Art Practice

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Art Practice offers a two-year program of study leading to the Master of Fine Art (MFA) degree.

Our two-year Master of Fine Art (MFA) Program strives to graduate artists who demonstrate an original vision in their approach to form and content and whose work will have a significant artistic and cultural impact. Incoming MFA students are expected to be already deeply engaged in their creative process and to possess technical proficiency in their chosen media. The MFA program supports 14 graduate students per year. Graduate coursework and independent study are designed to help students develop a critical understanding of their creative work in the context of arts, humanities, and sciences. A feature unique to Berkeley’s MFA Program is the requirement that our graduate students take courses from the broader university community. Our students study and collaborate 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. Art practice faculty are highly interdisciplinary in their work and can enable close connections between MFA students and colleagues in other fields across campus.

The program seeks to help students develop a keen sense of their audience and to consider how they will reach, or even create, that audience for their work. We facilitate the exposure of graduate student work to a broader audience, whether that be in museums, galleries, public places, or a venue uniquely suited to the artist’s creative format. A Visiting Artist Lecture Series and visiting artist studio visits offer graduate students the chance to make contact with internationally-known artists and to receive feedback on their work from these visitors.

Peer-to-peer discussion and critique forms the heart of Berkeley’s MFA Program. Students are expected to make their own work, respond to their classmates’ work, and learn to speak and write thoughtfully about both. Students have the opportunity to teach in the second year, mentored and closely supported by a faculty member. Exhibitions in the first and second year of study demand that students 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 comes 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 (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 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. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  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, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants 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.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests.

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Master's Degree Requirements

Curriculum

ART 218Seminar: Theory and Criticism4
ART 218Seminar: Theory and Criticism4
ART 290Independent Study (listed twice: two semesters required, for a total of 8 units)4
ART 290Independent Study (listed twice: two semesters required, for a total of 8 units)4
ART 294Seminar for M.F.A. Students4
ART 295Independent Study for M.F.A. Students (listed twice: two semesters required, for a total of 20 units)4-12
ART 295Independent Study for M.F.A. Students (listed twice: two semesters required, for a total of 20 units)4-12
ART 301The Teaching of Art: Practice1
Two Electives

Courses

 Art Practice

ART 218 Seminar: Theory and Criticism 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2017, Fall 2016, Fall 2015
Weekly meetings will provide a forum for the discussion of issues related to assigned readings in the fields of esthetics, theory and art criticism.

Seminar: Theory and Criticism: Read More [+]

ART 229 NEW MEDIA METHODS 3 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2014
In this methods course we will study key languages of new media innovation, ranging from flow charts to scripting languages and circuit diagrams. Our study method involves the creation and application of sensing devices in an urban context, and engages students in establishing chains of references which connect ground truth to data, data to information, information to people, people to actions, and actions to policies. Taking into account technical, political, cultural
and literacy questions we seek to connect our data production work with information needs of
underserved communities in the Bay Area region.

NEW MEDIA METHODS: Read More [+]

ART 290 Independent Study 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2017, Fall 2016, Spring 2016
Individual projects by first-year graduate students with one assigned instructor.

Independent Study: Read More [+]

ART 294 Seminar for M.F.A. Students 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2016
Studio work emphasizing various aspects of form. Group criticism. Intended especially for M.F.A. candidates.

Seminar for M.F.A. Students: Read More [+]

ART 295 Independent Study for M.F.A. Students 4 - 12 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2016
M.F.A. candidates, special study--M.F.A. Committee members as well as other faculty.

Independent Study for M.F.A. Students: Read More [+]

ART 298 Directed Group Study 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
Directed group study in special problems, group research, and/or interdisciplinary topics.

Directed Group Study: Read More [+]

ART 299 Supervised Independent Study for Graduate Students 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2017, Fall 2016, Spring 2016
Special projects by graduate students undertaken with a specific member of the faculty.

Supervised Independent Study for Graduate Students: Read More [+]

ART 301 The Teaching of Art: Practice 1 Unit

Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2016
Utilizing aspects of pedagogical and andragogical teaching, the interactive lecture, collaborative learning, simulations, and brainstorming-freewriting, this semester-long seminar will focus on these various intergrative teaching approaches, to facilitate communication in the diverse and wide-ranging arena which is fine arts today. Discussion of course aims, instructional methods, grading standards, and special problems in the teaching of art
practice.
The Teaching of Art: Practice: Read More [+]

Faculty and Instructors

Faculty

Allan Desouza, Associate Professor.

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

Brody Reiman, Associate Professor.

Katherine D. Sherwood, Professor. Art & Disability.
Research Profile

Stephanie Syjuco, Assistant Professor. Art, sculpture, ceramics, social practice, craft, activism, public art, feminism, capitalism, communes, material culture, informal economies, black markets, hacker culture, detournement, digital culture, the industrial revolution, Russian Constructivism, Arts & Crafts Movement, The Bauhaus, The Berlin Wall, design culture, architecture, brutalist architecture, urbanism, survivalism, archives, libraries, museums, museum display, modernity, postcolonial studies, labor history, American history, globalization, revolutions, cargo cults, the Philippines, Asian American studies, empire, textiles, fashion, ethnography, trade routes, science fiction, afrofuturism, camouflage, surveillance technologies, DIY culture, zines, punk rock, maker culture, kittens.
Research Profile

Anne Walsh, Associate Professor.

Lecturers

Nathan Kwame Braun, Lecturer.

Aida Gamez, Lecturer.

Michael Hall, Lecturer.

Jamil Hellu, Lecturer.

Randy M. Hussong, Lecturer.

Sahar Khoury, Lecturer.

Christopher S. Kubick, Lecturer.

Carmen Lang Merino, Lecturer.

Stephanie F. Lie, Lecturer.

John S. Mcnamara, Lecturer.

Masako Miki, Lecturer.

Jill S. Miller, Lecturer.

Indira M. Morre, Lecturer.

Craig K. Nagasawa, Lecturer.

James S. Pitt, Lecturer.

Elise A. Putnam, Lecturer.

Erik Scollon, Lecturer.

Stacy Jo Scott, Lecturer.

Azin Seraj, Lecturer.

Jenifer K. Wofford, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Jerrold Ballaine, Professor Emeritus.

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

Robert L. Hartman, Professor Emeritus.

Anne Healy, Professor Emeritus.

James Melchert, Professor Emeritus.

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, Professor Emeritus.

Richard Shaw, Professor Emeritus.

David Simpson, Professor Emeritus.

Brian Wall, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Department of the Practice of Art

345 Kroeber Hall

Phone: 510-642-2582

Visit Department Website

Chair/Associate Professor

Allan deSouza

337 Kroeber Hall

adesouza13@berkeley.edu

Undergraduate and Graduate Adviser

Dee Levister

341 Kroeber Hall

Phone: 510-643-9107

dplev@berkeley.edu

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