MFA Requirement Manual

The MFA is a practice-based degree program where students develop a creative and research inquiry anchored in media production and engaged with relevant historical and theoretical contexts. The typical student profile is the maker whose practice lies at the core of an engaged critical inquiry. Students are expected to define their practice, its historical and theoretical context, and its position in relation to the professional field(s) with which they are in dialogue.

The University at Buffalo's Department of Media Study is committed to enrolling MFA students that we can fund. Unfortunately, we will not be able to fund any new MFA students during the 2024-2025 academic year. As a result, the department will not be accepting any applications to the MFA in Media Arts Production program during the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. We are sorry for any confusion this may cause.

The Department of Media Study IS accepting applications for our unfunded MAH and MS programs. And we are also accepting applications for the fully-funded PhD program as well as the dual degree MAAP (MFA/MArch) program to begin in Fall 2024. If you would like to learn about these other Media Study graduate programs that ARE accepting applications this fall, please reach out to the Graduate Admissions Coordinator ( or Director of Graduate Studies ( directly.

If you would like to receive updates regarding our MFA program (and other graduate programs), please fill out this form:

We plan to resume accepting applications for the MFA in Media Arts Production in the fall of 2025.

Credit Distribution Requirements

Course credits required for graduation must be distributed as described below. There is some latitude in how a particular course might fit into this scheme. A student may apply to have suitable courses not previously listed as “production” or as “media history/theory/interpretation” accepted for credit in these categories. Students must first consult with their faculty advisor in this regard. 

Note regarding credit distribution:  It is the intention of the department to switch most or all of its classes to 3 credits apiece beginning in the Fall 2021 semester.  This may complicate getting the exact number of credits in each category.  In the event that a targeted number of credits cannot be met exactly, it must be exceeded.  The additional credit will count as elective.   Credit requirements for students beginning in Fall 2021 and later are listed in the headers, below, while requirements for students prior to Fall 2021 are noted separately.

24 Production credits required for those entering prior to Fall 2021

12 credits in Media Theory etc. for those starting before Fall 2021

4 Graduate Seminar Credits for those starting before Fall 2021

13 Elective Credits for those starting before Fall 2021

7 Thesis Project credits required for those who started before Fall 2021

Thesis Goals and Guidelines

The MFA thesis serves as the culminating creative project of the MFA program and consists of a production as well as a manuscript. The thesis should demonstrate the student’s technical and aesthetic development and a level of depth and proficiency in communicating in written form ideas pertinent to the student’s field of concentration.


The MFA at DMS is a three-year program. In order to graduate within the stipulated time frame students are required to organize their time and resources carefully. This includes keeping the DMS administration informed of progress or lack thereof. Students are strongly advised to consult with their faculty advisor to ensure that course selections (electives) meet DMS course elective requirements, especially during semesters that have no DMS internal requirements (semester 3, for example). Furthermore, students are strongly encouraged to make use of the summer break between semesters 4 and 5 to ensure timely (6 semester) completion of all the steps leading to graduation.

The following sections outline the flow through the 6 semester program (S1 to S6), listing mandatory courses and events.


There are four key moments of evaluation and forward progression in the course of the MFA student’s matriculation:

End of first semester (Graduate Seminar I); First Year Review; End of fourth semester (Grad Sem II); MFA Defense.

Faculty teaching Graduate Seminar I evaluate the end of first semester presentation (Grad Sem I for MFA).

The entire faculty evaluate the First Year Review.

Faculty teaching Graduate Seminar II evaluate the end of fourth semester exhibition. The MFA Thesis Committee evaluates the MFA Defense.

The Director of Graduate Study may observe the MFA Defense and evaluates (approves / denies) the final submission of MFA project / thesis.