Graduate Admission Requirements

The Studio Art M.F.A. program at the University of Arkansas provides an intensive studio environment for committed individuals planning careers as practicing artists.

Quick Info

Areas of Concentration
Studio Art

To learn more about the MFA program and/or set up a tour of the School of Art, contact:           

Director of Recruitment  and Outreach                    Donna Jones      

Graduate Director        Mathew McConnell//               associate professor of art                          

Fine Arts Center, School of Art
340 N. Garland
Fayetteville, AR 72701


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The M.F.A. is a three-year, 60 credit, in-residence studio program that combines contemporary critical engagement with technical proficiency. 

All students in the M.F.A. Studio Art program are fully supported.  We are able to provide full assistantships to all of our M.F.A.’s. The assistantship includes a full tuition waiver and a stipend that will increase next year to $15,000 annually, plus a Graduate Fellowship in the amount of $4,000 per year, for a total package of $19,000 of support per year

Students enter the program in one of 6 media areas - ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture.   While it is expected that students will have a strong interest in their chosen medium, they are encouraged to explore other media and work across disciplines. The curriculum is designed to support a variety of approaches to art making, accompanied by rigorous inquiry and research. 

This is an exciting time to join the School of Art. Propelled by transformational gifts received from the Walton Family Support Foundation and Windgate Charitable Foundation, the Studio Art program is in the planning stages of a new studio complex that will house state of the art M.F.A. studios, along with art and design classrooms, labs, and gallery. 

View the work of current students in the M.F.A. program.

Graduate Director:                                                                                      
Mathew McConnell                                                                                       
Associate Professor of Art, Ceramics     

Applications to the M.F.A. program at the School of Art are submitted through Slideroom, a web-based portfolio and document submission system.

The application deadline is January 15 for Fall Admission onlyThe  application portal on Slideroom  will close at 12 midnight (Central time) on January 15. It is recommended that you submit your application at least two weeks prior to this, to allow your faculty recommenders time to upload their letters.

There is a $10 fee for the Slideroom application. Applicants who are accepted by the School of Art will also complete an application to the Graduate School.  Please wait until you hear from us before applying to the Graduate School.


NOTE: The GRE is not required for applicants to the M.F.A. program in the School of Art at the University of Arkansas.

The following materials should be uploaded to SlideRoom:

  1. An artist’s statement focusing on thematic concerns, the form that your work takes, and artists or theories that have influenced the work (1 to 2 pages in length).
  2. A personal statement outlining goals for graduate study, the media areas you plan to study, and your reasons for pursuing graduate study at this time.
  3. Information about your skills if applying for an assistantship.
  4. Resume.
  5. English Proficiency Test Scores (TOEFL, IELTS or PTE) if English is not your native language.
  6. PDF of unofficial transcripts of college-level work from each degree-granting institution you have attended. If you are unable to scan and send transcripts using SlideRoom, they may be sent as hard copy to: 

    M.F.A. Admissions
    1 University of Arkansas
    School of Art
    116 FNAR
    Fayetteville, AR 72701
  7. The names and contact information of three references (from your professors or other art professionals) who can discuss your art work, conceptual thinking, work habits, and potential for graduate study in art. The references will receive an email link, which will allow them to upload their letter.
  8. A portfolio of art works (20 pieces, up to 5 of which may be details if needed).​


Assembling Your Portfolio

The portfolio of work is the primary material the faculty will look at in making their decision. Examples should feature recent work (preferably from the last 2 years) in the applicant’s proposed area(s) of concentration. Choose your best and most recent work that demonstrates your focus and informed knowledge of contemporary art. The majority of the images should emphasize a consistent line of thought rather than submitting widely varying work from undergraduate class assignments.

Care should be taken to represent the art works as accurately as possible. Images should be properly lit, exposed, and cropped, with no other distracting information in the frame.

Portfolio Submission

You must upload 20 images to SlideRoom. The maximum size allowed is 5MB. If needed, you may also upload videos of no more than 5 minutes.

