MFA in Studio Art

Installation by Gary Sczerbaniewicz

The MFA program brings together the practice and history of art and design, as well as the theoretical and historical study of visual culture in its wider context. Each student’s potential is developed within a community of students and faculty that are engaged in intensive discourse, investigation, and the production of challenging work.

Our goal in the MFA program is to prepare leaders who are ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of cultural production, whether it is pursuing a professional studio practice, entering the job market in the cultural sector, or pursuing a career in academia. 

Coursework consists of a mixture of critical theory, studio courses, art history and academic electives. Critiques, presentations, readings, and discussions with resident faculty, visiting artists, designers and critics come together to form graduate level study. Graduate students meet regularly with a committee of three faculty members, in addition to other faculty, to shape their research and progress. The second-year culminates in a thesis exhibition or alternative public presentation and a written thesis defense. 

The MFA is a rigorous 60 credit, two–year residency program; no part-time study is allowed. The program requires a strong work ethic, personal development of artistic practice and freedom of creative inquiry and production. All graduate students receive their own studio space and 24-hour access to all labs in any media. Hallmarks of our program include nationally and internationally renowned faculty, visiting artists and a progressive philosophy that encourages cross-disciplinary pursuits in the context of a large AAU research institution. 

The MFA program enrolls between 20 - 24 students at any given time insuring a high level of contact with a dedicated and professionally diverse group of faculty. Students are supported by the broad range of faculty research interests. These areas include (but are not limited to): biological arts, drawing, emerging media, graphic design, installation, performance art, painting, photography, print media, sculpture, tactical media, activism, curatorial practices. The Art Resource Center/ARC, an extension of the UB Libraries, supports all art department and Visual Studies programs.

Studios and Facilities

Students have private or semi-private studios and access to departmental facilities and communal labs. Shared labs support photography (digital and black-and-white non-silver), print media (lithography, intaglio, screen, digital, relief and letterpress), sculpture (full wood and metal shops, bronze foundry and digital lab with laser cutter), graphic design, video/sound recording and editing, electronic/physical computing, painting, drawing, performance and biological art. All studios and labs have wireless high-speed connections.

MFA Program Plan

The MFA program is 2 years /60 credits (15 credits per semester over 4 semesters).

This is an interdisciplinary program therefore without concentration specific requirements.

Year 1

Fall Semester

  • ART 509 Graduate Seminar I (3 credits) Fall semester only
  • VS 521 Intro to Critical Theory (3 credits) Fall semester only
  • Academic elective (3 credits)
  • ART 599 Studio electives (6 credits) and/or studio course

Spring Semester

  • ART 599 Studio electives (9 credits) and/or studio course
  • Academic electives (6 credits)

Year 2

Fall Semester

  • ART 510 Graduate Seminar II (3 credits) Fall semester only
  • ART 699 Studio electives (6 credits) and/or studio course
  • Academic electives (3 credits)
  • ART 690 Graduate Project Supervision (3 credits) Register with chair of thesis committee

Spring Semester

  • ART 699 Studio electives (6 credits) and/or studio course
  • Open elective-studio or academic (3 credits)
  • ART 690 Graduate Project Supervision (3 credits) Register with chair of thesis committee

This program is suggested and does not need to be strictly followed as long as all program requirements are met. In the sample shown, students take 2 academic electives in the spring semester of their first year and by doing so the final semester of study is freed up for complete immersion in the studio /thesis project. Alternatively, students may wish to divide the 4 academic electives evenly across 4 semesters, or some other variation.

Supervised Teaching Requirement for Teaching Assistants

In addition to the above, each semester Teaching Assistants are required to register for one credit of ART 598, Supervised Teaching. These credits do not count towards the 60 credits required for the MFA degree.

Frequency of Graduate Course Offerings

Required courses are offered at least once per year. Most graduate level studio courses are offered on alternate semesters. Most academic seminars rotate over a one-year or two-year cycle.

The following is a list of courses taught over the past few years and planned for the near future:

Graduate Level Visual Studies Courses

Studio Courses (LAB)

  • ART 509/510 Graduate Seminar 1&2 (F)
  • ART 525 Interactive Computer Art (varies)
  • ART 547 History of Graphic Design (F)
  • ART 562 Installation: Urban Space (F)
  • ART 589 Real Space Electronic Art (Sp)
  • ART 573 Performative Action (Sp)
  • VS 575 Science, Culture, Media
  • Tutorials (Independent Studio Research- Labs)
  • ART 599 First Year Graduate Research /tutorial 1-6 credits
  • ART 699 Second Year Graduate Research
  • ART 666 Art Internship (tutorial)
  • ART 690 Graduate Project Supervision

