Masters of Fine Arts in Photography

College of Arts and Sciences

MFA in Photography Program Overview

Barry’s MFA degree can help you develop and refine your personal aesthetic, as well as obtain the skills and credentials you need to teach photography at the university level.

The program offers strong academics and experiential learning. During the course of your study, you will participate in Independent Study, Photography, and Art History courses, as well as prepare a written thesis and exhibition. In addition to fostering a mentoring relationship with our well-recognized faculty, the independent study most closely resembles the real-life scenario which working artists/photographers face, in that you will be involved in independent production of art. You will also prepare a written thesis and a thesis exhibition.

This 66 credit-hour program can be completed in six semesters and must be completed within seven years, including the written thesis and thesis exhibition.

Outline of the MFA Curriculum:

  • Photography, Communication, and Art graduate courses: PHO, COM, ART (33)
  • Independent Study in Photography: PHO 559/659 (15) 
  • Art History graduate courses: ART/PHO (9)
  • MFA Grad. Thesis Exhibition: PHO 691A (5)
  • PHO 691B: (4)

Total: 66 cr. minimum

Minimum time to complete the MFA degree: 6 semesters (12 cr. max. per semester)

MFA Thesis Exhibition:

The most important component of your final studies for the MFA degree will be your Thesis Exhibition. As a graduating MFA, you must mount a substantial solo exhibition of your work illustrating the highest level of originality and professionalism.  Development of the MFA thesis exhibition can take up a year, and includes in-progress reviews with the Graduate Faculty Committee.

The second major component of the graduation requirement is a written thesis. The content of your written thesis must include an in-depth, critical examination of your own work, a biography, high-quality photographic reproductions of your images, as well as work by other artists whose influence may be of importance. Grammar and composition must be of graduate level.  Formal committee approval of the written thesis is required. The Learning Resource Center at Barry is available for help with writing the thesis.

The thesis and exhibition are allotted nine credits towards the degree. As this is the most important final requirement and requires formal faculty committee approval, it is not uncommon for a student to prolong his or her graduate study to help insure a successful exhibition and thesis.

If at some time during the course of your studies you should decide not to pursue the MFA, you may do so. You can switch to the MA program by formally giving notice, three months in advance, to the department chair and receiving formal approval.

Teaching Preparation For MFA Students

The terminal MFA degree is the standard academic credential to teach photography at the university level. With the permission of the Fine Art Graduate Committee, MFA students have the opportunity to take up to three semesters of College Teaching Prep (PHO 661 A&B and PHO 662 A&B) courses to provide teaching experience under the tutelage of knowledgeable photographic educators. In addition, students may elect to participate in the practical running and maintenance of a university photography facility (PHO 660 College Teaching Prep I).

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