2023-24 Edition

Art, M.F.A.

The program is designed to provide intensive professional training for independently motivated students wishing to pursue careers in the field of contemporary art. The overall emphasis in the program is on studio production. Experimental and interdisciplinary approaches to art making are emphasized. Students undergo a rigorous course of study combining seminar classes, intensive critique courses, and independent study. 

Applicants for admission to the MFA program must meet the general requirements for admission to graduate study, hold a BA or BFA, and have completed one year of Twentieth-Century Art History (students who have not completed this will be required to do so as part of their graduate studies). In addition, a portfolio of creative work must be submitted by January 15.


Complete the Online Application for Graduate Admissions.

Applications to the MFA in Art must include the following:  

1. A Statement of Purpose. Length: 1200 words.

2. Three (3) letters of recommendations (recommenders must submit letters via online application).
3. A portfolio of 20 images and/or other media samples. Images must include title of the work, size, year, medium, description, and duration of the work, if time-based. 

4. One copy of unofficial transcripts from the Undergraduate institution(s) attended by the applicant. Do not send official transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested if and when applicant is admitted and decide to attend UCI.

*Please note that the Personal History Statement is not required; when prompted by the system, enter "Not Required." However, if you are admitted to the program and would like to be considered to receive Recruitment Fellowship funds, you should also submit a Personal History Statement is necessary.


Topic-based seminars cover a range of critical issues dealing with the relationship of culture to contemporary art and are designed for students interested in positioning their art practices within an interdisciplinary discursive framework. All incoming students must take the First-Year Graduate Seminar in preparation for further course work. As students progress in the program, they are required to take a series of additional seminars aimed at training them to develop research skills and a written component augmenting their culminating thesis exhibitions. Various approaches to developing text and word are considered, and students are encouraged to approach developing the thesis textual component following a path best suited to their postgraduate interests (e.g., critical writing, spoken word/performance, critical memoir, digital narrative structures).

Throughout a three-year residence, students take a series of critique seminars in which work-in-progress is intensively discussed within a group context. Each quarter, students also meet, on an independent basis, with faculty of their choice. Students are encouraged to work with a range of faculty members. Towards the end of the second year, students select a thesis committee with whom they will work closely on the development of a thesis exhibition in their third year. After selecting a thesis committee, a student may continue to work with a range of faculty, either independently or in a critique seminar, to continue to explore a diversity of ideas and differing approaches to both studio production and art distribution systems.

During the first two years, students are required to take courses from a structured curriculum totaling a minimum of 12 units each quarter. Beyond that, students can select additional course work from any sector of the department or University including approved upper-division undergraduate courses. The third year is structured so that students can individualize their course of study through a wide selection of classes. For example, students wishing to focus primarily on studio production can do so through a combination of independent studies and critique classes, or students can design their third year to focus on both studio production and acquire additional course work in a given research area or graduate emphasis.

In addition to the graduate degree in Art, several emphases offered by the University are available to M.F.A. students. They include, but are not limited to, emphases in Visual Studies, Critical Theory, Feminist Studies, and Asian American Studies (refer to the Visual Studies, Critical Theory Emphasis, Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, or the Department of Asian American Studies sections of the Catalogue for information).

Throughout the first two years, students must also undergo a series of progress checks including open studio reviews and a second-year exhibition where they are evaluated by faculty committees. Satisfactory opinion by these committees, coupled with both satisfactory independent study evaluations and grades of at least a B or above, will allow the student to progress to candidacy for the degree. During the third year, candidates must mount a thesis exhibition. In tandem with the final thesis exhibition, students are required to do a presentation on their work as part of the final defense before their thesis committee. The normal time to degree for students in the M.F.A. program is three years. Residence is required.

Each M.F.A. candidate is provided with an individual or shared studio space. Facilities include photography laboratories (analog and digital), video production studios, data laboratories, and sculpture laboratories for work in wood and metal. There are also facilities to support work in digital media, painting, performance, drawing, and ceramics. Students have regular opportunities to exhibit in three galleries.

Various programs of visiting artists and lecturers are an integral part of the student experience. Visiting artists, curators, critics, and gallerists are invited to give lectures and conduct studio visits with graduate students. Some Art faculty, in addition to their departmental appointment, are affiliated with other UCI and UC programs, e.g., Asian American Studies, African American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Engineering, Information and Computer Science, Critical Theory Emphasis, Visual Studies, Calit2 Gaming Studies Initiative, Center for Law, Society and Culture, Center for Asian Studies, Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies, and the UC Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA).

Specific Degree Requirements

107-116 units over a three-year course of study are required. Residency is required. Students must take a minimum of 12 units per quarter. 

First Year:
ART 210 First-Year Graduate Seminar (one in fall)
ART 215 Graduate Seminar Topics (one in any quarter)
or ART 251 Special Topics Seminar
ART 220 Graduate Seminar: Issues in Contemporary Art (one in winter)
ART 230 Graduate Group Critique (one in fall, one in winter)
ART 240 Interdisciplinary Projects (one in fall, one in winter, two in spring)
Second Year:
ART 215 Graduate Seminar Topics (one in any quarter)
or ART 251 Special Topics Seminar
ART 220 Graduate Seminar: Issues in Contemporary Art (one in winter)
ART 230 Graduate Group Critique (one in fall, one in winter)
ART 240 Interdisciplinary Projects (two in fall, two in winter, two in spring)
Third Year:
ART 230 Graduate Group Critique (one in fall)
ART 261 Graduate Thesis Writing Seminar (one in spring)
ART 262 Graduate Thesis Independent Study (one per quarter)
ART 263 Graduate Thesis, Exhibition Critique (one in winter)
Two courses selected from the following (in any quarter):
Graduate Seminar Topics
Graduate Topics in Studio Production
Directed Reading and Research
Special Topics Seminar
Graduate Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Projects
Two courses selected from ART 215, ART 240, ART 251, ART 399, or outside 4-unit graduate courses (in any quarter).