Degree Requirements: M.F.A Degree

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See section titled “Studio Art Graduate Program Forms" for a printable version.

For SAAH M.A. students, advancement to M.F.A. candidacy is contingent upon successful completion of the M.A., positive recommendation of the M.A. Degree Committee and concurrence of the major area faculty.  These recommendations occur immediately following the Division Wide Review.  Faculty in the student’s area will forward their recommendation to the Director that the student will either be invited or not invited to the M.F.A. program.  Students who are not invited may continue towards completion of the M.A. program.  Successful completion of this process will be signified by the endorsed “Change of Status” form changing the degree objective from M.A. to M.F.A. candidacy.  This will be processed by the Graduate Program Coordinator and sent to the Graduate College upon the successful completion of the M.A. degree.


An M.A. degree in studio art equivalent to that offered at the University of Iowa.  Hours accumulated toward the M.A. degree earned at the University of Iowa are applicable to the M.F.A. degree with the exception of thesis hours and credit hours earned more than ten years ago. 

Students planning to transfer credits from another institution please note that the minimum academic residence requirement for all non-doctoral graduate degrees is 24 s.h. and that course work completed at the University of Iowa must include courses taught by faculty of the School of Art & Art History.  These transfer credits may not include thesis credits.

For UI students who desire an M.F.A. in a different studio area than the M.A. an application must be submitted before graduation at the M.A. level.  (See Graduate Program Coordinator for procedures and deadlines.)

Course Requirements

First studio discipline (8 s.h. beyond the M.A.) total of 24 s.h.
Second studio discipline (4 s.h. beyond the M.A., from an approved area)      total of 12 s.h.
Art history and theory of art course
(May be taken on the S/U basis)
total of 6 s.h.
*Electives, or courses as advised 0 -18 s.h.
Committee review of studio work in major area
Degree Committee Review (Ideally this takes place at the M.F.A. exhibit)
Participation in M.F.A. Group Exhibit

*The total graduate credits must be brought to a minimum of 60 semester hours.  The minimum 38 s.h. earned for the M.A. degree are included in the 60 s.h. total except for any thesis hours taken or courses over ten years old. 

Students leave five images of M.F.A. work for the Graduate Archive.

NOTE:  The M.A. and the M.F.A. degrees in studio are chronological degrees.  U.I.  M.F.A. candidates who have earned more than the minimum 38 s.h. for the M.A. degree are expected to complete, as a minimum, registration that is the equivalent of a semester's full course load after completion of the M.A.and committee review and prior to receipt of the M.F.A. degree.   For this, 12 s.h. is acceptable, keeping in mind that the M.F.A. degree requires completion of at least 60 s.h.  Transfer students must complete a minimum of 24 s.h. at U.I.

All M.F.A. students are required to exhibit their art work as part of their degree completion.

The M.F.A. requires a written thesis. 

NOTE: The MFA photography student presents an approximately 30-minute public presentation on their thesis no later than the final semester of their MFA year.  The candidate schedules this presentation in consultation with his or her Committee Chair.

Degree Committee Review for the M.F.A. Degree

For the M.F.A. degree, four members from the graduate faculty are required (assistant professor or above, and tenure-track): the Degree Committee Chair, two Graduate Faculty from the major Area, one Graduate Faculty member from the minor discipline, and an additional member. Adjunct Faculty, Lecturers and Visiting Professors may serve on degree committees per discussion between the students and the Degree Committee Chair and a Graduate College petition request (which must be renewed every three years). The Degree Committee is selected by the student in consultation with the Degree Committee Chair. Students are responsible for identifying a Degree Chair by the eighth week of the fifth semester.

M.F.A. Degree Committee members are selected in consultation with the degree Chair by October 1st for spring or summer graduation and March 1st for fall graduation. MFA students are typically reviewed by their committees at the end of the semester prior to the semester of graduation.  For M.F.A. candidates, a thesis defense of their work at their M.F.A. exhibition will be scheduled with their Committee during their final semester in residence. 

For Graduate Degree Committee Meetings occurring in the summer session the guidelines for the Spring semester must be followed.