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Master of Fine Arts

About the MFA


The M.F.A. Program in Painting and Drawing prepares students to be professional, practicing artists. With emphasis on exploration and analysis, our program approaches painting and drawing as porous and open disciplines. Along with formal issues, the program seeks to help students consider the personal, social, and art historical context of what they make. Over the course of study, our faculty fosters students’ abilities to think, talk, and write critically about her or his art practice. The faculty members in painting and drawing have diverse approaches to art making and are professionally active nationally and internationally.

The M.F.A. curriculum covers three years. Each semester, students take a class with one faculty member from painting and drawing, and the Artist-in-Residence Seminar, as well as elective courses. There is also access to other faculty in the School of Art through individual critiques and area reviews. After two years students will have worked closely with the permanent faculty and four different artists-in-residence, ensuring a sound understanding of the many ideas and sensibilities that compose the contemporary art world.

During the third year students work exclusively on an independent project with a select faculty committee of her or his own choosing. This MFA committee structure facilitates discussion and feedback specifically relevant to the graduate student’s body of work. A project exhibition, a written statement about the work, and an oral examination cap the year. We expect our graduates to be articulate and knowledgeable about contemporary and historical issues in art, and able to make a mature body of work that can be identified as uniquely her or his own. We award degrees on that basis.

The Artist-in-Residence Seminar offered at the graduate level each semester emphasizes class discussion of readings, critiques and student presentations that are directly applicable to the contemporary art environment and informed by the experience and sensibility of the AIR. It is expected that this course be taught from conviction as much as objectivity, and that the student is exposed to a wide range of approaches and genres.

Admission Requirements

In order to become a candidate in a degree program, the applicant must be admitted by the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the School of Art. Both the Graduate School and the School of Art have specific requirements and application procedures which must be satisfied by the application.

UT Graduate Admission Links

Graduate School
Graduate Admissions
UTK Catalog

Current MFA Students

Peter Cotroneo
Austin Pratt
Natalie Petrosky
Jing Qin
Christian Vargas
Anna Wehrwein
Tom Wixo


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