PhD in Studio Art

While a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is the highest degree you can earn in studio art, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs are available in related areas. Read on to learn about the MFA degree programs, common courses, prerequisites, concentrations, as well as doctorate degree options. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an MFA in Studio Art?

The Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art is a terminal degree program geared for the individual looking to be a professional artist, though some programs can also lead to a career teaching art in a college or art school. Through this program, which can generally take 2-3 years to complete, you will gain an understanding of the art world past and present while enhancing your own artistic skills. You will have the chance to experiment in different artistic mediums, collaborate with others and receive critiques of your work.

An MFA program is usually offered in an on-campus setting. Some programs, however, may offer a hybrid format that combines periods of on-campus instruction with time for studio work at home and courses taken online.

Online Availability MFA programs may be offered in a hybrid format
Prerequisites Related bachelor's degree, letters of recommendation, and portfolio
Curriculum Art history, academic and studio courses combined with teaching seminars; exhibition of work used as a final project
Concentrations Ceramics, photography, digital media, painting, metals
Related Doctorate Programs PhD in a related field such as art history, criticism, and art theory
Median Salary (2018) $49,380 (for all fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 7% growth (for all fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do I Need to Enroll?

Schools generally require a bachelor's degree. In some cases, a degree in the visual arts is required, or one in another subject if you have a specific amount of art history credits. Still others may require the applicant to have a Bachelor of Fine Arts or its equivalent. You will need to submit letters of recommendation along with your application, as well as a portfolio of your recent work.

What Courses Will I Take?

You will take a combination of academic, art history and studio courses, with the last heavily emphasized. Some programs include teaching seminars and the opportunity to connect with visiting professional artists. You will work closely with a faculty advisor or mentor who will evaluate your progress. Your thesis will be an exhibition of your work during the final semester.

Can I Specialize?

Most programs will require you to choose a particular medium to specialize in, and the majority of your course hours will be in that concentration. You may also be able to choose a secondary specialization. Depending on the program, you can choose your medium from a list that spans many art disciplines. These can include:

  • Painting
  • Metals
  • Ceramics
  • Print-Making
  • Sculpture
  • Photography
  • Digital and electronic media
  • Illustration

What Can I Study at the PhD Level?

While there is no studio art degree higher than the MFA, you can earn a doctoral degree in a related field, if you wish to continue your education. Example areas of study include art criticism, art history and art theory. Most PhD programs require qualifying exams, language exams and a dissertation.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Duke University

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Durham
  • Temple University

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Stony Brook University

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Stony Brook
  • Yale University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: New Haven
  • Washington University in St Louis

    Campus Locations:

    • Missouri: Saint Louis
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Chapel Hill
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Champaign
  • University of Illinois at Chicago

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Chicago
  • University of Chicago

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Chicago
  • Tulane University of Louisiana

    Campus Locations:

    • Louisiana: New Orleans