Fine Arts - Art


Why study Fine Arts - Art?

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in the School of Art is a two-year studio program that welcomes and supports all forms of contemporary art practice and research. While there are faculty with areas of specialization that include two-dimensional work (painting, drawing, printmaking), object-making (sculpture, installation, ceramic sculpture), and electronic media (photography, video, animation, web-based art), many of us also have extensive experience in conceptual art, performance, sound, social practices, public art, and art writing. Many of our MFA students use the university’s resources to develop multi-disciplinary practices that take advantage of different equipment and expertise across campus. The primary goals of our MFA include developing studio work that is groundbreaking for each student, building innovative research frameworks for art practices, advancing conceptual and technical skills, learning how to teach effectively, and developing lasting professional connections within the city and region.

The program is housed in exceptional facilities that include individual workspaces for graduate students in a dedicated building. In the nearby College of DAAP, there are studios for etching, lithography, relief printing, silkscreen, ceramics, metal fabrication, metal casting, sculpture, woodworking, rapid prototyping, digital printing, darkroom work, electronic art, sound, video, drawing, and painting. In addition, the University’s 1819 Innovation Hub Makerspace + Microfactory has an advanced array of equipment including high-performing 3D printers, laser cutters, a CNC router, and a waterjet cutter. The Digital Futures complex houses the Motion Capture Lab, the Strange Tools Lab, the Institute for Research Sensing, and the NFT Lab, amongst many other resources. Four galleries are connected to the school and college to showcase artwork by students, faculty, and visiting artists, and many students get involved with local galleries and artist-run spaces to exhibit, curate, and intern. Our MFA program is active in connecting students to local artists, curators, and collectors.

Scholarships, graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships, travel fellowships, and research grants are available. The School of Art sustains an active visiting artist program and offers additional programs/courses in critical theory, art history & museum studies, art education, public art & placemaking, and professional practice. Cincinnati’s dynamic art community and institutions such as the Contemporary Arts Center, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and Wave Pool Gallery offer many other resources and opportunities for students.

Admission Requirements

The completed application should be received by the priority deadline of January 15th for the Fall entry term. Applications are accepted through June 15th but scholarships and assistantships may not be available after the January 15th deadline.

Application Requirements:

  • University of Cincinnati Graduate Application
  • Application Fee of $65 // $70 for international applicants
  • Unofficial transcript(s) from all colleges/universities attended. Note: Official transcripts are not required during the admissions process, and only unofficial transcripts are required for the application. Applicants should not send official transcripts until they are admitted. See the full transcript policy on the Graduate Admissions webpage
  • Resume or CV
  • 3 letters of recommendation. Recommenders should be people familiar with your academic and professional abilities and not those with whom you have a personal or family connection. The recommenders you list in your online application will receive information via email about submitting their recommendation letter online. Please ask them to provide the following information:
    • who they are and their relationship to you.
    • why they think you will succeed in the graduate Fine Arts program at University of Cincinnati
    • the reservations, if any, they may have about your application
    • the potential they see for you to teach within our program, and in what capacity (foundations, 2D, 3D, photo, or new media)
  • Artist’s Statement. Include a statement (up to 500 words) describing the long-term goal to be met by your graduate study. Include the following:
    • a general introduction to the work in your portfolio
    • how you would like to creatively develop in graduate school
    • your professional interests (e.g., exhibitions, teaching, writing, curating)
    • your media of choice
    • why you are interested in the Fine Arts program at University of Cincinnati
    • the Fine Arts faculty you’d like to work with and why. Please name at least two. Please view our faculty directory
  • Portfolio: Your portfolio should contain 20 works as a single pdf file.
    • Which images to submit: 
      • For digital media (animation, coding, digital imaging, game design, interactive,, sound, video, or other new media art forms), submit a combination of 14 images as a pdf portfolio plus links to 3-6 online examples. Those online examples must comprise one file no longer than 10 minutes. Post your online examples to Vimeo or YouTube and provide the link in your pdf portfolio. Before submitting, test the links to make sure they are working.
      • For all other art media (ceramics, drawing, fibers, installation, painting, photography, sculpture, etc.), submit your 20 works as one pdf portfolio.
    • How to size your images:
      • Your images should be no more than 3 MB each, at 96 ppi
      • To downsize your images to less than 3 MB/96 ppi, make your images 96 ppi and no more than 1500 pixels on the shorter side.
      • Convert these resized images into a single pdf by first assembling them into one document using PowerPoint, Keynote, or MSWord and then exporting the file.
        Powerpoint—export to pdf
        Keynote—export to pdf
        MSWord—print—save as pdf
    • How to label your images:
      • Label your images in the pdf with the title, date, materials, and dimensions
      • In a separate pdf provide a list of your images with title, date, materials, and dimensions and a brief statement about each work.
    • If you have a website for your studio practice provide the URL in your image list and at the start of the pdf portfolio
    • Only work in which the applicant has played a major role in the project should be submitted. With collaborative work, include an explanation of your role in making the piece.


