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Program Structure and Degree Criteria

Program Structure and Degree Criteria

The low-residency MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts Program is a five-semester, 60-credit terminal degree program designed to facilitate students in articulating an original vision, refining expressive skills, and experimenting in new directions.  

You will attend 8 day residencies at the beginning of each semester.  During this time, in collaboration with faculty, you will craft study plans which guide your individually designed learning goals and activities.  One-on-one work with faculty takes place over the course of 15 week semesters. 

To earn the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts degree, you must successfully fulfill the program’s Degree Requirements , which include:

  1. Fulfillment of the Degree Criteria supports your holistic, integrated development of
    • Expressive, aesthetic, and process skills;
    • Critical exploration and articulation of your practice within historical, theoretical, cultural and other relevant contexts; and
    • Strategies for ethical engagement with audience, communities, and the world.
  2. Residency Participation builds discourse and community, as you engage in workshops, presentations, and dialogue on contemporary issues in art-making with faculty, peers and guest artists.
  3. Practicum Project invites you to explore, through practical experience, the diversity of roles artists might play, and new possibilities for living and working in the world.
  4. Sharing Work at Residency allows you to fully engage your community of peers in a teaching/learning moment, receive feedback and strengthen presentation skills.
  5. Culminating Degree Portfolio documents and synthesizes the essential character of your work, integrating practice, research and theory.
  6. Final Presentations contribute the research, new knowledge, and evolving practice you have constructed while in the program back to the community.

Degree Criteria

The MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts degree criteria are the goals toward which your individualized graduate studies are aimed. Throughout your course of study, you are expected to deeply engage with the criteria, working toward a full and sustained demonstration of them by graduation.  

Personal Practice
Students will articulate, discuss, and demonstrate a personal practice that includes evidence of sustained inquiry; a critical understanding of the traditions in or against which they are working; an embodied understanding of the techniques, strategies and languages that enable their practice; and the capacity to contribute to the advancement of their fields.

Engagement with Praxis/Integration of Theory in Action
Students will reflect an understanding of the nature of praxis, the ways that ideas can be enacted and embodied through action, as well as the means by which art practice is advanced through its relationship with theory.  There should be clear evidence of the integration of a personal theory of art into a student’s practice as well as an engagement with other theories of art.

Rigorous Exploration Within the Context of One’s Art Practice
The process of experimentation can deepen experience, expand knowledge and strengthen practice.  By documenting processes of active exploration, assessing outcomes in relationship to intentions, and applying new learning into subsequent experiments, students will demonstrate how they have actively investigated artistic, intellectual, cultural, social and/or political contexts, questions, forms, or media that inform and/or enable their work.

Ethical Engagement & Thoughtful Action
Contemporary art practitioners are engaged with the world in many ways, situating themselves in relationship to others through a range of modalities, aesthetics and situations.  Students will demonstrate their understanding of how contemporary art practices have grown beyond established sites of artistic discourse, presentation, and performance, and document how their own practice is reflectively and critically engaged with the world.

Understanding the Concept of Interdisciplinary Art
All students will be able to articulate an understanding of interdisciplinary art practice.  In documenting their personal practice, students will demonstrate a full understanding of the general disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts in which their work is located as well as an understanding of the political and institutional implications of disciplinary structures.

Practicum Project

As with all aspects of the MFAIA degree, the practicum project is individually designed, providing each student the opportunity to engage their unique set of knowledge, skills, vision and perspective with new individuals, communities, or collaborative initiatives.  

Inspired by a range of contemporary art practices -- including, but not limited to, community-engaged work, environmental art, and new genre art -- the practicum allows students to explore new and alternative vocational and avocational possibilities.   This individually crafted degree requirement is an opportunity for students to reflect, through practical hands-on experience, upon their role as artists within a community, to look deeply into that relationship in ways beyond traditional artist-audience models, and to explore what they are able to contribute to the larger world.

Click here to see representative examples of how MFAIA students have approached the practicum.

Culminating Degree Portfolio

The Culminating Degree Portfolio is a manifestation of the student’s praxis, demonstrating the personal integration of theory and action.  The portfolio presents and/or embodies, as well as reflects on theoretical understandings and artistic practices developed during graduate studies.