Arrange images in chronological order, oldest to newest. Images/videos can be labeled and ordered after they are uploaded into SlideRoom. You will need to provide the title of each image, the medium, year created, and dimensions.  Up to five of these images may be details if appropriate for large scale or 3-dimensional pieces.

SlideRoom has comprehensive instructions for resizing and submitting work online.


60 semester credit hours                                   

  • 48-51 credit hours in studio courses, plus 9-12 hours in art history courses
Major Concentration – 24 credit hours:
  • For each semester in residence, excluding summers and the final semester, M.F.A. candidates must enroll in a minimum of 3 hours in their major concentration area as advised by their media advisor.
First Year Graduate Studio Seminar ARTS 5923 and  Second Year Graduate Studio Seminar ARTS 5933 – 6 credit hours:
  • Two semesters, 3 credits each
Studio Art Electives – 12-15 credit hours:
  • Studio courses outside of your major area may include an additional 3 hours of art history or art education, and up to 6 hours outside the department, with prior approval. 
Art History and/or criticism – 9-12 credit hours:

12 hours (4 classes) of art history. *Students admitted to the program with 12 or more hours of prior college level art history courses may elect to take only 9 hours of Art History, with a corresponding extra 3 hours of electives. 

Requirements include:

  • ARTS 4933 Contemporary Art History 
  • ARTS 4763 Critical Theory 
  • 3-6 additional hours of art history courses
M.F.A. Exhibition, ARTS 601V – 6 credit hours final semester:
  • The required final semester in the M.F.A. program is to be devoted to work on the M.F.A. exhibition, ARTS 601V (6 credit hours), the production and presentation, under the direction of a graduate committee, of a one-person exhibition of art work. The M.F.A. candidate will be responsible for making one acceptable digital presentation of the exhibition and exhibition statements, which will be retained by the School of Art and the University Library.

Review of work by the faculty in midterm and final graduate critiques is every semester for the first two years. After passing Candidacy at the end of the second year, critical feedback is provided by your thesis committee.

SAMPLE SCHEDULE: 9-12 hours is considered full time enrollment

First Year
Fall Spring
  • 3 Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 3 elective
  • 3 ARTS 5923 First Year Graduate Studio Seminar
  • 3 ARHS 4922 Contemporary Art History
  • 12 total
  • 3 Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 3 additional studio hours in major
  • 3 ARHS elective
  • 3 elective
  • 12 total
Second Year
Fall Spring
  • 3 Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 3 elective
  • 3 ARTS 5913 Graduate Studio Seminar
  • 3 ARHS 4763 Critical Theory
  • 12 total
  • 3 Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 3 additional studio hours in major 
  • 3 ARHS elective (if needed) or other elective
  • 9 total
Third Year
Fall Spring
  • 3 Graduate Studio in area of emphasis
  • 3 additional studio hours in major
  • 3 elective
  • 9 total
  • 6 Thesis exhibition, ARTS 601V
  • 6 total

Summer and Intersession Options:

Coursework may be taken in summer to lessen fall/spring semester course load. A summer Graduate Assistantship waives the tuition for courses (up to 6 hours) taken in May intersession, and Summer Sessions I & II.  Only a limited number of Graduate Assistantships are offered each summer, and they are assigned based on departmental need, student’s availability and expertise, and student performance in GA duties.

In addition to the requirements listed above, the M.F.A. program in Art also requires:

Graduate Critiques:

All M.F.A. students are required to participate in regular reviews critiquing their artworks. These reviews involve a mid-term critique conducted by several faculty members and a final critique attended by a selection of department graduate faculty and M.F.A. students. After M.F.A. students receive Candidacy, their participation is still required although they will no longer need to present their artwork for review.

