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Masters in Fine Arts

Online MFA Degree Programs

If you’re artistic and want to learn more about your craft, then enrolling in an Online MFA degree program may be a logical next step for you. It might even be possible to find an Online MFA program in your chosen concentration, whether it’s painting, photography, or writing. A Masters in Fine Arts program may also help you gain the technical skills you need to enrich your career or pursue employment as a post-secondary teacher.

Common Coursework for a Masters of Fine Arts Program

The coursework for a Masters of Fine Arts online might depend upon the concentration or discipline. Students may start their degree program by taking certain foundational coursework in research methodologies, which may be focused in the context of art history. There may also be a combination of seminar classes and independent study, including supervised individual creative work. Some programs may also have an interdisciplinary approach, providing opportunities for students to take some coursework in another department of the university. [ii] Other potential coursework for an online MFA program includes: [iii]

  • Making Art in Context
  • Articulating Practice
  • Expanding and Refining Media

Some online MFA programs may concentrate on media design. In this discipline, coursework may include Effective Copywriting, Brand Development, Multi-Platform Delivery, Measuring Design Effectiveness, Design Integration, and Design Strategies and Motivation. [iv] It may be possible to find creative writing MFA online programs with courses in the Art of Visual Storytelling, Script Analysis and Criticism, Character Creation and Development, Episodic and Serial Writing, Writing for Games, Film Screenwriting, and Storytelling and Storyboarding for Animation. [v]

Resources for Students

When you pursue a nursing degree online you should still have access to school resources. These may include IT services, tutoring, disability accommodations, library resources, and access to your teachers when you have questions. Ask a representative of your prospective program what resources are available to online students.

What Concentration Options are Available for MFA Degrees?

MFA degrees are sometimes offered in a range of artistic disciplines, including painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, and printmaking.[vi] Some schools may also offer an MFA degree in the performing arts, including in performing and directing.[vii] It may also be possible to find interdisciplinary programs with a concentration in technical arts, such as game design, media design, sound design, intelligent environments, learning media, and entrepreneurship for creative industries.[viii]

What Skills May Be Beneficial for a Student in an Online MFA Program?

Talent in the chosen concentration is an important component for those pursuing a career as a professional artist or postsecondary educator, as is creativity and original thinking. It may be important to possess the knowledge of the techniques and theory of the chosen discipline, as well as the associated design techniques and tools. MFA candidates and postsecondary art teachers may want to consider developing the following skills and abilities that are relevant to postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers: [x]

  • Speech Clarity – being able to speak in a clear manner that is easily understood
  • Instruction - ability to teach others, typically in a formal educational setting.
  • Written comprehension - ability to understand and comprehend information conveyed through writing.
  • Oral and written expression - ability to effectively communicate verbally and in writing.
  • Active Learning - assessing a situation and identifying potential solutions and determining the right one and implementing it.
  • Social perceptiveness - ability to recognize the reasons behind why people behave and react a certain way.

What Career Paths May People Pursue After Earning an MFA Online?

According to the BLS, most fine artists earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fine arts so they can improve their skills and job prospects. Almost half of professional artists are self-employed. The median annual wage for craft and fine artists in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $44,400. [xi]

Unlike a Master of Arts, a Master of Fine Arts degree is typically a terminal degree,[xii] which means that it may be possible to pursue a career in secondary education teaching after earning the degree. Postsecondary teachers teach at the university and college level, and they may also be expected to research and publish scholarly articles. The median annual wage for postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers was $64,300 in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The largest percent work at colleges, universities, and professional schools, and the second most common industry for this profession is junior colleges. States with the highest employment level in this occupation are California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio[xiv]. Performing arts companies also sometimes hire art, drama, and music teachers at the postsecondary level. [xiv]

If you wish to enrich your artistic skills to pursue a career as a professional artist or teacher at the postsecondary level, then earning a Masters of fine arts online may provide the foundation you need to embark on your chosen career path. If you are interested in studying art at the graduate level, contact schools offering an MFA in your discipline find out more information about their graduate degree programs.


[i]cmu.edu/art/programs/mfa/curriculum.html [ii]studioart.arts.uci.edu/graduate [iii]cmu.edu/art/programs/mfa/curriculum.html [iv]fullsail.edu/degrees/online/media-design-mfa/courses [v]fullsail.edu/degrees/online/creative-writing-mfa/courses [vi]art.uoregon.edu/academics/grad [vii]brown.edu/academics/theatre-arts-performance-studies/graduate/browntrinity-mfa-acting-and-directing [viii].cmu.edu/art/programs/index.html [ix]onetonline.org/link/summary/27-1013.00 [x]onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1121.00 [xi].bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/craft-and-fine-artists.htm [xii]collegeart.org/guidelines/mfa [xiii]bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm [ix]bls.gov/oes/current/oes251121.htm

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