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Department of Art and Design
Fort Hays State University
600 Park Street
Rarick Hall 102
Phone: 785-628-4247
Email: Art & Design
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Master of Fine Arts Degree in Art Design

Program Overview
MFA General Admissions Policy
MFA Progress Reviews
Admission to Candidacy and Filing of Program
Thesis 899 and Thesis Exhibition
Download the Master of Fine Arts Catalog (PDF)

MFA Program Overview

The Department of Art and Design offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree consisting of a minimum of 60 hours of graduate work. You must complete the degree requirements within 8 years and maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the MFA program. This masters program collaborates different area of studio concentrations such as: drawing, painting, sculpture, design, printmaking, ceramics and intermedia.

Graduate School Requirements

  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA
  • Complete the degree requirements within 8 years

Degree Requirements

  • Studio Major 35 hours
  • Art History and Aesthetics 12 hours
  • Studio Art (other than major area) 13 hours

Students must choose a studio area of concentration from the following: drawing, painting, sculpture, design (graphic design, photography), printmaking, ceramics and intermedia.

MFA General Admissions Policy

  1. The applicant must have a Bachelor's degree with a major in Art from an accredited institution and have completed a minimum of 36 semester credit hours in art on the undergraduate level. Deficiencies must be completed before candidate is allowed to proceed to the M.F.A. degree program. A minimum of 10 hours in a studio concentration on the undergraduate level must be completed before the student is considered a major on the graduate level. (It is expected the applicant have a 3.0 (B) average on the last 60 hours of undergraduate work)
  2. Provide an official undergraduate transcript and an application of admission to the Graduate School.
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation from people who are, or have been associated with the applicant as an artist (e.g. instructors, colleagues, etc.).
  4. Submit a statement of purpose concerning motivation in seeking the degree. The student must indicate what his/her concentrations will be.
  5. Submit 20 images of his/her work. Each image must be properly identified with the artist's name, title, medium, date and size of work. Images should include: 10 works from the major concentration and 10 works from other areas of art. Include an image identification sheet, numbered to correspond with the images. There will be no waivers of image portfolios.
  6. Submit a resume including exhibition record and professional employment.

The M.F.A. Admissions Committee will review all applications, and at its discretion, may require completion of particular courses to remove deficiencies in undergraduate training. Such courses would be requirements in addition to the minimum required for the graduate degree. The M.F.A. Admissions Committee will make a recommendation about admission to the Graduate Dean, who makes the decision regarding admission. No decision will be announced over the phone.

Application Deadlines & Applying Online

The Department of Art and Design has three scheduled MFA application reviews each year. Deadlines are April 1, July 1 and December 1. The committee meets soon after the deadlines to review all open applications. If any applications come in after the deadlines, they will be in the queue until the next review. To apply to Graduate School, see the online application process here. There will be a place on the online application to attach supporting materials such as resume, letters of recommendation, portfolio of images, etc. There is not a place to attach a transcript. Please forward an unofficial transcript to to be used in the application process. An official transcript will need to be sent to the Registrar's Office upon acceptance into the program.

MFA Progress Reviews

Admission to the M.F.A. degree program does not guarantee graduation or that the student will be awarded a degree. He/she may be dropped from the enrollment or held in attendance beyond the customary two to three years if his/her progress does not measure up to the standards of the Department of Art and Design. Incompletes are not viewed as satisfactory progress. Courses must be completed before enrollments are allowed in subsequent program courses.

There will be a minimum of three reviews conducted by the candidate's graduate committee to determine graduate progress: First Review, Preliminary Oral Examination, and the Final Oral Examination.

First Review:
The student should complete at least 9 hours of graduate credit but no more than 12 hours before they will be required to have their First Review. The major professor has the option to invite relevant faculty. The committee will exercise one of three options:

  • Continuation in the program without interruption.
  • A semester of probation with a second review at the end of that period.
  • Termination in the program.

Preliminary Oral Examination:
The Preliminary Oral Examination is to be held mid-way through the program after completion of approximately 30 semester hours. This exam should be done prior to enrolling in thesis hours. The student's graduate committee will conduct this exam and make one of the following decisions:

  • Continuation in the program without interruption.
  • A semester of probation with a second review at the end of that period.
  • Termination in the program.

Final Oral Examination:
Following the opening of the thesis exhibition, the graduate committee will meet for the oral examination over the thesis project. Upon the committee's approval and recommendation, the candidate will be allowed to graduate with the terminal M.F.A. degree, provided all other degree requirements have been fulfilled.

MFA Admission to Candidacy and Filing of Program

Admission to candidacy means the following conditions have been met. The student has:

  • Had all deficiencies successfully removed.
  • Demonstrated satisfactory achievement in course work presented for admission to candidacy with at least a 3.0 grade point average.
  • Received recommended candidacy approval from the graduate committee.
  • Filed in the Graduate School a degree program worked out at the recommendation of the major professor and approved by the Graduate Dean.

Change of Major:
If a graduate student decides to change their MFA major emphasis, he/she must resubmit to the Department of Art and Design and the Graduate Admissions Committee images of work in their new area of concentration as well as a new letter of intent. If the student's request is approved, the student must realize the need to restructure his or her program, if one has been formally established, which may result in additional requirements and time required to complete the degree program.

An appropriate adviser will be assigned to each M.F.A. candidate and is determined by the studio major indicated on the application of admission. This adviser works with the student throughout his/her graduate study.

