Art Practice

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Program supports 12 graduate students per year and strives to graduate working artists who will continue to demonstrate significant artistic, critical and cultural impacts across a wide array of disciplines. Incoming MFA students are expected to already be deeply engaged in their creative practice and possess technical proficiency in their chosen media. Graduate coursework and independent study are designed to help students develop a critical understanding of their creative work in the multiple contexts of specific localities and global contemporary art. Our graduate students are encouraged to take university-wide and cross-disciplinary courses linked to their research interests, studying and collaborating with faculty and graduate students in areas as diverse as Geography, Environmental Sciences, Classics, Art History, Disability Studies, Philosophy, Cognitive Science, Interactive Design, Rhetoric, Film Studies, and Comparative Literature.

The Program helps students develop a working relationship to audiences by facilitating the exposure of graduate student work through museums and galleries, public art, online, publications, and through other forms of engagement and dissemination. Peer-to-peer discussion and critique form the heart of Berkeley’s MFA Program. Students respond to their peers’ work and learn to think, speak, and write critically about art’s functions and possibilities.  A Visiting Artist Lecture Series, along with studio visits, offers graduate students the chance to connect with internationally-known artists. Students also have opportunities to teach, and they are mentored and closely supported by a faculty member. Exhibitions in the first and second years of study require students to maintain a rigorous pace of creative research and establish a professional art practice. The final thesis exhibition, completed after the second year of study, is held at the Berkeley Art Museum.

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Admissions

Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.

 

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Master's Degree Requirements

Curriculum

Unit requirements to complete the program: 64 units in two years
ART 294Seminar for M.F.A. Students (Students enroll in this class every semester)16
ART 218Seminar: Theory and Criticism (Students enroll in this class twice, every fall semester)8
ART 290Independent Study (First year)4
ART 295Independent Study for M.F.A. Students (Second year)4-12
Electives appropriate to the student's course of study are chosen in conjunction with their advising faculty
Two upper division electives, commonly studio courses6-8
One visual cultures elective, commonly a theory course3-4

Students will enroll in ART 290 and ART 295 independent study multiple times in their first and second years, respectively. Independent study units cover studio work in collaboration with faculty mentors, and preparation for the MFA show. Scheduling of independent study units in each semester is dependent on the student's greater academic plan.

Courses

 Art Practice

Faculty and Instructors

Faculty

Allan deSouza, Associate Professor. Photography, contemporary art, Art Pedagogy, performance, postcolonial studies, Contemporary African Art, South Asian Art.
Research Profile

Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Assistant Professor. Visual Art, painting, Drawing, performance, social practice, Experimental Poetics, African studies, African-American Studies.
Research Profile

Asma Kazmi, Assistant Professor. Transdisciplinary, performative, relational works.
Research Profile

Jill S. Miller, Assistant Professor. Visual arts.
Research Profile

Greg Niemeyer, Professor. Art, film studies, digital media installations, photography.
Research Profile

+ Brody Reiman, Associate Professor. Sculpture and installation.
Research Profile

Stephanie Syjuco, Associate Professor. Visual art, installation, cultural objects, archives, social practice.
Research Profile

Anne Walsh, Associate Professor. Video, performance, audio, photography, text.
Research Profile

Lecturers

Chris Christion, Lecturer.

Aida Gamez, Lecturer.

Nicki Green, Lecturer.

Dana Hemenway, Lecturer.

Carrie Hott, Lecturer.

Randy M. Hussong, Continuing Lecturer.

Christina Klein-Tross, Lecturer.

Christopher S. Kubick, Continuing Lecturer.

Indira M. Morre, Continuing Lecturer.

Craig K. Nagasawa, Continuing Lecturer.

Leila Weefur, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Jerrold Ballaine, Professor Emeritus.

Squeak Carnwath, Professor Emeritus. Art, painting, printmaking.
Research Profile

Anne Healy, Professor Emeritus.

James Melchert, Professor Emeritus.

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, Professor Emeritus.

Richard Shaw, Professor Emeritus.

Katherine D. Sherwood, Professor Emeritus. Art and Disability.
Research Profile

David Simpson, Professor Emeritus.

Brian Wall, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Department of the Practice of Art

345 Anthropology and Art Practice Building

Phone: 510-642-2582

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Chair/Associate Professor

Allan deSouza

347 Anthropology and Art Practice Building

adesouza13@berkeley.edu

Department Manager

Erik Nelson

510-642-4190

erik_nelson@berkeley.edu

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