Candidacy Application and Review:

After completion of four semesters in the M.F.A. degree program, the student will make application to be a candidate for completion of the M.F.A. degree. The art faculty will conduct a formal review of the applicant’s work and progress in the program. The awarding of candidacy will be dependent upon a three-fourths majority vote by the student’s graduate faculty committee based on the following criteria: 1) a demonstrated formal and technical proficiency in the applicant’s major studio area; 2) conceptual development as demonstrated by growth in ideas supporting the applicant’s creative research; 3) an ability to locate their research in the context of issues and practices within contemporary and historical art issues; and 4) the ability to communicate the intention and basis of their research in coherent written and verbal form. At least two regular semesters of residence must be completed after acceptance as a degree candidate. Students who do not pass the Candidacy Review, will be allowed one additional Candidacy Review, held during the following regular semester.  Students failing to pass Candidacy the second time will be dismissed from the program.

Graduate Committee and Major Adviser:

When the student has been accepted as a degree candidate, the student will select a major adviser from the graduate art faculty. The major adviser will serve as adviser to the student in planning the completion of the program of study. At least one semester before graduation, a four- or five-member committee of graduate art faculty will be selected. The student’s major adviser will be chairperson of this committee, and one member of the graduate committee will represent the art history area. The degree candidate may select one additional committee member from a discipline outside the School of Art.

Final Examination:

Final approval for the completion of the M.F.A. degree will be the responsibility of the candidate’s graduate committee, and will require an oral examination over the candidate’s exhibition of creative works and related aspects of the student’s program of study.

Residency Requirements:

To meet the residency requirements, the student is required to complete a minimum of 60 semester hours of graduate credit and study in residence for a minimum of four regular semesters on the Fayetteville campus. All degree requirements must be completed within six consecutive calendar years from the date of first enrollment. With approval of the school director and the Graduate School, up to 12 credit hours of graduate level work in studio art or art history may be transferred from another recognized graduate school and applied to degree requirements.

View the Catalog of Studies for the M.F.A.

The graduate faculty embraces an interdisciplinary approach to making art in the 21st century to reflect contemporary practices. Although students achieve mastery in their areas of focus, the majority of our graduate students--by the time they reach their thesis exhibition--incorporate two to three different media areas. Traditional processes as well as advanced technologies are taught with equal enthusiasm in each media area. We believe that by offering our graduate students a multitude of technical processes and approaches to art-making, we are equipping our graduates with the necessary tools for successful careers in today’s multi-dimensional art world. At the same time, M.F.A. students are expected to be critical thinkers, to question the processes they select in production as contributing to meaning. Each student is required to take Contemporary Art History and Critical Theory early in the M.F.A. program and is expected through intensive research to gradually solidify a foundation for their studio practice.

While many well-respected Studio Art programs nationwide are surplusing equipment for traditional processes such as wet photography, analog printmaking, and metal casting, we have made a deliberate decision to offer both traditional and technologically advanced processes. Our approach reflects not only the history and tradition of the Ozarks in which artisanal skills and self-reliance are paramount, but also the progressive creative industry developing in Northwest Arkansas. 

Generously-sized private and shared M.F.A. studios range from 250-500 square feet and may be found at the following locations: One East Center on the downtown Fayetteville square, Stone House on the eastern edge of main campus, the Ceramics Studio on the southern end of campus, and the new Sculpture facility at the Art + Design District south of campus. All facilities offer 24-hour access to M.F.A. Students.


The Ceramics facility can accomodate all standard ceramics processes, with dedicated spaces for clay and glaze mixing, plaster handling, material storage, photo documentation and a computer workstation. A full list of equipment can be found here.

Drawing and Painting

  • Vinyl cutter: dedicated US Cutter SC series with design and cut software for cutting stencils, paint masks, and adhesive vinyl
  • Full professional level documentation set-up, including Ikan 3pt soft panel LED lights with polarizing film, Nikon d610 camera with tripod and polarizing filter, calibration cards and a Mac computer with photo editing and color calibration software
  • For support building, in addition to the School of Art woodshop facilities, we have painting-specific priming and assembly tables, hand-working tools, cordless power tools, and air tools.


