The MFA in Visual and Performing Arts is a terminal degree which prepares students as professional artists and scholars who can work within their specialty and teach at the university level. Creative work and skill building are at the core of the study. The curriculum is designed for serious and talented students who are prepared to examine modes of creative inquiry in an inclusive, unique environment that promotes exploration, analysis, synthesis, and development as artists.

Admissions

Concentration in Dance

The MFA in Visual and Performing Arts, concentration in Dance, is a highly selective 60-credit program of study grounded in the modern dance genre that emphasizes mastery in performance, choreography, and teaching in higher education. Applicants must have significant (5 years or more) professional performance experience in modern or ballet at the national or international level. They must also demonstrate professional competence in choreography as exemplified by a significant body of work, and have experience teaching technique at the advanced level.

All MFA applicants are required to submit the following items:

  • Online Application and Fee
  • Official transcripts from each institution of higher education attended
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Goals Statement

​The following should be sent directly to the School of Dance via SlideRoom:

  • 15-minute video of original choreography
  • Artistic Goals Statement
  • Resume
  • Applicant must satisfy the following prerequisites: advanced dance technique, improvisation, dance composition, history, anatomy/kinesiology, and dance production. Prerequisite courses are usually fulfilled if the applicant has earned a BA or BFA in Dance.

Qualified students will be invited for an audition after review of application materials.

Concentration in Graphic Design

All MFA applicants are required to submit the following items:

  • Online Application and Fee
  • Official transcripts from each institution of higher education attended
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Goals Statement

Additional Requirements for Concentration in Graphic Design:

  • Portfolio 
  • Writing Sample: A critical and historical essay or academic paper on a design- (preferred) or art-related topic. 

Portfolio Guidelines

The applicant's portfolio is a major selection criterion for graduate admission and should represent the applicant's most accomplished work.

The portfolio and all other application materials should be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions. For more information, contact the School of Art office at 703-993-8898.

Portfolios should include 20 samples of design work submitted through SlideRoom. Samples must be labeled with: name of artist, title, and date. Videos and Flash files (no more than 4 minutes for each section) must be playable through SlideRoom. In the case of collaborative work, the applicant's role should be clearly stated.

Concentration in Theater

Theater MFA students are admitted to a specific emphasis: acting, design & technology, directing, musical theater, or playwriting & dramaturgy. Specific programs of study will be designed for each individual, based on previous experience and expertise.

Admissions Requirements

All MFA applicants are required to submit the following items: 

  • Online Application and Fee
  • Official transcripts from each institution of higher education attended
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Goals Statement

Additional requirements for concentration in Theater:

  • Portfolio
  • Interview or Audition

Diversity among students accepted for study is another consideration. Applicants with degrees in areas other than Theater are welcome, although they may be required to complete undergraduate endorsement core courses. Details available on School of Theater website.

Portfolio Guidelines

The applicant's portfolio is a major selection criterion for graduate admission and should represent the applicant's most accomplished work. The portfolio and all other application materials should be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions. For more information, contact the School of Theater office at 703-993-1120.

Portfolio requirements are different for each graduate area of emphasis and are listed below. Incomplete portfolios will not be considered. Applicants' portfolio items are considered part of he application for admission and, thus, cannot be returned. Please do not send original materials.

Portfolio Requirements by Area of Emphasis

Design & Technology

One fully documented design in your area of emphasis (i.e. lighting, sound, scenery, costume, etc.). This may include: script analysis, research, renderings, paperwork, drafting, diagrams, sound clips and photographs of the production. Additional examples of design work and artistic vision may also be submitted. Guidelines available on School of Theater website.

Playwriting & Dramaturgy

One to three writing samples, totaling no more than 25 pages. Playwrights should submit a one-page synopsis and dialogue sample. Dramaturgs may submit essays, reviews, or articles written for the general public, along with a cover letter addressing key areas of interest in the field. Guidelines available on School of Theater website.

Directing

Applicants for the MFA with an emphasis in Directing must submit both a portfolio of produced work, as well as a directorial analysis of a play or opera. For the latter, include at least six visual images with annotation that support your ideas. Guidelines available on School of Theater website.

Acting and Music Theater Performance

A three page written character analysis of one of the roles to be presented at auditions. Guidelines available on School of Theater website. Please see audition requirements.

