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

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


The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) 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 MFA program at WCSU select a concentration in painting or illustration. Graduate work emcompasses a broad range of materials and ideas, not limited to singular viewpoints. Students are encouraged to explore and expand the scope of thier work within their concentration. Recent MFA theses have included combined-media paitings, multi-demensional 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 MFA 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 entrepeneurs. 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 or 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, in addition to applying to the Division of Graduate Studies.

Degree Program Requirements

Degree candidates will select an area of emphasis (Painting or Illustration) and complete a minimum of 60 credits as listed on the program sheet, under the guidance of his or her mentor/advisor, and with approval of 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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