MFA in art and art history jumps 32 spots in annual ‘U.S. News & World Report’ rankings

MFA Artwork
Art by MFA student JoHanna Guilfoyle in the February 2020 show "Proximity."

The master of fine arts program in Colorado State University’s Department of Art and Art history has been ranked 32 slots higher than it was last year in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Colleges” edition.

The MFA program jumped from 131st to 99th. The higher ranking comes on the heels of a host of other accomplishments in the department.

U.S. News & World Report logoAssociate Professor Del Harrow recently won a United States Artists Fellowship, and Associate Professor Dave Riep won the Exceptional Achievement in Instructional Innovation in Service Learning Award from The Institute for Learning and Teaching. Kathy Chynoweth, a member of the department’s support staff, won the 2019-20 College of Liberal Arts State Classified Award.

Painting graduate student Andrea Bagdon had an experimental video shown at the College Art Association Conference in February. Graphic design graduate student Sam Dong Saul won a Highest Achievement Graduate award from the College of Liberal Arts in the fall at the GradShow, and, in the same show, fibers graduate student Amy Young won an Undergraduate Choice Visual Arts Top Scholar award.

About the program

The department’s MFA program is the most comprehensive visual arts program in the Rocky Mountain West and one of the largest academic departments at CSU. Alumni exhibit their work nationally and internationally, and teach at schools, universities and workshop programs. CSU alumni jury and curate exhibitions, work as designers, contribute to conferences and arts publications, and work with arts organizations.

Graduate students develop an in-depth body of work within the following areas of specialization: drawing, fibers, graphic design, metalsmithing and jewelry, painting, printmaking and sculpture. Elective coursework promotes involvement with other media, expands creative strategies, and ensures interaction with faculty with expertise in a variety of disciplines. The MFA program leads to the completion and exhibition of a mature body of art. During this period of rigorous study, students maintain a high level of studio and scholarly activity.

The 60-credit MFA program emphasizes substantial work in an area of specialization. In these concentration areas, students typically enroll in a total of 30 credits that include studio courses, independent research and thesis work. Graduate students also enroll in approximately 30 additional credits: elective studio courses and art history, art-history and studio seminars and academic electives.

MFA artwork Patrick Price
Art by MFA student Patrick Price
MFA artwork
"Frenemy Bracelet" by MFA student Amy Young

The curriculum

The first two years of the program are marked by technical and conceptual exploration, critical investigation, and research in art history. Students review work in individual and group critiques, participate in open-studio tours, and invite faculty from any field for studio visits and reviews.

Andrea Bagdon
MFA student Andrea Bagdon presenting during her graduate qualifying review.

The third year of the program is devoted to developing works of art for each student’s thesis. During this time, students write an abstract and formal paper to accompany their work, and prepare art for inclusion in the spring graduate exhibition at the University Art Museum.

Most graduate students share semi-private studios in the Visual Arts Building or the nearby Graduate House. Students have access to undergraduate studio facilities, the department computer lab and digital-fabrication lab. Skills training is available for work in the department woodshop. Students at all levels have opportunities to discuss their work with visiting artists and critics, and to research artworks in the collection of the CSU Art Museum.

The MFA program hosts between 18 and 25 students at a time, on average, which means graduate students get a lot of attention from their teachers. An MFA is a terminal degree in studio art and graduates are able to teach, while some go on to become studio artists. The second-year grad students just finished their qualifying reviews at the end of February and held a group show in the Directions Gallery.

CSU University Communications Staff