Our photography facilities have the capability and equipment for work in digital photography, alternative processes, black and white film, color film, and large-format photography. We have a fully equipped lighting studio, medium and large-format inkjet printers, and two black and white darkrooms. A full list of equipment and facilities is found here.


In 2016 sculpture opened a new 33,000 square-foot facility, which houses new wood and metal shops, foundry, sand and slurry lab, wax/plastics/rubber fabrication lab, advanced technologies lab, sculpture classrooms, installation and documentation spaces and M.F.A. and BFA studio spaces all under one roof. A full list of equipment can be found here.

Digital Technology Labs

In addition to the facilities and equipment housed within each studio area, The School of Art maintains two advanced technology labs:

2D Advanced Technology Lab

Located in the Fine Arts Building, UARK’s Advanced Technology 2D lab is a group studio and classroom that houses computer controlled imaging, printing, and cutting equipment. AT2D has toner and ink-jet printers capable of printing on paper, fabric, and canvas up to forty-four inches wide, a 30” x 40” flatbed cutter/plotter, and a CYMK glaze decal printer. Seventeen iMac work stations with Adobe CC installed are available for use by students of the School of Art twenty-four hours a day. More information is found here.

3D Advanced Technology Lab

The 3-D Advanced Technologies lab is located in the Sculpture Building.  Equipment includes:

  • CNC Router: ShopSabre Pro408 with 4hp HSD Spindle and 30HP FPZ vacuum hold-down
  • CNC Plasma: ShopSabre SideKick 8 with water table and HyperTherm45 torch
  • Laser Cutter: Epilog Fusion M2 40, 60W CO2 laser - 40x28in bed size
  • 3D Printers: two  Ultimaker 3’s  and one Ultimaker 2+
  • 3D Scanner: Next Engine

The facility also includes eight 27in iMacs with Creative Suite, Rhino 5.4, Cura, Fusion360, Slicer for Fusion 360, and Meshmixer installed. 

Many of our grad students teach or TA as part of their Graduate Assistantship duties. Interested M.F.A.’s generally begin as TA’s for our innovative Foundations Program.

Subsequent opportunities include being instructor of record for Foundations sections or for courses in the grad student’s primary media area. In an effort to foster good teaching practices, as an initial assignment students spend their hours observing and participating in an existing course led by full-time faculty. These assistantships offer every student a way to become actively involved in the education of our undergraduate students. 

Options for internships include the Fine Arts Center Gallery as well as at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.



Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships

All accepted M.F.A.’s receive a full Graduate Assistantship which includes a full tuition waiver and an annual stipend of $15,000, and a Graduate Fellowship in the amount of $4,000 per year, for a total package of $19,000 of support. Both of these awards are renewable for up to three years, contingent on making satisfactory academic progress and fulfillment of assistantship duties. Graduate Assistant duties consist of 20 hours of work per week in the School of Art. Duties are assigned by the School of Art, based on the needs of the School and taking into consideration the student’s interests, experience, and expertise. Examples of Graduate Assistant duties include teaching support, teaching, gallery, and media area assistance, directing sUgAR, the student-run gallery, and coordinating the Visiting Artist Program.

A limited number of Summer Graduate Assistantships are available. 

Project Grants

The School of Art awards $1,000 M.F.A. Project Grants each spring and fall semester, to support creative research and professional development.

Travel Awards

Numerous travel grants are provided to our students to attend summer opportunities including the UA Art in Rome program, M.F.A. Studio Berlin program sponsored by American University, the Vermont Studio Center residencies, Penland School of Crafts, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Chautauqua Institute Visual Arts Program, the New York Studio School, and Mount Gretna School of Art.

Graduate Students interested in a longer-term study abroad experience may apply for a $15,000 Fulbright College-sponsored Sturgis International Fellowship, which supports travel for periods of four months or longer. Graduate students in Ceramics can participate in a one semester exchange program with Tainan National University of the Arts in Taiwan.

Additional grants of $750 to support graduate student travel to present their work are offered through the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.