MFA, Visual Arts

Graduate Program Director

Chad Erpelding

General Information

The Department of Art offers a three-year Master of Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts. The program encourages innovative work in art metals, ceramics, drawing, installation, interdisciplinary studio, new genres, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, social practice, video, etc.  The degree requires 60 total credits distributed as follows: 30 credits in studio; 9 credits in art history; 6 credits in Graduate Concourse; 3 credits in Graduate Seminar; 6 credits in Thesis; and 6 credits in general electives.  Students admitted to the program are provided with private studio space with access to an extensive wood shop equipped with a CNC router and spray booth.  Graduate faculty members hold regular studio visits and consultations.

Arin in studio

The MFA, Visual Arts degree program fosters students’ creative, intellectual, and professional development as artists who produce excellent work, are able to discuss and contextualize their work cogently, and who are prepared to enter various career paths available to artists. Course work emphasizes advanced studio practices, art history, theory, and criticism. A Visiting Artist Program that brings a wide range of artists and scholars to campus on a regular basis enhances the MFA experience by providing lectures, workshops, and critiques. The program culminates in an exhibition of a body of work, a written thesis that supports the work, and an oral defense of both.

The M.F.A., Visual Arts degree program at Boise State requires extensive research and writing as a fundamental aspect of artistic practice. Applicants to the program should document a desire and ability to engage in the highest level of discourse in all components of the program.

Program Objectives

The M.F.A., Visual Arts degree program is a catalyst for students:

  • To become professional studio artists and college level art instructors.
  • To realize their intellectual and creative potential as it applies to their chosen fine art discipline.
  • To gain awareness of, and situate their work in relation to contemporary art theory and practice.
  • To investigate a broad range of historical and contemporary issues relevant to their work and to place their work in the context of the world at large.
  • To become verbally fluent in the discussion of their own work and the work of other contemporary artists.
  • To engage in course work, research, and experimentation that supports their studio practice.
  • To become excellent and articulate writers.
  • To receive feedback and guidance in rigorous individual and group critiques.
  • To experience and value working within the peer group atmosphere provided by the program.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are awarded competitively to first year and continuing students. Assistantships include a nonresident tuition waiver, a resident fee waiver, and a stipend. Assistants must enroll for a minimum of nine credit hours each semester and meet any other requirements as set forth by the Graduate College.

Students must submit the Application for Graduate Assistantship form and a supportive statement to be considered for an assistantship. The form is available in PDF format at and must be received by the Department of Art on or before January 31 (see “Admissions” for additional required material and submission instructions).