MFA in Media Arts Production

Show held in Buffalo's Central Terminal.

The Department of Media Study’s MFA program in Media Arts Production has a long history of teaching and researching independent and experimental media forms. Within this context, the faculty is committed to preparing students to engage with the new media forms and formats of the 21st century. DMS courses include: film studies, film and video production, media studies, interactive media, computational media and physical computing, media networks and web-based media.

The MFA program encourages students to learn new media making skills and to produce work that challenges and extends conventional forms of media practice. Students finish their degree prepared to work as independent artists, media makers and/or producers for networks, studios, companies or nonprofits. Considered a terminal degree in the field, the MFA also allows the department’s graduates to teach in universities and colleges as professors or instructors. This program is appropriate for students whose primary focus is the process of media art making with a secondary focus on theorizing how their work is situated within the media field.

Learning Environment

Students in the program have the opportunity to become acquainted with many types of media production while becoming expert in the practice of one or more modes of production. The degree culminates in the student authoring both a final media project and a thesis. Production classes help students prepare for their final media project technologically, aesthetically and methodologically. Theoretically focused media courses help students situate their art and research within the field. Early in the program, students choose one faculty member in the Department of Media Study as their primary mentor and advisor who helps to guide their coursework and their research interests. Students completing their first year formally report to the assembled faculty on their progress and receive constructive feedback. Later in the program, the student selects additional thesis committee members who bring in their own expertise to the student’s work. Each student has a large degree of independence in his/her choice of curriculum. A close relationship with DMS faculty results in the MFA degree being an effective means to becoming a media artist and scholar in the field of Media Study. The program is designed to be completed in three years.

Program Requirements

Sixty credit hours are required and students are required to complete a substantial media project to accompany their required written thesis. 

The MFA Requirements worksheet is useful for tracking progress through the degree.
The MFA Schedule and Requirements document offers a more thorough set of guidelines for the degree. 

See Brad Hendricks see Brad Hendricks for forms.

Coursework Required

Production (16 credits): A variety of production courses are offered by the department each semester, sometimes in concert with undergraduate courses and often in graduate only sections. Students in these classes build on their existing knowledge and progress toward expertise in multiple modes of production. 

Media History/Theory/Interpretation (12 credits): The required course DMS 570, Media Theory, provides a graduate-level introduction to media theory. Students then take at least two more courses in media history, theory, or interpretation. 

Methods of Making (8 credits): The department offers three Methods of Making classes focusing on I) Video Production II) Computational Media - Physical Computing and III) Computational Media- Networks and Web-based Media. Because the department wants all MFA graduates to study a well-rounded curriculum, students are required to take the two classes focusing on the topics with which they are least familiar. Therefore, classes are taught at a level which is accessible to beginners in the production of the target media. 

Grad Seminar (4 credits): Students should plan to take these courses (I and II) in semester 1 and semester 4. Graduate Seminar I is a formative course in the theory and practice of media arts, with emphasis on research practices and methods. Continuing the thread of the first course, Graduate Seminar II includes a graduate student exhibition and the preliminary formulation of the final thesis topic. 

Directed Electives (13 credits): Working with their faculty advisor, students may choose any UB graduate courses that support their thesis research, provided they operate on the level of DMS graduate courses. Students must keep records (course work and syllabi) of all course activities performed outside of DMS. This information will become important when applying for MFA candidacy. 

Thesis and Project (7 credits): Thesis/project work is usually credited by registering for DMS 598 Project Supervision during the penultimate semester, and DMS 700 Thesis Guidance in the final semester, in any combination of credits suited to the work. 

Required Coursework outside DMS: Students must take at least 3 classes outside of DMS as part of their overall requirements for the major. Usually, these courses will be used for electives and will be chosen in concert with the student’s faculty advisor. Use of these courses for requirements other than electives must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Students are required to keep documentation (syllabi, semester papers, etc.) for these courses. All credits must be in graduate level courses (500 level and above).

Learn more about the Department of Media Study Graduate Programs