Graduate Program:
The course work for the M.F.A. degree must follow a structured plan as determined by the student and his/her major professor. The program must meet the Department of Art and Design's requirements and must be approved by the major professor and the Graduate Dean.

Graduate Committee:
The graduate committee of the candidate is selected through advising the student and must be composed of the adviser as chair, two additional faculty members from the Department of Art and Design and one campus graduate faculty member outside the department. The chair of the department may be considered an ex-officio member of all graduate committees but may be an active member upon the request of the student. The student must personally invite all faculty members to serve on the graduate committee and keep the committee informed of progress.

Graduate Assistantships:
The department offers a limited number of graduate assistantships. Applications are available from the Graduate School and are due in that office March 1st of each year. Announcement of awards are made by May 1st of each year. In the first year of graduate study, the graduate assistant must enroll in no less than six (6) and no more than twelve (12) graduate hours per semester. Graduate assistantships are limited to two years; however, a student may take more than three years to complete the degree.

Intent to Graduate:
The Graduate School has specific deadlines for filing the "Intent to Graduate." The student who plans to graduate at the end of a given semester or summer term must file an "Intent to Graduate" at the time of enrollment or before the deadline given in the academic calendar for that semester or summer term. The student must be admitted to candidacy before being eligible to file an "Intent to Graduate." In the event the student does not graduate after filing an "Intent to Graduate," a new form must be completed before the deadline for the semester or summer term in which the student next plans to complete requirements.

Written Comprehensive Examination:
Each applicant for a M.F.A. degree must pass satisfactorily a written comprehensive examination over Philosophy of Creativity, Art History, and the student's major concentration. The student must sign up for the examination in the Graduate School. The written comprehensive exam is completed in the semester of the Thesis exhibition.

Thesis 899 and Thesis Exhibition

The graduate student will enroll in a terminal creative thesis project totaling at least 8 credit hours. The adviser will work with the student in developing the thesis project. The graduate thesis exhibition will be scheduled with the major professor's approval.

The thesis title must be submitted to the Graduate School on a specific date designated by that office. The students should check the academic calendar each semester for that date when planning the thesis project exhibition.

The candidate for the M.F.A. degree will present the thesis project in a formal exhibition, at which time the final oral examination will take place. The major professor reserves the privilege of selecting at least one piece of work from the candidate's exhibition. This work will become a part of the university's permanent collection.

Thesis Catalog
In addition to the thesis exhibition, the candidate will design and publish a catalog of the exhibition. This will include photographs of work, a resume, and a statement made by the candidate. The minimum number of catalogs required is two (2) catalogs for the Graduate School, and twenty-five (25) for the Department of Art and Design. The cost for this catalog is the student's responsibility.

Catalog Standards and Stipulation
The Graduate Catalog is a partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Master of Fine Arts degree. The Catalog is a photographic and literary documentation of the M.F.A. candidate's graduate art experiences.

Dimensions of the M.F.A. Catalog
Minimum Scale 8" x 8"
Maximum Scale 9" x 12"

M.F.A. Catalog Content
Cover must include:

Name of the candidate
Title which reads: Graduate Catalog, Master of Fine Arts Degree, Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas, ___(date)
The artist's statement should be organized in terms of a literary structure which is, above all, clear and conclusive: i.e.

  • Introduction -- Thesis statement
  • Body -- Explanatory content
  • Examples -- Specific justification for statement made
  • Conclusion -- A positive restatement or "wrap-up"
  • Terminating phrase-Must read: "This catalog is submitted to the Graduate School in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Fine Arts."

Notes on the statement: The statement should be a positive argument for why and/or what the artist creates. An extremely varied range of catalog recipients read the statement; therefore, the need for lucid readability is obviously a necessity. The length of the statement should be relative to the attitudes and the philosophy of the individual artist. It is suggested, however, that the candidate not become enmeshed in excessive rhetoric.

Photographic Reproductions of the Artist's Work

The number of photographs is somewhat arbitrary; however, an absolute minimum of six (6) photographs is mandatory.

All photographs must be identified as to:

  • Catalog number
  • Title
  • Dimensions (verticals first/horizontals second, depth third)
  • Media (if necessary for clarity)
  • A Photograph of the candidate (optional)
  • Photographic quality must be highly professional

Catalog List
The catalog must include a numbered listing of all works represented in the graduate exhibition (even if all pieces are not photographically reproduced in the catalog). Each listing must include:

  • Number
  • Title
  • Media
  • Dimensions

The artist's biography should contain:

  • Birthdate (optional) and place
  • Educational background (excluding public school)
  • Date of expected degree completion
  • Candidate's professional ambitions
  • Composite of exhibitions or professional achievements, including dates

University Criterion
The catalog must contain:

The Seal of Fort Hays State University
The name (correctly spelled, please) of:

  • Dean of Graduate School
  • Graduate Committee
    • Chair - professional rank and area
    • Member - professional rank and area
    • Member - professional rank and area
    • Member - professional rank and area
  • Chair of the Department of Art and Design

It is the candidate's responsibility to design (or supervise the design if done by a graphic designer) and to seek out a printing firm of high standards. The quality of the printing job may well result in a favorable or unfavorable impression of the artist's work and the University by recipients of the catalog. The catalog must be off the press and ready for distribution by, or before, the first day of the thesis exhibition.

It usually takes from four to six weeks for the printer to complete the catalog, so plan ahead.


It is the responsibility of the candidate to distribute a catalog to all members of the Department of Art and Design faculty, all University officials listed in the catalog, and to the President of the University.

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