course);
  2. thesis requirements, as above;
  3. positive recommendation by the thesis committee.