Art & Design

Visual Arts

Master of Fine Arts (MFA), two-year, low-residency graduate program

Integrate artistic practice into the existing structure of your life.

Pursue an MFA that’s rigorous yet individually tailored for the 21st century artist. The College of Art and Design’s MFA in Visual Arts—one of the oldest and most established residency-based MFAs in the country—will help you advance your art practice and develop the necessary skills for a career in the arts. Over a two-year period, the flexible interdisciplinary focus of the program allows you to craft a course of study that integrates creative work into your daily life, and molds to meet your interests as they evolve.

Each individual residency in January and June is connected by a semester of academic advising from our MFA program faculty, as well as independent studio work mentored by an arts professional local to you. For those pursuing a campus-based semester experience, studio and seminar electives are also available for the fall and spring semesters. Throughout, you'll be exposed to new feedback and conversations about your art, while building relationships to both an arts community in your region and the active network of artists in Greater Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

As you work toward sharing your portfolio of work during your final thesis residency, you will establish the tools and community support necessary for promoting lifelong artistic inquiry and professional growth.

Program Structure

Master of Fine Arts (MFA), two-year, low-residency graduate program

60 Credits
group of students standing outside the Lunder Arts Center at night
10-Day Residencies

Invigorate your practice with 10-day residencies, each January and June. The structured residencies immerse you in critique, seminars, visiting artist talks and exhibitions, all within a supportive arts community of diverse faculty and students. Based in Greater Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts–a vibrant center of academia and the arts–the residency experience is a catalyst for the development of your critical dialogue and personal vision.  

photo of lunder arts center and church along a busy inresection under a clear blue sky
Curriculum Geared Towards Working Professionals

With an interdisciplinary focus that’s diverse yet independently guided, the program empowers you to craft a course of study that integrates creative work into your daily life. You'll advance your critical dialogue, engage with dynamic art communities, and hone the necessary professional skills for a career in the arts.

mfa visual arts student and faculty discuss work during a one-on-one critique session
Professional Arts Mentor

Each semester, you’ll partner with an arts professional in your region to mentor you during your independent study. Through our dynamic and ever-growing network of artist mentors, students have worked with highly visible artists in art communities across the country.

“The visual arts are a place where one can really have a powerful voice—a place where social and cultural dialogues truly exist.”
Ben Sloat, MFA in Visual Arts Director
wall installation with textiles and mixed media
Visiting Artists
Tomashi Jackson
Jackson’s multi-media practice works across painting, video, textile, and sculpture. Examining the relationship between the aesthetic and the political, she creates layers of content which bridge historical actions with shifting artistic structures. Her work has been shown at MoMA PS1, the New Museum, Mass MoCA, and the Walker Art Center. Jackson is represented by Tilton Gallery in New York.
film still of man next to clock-in station with long hair and also bald head
Tehching Hsieh
Between 1978 and 2000, Hsieh used the concept of extended time as the context for his performance work, making his art and life exist in simultaneity. His "One Year Performance 1978-1979" (also known as Cage Piece) was shown at MoMA in 2009. Other recent exhibitions of his include those shown at the Guggenheim Museum, the Liverpool Biennial, and the Gwangju Biennial. Hsieh has also represented Taiwan at the 2017 Venice Biennial.
Dion 25tmag Slide WLIV Master 675
Mark Dion

Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. The artist’s spectacular and often fantastical curiosity cabinets, modeled on Wunderkammern of the 16th and 17th Century, exalt atypical orderings of objects and specimens. His work has been shown at major exhibitions at the Miami Art Museum, MoMA, and the Tate Modern. His largest American survey of work opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston in October 2017.
collaged painting of person sitting on couch covered in cloth and flowers
Amir H. Fallah
In his paintings, sculptures, and installations, Fallah utilizes personal history as an entry point to discuss race, representation, the body, and the memories of cultures and countries left behind. He has exhibited widely across the United States and in the Middle East including at The Third Line, Dubai; Schneider Museum, Oregon; the 56th Venice Biennial; and the Sharjah Biennial. 
Visiting Artists
Receive guidance and critique from internationally recognized visiting artists, art critics, curators, and art historians. Every residency, new thought leaders become active participants in our community's ongoing dialogue about art and art making.
donna woodley painting with hammer
MFA in Visual Arts
Donna Woodley ’16
The female figure in my paintings is confrontational toward the visibility and value of black women within American society, both historically and in a contemporary context,” explains Donna Woodley, a Nashville-based artist who found the voice and confidence to push her work in a different direction during Lesley’s MFA program. Opening a new dialogue, her portraits began to feature female figures obscuring their eyes with white underwear, underscoring issues of self-esteem and a desire to be seen.
Careers
Alumni Highlights

Faculty

Total approximate cost for this master's degree program.
Visual Arts
  • Tuition
    $1,030/credit x 60
    $61,800
  • Fees
    Residency Fees
    $1,750
    MFA Visual Arts Culmination Evaluation Fee
    $350
    Registration Fees
    $200
    Degree Completion Fee
    $75
  • Merit Scholarship
    Merit Scholarship
    $-15,000
  • Total
Estimated Cost

Each year, the College of Art and Design awards $497,000 in merit scholarships to newly admitted MFA students to offset the cost of attending the program. Awards for students in this program range from $15,000 to $21,000. Other forms of financial aid may also be available. Review all graduate tuition and fees, and what they cover. Tuition and fees are subject to change each year, effective June 1.

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Total approximate cost for this master's degree program. Tuition and fees are for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Use our step-by-step guide to apply for federal and university funding. Scholarships, grants, Work-Study, and loans. It’s all right here.

Next steps to apply

Ready to get started? We're here to make the application process as smooth as possible. Just answer a few quick questions, and get your customized application guide.