For those passionate about art making, our MFA offers the ideal opportunity to develop your studio practice to the advanced level expected of practicing artists by critics, curators, museums, and galleries. You have two years to focus on self-directed studio work, informed by courses in professional practice, critical theory, three academic courses that you have selected from all over the UC campus, and a written thesis that addresses the context for your own artwork. This accumulating experience over two years of intensively making, writing, and discussing contemporary art adds depth and confidence to your identity as a practicing artist. The course gives you the capabilities to determine the professional direction of your later pursuit of studio work more effectively, art writing, college teaching, or gallery curating.

This kind of successful outcome occurs because the MFA gives you the opportunity to focus on conceptual and critical thinking in relation to sustained research projects that will deepen and expand your studio practice. Your artistic development is that much more exponential for happening within a cohort of other committed MFA students being taught and advised by a diverse community of artist professors, who are themselves exhibiting and writing internationally. The degree, moreover, enables you to participate in attending city-wide contemporary art events and institutions, visiting local artists, collectors, and administrators, some of whom participate directly in studio crits.

We are very enthusiastic about our MFA students arriving with a range of non-art experiences as these can be influential in stimulating new directions for your work. If you have degrees in other fields than art, you should definitely not feel this disqualifies you from embarking on MFA studies. Some of our most successful MFA graduates have come from academic backgrounds that don’t directly relate to art.

The MFA is the terminal Fine Art degree in the United States and is therefore essential for teaching at the college level. Our alumni have gone on to university and college teaching jobs across the country.

The MFA is crucial for developing the kind of complex and mature studio practice likely to lead to successful gallery and museum exhibitions. It is also a way for you to build lifelong professional relationships with your fellow MFA students that will generate future opportunities. Many of our MFA alumni are successful exhibiting artists in the region as well as showing their work nationally and internationally.

The MFA instills the professionalism that leads to roles in arts administration and enterprise. These skills are further enabled by our Professional Practices and Museum Studies courses which engage students with local arts communities and institutions. We have alumni working in many local art institutions, including the Contemporary Arts Center and the Cincinnati Art Museum. We also have MFA alumni who run the successful non-profit venture Wave Pool Gallery, direct FotoFocus Cincinnati Biennial, the Weston Art Gallery, Clay Street Press, and administer Visionaries + Voices.

Each 1st year MFA student will have 2 faculty mentors and one 2nd year graduate student. These mentors will help you successfully make the most of the of the program’s assets and to use the resources of the whole campus.

Mark Harris
Director, MFA Program



  • The city of Cincinnati, once called the "Queen City of the West" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, provides an excellent array of cultural resources for students who intend to pursue a degree in the visual arts. It offers the energy and assets of a larger city, along with quiet neighborhoods steeped in rich traditions. Cincinnati offers live music venues that range from top-notch symphony and opera companies to a growing pop and rock community. Home to the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Taft Museum and the Contemporary Arts Center, the city also enjoys the presence of numerous art galleries and a strong support system among practicing artists.
  • UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) is one of the most comprehensive colleges of its type in the country. A collection of nationally respected design and art programs is housed in a unique and educationally stimulating architectural setting. Students have opportunities to enroll in courses in a range of related disciplines and to participate in interdisciplinary studios or special projects.
  • Students learn creative and technical skills in the studio environment, taught by a passionate faculty who interact with their students on a daily basis. The goal is to guide students as they grow both intellectually and professionally.
  • Other educational opportunities include study abroad and certificate programs within the college and the university. Students are encouraged to share their interests in these opportunities with their academic advisor.
  • The Robert A. Deshon and Karl J. Schlachter Library for Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning has an outstanding collection of books, periodicals and visual resources supporting architecture, planning, design, art history, and related subjects. Access to library holdings is provided by an automated online catalogue, UCLID, which provides access to the University of Cincinnati Library information database, and through OhioLINK, the holdings of other academic libraries throughout Ohio.
  • DAAP’s multiple labs, centers and initiatives support our programs and the creative work and research of our faculty, staff, and students.

Complimentary graduate certificates with the MFA include:


Students must:

  • Successfully complete 60 semester hour credits 
  • Successfully pass the first-year review 
  • Successfully complete their master’s thesis exhibition and written thesis 

Application Deadlines

The completed application should be received by the priority deadline of January 15th for the Fall entry term. Applications are accepted through June 15th but scholarships and assistantships may not be available after the January 15th deadline.

The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

As part of the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, the Art History program and Fine Arts program are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts and Design (NASAD).

Contact Information

School of Art
PO Box 210016
Cincinnati, OH 45221
(513) 556-2962

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Program Code: 23MAS-FAA-MFA