MFA in Art

Admission Contact:
Brenda J. Warren, Graduate Student Coordinator

Department of Art
A126 Fine Arts Building
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211-6090, USA

Admission Criteria

Fall semester deadline (priority for campus scholarships):

  • January 1 if seeking nomination for Mizzou Graduate Fellowship

Spring semester deadline: 

  • September 1

Minimum TOEFL scores:

Internet-based test (iBT) Paper-based test (PBT)
80 550
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 

The preferred undergraduate degree for admission to the graduate program in visual art is the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA). However, applicants holding the BA, BS or other bachelor’s degrees are eligible to apply if they have a minimum of 40 hours of undergraduate studio credits or an equivalent commensurate professional experience. Applicants for the Graphic Design Area are required to have a minimum of 2 years professional experience before applying.

Application materials are evaluated to determine if the applicant has the preparation and ability to pursue an advanced degree. Admission is based on the recommendations from the art department graduate faculty members representing each of the media areas. Some applicants, may be placed on a waiting list as alternates, then accepted if others decline their admission offers.

Required Application Materials

Submit to the Graduate School:

  • All required Graduate School documents
  • Cover Letter of Intent (stating the goals for pursuing the MFA degree)
  • A Digital Assets Sheet (defining the image and video files).
  • Current Résumé (exhibition, award, publications, artistic experience, etc.)
  • An artist’s statement
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts from each college attended
  • Application for G.T.A. (optional but necessary for tuition waiver)

Application Materials Submit to the Art Department

  • The application process requires a digital portfolio documenting 20 separate pieces of the applicant’s artwork. Applicants can document these works using twenty (20) to forty (40) digital still images and/or moving image files. Please limit submissions to a maximum of 2 images for any one piece of artwork. The artwork in the portfolio should represent your most recent and most accomplished body of work. The work should indicate your major artistic interests and creative direction. The work should demonstrate your creative ability and media competence. If you are requesting consideration for a teaching assistantship, a few of the images could be works that demonstrate your foundational mastery of a specific media area. Portfolios must be submitted in digital form on CD only. Please follow closely the instructions for the submission of images available on the department website:

MFA Degree Completion Requirements

The MFA program consists of 60-70 credit hours.

The degree includes:

  • 30 hours in the major area
  • 9 hours in a minor area
  • 3 hours of Graduate Studio Seminar
  • A minimum of 1 hour of MFA Research Hours
  • 11 hours of electives
  • 6 hours of Art History

Graduate-Level Course work

Graduate level courses are at the 7000/8000/9000 level. A minimum of 15 of the 30 hours must be selected from courses numbered at 8000 and/or 9000 levels; no more than 40 percent of the 30 hours credit requirement can be satisfied by Research, Readings and Problems courses. No credit is given for courses at the 4000 or below levels.

Residency Requirement

A minimum residency of two years is required for the degree. However, mere completion of the prescribed number of credit hours and the residency requirement is insufficient, rather the degree will be granted upon the student’s high level of creative achievement as determined by the student’s graduate thesis committee.

Regular Student Evaluation

The full graduate faculty of the art department reviews every MFA candidate once each year to determine the rate of progress. If the candidate fails to receive a passing evaluation during the review, the student is placed on probation for one semester and is required to be reviewed the following semester. If two consecutive unsatisfactory reviews occur, the student is dismissed from the MFA program.


During the semester prior to graduation, the graduate thesis committee will approve the student to proceed with the final steps toward graduation, composing the written thesis and mounting the thesis exhibition.

Thesis Acceptance

The graduate thesis committee approves the thesis exhibition and written thesis. The final semester, the MFA candidate installs a thesis exhibition to display visual, artistic and professional achievement. The candidate thereafter presents a final draft of the written thesis that defends the conceptual and philosophical ideas of the final body of artwork. Photographic record of the pieces discussed must be included in the written thesis.

Each degree candidate must pass a two-hour oral final examination conducted by the graduate thesis committee. The presentation must focus on the aspects of the academic study related to the written thesis and visual work. Following final approval of the thesis exhibition and the written thesis, the graduate will officially submit documentation of the theses to the graduate school. The thesis is submitted as a PDF file on a CD-ROM to the Graduate School by the established deadline.

Time Limit and Extensions

The time limit for completion of the MFA degree is 5 years. Time spent in military service is excluded. For an extension for other reasons the student must petition the Graduate School through his/her chair/major advisor. The five-year period will extend from the beginning of the first semester of enrollment in which the student is accepted to the MFA degree program to the date of his/her clearance to graduate.