Begun 1991, the MFA in Visual Art program is based on the principle of individualized learning. Students complete self-directed research projects with a faculty member and pursue their studio work with local artists in their own communities, chosen in collaboration with the program. Students develop their own mentor system and determine educational values and expectations according to self-initiated ideas of creative progress and artistic professionalism.
The program places emphasis on the content of each student’s artwork. The result is a unique, interdisciplinary program in which students examine art and the broader culture together, emerging from the program with a dynamic new vision of themselves, their work, and the artist’s role in society.
Our students, faculty, alumni, and guest artists reside across the U.S., Canada, and internationally.
Being an Artist on Your Own Terms
“Vermont College MFA students are evaluated by the richness of their artistic process and experience. Too often in MFA programs, progress is evaluated by students’ ability to produce an expected product…. Creative sovereignty is thus taken from the student and turned over to a set of ‘experts’ in the field who have constructed a predetermined set of expectations… [We encourage an understanding of] the model(s) of production that students choose to affiliate themselves with, and consider the process the students use in attempting to implement or challenge the models…. At all times, the discussion is centered on the students’ experiences, choices, and desires.”
-Steven Kurtz, founding faculty
“As an alternative model for graduate education in the arts, the MFA in Visual Art at Vermont College is organized around two ten-day residency sessions per year, with six-month semesters ‘at home’ in between, to accommodate adult students who need to integrate graduate study with jobs, family, and other location-based responsibilities. The residencies are intense. The almost nonstop interactions, exchange, and discussions among students, Faculty, visiting lecturer, and Artist-in-Residence make for an atmosphere that is electric, exhilarating, and, at times, quite exhausting. This energy from the residencies fuels the students’ creativity and commitment to artistic growth when they return home to develop their studio work with Artist-Teachers in their local communities while at the same time working on their visual culture research papers with a Faculty member through correspondence. The complex organizational structure of this unique educational situation provides students with both support and flexibility to face the challenges of being an artist on their own terms.”
-Janet Kaplan, founding faculty