Skip to main content

MFA Program

MFA Program

Program Requirements

View program requirements


  • VIS 201
  • VIS 205
  • VIS 502 (Fall)
  • VIS 299 with Advisor (1 qtr)
  • VIS 210-219
  • Out of Dept. Grad course 200+
  • Pre-Program Art History if needed


  • VIS 202
  • VIS 203
  • VIS 208 (Spring)
  • VIS 500
  • VIS 210-219
  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Elective


  • VIS 209 (Fall)
  • VIS 295 (Winter)
  • Elective
  • Elective

First Year Review

This review takes place in the third quarter in residence. Students make a formal presentation of their work in a campus gallery to a faculty committee; this includes a position paper of 5000 words and an oral examination. This presentation is considered a departmental examination, and if at its conclusion the student’s work is judged to be inadequate, the student may be dismissed regardless of GPA, or may be reviewed again in the fourth quarter.


  1. Student books gallery space in appropriate quarter and week as randomly selected during orientation.
  2. Student works with their provisional advisor to form committee in accordance with campus policy.
  3. Student and advisor work with committee to book a time for oral exam of approximately 2 hours and copy with date/time when confirmed.
  4. Winter quarter Monday of Week 5, Student submits committee constitution form to 
  5. At least 2 weeks prior to show opening, position paper is shared with committee chair/advisor.
  6. Position paper is circulated to the committee at least 7 days prior to the meeting date.
  7. Student brings First Year review form to meeting and committee attendees sign.
  8. If the student passes the exam, they email the form to the Graduate Coordinator at 
  9. If there are concerns regarding the progress of the work, the committee chair notes concerns on form with plan for next steps and turns into the Graduate Coordinator and MFA Faculty Coordinator.

MFA Thesis Presentation

Thesis Paper—A thesis is a work of research that demonstrates and investigates the context and process of the production of the work.  It should be produced out of discussion with the student's advisor and in dialogue with VIS 209 Seminar. It should be 7000 words minimum.

Thesis Show/Presentation of Work—During the last quarter in residence, each student is required to present to the public a coherent exhibition or screening of their work in one of the UC San Diego gallery spaces. 

We require that the thesis show is documented in a considered manner that can be used to archive the presentation of the work. 

A catalog is optional and a way to combine the thesis and the thesis show documentation images.

Typical Process for Spring Thesis

     Fall Quarter

  • Enroll in VIS 209
  • Reconnect with all Committee Members and confirm participation
  • Thesis Paper Draft submitted to Advisor/Committee Chair
  • With Advisor approval book appropriate on campus gallery space for Thesis Show

     Winter Quarter

     Spring Quarter

Drifting Critiques

A committee of three Visual Arts faculty assigned by the Department Chair, conduct individual critiques with each student in the cohort.  These Drifting Critiques generally take place in week 7 each quarter.  Students are expected to show current work and research ideas.

FALL-3rd years

WINTER-1st years

SPRING-2nd years

MFA Exhibition


The 2021 OPEN STUDIOS is hosted on the Grad Exhibitions site! Past exhibitions include the Spring 2020 graduating MFA exhibition, as well as, MFA First Year Reviews, and special seminar projects.

Open Studios