Academic Courses

  • VS 500 Topics in Visual Studies past and present courses include:
  • VS 500 Documentary Photography
  • VS 500 Warhol
  • VS 500 Postwar Postmodern
  • VS 500 Art, Sex and the Sixties
  • VS 500 Image & Gender
  • VS 501 Introduction to Visual Studies
  • VS 505 Tactics of Praxis
  • AHI 508 Studies in Ancient Art
  • VS 521 Introduction to Critical Theory (F)
  • AHI 522 Studies in Italian Renaissance Art
  • AHI 548 History of Photography (F)
  • VS 550 Art and Psychoanalysis
  • VS 579 The Revolutionary Sublime
  • VS 580 Discourse and Deconstruction
  • ART 589 Real Space Electronic Art (F)
  • AHI 590 Methods of Art History (F)
  • VS 590 Theories of Montage
  • VS 587 Vision, Space and Power
  • VS 594 Wiemar Theory
  • VS 595 Independent Study/ Advanced Reading
  • AHI 598 Museum Internship
  • AHI 599 Independent Study
  • VS 695 Advanced Research
  • VS 700 PhD Thesis Guidance
  • AHI 661 Graduate Research (Art History / MA Thesis Guidance)
  • VS 598 MA Thesis Guidance (Visual Studies)
  • VS 700 PhD Thesis Guidance (Visual Studies)

A Sampling of Recommended Graduate Seminars at UB

(See individual department websites for course descriptions)

American Studies

  • AMS 500 Politics of Image: Race, Body and Aesthetics in Latin America
  • AMS 500 Feminist Studies
  • AMS 500 Contemporary Critical Theory: Biopolitics, Necropolitics and the Management of the Body
  • AMS 503/504 Topics in Cultural History 1 and 2
  • AMS 520 Politics of Urban Space
  • AMS 540 Caribbean Thought
  • AMS 560 Black Aesthetics


  • APY575 Ethnography and Personal Narrative


  • AHC 519 Contemporary Theory
  • AHC 523 Gender, Architecture and Urban Space
  • AHC 564 Behavior and Space
  • AHC 579 Sustainable Design
  • AHC 590/598 Junk Culture
  • AHC 590/598 In-Between Architecture and Landscape
  • AHC 590/598 The Social Nature of Architecture

Caribbean Research Center

  • CRC 515 Caribbean Arts
  • CRC 596 Contemporary Art
  • CRC 601 Cuban Film and Insularity
  • CRC 608 Contemporary Sculpture

Comparative Literature

  • COL 726 The Romantic Sublime
  • COL 731 Politics of Beauty


  • ENG 586 Digital Humanities: Networks, Objects, Games
  • ENG 605 Media Curating
  • ENG 648 Psychoanalytic Criticism
  • ENG 648 Kiarostami/ Corbin/ Lacan
  • ENG 653 Critical Theory: Representing Human Rights
  • ENG 653 Critical Theory: Foucault and Co.
  • ENG 653 Critical Theory: Queer Theory
  • ENG 680 Word and Image
  • ENG 683 American Film History
  • ENG 680 Fieldwork Methodology
  • ENG 685 Narrative Voice
  • ENG 685 Documentary Praxis
  • ENG 699 Ethnopoetics

Gender Studies

  • GGS 518 Readings in Feminist Studies
  • GGS 591 Writing Women’s Bodies
  • GGS 661 Gender in the Humanities: Modes of Interpretation


  • HIS 551 Intellectual in America
  • HIS 556 History of the Book

Media Study
Note: Some DMS courses are labs (studio) others are academics

  • DMS 505 Ethnographic Media
  • DMS 512 Film Theory
  • DMS 515 Wearable Media
  • DMS 523 Programming Graphics
  • DMS 543 Media Robotics 1: Physical Computing
  • DMS 548 Game Studies Colloquium
  • DMS 555 Access New York
  • DMS 566 Network Landscapes
  • DMS 612 Video Analysis


  • PHI 544 Aesthetics
  • PHI 589 Contemporary Philosophy
  • PHI 637 Biotethics
  • PHI 698 Simone de Beauvoir


  • TH 620 Theatre and Performance Scholarship
  • TH 610 Theatre and Performance Research

MFA in Studio Art Faculty


For more information

Contact Us

Stephanie Rothenberg

138 Center for the Arts

Phone: (716) 645-0546

Director, Graduate Program
Graphic Design Program Head
Associate Professor
Department of Art
College of Arts and Sciences

138 Center for the Arts

Phone: (716) 645-0546

Lisa Hewitt
Lisa Hewitt

202C Center for the Arts

Phone: (716) 645-0537

Academic Advisor
Department of Art
College of Arts and Sciences

202C Center for the Arts

Phone: (716) 645-0537