Univ of Southern California
University of Southern California
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Graduate Degrees

Master of Fine Arts

A two-year program administered in collaboration with the Graduate School, the Master of Fine Arts is a professional degree in the practice of art preparing students to pursue careers as professional artists. With an influential and innovative faculty and expansive facilities, the M.F.A. program is one of the most ambitious, energetic and forward-thinking M.F.A. programs in the United States. In addition to close, constant interaction with the permanent faculty, students participate in regular seminars, lectures, discussions, and studio visits with leading artists, critics, curators and theorists from around the world. The school’s immersion in the contemporary art community is a critical component of the M.F.A. program.

The opportunity to gain experience as a teaching assistant is available on a competitive basis. All incoming students, regardless of country of citizenship, are considered for departmental funding and teaching assistantships; a separate application is not required.

Program Requirements

At least 48 units are required for the Master of Fine Arts, to be distributed as follows: FA 515 Visiting Artist Forum, 6 units, FA 520 Individual Studies, max 16 units; FA 555 Seminar in Art Theory and Criticism, 8 units; FA 550 Seminar: Contemporary Issues, 4 units; FA 551 Fine Art and Interdisciplinary Studies, 8 units; 400 or 500-level electives outside of Fine Arts, 4 units; 594abz Master’s Thesis, 4 units.

Master of Fine Arts students are evaluated by faculty during reviews held near the end of each semester. Before a student is recommended for the Master of Fine Arts, a comprehensive review of past work and professional goals is held. An exhibition of work at the end of the course of study and a written thesis, documented with visual material, complete the Master of Fine Arts program. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 on all graduate work is required for the Master of Fine Arts degree.

Complete details can be found in the Roski School of Fine Arts Graduate Studio Guidelines, obtainable upon admission to the program.

Master of Arts, Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere

The Master of Arts, Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere is a two-year master’s degree administered by the Roski School of Fine Arts, in collaboration with the Graduate School, preparing students for careers as curators, organizers, critics and scholars. The program is an interdisciplinary research laboratory that focuses on the role of contemporary art and curatorial practices in relation to public space and the public sphere. The course of study encompasses seminars on curatorial practice/organizational methods; social, urban and media theory; critical writing; exhibition histories; and selected topics in art and architectural history. Students examine how artists, curators, organizers, architects and other cultural producers engage public space and analyze the cultural conditions of the public sphere. The program features a curatorial practicum in which students collaborate on the development and organization of a city-space exhibition project. Students are also responsible for the research and writing of a thesis that develops innovative concepts and new scholarship on the interrelationships between art, public space and the public sphere.

Admission Requirements

Requirements for admission: (1) a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, or equivalent, from an accredited school; (2) a minimum 3.0 overall GPA; (3) three letters of recommendation; (4) two writing samples (one academic paper and the admission essay). The GRE General Test is required. International applicants are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Thesis Requirements

A master’s thesis committee comprises three members: a primary reader, a secondary reader and the director of the program. The thesis committee is established and contingent upon satisfactory completion of the second semester’s course work. Advancement to candidacy is determined by the director of the program, in consultation with other faculty.

Curatorial Practicum Requirement

All students participate in the group curatorial practicum course for three consecutive terms (which complements the thesis requirement).

Program Requirements

A minimum of 33 units is required, taken during a consecutive two-year period, distributed as follows:

First Year, FallUnits
PAS 549Methodologies of Art Writing3
PAS 561Curatorial/Organizational Models2
PAS 571Histories of Art in the Public Sphere3

First Year, SpringUnits
PAS 555aCuratorial Practicum2
PAS 572Contemporary Art in the Public Sphere3
PAS 581Critical Conversations3

Second Year, FallUnits
PAS 555bCuratorial Practicum2
PAS 585Theorizing the Public Realm3
PAS 594aMaster’s Thesis2

Second Year, SpringUnits
PAS 555cCuratorial Practicum2
PAS 591Field Internship Experience1
PAS 594bMaster’s Thesis2

Elective Requirement
Candidates for the Master of Arts, Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere must complete a minimum of 5 units of graduate level electives, chosen from either the Master of Arts, Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere program, or another relevant area in the university (with departmental approval).