Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts (Painting, Illustration, or Interdisciplinary)

Darby Cardonsky, Graduate Coordinator, VPAC 246 Phone: (203) 837-8881
Lori Robeau, Art Assistant, VPAC 143E Phone: (203) 837-8403
Fax: (203) 837-8945


Faculty  D. Cardonsky (M.F.A. Coordinator); S. Marques; M. Portnow; D. Skora; J. Tom; C. Vanaria; T. Wells.

Program Overview and Mission

The Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Visual Arts is a terminal degree and is the preferred degree for the practicing artist with a professional career in the visual arts. It is the recommended degree for college-level teachers of art and secondary school level as well.  

Students accepted into the M.F.A. program at WCSU select a concentration in painting, illustration, or interdisciplinary visual art. Graduate work encompasses a broad range of materials and ideas, not limited to singular viewpoints. Students are encouraged to explore and expand the scope of their work within their concentration. Recent M.F.A. theses have included combined-media paintings, multidimensional works on paper, as well as authored-illustrated books.

The core of the program is the student’s individual progress in the studio, leading to a professional level of mastery. The program is built on a series of individual applied studio courses of escalating intensity, interspersed with regular, individual, and group critiques with faculty mentors. 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. 

A highly successful Visiting Artist Lecture Series brings many artists of national and international reputation to WCSU. Each semester, they present lectures to the university community. Additionally, they give critiques to the M.F.A. students, providing a diversity of ideas that enhance the educational experience. The proximity of WCSU to the galleries and museums of New York City further enhances the program of study.

A one-semester internship is required for each student, offering invaluable hands-on experience. Graduate teaching assistantships are available at WCSU, and internships with professional artists and museums (e.g., Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT) have been established.

Graduates of the M.F.A. in Visual Arts at WCSU have become successful art educators, practicing visual artists, published illustrators, gallery curators, and entrepreneurs. WCSU graduates have been selected for juried exhibitions at numerous New York City galleries, including Prince Street Gallery, Bowery Gallery, and First Street Gallery, as well as regional galleries including the Warwick Museum of Art (Rhode Island), Westport Arts Center (Westport, CT), and Nash Gallery (Easthampton, MA). 

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

M.F.A. degrees are available in painting, illustration or interdisciplinary. 

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. 

Learning Goals and Objectives 

To deepen and broaden the development of individual artistic character; to establish a mentoring relationship through a network of lifetime contacts; to give greater standing to the creative field of art; to contribute to the ever-expanding cultural base of the state and to regional economic and educational development and welfare;to be responsive to area needs; and 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 his or her 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 painting, illustration or interdisciplinary 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, illustration, or interdisciplinary;
  4. awareness of current issues and developments that are influencing painting, illustration, or interdisciplinary, 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, illustration, or interdisciplinary; and
  7. a basic knowledge of bibliographical or information resources associated with work and analysis in painting, illustration, and/or interdisciplinary.

Admission Requirements

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

  • completed a B.A. or B.F.A. in Art or
  • completed a B.A. or B.F.A. in a related field and show demonstrable competency in art and
  • submission and successful review of portfolio by WCSU Department of Art faculty,
  • successful completion of an interview with Department of Art faculty, either on-campus or through electronic media, and
  • 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, in addition to applying to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

Degree Program Requirements

Degree candidates will select an area of emphasis (painting, illustration, or interdisciplinary) and complete a minimum of 60 credits, as listed on the program sheet, under the guidance of his or her mentor/adviser and with approval of the program coordinator.

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts

Required Courses:
ART 510   Art Colloquium                  4-8 SH
ART 511   Advanced Independent Studies in Art History (to be taken incrementally over first three semester)
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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