Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts (Painting and Illustration)

Darby Cardonsky, Graduate Coordinator Phone: (203) 837-8881
  Fax: (203) 837-8945


The M.F.A. in Visual Arts was the first terminal degree offered at WCSU, and remains its only full-time, residential graduate program. The only graduate degree program of its kind within the Connecticut State University System, it provides artists within the state and region an attractive option for the attainment of artistic excellence at the relatively low cost of a state university. The M.F.A. degree is the recognized terminal degree in the visual arts and is the recommended degree for college level teachers of art, also becoming increasingly encouraged for secondary school teachers. 

The program is structured around supervision and applied studio instruction by faculty mentors according to the student’s area of specialization, combined with instruction and critique by visiting artists and guest artists. The M.F.A. in Visual Arts is enhanced by its highly successful visiting artist series, which brings artists of national and international reputation to the University. Visiting artists bring to WCSU a diversity of ideas that enhance the educational experience for students in the M.F.A. and undergraduate degree options. 

The core of the program is the student’s individual progress in the studio. The program is built on a series of individual applied studio researches of escalating intensity, interspersed with regular assessments (critiques), which allow students to develop artistically at a pace that is agreed upon between the student and the faculty mentor, leading to a professional level of mastery. Each student presents a capstone project, which may include both exhibition and publication, as a final step prior to receiving the M.F.A. degree. 

Graduates of the WCSU M.F.A. in Visual Arts degree program have been successful art educators, practicing visual artists, and entrepeneurs. WCSU graduates have been selected to present at juried exhibitions at numerous New York City galleries, including the Prince Street Gallery, the Bowery Gallery, and The First Street Gallery, as well as in regional galleries such as the Warwick Museum of Art (Rhode Island), Gallery One (Old Saybrook, CT), and the Nashawannuck Gallery (Easthampton, MA). 

Because of the nature of the program, full-time attendance is mandatory. 

M.F.A. degrees are available in painting and in illustration. 


The mission of the M.F.A. in Visual Arts program is to serve as a responsive and creative artistic resource for the people and institutions of Connecticut and the surrounding region by providing a period of intense and focused study under the guidance of established professionals. 

Program Goals 

  1. to deepen and broaden the development of individual artistic character;
  2. to establish a mentoring relationship through a network of lifetime contacts;
  3. to give greater standing to the creative field of art;
  4. to contribute to the ever-expanding cultural base of the state and to regional economic and educational development and welfare;
  5. to be responsive to area needs; and
  6. to educate students to serve the public interest.


The recipient of the M.F.A. in Visual Arts degree will attain a certifiable level of technical proficiency and the ability to create artistic works within their specific area of discipline. However, earning the degree does not necessarily guarantee an ability to teach this proficiency to others, nor does it guarantee personal success in the competitive field of the visual arts. When work toward the M.F.A.  in Visual Arts has been concentrated in a particular medium, an assessable level of competency in that medium should be acquired. The generalist whose preparation has been broader and less specialized, must still meet the critical demands of the profession by convincingly demonstrating expertise and knowledge in a number of areas. Specifically, students in the M.F.A. in Visual Arts degree program will acquire: 

  1. Advanced professional competence in either painting or illustration as exemplified by a considerable depth of knowledge and achievement demonstrated by a significant body of work;
  2. A breadth of understanding in art and related disciplines;
  3. The ability to think independently, to integrate, and to synthesize information associated with practice in the areas of painting or illustration;
  4. Awareness of current issues and developments that are influencing painting or illustration, and the basic ability and clear potential to contribute to the expansion and evolution of these fields;
  5. Writing and speaking skills to communicate clearly and effectively to the art and/or design communities, the public, and in formal and informal teaching situations;
  6. Advancement capabilities with technologies utilized in the creation, dissemination, documentation, and preservation of work in painting or illustration; and
  7. A basic knowledge of bibliographical or information resources asscociated with work and analysis in painting and/or illustration.


Ongoing critique conducted by Department of Art faculty members, and visiting artists is an essential part of the evaluation process in the M.F.A. in Visual Arts degree program at WCSU. It is customary for these critiques to periodically include the perspective of graduate students enrolled in the program. A review of students’ progress will take place prior to the admission to their final semester. Since the visual arts profession demands that M.F.A. degree recipients acquire the ability to create artistic works, a faculty, institutional, and public review of the final product is necessary. As a final step prior to receiving the degree each M.F.A. candidate is required to mount a substantial exhibition of his/her work. 

Admission Requirements

In addition to the graduate admissions policies of the Division of Graduate Studies, students may be admitted to the M.F.A. in Visual Arts degree program if they meet the following criteria:

  1. Completed a B.A. or B.F.A. in Art, OR
  2. Completed a B.A. or B.F.A. in a related field and show demonstrable competency in art; AND
  3. Submission and successful review of portfolio by WCSU Department of Art faculty,
  4. Successful completion of an interview with Department of Art Faculty, either on-campus or through electronic media, AND
  5. Provide evidence of strong academic record, especially in the candidate’s area of study. 

Note: Acceptance to the Department of Art through portfolio review and interview is mandatory prior to applying to the Division of Graduate Studies.

Degree Program Requirements

Degree candidates will select an area of emphasis (Painting or Illustration) and complete four semesters of ART 510: Art Colloquium, plus 56 credits of independent study in their area of emphasis under the guidance of his or her mentor/advisor, and with approval of the program coordinator.

Note: Independent studio courses may be taken in small increments over several semesters with approval from the program coordinator.

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts

Required Courses:  
ART 510   Art Colloquium                  4 SH

ART 511   Advanced Independent Studies in Art History

(To be taken incrementally over first three semesters)

9 SH

ART 512   Individual Introductory Graduate Studio

(in area of emphasis)

3-6 SH
ART 520   Individual Applied Studio I 3-6 SH
ART 521   Individual Applied Studio II 6 SH
ART 530   Advanced Individual Studio I 12-15 SH
ART 531   Advanced Individual Studio II 9 SH
ART 580   Practicum Internship 3-6 SH
ART 581   Individual Introductory Graduate Studio in Related Area 3-6 SH
ART 590   Thesis Exhibition 6 SH

(In all studio courses, each course hour requires three hours of applied studio work per week.)

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