Art - Master of Fine Arts

Emphasis: Studio Art

Art requirements for an MFA degree with an emphasis in studio art include a minimum of 60 credits of academic work, usually completed in three years. Of those 60 credits,

  • 9 must be taken in art history,
  • 6 in non-art courses numbered 450 or above,
  • 6 in ARTS 598 Studio Thesis
  • 3 in ARTH 579 Graduate Seminar: Art Theory, Criticism, Historiography
  • 12 in ARTS 596 Graduate Studio Seminar.

In order to remain in good standing in the MFA program, a student must maintain an average GPA of 3.0. Any grade lower than B- in an Art Department graduate course is considered failing. In the event that a student fails a required course, they must repeat the class in order to get credit for it. If a student is awarded a graduate assistantship, he or she must maintain an average GPA of 3.0.

Prefix Title Credits
Program Requirements
ARTH 579Graduate Seminar: Art Theory, Criticism, Historiography3
ARTS 596Graduate Studio Seminar12
ARTS 598Studio Thesis6
ARTS Electives (ARTS 500 level)18
Non-ARTS/Non-ARTH 450 level or higher courses6
ARTS courses (500 level)9
Two additional courses, either ARTS 596 or 500-level ARTS Elective6
Total Credits60

Semester Reviews

At the end of the first two semesters, each graduate student's creative production will be reviewed by the assembled faculty. Participation in semester reviews are required for successful completion of graduate level studio courses.


Candidacy occurs during the third semester of study in residency. Candidacy consists of a formal review of the student’s work by the assembled graduate faculty. The graduate faculty advances the student to his or her final 3 semesters of study by a majority vote. If the faculty does not advance the student, candidacy may be repeated one additional time at the end of the next consecutive semester. The final three semesters of thesis work will commence from that point. Students who are not successful in their second candidacy attempt will be dis-enrolled from the MFA program.

Thesis Committee

At the end of the third semester and after a successful candidacy the student will propose his or her thesis committee, consisting of two department of art graduate faculty members, and one graduate faculty member from outside the department.

Thesis Exhibition

The studio thesis will culminate in an exhibition of the candidate’s creative works and a written thesis statement. A successful oral examination and defense of the thesis and exhibition is required for graduation. Two copies of the thesis and a photographic record of the final exhibition are required; other requirements may be determined by the graduate faculty. Students who do not satisfactorily complete their oral examination may not participate in the thesis exhibition.

Thesis exhibitions for the MFA degree will be held in the spring semester in the University Art Museum. Students who wish to graduate at mid-year are obligated to find an exhibition space other than the NMSU Art Museum that meets with the approval of the graduate committee. In this case the student is responsible for making all arrangements for the thesis exhibition.


Admission to the MFA program in studio art is based on an accredited BA, BS, or BFA degree (or equivalent) with a major in art or related field, including at least 45 credits in studio art or related courses and 15 credits in art history, 9 of which must be 300-level or above (or equivalent). Any deficiencies must be corrected by undergraduate course work to be completed before advancement to candidacy. Exceptions to these requirements will be considered by the graduate committee. Students with an earned MA may be considered with the consent of the faculty, for advancement to candidacy for the MFA degree upon completion of one semester or 9 credits in residence at NMSU. The number of transferable credits from a previous graduate program will be determined by the department head and the graduate advisor before consideration for candidacy.

All applicants for admission to the MFA program in studio art must submit through the Graduate School application portal (

  • Submit a portfolio of 20 images 
  • Include an Image List that identifies each piece by title, date, size and media.
  • A written statement of intent, including scholarly and professional goals and the applicant’s interest in studying at NMSU
  • Letters of recommendation from three qualified people of the applicant’s choice
  • Official undergraduate transcripts

Admission to the MFA program in studio art will be decided upon consideration of all materials. Application guidelines are available on the Departmental website. The majority of teaching assistantships and studio spaces are awarded in the fall. Psychometric test scores are not required. 

For international applicants, refer to the following link for international student admission information:

Application Deadline

The final submission date for all application materials and teaching assistantship applications is January 20th for the following year.