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 our faculty 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 program includes developing studio work that is groundbreaking for each student, building innovative research frameworks for art practices, and advancing conceptual and technical skills. Additionally, our MFA students are presented with opportunities to learn how to teach effectively and are encouraged to develop 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 printmaking, ceramics, metal fabrication, metal casting, sculpture, woodworking, rapid prototyping (CNC milling, 3D printing, laser cutting/etching), digital photo 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 Media 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.

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 10th for the Fall entry term. Applications are accepted through June 15th but scholarships and assistantships may not be available after the January 10th deadline.

Application Requirements:

  • UC Graduate Admissions Application
  • Application Fee of $65 for domestic applicants / $70 for international applicants
    • The admission confirmation fee is $500 and will be credited to your tuition bill when you register for classes in your first semester of attendance. The confirmation deadline is April 15th.
  • 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 the 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 the 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.


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 critical theory, and research methods, and bolstered by academic courses that you can select from across the University. The program culminates in a written thesis that contextualizes and provides a theoretical framework for situating your practice within contemporary art. 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 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 art, 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.

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.

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

Jordan Tate
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.
  • 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 10th for the Fall entry term. Applications are accepted through June 15th but scholarships and assistantships may not be available after the January 10th deadline.

The confirmation deadline is April 15thThe admission confirmation fee is $500 and will be credited to your tuition bill when you register for classes in your first semester of attendance.

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