Audition Requirements

Acting

Applicants for the MFA with an emphasis in Acting must complete an audition for the program. Applicants should be prepared with three contrasting monologues. Two monologues will be required for the audition, and a third may be requested should additional material be needed. Please prepare both classical and contemporary work. Auditors will be looking for range, transformational potential, and vocal and physical expressiveness.

Musical Theater

Applicants for the MFA with an emphasis in Musical Theater must complete an audition for the program. Applicants should be prepared with two songs and two monologues. Contrast between the pieces is essential. Please prepare both classical and contemporary work. Auditors will be looking for musical ability, range, transformational potential, vocal and physical expressiveness, dance and movement skills, and emotional honesty through text and song. An accompanist may be provided and requires a cash fee on the day of audition. This includes a brief rehearsal prior to appointment time. Those auditioning may provide their own accompanist.

Concentration in Visual Art

All MFA applicants are required to submit the following items:

  • Online Application and Fee
  • Official transcripts from each institution of higher education attended
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Goals Statement

Additional Requirements for Concentration in Visual Arts:

  • Portfolio 

Portfolio Guidelines

The applicant's portfolio is a major selection criterion for graduate admission and should represent the applicant's most accomplished work.

The portfolio and all other application materials should be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions. For more information, contact the School of Art office at 703-993-8898.

Portfolio requirements are different for each graduate area of emphasis and are listed below. Incomplete portfolios will not be considered.

Portfolio Requirements by Area of Emphasis

InterArts

20 images submitted through SlideRoom. Samples must be labeled with: name of artist, title and date. Videos and Flash files (no more than four minutes for each section) must be playable through SlideRoom. In the case of collaborative work, the applicant's role should be clearly stated. If writing-based materials are submitted, they should be submitted in printed form.

New Media Arts

20 images submitted through SlideRoom. Samples must be labeled with: name of artist, title and date. Videos and Flash files (no more than four minutes for each section) must be playable through SlideRoom. Only the relevant parts of the video should be marked for viewing, with the applicant's role clearly stated.

Painting and Drawing

20 images  submitted through SlideRoom. Samples must be labeled with: name of artist, title and date.

Photography

20 images submitted through SlideRoom. Samples must be labeled with: name of artist, title and date.

Printmaking

20 images submitted through SlideRoom. Samples must be labeled with: name of artist, title and date.

Sculpture

20 images submitted through SlideRoom. Samples must be labeled with: name of artist, title and date.

Policies

Program Requirements

Candidates are required to complete 60 credits, of which 30 are made up from core requirements. An additional 30 credits are based on concentration area and comprehensive experience.

MFA concentrations include:

  • Dance
  • Graphic Design
  • Theater
  • Visual Art

While the faculty anticipate that students will work through their coursework as described in this catalog, individuals with extensive professional accomplishment may craft an individualized program that meets curricular requirements. Individualized programs require the recommendation of the Graduate Committee within the student's respective school as well as the approval of the CVPA Associate Dean.

Banner Code: AR-MFA-VPA

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 60

Students should complete all requirements within the concentration to which they have been admitted. Candidates are required to complete 60 credits, of which 30 are made up from core requirements. An additional 30 credits are based on concentration area and comprehensive experience.

Concentration in Dance (DANC)

The MFA in Visual and Performing Arts, concentration in Dance, is a highly selective 60-credit program of study grounded in the modern dance genre that emphasizes mastery in performance, choreography, and teaching in higher education.

Core Degree Requirements

Research Methods
AVT 600Research Methodologies3
Graduate Seminar
Two credits of2
Graduate Dance Seminar
Writing Seminar
AVT 621Art Writing Seminar3
Advanced Aesthetics
DANC 598Philosophy and Aesthetics of Dance3
Studies in History/Theory/Contemporary Trend
DANC 615Contemporary Trends3
Teaching Practicum
DANC 627Advanced Teaching Seminar3
Directed Reading
AVT 796Directed Reading1
Project
Six credits of6
Directed Choreography/Project
Thesis
Six credits of6
Thesis
Total Credits30

Concentration Requirements

DANC 510Contemporary Movement Theories3
DANC 560Advanced Choreography3
Three credits of3
Advanced Dance Performance
DANC 571Residency Workshop3
Three credits of3
Internship
DANC 672Dance Production3
Select 12 credits from the following:12
Advanced Modern Dance (must be taken for a minimum 6 credits)
Advanced Ballet (must be taken for a minimum 3 credits)
Total Credits30

Concentration in Graphic Design (GD)

The MFA in Visual and Performing Arts, concentration in Graphic Design offers students a comprehensive study and preparation for the graphic design profession. The program includes courses in typography, web design, image making, and brand design, as well as prepares students for an academic career in Graphic Design. The broad range of study is intended to develop professionals prepared for an ever-expanding graphic design field.

