Graduate Programs

MFA FAQ

About the Program
Applying

About the Program

Do students focus in a specific medium?

The Stamps MFA program is interdisciplinary. In other words, MFA students do not "major" in a specific discipline, such as "MFA in Ceramics".  Students are free to work in the medium of their choice and encouraged to work across disciplines - within and outside the field of art.

Do you have teaching opportunities for graduate students?

Yes. Stamps has a variety of positions open to graduate students. Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) positions are teaching positions. Graduate Student Staff Assistant (GSSA) positions are administrative in nature and may include work with our galleries, international programs, shops, or communications department. Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA) positions are academically relevant research based work pairing graduate students with full time faculty or staff.

Do international students receive financial support?

International students are eligible for the same financial support as domestic students.

Can the programs be completed while working full-time?

No. The MFA and MDes programs are designed to be completed through full-time study for two years.

Can I visit the program?

Yes!  Schedule your visit online, and email stamps-gradinfo@umich.edu with any questions.  

What is the student to faculty ratio?

The Stamps School has a large faculty: 40 full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty, 30 full-time lecturers, and 20 affiliated faculty. There are approximately 20 MFA and MDes graduate students. If you include all the faculty, the ratio is more than 4 faculty to 1 student.

Where can I find the schedule of courses?

The Stamps course schedule is available at http://stamps.umich.edu/courses.

What kinds of hands-on experiences do students gain?

In our MFA program, there are multiple ways students gain hands-on experience. MFA students intern as studio assistants, they learn specific studio skill sets, they learn to prepare exhibitions and develop writing skills for professional practice such as grant-writing. Often MFA students will work with our long term visiting artists on an installation or new project. Some MFA students also teach and have hands-on experience working with undergraduate students. The Stamps School has strong connections with regional community engagement projects. MFA students also interact with departments across campus and their related hands-on experiences from building a solar powered car to an archaeological dig.

How do graduates use their MFA degree?

The MFA degree is a terminal degree. The MFA is often a required qualification for certain teaching positions at universities in the United States. It is also recognized at higher education institutions in most countries. The MFA degree makes you eligible for certain residencies, post graduate programs and employment opportunities.

What role do faculty members play in my studies?

Faculty are your advisors and mentors. You will have one consistent faculty advisor throughout the program. You’ll meet with this advisor at least seven times each semester to review your creative work and practice. In addition, students often seek out other faculty to review their work.

Do I have an option to change the faculty I want to work with during my studies?

Ideally we’d like you to work with your faculty the full two years of the program. However, if necessary, a change in advisors can be made.

Do you accept applicants who do not have undergraduate degrees in art?

Yes, occasionally. However, applicants must demonstrate the ability to carry out independent creative work and research, have a strong educational background along with an interest in interdisciplinary inquiry, and substantive life experience to draw on in charting new directions for creative practice.

Do MFA students take graduate and undergraduate courses?

MFA students can take upper level undergraduate courses or graduate level courses. Your advisors and the MFA Program Director work closely with you in identifying appropriate courses.

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Applying

Where can I find information about the MFA faculty?

Information about our MFA faculty is found at http://stamps.umich.edu/graduate-programs/mfa_faculty.

Do I need to contact the three faculty I name in my application?

It is not a requirement that you contact your potential faculty advisors. Some applicants are in touch with faculty and others are not during the application process.

The application asks to describe outside interests and name external faculty.  Please explain.

As far as the Creative Work Statement essay is concerned, we are interested in learning about your interests outside of the Stamps School. The outside cognate is an important part of our program. As an art & design school within a major research university, we want to ensure that students take advantage of the extraordinary engagement with external departments and areas of study. All the external academic units at the university have faculty biographies listed on their web pages. Your selection of an external area of study and external faculty member does not constitute a "contractual" obligation. Your description should demonstrate an interest in an area that has connections with your work whether in a general nature or as a specialization. In our two year program, MFA students begin work with their outside cognate during the first semester.

Is the GRE required?

No. If you have taken the GRE and would like to submit your scores, please feel free to do so, but they are not required.

Is an English proficiency test required of non-native English speakers?

Yes. The University accepts scores from the following organizations: TOEFL, MELAB, IELTS and ECPE. If you are an international student who has completed an accredited undergraduate degree in the United States, you are not required to take the TOEFL. For more information, visit the Rackham website.

What kind of work would you like to see in my portfolio?

The content of the portfolio is entirely the decision of the applicant. The application committee looks for a strong body of completed work demonstrating a thriving, developed studio practice as well as potential in innovative areas of inquiry. As a general policy, due to the number of applications we receive, we do not provide individual online feedback or critiques of application portfolios.

What constitutes an established creative practice?

Exhibitions, residencies, art commissions, site-specific work, performances, screenings, studio assistantships, grants, community projects and teaching experiences all constitute evidence of a creative practice.

How can I check the status of my application materials?

As long as you officially click "Submit" by the deadline, Rackham will continue to process application materials (transcripts, recommendation letters, etc.) after the .

The best way to check to see if your materials have been matched to your application is to log into Wolverine Access, select the “Students” tab, then click on the “New & Prospective Business” link. Due to the high volume of documents received by Rackham, we ask that you allow 10 business days to view your application and materials.

You can confirm the receipt of the following via Wolverine Access:

  • Test Scores
  • Transcripts from institutions that awarded the Bachelor's, Master's, Professional, and/or Doctoral degree.
  • Recommendations can be tracked through the online application system, ApplyWeb Account, activity page, or in your Wolverine Access account.

Documents that will not be confirmed in Wolverine Access are:

  • Application PDF forms
  • Written Essays (Statement of purpose, creative statements)
  • Resumes / CVs
  • SlideRoom Portfolios
  • Transcripts for Community or Junior college, non-degree study, and/or study abroad coursework.
Will application materials be processed after the deadline?

As long as you officially click "Submit" on your Rackham application by the deadline, Rackham will continue to process application materials (transcripts, recommendation letters, etc.) after the deadline.

Can I “reuse” application materials that I submitted last year?

There are many items within your application that you are permitted to "reuse" from last year:

  • Letters of Recommendation: Once you have submitted your SlideRoom Portfolio, contact Stamps Graduate Admissions staff and ask to reupload your recommendations from last year. You may be asked in the Rackham application to identify the 3 recommenders - please do so, then notify your recommenders that we will be using their letters from last year.
  • Transcripts: A week after you officially submit your Rackham Application, let Stamps Graduate Admissions staff know if you would like Rackham to move the transcripts over from last year.
  • Creative and Academic Statements: Please review these to make sure that they still reflect your current creative practice and intentions.
  • CV: Updates are likely needed; please revise and submit.
  • English Language Test Scores (if applicable): If you submitted your TOEFL scores last year and they have not expired, you do not need to resubmit your scores. TOEFL scores are valid for 2 years from the date you took the exam.

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