SFAI’s MFA in Studio Art program provides a dynamic interdisciplinary context for students to advance their work while being exposed to the current theoretical and sociopolitical context for contemporary art.

Questions, dialogue, and invention drive students through the curriculum, which instructs in the skills and practices needed to sustain a lifelong practice in the arts. Concept is emphasized alongside technical proficiency and skill, and artists are encouraged to experiment widely across media. Students may choose an area of emphasis, or maintain breadth in their studies.

Throughout the program, students work independently in the studio or in the field; meet with faculty one-on-one in graduate tutorials; participate in small, rigorous, faculty-led critique seminars and electives, and study critical theory and art history. An additional core component to the curriculum is the Graduate Lecture Series and the numerous collaborative projects students create on their own through the relationships they forge during their course of study — off-site exhibitions, publications, international collaborations, and place-making events have all emerged from the graduate cohort.

The culmination of the MFA degree is the MFA Exhibition—a prestigious show that is well-attended by artists, curators, collectors, museum professionals, and the public at large. The MFA Exhibition is regularly lauded as the premier showcase for emerging talent in the Bay Area.

2 years | 60 units | 4 semesters

Students may either pursue an MFA in Studio Art with no emphasis or choose an optional emphasis in: 



Title Units
Graduate Tutorial 12
Graduate Critique Seminar 12
Studio Electives 9
Electives* 6
Topics Seminar** 6
Art History Seminar Electives 9
Critical Studies Seminar Electives 6
Intermediate Review 0
Final Review 0
MFA Exhibition 0
Graduate Lecture Series 0
Total 60

*3 units should be taken in emphasis if the student has selected an emphasis option.

** course should be taken in emphasis if the student has selected an emphasis option.

MFA Degree Requirements >>

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Conceptual Qualities: Demonstrates a developed conceptual framework of the work and its relationship to historical antecedents and contemporary critical discourse (i.e., clarity of ideas).
  • Formal Qualities: Engages appropriately the materials and tools of the media used to produce the work (i.e., mastery of materials and technique, as well as how effectively the form follows the concept).
  • Presentation: Clearly articulates and presents the ideas behind the work. Produces a cohesive and accomplished visual presentation.
  • Research: Invests an appropriate level of research to develop the work, from both a conceptual and formal perspective (i.e. effectiveness of experimentation and methodology).