IX. Graduate Programs

Studio Art

MFA Program

The MFA program in the field of studio art offers specializations in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and alternative practices. Though emphasizing studio practice, the program includes courses in art theory, criticism, history and pedagogy. A thesis exhibition is also required. The objective of the program is to prepare students as professional artists and artist-teachers.

The MFA is intended to represent a high level of professional competence and personal originality in the informed practice of a studio discipline. In response to the numerous and divergent approaches to the making of visual art, the MFA program provides an individually oriented education that is primarily concerned with the development of independent studio work while encouraging a critical awareness of the cultural context and its ideological complexities.

In addition to their intense involvement with studio practice, students will be required to demonstrate their pertinent knowledge and judgment about the visual arts in presentations, discussions, and written papers within the required course work.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the master of fine arts program in studio art may be granted on the recommendation of the School of Fine Art and Music to:

  1. the holder of a BFA degree (honours equivalent), or an honours BA (or its equivalent in fine or visual arts); or

  2. in exceptional cases, the holder of a degree in another field who has completed a minimum of six one-semester courses in fine or visual art; or

  3. a student who has satisfied the requirements for transfer from the provisional-student category.

Specific Application Materials for Admission. Each applicant must submit the following:

  1. Documentation of artwork: 20 digital images or 10 minutes DVD. (For formatting information please see the 'GRADUATE STUDIES' section of the School of Fine Art and Music website.)

  2. A single-page statement that outlines the applicant's career objectives and reasons for wishing to study in the University of Guelph's master of fine arts program in studio art.

  3. Letters of reference from two studio professors. The applicant must have taken a significant proportion of course work from at least one of the professors. An acceptable alternative to one such letter may be from the department chair on behalf of the department in which the applicant has studied, or from a professional in the field who is familiar with the applicant's abilities.

It is highly recommended that applicants complete at least eight semesters of courses in art history, cultural studies, or related areas prior to applying. Serious interest in, and substantial familiarity with contemporary issues in the visual arts is expected.

Degree Requirements

The MFA degree at the University of Guelph requires the attainment of a professional level of studio practice, and a sophisticated awareness of contemporary discourse in visual arts as well as a detailed knowledge of the selected field of specialization. Each degree candidate will complete a thesis. The MFA thesis consists of an exhibition, a brief supporting paper, and an oral examination.

The following are some of the specific degree requirements for the MFA degree in studio art (the complete MFA degree regulations are to be found in the Degree Regulations section of this calendar):

Minimum Duration

The minimum duration is at least four semesters of full-time study.

Prescribed Studies

A total of 10.0 credits is required for the completion of this program. In addition to individually oriented studio courses, students are required to complete four MFA seminars; two graduate courses in art theory and criticism courses; and two teaching practicum courses.

A maximum of two courses outside the School of Fine Art and Music may be substituted for courses in art history, theory and criticism. The courses selected must be acceptable to the school and the Assistant VP of Graduate Studies for graduate credit. All 12 "substantive" courses comprise the candidate's prescribed studies, in which the student must obtain an overall average grade of at least 'B-' standing.

Additional Courses

In addition to the prescribed studies, the student may undertake to achieve satisfactory standings in ancillary courses supportive of the special discipline. These courses may be at either the undergraduate or the graduate level.


Each degree candidate must present an exhibition, performance, or showing of their studio work, as well as a critical paper of approximately 4,000 - 5,000 words that articulates the aesthetic, historical, theoretical and technical issues pertinent to their artwork. The submitted studio work must demonstrate a professional level of competence and a significant aesthetic investigation, as approved by the candidate's master's examination committee.

The Master's Examination

At the time of the exhibition, the MFA candidate will be expected to successfully complete a final oral examination devoted chiefly to the MFA exhibition with reference to the supporting critical paper. This is a school examination identified as the master's examination.

School Regulations

In addition to meeting the university's MFA regulations regarding thesis format, the candidate must submit appropriate visual documentation of the MFA exhibition as well as the supporting critical paper to the director of the School of Fine Art and Music for inclusion in the school's archives.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1