Core Degree Requirements

Research Methods
Four credits of4
Special Topics in Graphic Design
Graduate Seminar
Five credits of5
Graduate Design Seminar
Writing Seminar
AVT 617Advanced Typography4
Advanced Aesthetics
AVT 613Experiential Design History3
Studies in History/Theory/Contemporary Trend
AVT 618Visual Communication Theories2
Teaching Practicum
Two credits of2
Teaching Practicum
Directed Reading
AVT 796Directed Reading 11
Project
Six credits of6
Directed Project and Exhibition (6 credits) 1
Thesis
Three credits of3
Thesis 1
Total Credits30
1

Involves a study of the historical basis for a studio project; an independent creative production suitable for public viewing; and a written thesis documenting the evolution of the creative problem and exploring the intention, purpose, and relative success of the finished project.
 

Concentration Requirements

Select 10 - 14 credits from the following:10-14
Special Topics in Graphic Design
Brand Identity Design
Advanced Web Design
Select 0 - 4 credits from the following:0-4
Independent Study
Special Topics in Art and Visual Technology
Other graduate studio courses as approved by director
AVT 641Graduate Graphic Design I4
AVT 646Graduate Graphic Design II4
AVT 647Advanced Graduate Graphic Design l4
AVT 648Advanced Graphic Design II4
Total Credits30

Concentration in Theater (THR)

The MFA in Visual and Performing Arts, concentration in Theater, is a terminal degree that prepares students to become professional artists, work in theater or arts-related fields, and teach at the university level.

Core Degree Requirements

Research Methods
AVT 600Research Methodologies3
Graduate Seminar
Two credits of2
Graduate Seminar
Writing Seminar
THR 652Writing Seminar3
Advanced Aesthetics
AVT 621Art Writing Seminar3
Studies in History/Theory/Contemporary Trend
Six credits of6
Advanced Dramatic Theory and Criticism
Teaching Practicum
THR 655Teaching Practicum3
Directed Reading
THR 796Directed Reading1
Project
THR 797
THR 798
Project Preparation
and Project Practicum
6
Thesis
THR 799Thesis (3 credits)3
Total Credits30

Concentration Requirements for All Emphases

THR 539Aesthetics for the Theater3
THR 551Advanced Theater Pedagogy2
THR 560Advanced Script Analysis3
THR 691Professional Development1
THR 790Directed Research3
Total Credits12

Track Requirements

In each area of emphasis, students must pick either a professional or academic track. Students in the professional track will complete at least three additional credits in practical production experience over and above the core in the following:

Select 3 credits from the following:3
Graduate Field Experience
Advanced Acting Practicum
Advanced Playwriting and Dramaturgy Practicum
Advanced Directing Practicum
Advanced Design Practicum
Total Credits3

Students in the academic track will complete at least three additional credits in practical teaching over and above the core in the following:

THR 755Academic Track Practicum3
Total Credits3

Emphasis Requirements

With the approval of their mentor, students will have the flexibility to select courses from Emphasis areas:

