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Master of Fine Arts Overview

Connect. Discover. Create.

The Master of Fine Arts degree program in the Department of Art and Design at Purdue University provides a dynamic interdisciplinary environment in which students intensively develop and refine their artistic and/or design aesthetic under the mentorship of actively engaged artist/educators. The three-year curriculum combines theory, art/design history, and studio research courses, allowing students to form study plans according to their specific needs. Much of the coursework is completed during the first half of the program, dedicating the remainder of time to creative research and the completion of a thesis exhibition. Students also have the option of completing a formal thesis in addition to their final exhibition. 

Teaching assistantships include foundation drawing and design courses, as well as some higher-level courses, and feature excellent mentoring. Full teaching assistantships (teaching two courses per semester) provide a base salary of approximately $20,000 for ten months, remission of tuition, health benefits, and in-state tuition for spouses. 



The Master of Fine Arts in Art or Design requires a total of 60 credit hours: theory and research methods (6 hours), two art or design history courses (6 hours), six studio arts or design courses (18 hours), four other departmental and university electives (12 hours), and research project in studio arts or design including graduate exhibition (18 hours). Some students complete three hours of an industry internship as part of their electives.

Plans of Study

Thesis exhibition

Gallery requirements, forms, and instructions


Formal Thesis Option

A formal thesis may be completed with an additional 6 credit hours. Click here for more information. 

Facilities and Resources

The Department of Art and Design is located in the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts and has additional graduate studio space less than a block away in the Forestry Products Building. Graduate students are given 24-hour access to studio spaces, computer studios, shops and lab facilities housing state-of-the-art equipment including laser cutter, CNC machine, 3-D printers, digital and professional photography labs equipment, Epson printers, silkscreen tables, lithography and etching presses, and much more. Also, the department maintains a collection of 130,000 slide images and subscriptions to professional journals and periodicals in its own Visual Resource Library. Lastly, the Purdue Gallery program offers an exhibition program as an important part of the learning experience.

Art and Design students at Purdue have the advantage of extensive campus resources and may participate in a wide variety of educational, cultural, and social events. In addition to the museums and galleries available in the Greater Lafayette area, Purdue provides convenient access to the fine arts resources of two major cities: Chicago, 123 miles to the north, and Indianapolis, 60 miles to the south.

Campus visits are welcome to those interested in our program and facilities. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Art and Design for an appointment.


Career Opportunities

Master of Fine Arts program graduates go on to pursue a broad range of distinguished careers. With professional competency in the creation and application of art or design and the transmission of knowledge of art or design disciplines, graduates are prepared to pursue various creative positions. Alumni hold positions in several branches of art and design, including museum and gallery curating, art and design education, arts administration, exhibiting artists, independent design consulting and operations, and leadership positions in major corporations.

Featured Student Works

Integrative. Innovative. Discovery.

Graduate students are encouraged to explore conceptual issues, hybrid art forms, new technologies, reinvigorate traditional forms, and engage in critical dialogue and writing. Below are a few examples of graduate student visual works.