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Study abroad : Subject Guides

What is an MFA?

Do you want to refine your creative practice? An MFA might be the right move for you. Find out everything you need to know here.

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Whether you want to become a director, dancer, or designer, you might want to consider an MFA to elevate your craft. If you studied a creative subject at the undergraduate level, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a great way to perfect your craft. This type of postgraduate degree is suited to anyone wanting to become an expert in their creative field such as an artist, photographer, illustrator, graphic designer and actor.

 

Such creative fields are highly competitive, challenging and don’t always lead to a life of riches. However, if you’ve got the passion and determination, an MFA might be exactly what you need.

 

What is an MFA?

A Master of Fine Arts degree is a graduate-level qualification for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree in a relevant or related field. There are many types of MFA degrees across a range of creative disciplines including:

 

 

An MFA is more specifically catered to visual arts subjects as opposed to an MA (Master of Art) which is broader, adopting a more scholarly approach. An MFA is more practical, allowing students to be more hands-on. 

 

Why study an MFA?

MFA degree programmes are considered ‘terminal’ as they are the highest level of education for these subjects. This means that MFA graduates are qualified to teach at colleges and universities. Whereas a PhD is considered the top qualification after an MA, requiring further years of study. 

 

Networking opportunities

MFA degrees also encourage networking and provide opportunities for students to meet industry-relevant professionals. For example, on a creative writing MFA, you may be encouraged to meet publishers and send samples of your work to publishing houses.

 

Universities will be able to support you with this process and may already have useful connections to offer you. This is appealing for many who undertake the MFA as forming relationships can elevate your work and career, providing you with opportunities to showcase your talent.

 

You will also be surrounded by like-minded people, who will be trying to break into the industry. Your classmates will therefore become excellent connections that may help you in the future. 

 

Learn from the best

Another benefit of the MFA is that lecturers have experience in the field, and so you will receive guidance and training from experts. This allows you to learn from the best, receiving personal advice and support, about your strengths. This can also provide you with increased confidence and motivation.

 

Build a portfolio

Students on an MFA course are typically required to produce a portfolio of work that is of publishing quality. This provides students with a strong body of work that is ready to be used when applying for work.

 

Broaden your mind

Studying an MFA abroad is an even more expansive experience as you will be soaking up another country and culture, opening up your mind as you develop your creative practice. You might also want to consider studying in a country that has a strong reputation for the discipline you want to study.

 

For example, New York in the USA is widely known for its creative scene with many galleries, art collectors, museums, musicals, films, and networks of creative professionals. Similarly, London in the UK is another hub for actors, screenwriters, fashion designers, musicians and so on. 

 

Want to study for an MFA in creative writing in the USA? Check out the following institutions:

 

 

Or if you’re looking to study fine art in the UK

 

 

MFA entry requirements 

Specific entry requirements will vary depending on the course you choose but there are a few common requirements that you need to have such as:

 

  • Undergraduate degree 
  • Examples of work
  • Audition/interview 
  • Proof of English language proficiency (IELTS/TOEFL)

 

Most MFA programmes take two to three years to complete if studied on a full-time basis. If you have other commitments like work or family, you could consider studying part-time or learning online for more flexibility. 

 

Careers to follow an MFA

Many successful creative professionals have completed an MFA to get to where they are today. Common titles include:

 

  • Art director
  • Author
  • Editor
  • Curator
  • Lecturer
  • Art critic
  • Art therapist
  • Fine artist

 

So now you know more about studying for an MFA, are you ready to apply for one yourself? Use our course matcher tool to see which programmes meet your preferences and qualifications.

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