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Should I Get an MFA?
Fine arts students think differently than students in other college degree programs. They have a commitment and passion for their careers that surpasses what most people feel about their occupations. Fine arts students typically want nothing more than to immerse themselves in their field, learning artistic theory and honing their talent.
That’s why, in an age of STEM and the always-present focus on money, the number of applicants to Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs has increased in recent years. As has been the case for centuries, creative minds run contrary to conventional thinking.
What Is an MFA?
Earning an MFA shows that the graduate has mastered their art field. An MFA program is an intensive experience that provides students a deeper understanding of their art and can prove transformative for their career.
MFA programs allow creative people a chance to refine their artwork, develop a more sophisticated artistic philosophy and learn new techniques. All MFA students have earned a bachelor’s degree, typically in their art field, although they can come from any field.
New England College offers an MFA in creative writing, photography, and visual arts as well as an MA in Teaching Visual Arts.
Should I Get an MFA?
Why go back to school and earn an MFA? Earning an MFA gives artists a chance to enjoy a formal education focused completely on their art. Another factor is the emergence of online degree programs that make it convenient to earn an MFA while maintaining a job. That’s one reason so many students have made the leap into graduate school. Here are some reasons for making the same decision.
It Shows Deep Commitment to Your Art
For some, this is the only reason necessary. MFA graduates take a deep dive into the theories behind their art, choosing a highly rigorous conceptual and critical approach to their field of study. Artistic innovation and intellectual rigor are cornerstones of a quality MFA program.
According to MFA graduates interviewed by U.S. News, one of the main advantages of an MFA program is that it “allowed them to refine their artistic philosophy and creative techniques while elevating the quality of their art to make it more unique, polished, and interesting.”
It Prepares You to Teach Others
Earning an MFA prepares graduates to teach at colleges and universities, giving them an art-related day job while they work on their craft. They learn to provide insightful, thoughtful feedback and guidance to art students. There’s a long tradition of artists entering teaching, including poet Robert Frost, authors Kurt Vonnegut and David Foster Wallace, artist Georgia O’ Keefe, sculptor Louise Bourgeois, and costume designer Edith Head.
Work with Established Artists
A hallmark of quality MFA programs is to bring in distinguished working artists who mentor students. Much like internships, mentoring in the arts provides students invaluable lessons in how they approach their art. For example, the MFA in Photography program at New England College brings in mentors, a list that currently includes Tara Sellios, Mark Dion, Rose Marasco, and Edie Bresler.
Benefit from Peer Reviews
This is a major benefit of MFA programs. Peer-to-peer critiques allow students to test ideas and work in a variety of mediums. Graduates learn the high level of intensity and commitment that is needed to sustain quality work in their artistic field. To prepare work for review, students receive long periods of studio time free from distractions.
Programs Offered by New England College
New England College offers MFA programs in three areas. The goal of these programs is to offer graduate students the chance to develop the “creative understanding required for life as a practicing artist and professional.”
Photography. The two-year program includes a 10-day residency every January and June that offers presentations, workshops, seminars, and critiques from faculty and visiting artists.
Visual arts. Students choose from three concentrations: Drawing/Painting/Printmaking, Photography/New Media, and Sculpture/Multidisciplinary Practice.
Creative writing. Students choose from five concentrations: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Writing for Stage and Screen, and Dual-genre.
MA in Teaching Visual Arts. New England College designed this program for artists who know they want to focus on a teaching career and earn a K–12 teaching certificate. Also, for those without a bachelor’s degree, they can earn both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and an MA in Teaching Visual Arts in five years.
The right MFA program is one that deepens theoretical knowledge and provides students a chance to explore the limits of their chosen field of art. It’s a chance for adult students and seasoned professionals to take the next step in their artistic careers.