Select 15 credits from the following:15
Acting Emphasis:
Advanced Musical Theater Workshop
Special Topics for Graduate Study
Independent Study
Acting Mentorship
Acting Techniques
Graduate Field Experience
Advanced Acting Practicum
Design & Technology Emphasis:
Topics in Theater Design
Special Topics for Graduate Study
Independent Study
Design Mentorship
Graduate Field Experience
Advanced Design Practicum
Seminar in Arts Management
Performing Arts Management
Festivals and Special Events
Arts Entrepreneurship
Issues in Interactive Entertainment
Advanced Music and Sound for Games
Experimental 2D Animation
Experimental 3D Animation
Advanced Topics: New Media
Hybrid Animation
Documentary Filmmaking
Fiction Film Directing
Special Topics
Directing Emphasis:
Directing Techniques
Special Topics for Graduate Study
Independent Study
Directing Mentorship
Graduate Field Experience
Advanced Directing Practicum
Academic Track Practicum
Documentary Filmmaking
Fiction Film Directing
Special Topics
Musical Theater Emphasis:
Advanced Musical Theater Workshop
Special Topics for Graduate Study
Independent Study
Acting Mentorship
Acting Techniques
Graduate Field Experience
Advanced Acting Practicum
Academic Track Practicum
Graduate Applied Music
Opera and Musical Theater Ensemble
Independent Study
Playwriting & Dramaturgy Emphasis:
Advanced Playwriting Workshop
Special Topics for Graduate Study
Independent Study
Graduate Field Experience
Advanced Playwriting and Dramaturgy Practicum
Directors and Dramaturg in Collaboration
Total Credits15

Concentration in Visual Art (VART)

The MFA in Visual and Performing Arts, concentration in Visual Arts, is a terminal degree that prepares students to become professional artists, work in technology or arts-related fields, and teach at the university level. Students select an emphasis in one of the following: New Media, Painting and Drawing, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, or InterArts. Students have the opportunity to combine art forms in projects that may be installation, performance, publishing, time-based, or writing-based, and combine creative and critical approaches in their work.

Core Requirements

Research Methods
AVT 600Research Methodologies3
Graduate Seminar
Six credits of6
Graduate Seminar
Writing Seminar
AVT 621Art Writing Seminar3
Advanced Aesthetics
AVT 507Advanced Aesthetics3
or AVT 599 Special Topics in Art and Visual Technology
Studies in History/Theory/Contemporary Trend
AVT 620Theory, Criticism, and the Arts3
Teaching Practicum
Two credits of2
Teaching Practicum
Directed Reading
AVT 796Directed Reading1
Project
Six credits of6
Directed Project and Exhibition
Thesis
Three credits of3
Thesis
Total Credits30

Note:

AVT 796 Directed Reading/AVT 798 Directed Project and Exhibition/AVT 799 Thesis involves a study of the historical basis for a studio project; an independent creative production suitable for public viewing; and a written thesis documenting the evolution of the creative problem and exploring the intention, purpose, and relative success of the finished project. 

Concentration Requirements

Select 8 credits from the following:8
Independent Study
Special Topics in Art and Visual Technology
Other courses as approved by director
Four credits of4
Special Topics in Art and Visual Technology
AVT 610Graduate Seminar2
AVT Emphasis Courses16
Total Credits30
Areas of Emphasis
InterArts
Select 16 credits of any 500 - 600 level AVT course as approved by the division director. InterArts graduate students may combine courses from studio areas of emphasis (as indicated below) and work with faculty to design an interdisciplinary thesis project.16
Total Credits16
New Media Art 
Select four from the following courses:16
Advanced Art and Interactivity
Graduate Sound Art
Experimental 2D Animation
Advanced Image Making
Video Art
Experimental 3D Animation
Advanced Topics: New Media
Hybrid Animation
Total Credits16
Painting and Drawing
Select four courses from the following:16
Drawing V
Drawing VI
Special Topics in Art and Visual Technology ( Must be approved by advisor)
Advanced Drawing
Graduate Painting I
Graduate Painting II
Advanced Graduate Painting I
Advanced Graduate Painting II
Total Credits16
Photography
AVT 652Graduate Photography I4
AVT 653Graduate Photography II4
AVT 654Advanced Graduate Photography I4
AVT 655Advanced Graduate Photography II4
Total Credits16
Printmaking
AVT 642Graduate Printmaking I4
AVT 643Graduate Printmaking II4
AVT 644Advanced Graduate Printmaking I4
AVT 645Advanced Graduate Printmaking II4
Total Credits16
Sculpture
AVT 662Graduate Sculpture I4
AVT 663Graduate Sculpture II4
AVT 664Advanced Graduate Sculpture I4
AVT 665Advanced Graduate Sculpture II4
Total Credits16

Note:

Mason does not guarantee the availability of these courses every semester; some are offered in alternate years.