What is graduate school?
Graduate school consists of completing an in-depth study/specialization of one field. Typically the primary means of evaluation for graduation is a research project or thesis.
Master of Fine Arts is the terminal degree within visual arts. Studying at a graduate level has allowed me to work within a positive collaborative environment to expand my artistic approach, challenge my innovation, develop my skills across different mediums and processes and develop my conceptual vision at an advanced level.
In what area of study did you receive your Bachelor's Degree?
I received my Bachelors Degree in Art Education
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree in art?
I wanted to continue developing and refining my own skills and concepts in an engaging, stimulating environment. I am now attending IUP to receive my MFA in drawing and painting so that I may eventually instruct at a collegiate level.
Specifically what graduate degree are you working toward?
Master of Fine Art in Drawing and Painting
How is graduate school different than an undergraduate program?
The graduate program is very concentrated and focused on your specific discipline and ideas, utilizing the skills you have mastered to communicate and further investigate the concepts you are exploring. You are not required to take general education courses or pre-requisites and it is not about developing techniques or class projects. At this level, these things have already been accomplished and you are afforded the liberty to pursue your ideas and aesthetic. The feedback from critiques and one on one time with faculty is more about developing your ideas and how to most effectively communicate these concepts.
How do you receive grades and feedback?
Standard grades are still given along with in-depth written evaluations. There are frequent one on one critiques with professors and also group critiques with peers across all disciplines.
What does a graduate course look like?
A graduate class could be structured a variety of ways. I typically worked in my studio during my studio classes and my professors would take time to meet individually during class time. We would then meet frequently to critique each others work. Some of our studio classes were incorporated into the advanced undergraduate classes. Our work was very separate yet it allowed us to give them feedback on their development and lead their critiques as more of an instructor role.
My Graduate class is very small so we have classes with other graduates in other disciplines such as ceramics and sculpture. Our theory classes are composed of all graduates across discipline and year. The professors are on a rotating schedule so we were exposed to many different faculty members to receive diverse feedback. These classes consist of a lot of reading and writing that speak to your professional practice and research.
Where do you make your work?
I have my own studio space in the art center on campus.
Are you required to exhibit?
There are no set restrictions yet one is expected to be a practicing artist within the field and pursuing many exhibition opportunities.
Are you required to take other coursework in addition to your art studies?
Beyond theory and professional development, other courses outside my discipline are not required. However, your independent field study should contain influences and resources from other fields of study beyond art.
How does one afford graduate school? Is it covered by student loans?
Many schools award Graduate Assistantships, which contribute greatly toward your tuition. There are also federal loans available that you may attain in a very similar process as an undergraduate.
How long is graduate school?
Most MFA programs are 2-3 years. My program is a total of 60 credits. Each class is 3 credits. A typical semester consists of 12 credits and then you take 6 credits over the summer. With this schedule it is possible to finish your course work in 2 years and the third year is dedicated to your thesis paper and solo thesis exhibition.
See more of Eric's art at his Facebook page, Eric Brennan Art