Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts (Painting, Illustration, or Interdisciplinary)

Darby Cardonsky, Graduate Coordinator, VPAC 246
Phone: (203) 837-8881
Lori Robeau, Art Assistant, VPAC 143E
Phone: (203) 837-8403
Fax: (203) 837-8945


Faculty  D. Cardonsky (M.F.A. Coordinator); S. Marques; M. Ralston-Jones; K. Scaglia; D. Skora; J. Tom; C. Vanaria; T. Wells.


Program Overview

The Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Visual Arts is a terminal degree and is the preferred degree for the practicing artist with a professional career in the visual arts. It is the recommended degree for college-level teachers of art and secondary school level as well.  

Students accepted into the M.F.A. program at WCSU select a concentration in painting, illustration, or interdisciplinary visual art. Students are encouraged to explore and expand the scope of their work within their concentration.

The core of the program is the student’s individual progress in the studio, leading to a professional level of mastery. The program is built on a series of individual applied studio courses of escalating intensity, interspersed with regular individual and group critiques with resident faculty and visiting artists. Each student presents a capstone thesis, which may include both exhibition and publication, as a final step prior to receiving the M.F.A. degree. 

The Visiting Artist Lecture Series brings many artists of national and international reputation to WCSU. Presenting lectures to the university community, they additionally give critiques to the M.F.A. students, providing a diversity of ideas that expand the educational experience. The proximity of WCSU to the galleries and museums of New York City further enhances the program of study.

A one-semester required internship offers invaluable hands-on experience. Graduate teaching assistantships are available at WCSU, and internships with professional artists and museums (e.g., Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT) have been established.

Graduates of the M.F.A. in Visual Arts at WCSU have become successful art educators, practicing artists, published illustrators, gallery curators, and entrepreneurs. WCSU graduates have been selected for juried exhibitions at numerous New York City galleries, including Prince Street Gallery, Bowery Gallery, and First Street Gallery, as well as many regional galleries. 

Because of the nature of the program, full-time attendance is mandatory. 

M.F.A. degrees are available in painting, illustration or interdisciplinary visual art. 


The mission of the M.F.A. in Visual Arts program is to serve as a responsive and creative artistic resource for the people and institutions of Connecticut and the surrounding region by providing a period of intense and focused study under the guidance of established professionals.

Program Learning Goals

The goals of the MFA in Visual Arts program are:

  1. to deepen and broaden the development of individual artistic character
  2. to provide cultural enrichment through artistic communication and exhibition
  3. to establish mentoring relationships through a community of artists   
  4. to contribute to the expansion and development in the fields of painting, illustration and interdisciplinary art

Program Learning Objectives & Outcomes  

Students in the MFA in Visual Arts program will demonstrate:

  1. advanced professional competence in painting, illustration or interdisciplinary art, exemplified by:
    • a sustained, independent studio practice
    • the creation of a significant body of work 
  2. advanced application of current development influencing the visual arts, exemplified by:
    • the integration of new materials, concepts and techniques in an explorative studio practice  
  3. advanced skills in research, exemplified by:
    • an ability to reference and incorporate historical and contemporary resources in the creation of studio work
    • an ability to identify current trends and issues in contemporary art
    • an ability to critique work in the visual arts through historical references and contemporary concerns
  4. advanced skills in writing and speaking, exemplified by:
    • clear and effective communication of artistic intentions and ideas to the art and/or design communities and to the public
    • critique and analysis of artworks and/or topics in publications, discussions and/or instruction within art communities or teaching environments
  5. advanced capability with technologies, exemplified by:
    • the application of technology in the creation, dissemination, documentation and preservation of work in the visual arts

Admission Requirements

In addition to the graduate admissions policies of the Office of Graduate Admissions, students may be admitted to the M.F.A. in Visual Arts degree program if they meet the following criteria:

  • completion of a B.A. or B.F.A. in Art or
  • completion of a B.A. or B.F.A. in a related field and show demonstrable competency in art and
  • submission and successful review of portfolio by WCSU Department of Art faculty, online via email or in person on campus 
  • successful completion of an interview with Department of Art faculty, either on campus or through electronic media, and
  • evidence of strong academic record, especially in the candidate’s area of study. 

Note: Acceptance to the Department of Art through portfolio review and interview is mandatory, in addition to applying to the Office of Graduate Admissions. Applications are reviewed throughout the year with rolling admission until spaces are filled.

International Students: Instructions for International Students

Degree Program Requirements

Degree candidates will select an area of emphasis (painting, illustration, or interdisciplinary) and complete a minimum of 60 credits, as listed on the program sheet, under the guidance of his or her mentor/adviser and with approval of the program coordinator.

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts

Required Courses: Course Rotation
ART 510   Art Colloquium (to be taken incrementally over four semesters)      4-8 SH Every Fall and Spring
ART 511   Graduate Studies in Art History (to be taken incrementally over first three semesters)
9 SH Every Fall and Spring
ART 512   Individual Introductory Graduate Studio in Area of Emphasis 
3-6 SH Every Fall 
ART 520   Individual Applied Studio I 3-6 SH Every Fall
ART 521   Individual Applied Studio II 6 SH Every Spring
ART 530   Advanced Individual Studio I 12-15 SH Every Fall
ART 531   Advanced Individual Studio II
9 SH Every Spring
ART 580   Practicum Internship 3-6 SH Every Fall and Spring
ART 581   Individual Introductory Graduate Studio in Related Area
3-6 SH Every Fall
ART 590   Thesis Exhibition 6 SH Every Spring
Total Semester Hours: 60

(In all studio courses, each course hour requires three hours of applied studio work per week.)