Advisory Committee, Curriculum, and Requirements

Advisory Committee

Each M.F.A. in Creative Visual Arts student selects a three-member advisory committee, composed of an advisor of record from the Department of Art's graduate faculty and two additional members, also members of the Cornell graduate faculty. One of these members must be from the Department of Art's graduate faculty; the other may be from the graduate affiliate faculty list.

In the first semester of study, the director of graduate studies will assign the student a temporary advisory committee. By the end of the first semester, the student may select an advisor of record and two members fitting the above requirements. In addition to the required members, the student may add other graduate faculty from Cornell. All members of the M.F.A. advisory committee must be members of the graduate faculty.

Curriculum Requirements Overview

Studio Practice

(ART 7001, 7002, 8001, and 8002)
Upon entering the program, graduate students commence a rigorous investigation of their art and ideas within their studio practice. During the first year in the program, students participate in the studio visits rotation with full-time art faculty, meeting each faculty member for a studio visit at least twice during the span of the year. It is during these pivotal conversations that the students refine and hone in on what's most crucial to them in their studio practice and determine which faculty should be invited to be on each student's thesis advising committee, which will start to meet regularly in the second year of the program.

In the final semester of study, students enroll in ART 8002 Graduate Studio IV. As a final deliverable for this course, students produce a written artist statement and present a thesis exhibition of the studio work completed during their residency. Late in the semester, graduate students exhibit their work at a gallery in New York City.

Graduate Art Seminar

(ART 6000)

The Graduate Seminar is an integral component of the M.F.A. in Creative Visual Arts curriculum which addresses the range of contemporary art practice and its cultural contexts as an intellectual field of study. The purpose of the seminar is to generate an ongoing engagement with informed and committed discourse, one which parallels developments in the student's creative work. For this four-semester sequence of classes, topics may include art practice as a form of cultural identity and political agency; post-colonial critique and nonwestern conditions and contexts; contemporary subjectivities under recent historical conditions; rethinking forms and media in dialogue with history; and the status of exhibition and technology in society.

Professional Practice and Field Work in Contemporary Art

(ART 6100)

This required graduate course will focus on developing each student's individual needs in preparation for a life-long artistic and professional practice. We will workshop artist statements, grant and residency proposals, and hone writing skills with emphasis on both professional and creative modalities. In addition to one-on-one meetings and studio visits, the graduates will meet as a group to develop and cultivate our community with activities such as field trips to New York City to visit artist studios, galleries and museums, and other art destinations. The course will culminate in the development and curation of a group show in New York City. We will write the press release for the show, establish a title and theme, and work with the gallery on social media publicity and outreach, poster/flyer design, and all other aspects of curating/installing and publicizing an art exhibit.


M.F.A. in Creative Visual Arts students are required to complete at least two electives of 3 or more credits at the graduate level and are encouraged to enroll in additional electives to support the development of their artistic practice. Students can choose electives from a wide range of graduate course offerings across the university and within the college, including the Art and Architecture departments.

Credit Requirements

The M.F.A. in Creative Visual Arts degree requires four semesters of full-time study and the successful completion of a minimum of 60 graduate credits. Transfer credit for graduate work done elsewhere or during the summer session is not applicable toward these requirements. 

Faculty Advising

At the end of the first year in the program, each M.F.A. in Creative Visual Arts student invites faculty to be part of their three-member thesis advising committee, composed of a primary faculty advisor from the Department of Art and two additional advisors. One must be from the Department of Art; the other may be from outside the department.

Visiting Artist Lecture Series and Related Events

Throughout the year, the Teiger Mentor in the Arts Program brings internationally acclaimed artists to Cornell to make ongoing visits to studio and seminar classes and conduct individual critiques with M.F.A. in Creative Visual Arts students. The program aspires to give art students opportunities to make connections with and learn from a diverse range of leading professional artists. Attendance at these lectures is expected and helps build and strengthen our community.

Campus-wide, there is a range of art-related events hosted by departments including Architecture, History of Art, Performing and Media Arts, the College of Human Ecology, which includes the Department of Human Centered Design, the Johnson Museum, and the Creative Writing Program. Graduate students are encouraged to attend as many of these events as possible.

Graduate Assistantships

M.F.A. in Creative Visual Arts students have the opportunity to be employed as graduate assistants each semester that they are registered as full-time students in the program. This means that each student can assist up to four different courses, taught by four different faculty members. Not only is this an incredible opportunity to prepare for future teaching, but it also facilitates closer bonds with faculty and the possibility of mentoring undergraduate students.


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