The MFA Art Program

USC Roski Graduate Open Studios 2020
Image: 2020 Roski Graduate Open Studios. Photo: Capture Imaging / Ryan Miller

MFA Art Overview

The Master of Fine Arts in Art program is a two-year, full-time, studio-based program located in the center of Los Angeles. The expansive city is home to a vital local art community and international gallery and museum scene with five arts districts: Downtown, Culver City, Mid-Wilshire, Hollywood and Chinatown. With a select cohort enrolled each year, the program provides a unique experience that focuses on interdisciplinary and wide-ranging experimental, creative, and intellectual exploration.

Students work closely with USC Roski's internationally acclaimed faculty, as well as an expanded community of leading professional artists, critics, and curators who participate in the weekly Visiting Artist and Scholar Seminar and the Resident Artists and Scholars Program. USC Roski boasts four exhibition spaces and has formal affiliations with the USC Fisher Museum of Art, The Hancock Memorial Museum, The Pacific Asian Museum, and the California African American Museum.


Program Highlights

The USC Roski MFA Art is designed to maximize each student's individual studio experience, and its instructional model is focused on critical dialogue as provided by regular studio visits with faculty and guest artists and scholars, and group critiques with student peers. Students also take courses with USC Roski's renowned Critical Studies faculty that emphasize tracing intellectual and artistic histories, understanding the complexities of theories applied to the visual arts, and addressing global art practices. Program electives provide a broader platform for experimentation, and encourage students to explore the expansive possibilities for complementary fields of research at one of the world's leading research universities. This curricular depth coupled with USC Roski's intellectual and artistic reach, its position on the Pacific Rim and in one of the world's major arts capitals, and its ability to provide a vast array of cross- and interdisciplinary opportunities for its students offers an unparalleled environment for advanced study and practice.



Students work with distinguished faculty and visiting artists and scholars through a series of private studio visits. Visits typically occur weekly, but may occur more or less frequently, as determined by individual student needs and faculty advisors.



Students gain insight and perspective through a weekly seminar that investigates issues relative to current directions in the visual arts. Analysis and implications of forces contributing to conceptual development is provided by student peers, as moderated by faculty.


View the MFA Art Handbook, which includes a sample course of study, here.

MFA Art Program Objectives can be found here.

For the Online Course Catalogue, click here.

For details on the USC Roski facilities, click here.

Thesis Exhibitions

As a capstone to their degree, all Roski MFA Art students mount a thesis exhibition under the guidance of the program director. The cohort exhibition takes place in the spring of the second year. A solo exhibition may be additionally mounted in the Graduate Gallery. The gallery is a well-appointed, 2,000-square-foot space with three professionally constructed moveable walls, a lighting grid, a professional mounted high resolution video projector and roll-up door for installation of large scale works.

Additionally, each student is required to submit, according to Roski and Graduate School guidelines, an accompanying written thesis, which provides a rigorously researched and theoretically and historically grounded set of arguments relating to the studio thesis project. Each student is guided in both elements of the thesis by a committee of supportive faculty, including the thesis supervisor and two other members.

VASS (Visiting Artists and Scholar Seminar)

VASS, encompassing the Roski Talks/Graduate Lecture Series, introduces MFA candidates to curators, artists, and scholars working across a range of art, performance, and curatorial venues. Click here for an archive of Roski Talks.

Click here for upcoming Roski Talks
For a history of Roski Talks, click here

Macomber Travel Grant

The Macomber Travel Grant annual deadline is March 30.

Selected through a competitive process, this prize supports proposed projects involving research-based travel and a public presentation of the research project. One prize may be awarded to an individual or shared by more than one student each year to outstanding MFA Art graduate students in the USC Roski School of Art and Design. Open only to current Roski MFA Art students.

For details, deadlines, and application requirements, click here


MFA Art Teaching Assistantship

Teaching Assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis, which include partial tuition remission, stipend payment for TA duties, and health benefits. TA’s work with Roski professors on assigned tasks 10 hours a week, as a part-time salaried position paid monthly. Only students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible.

For questions, contact Roski Student Affairs.


Postgraduate Part-Time Lecturer

Roski offers the opportunity to jumpstart one’s professional career to teach on a part time basis. This provides firsthand classroom experience as the instructor/co-instructor of record for a university-level art class at USC. In order to qualify for this position, one must graduate by May. Part-time professors usually teach/co-teach one to two courses a semester. This is a non-tenure track, fixed term assignment not to be extended beyond one academic year.  

For questions, contact Roski Student Affairs.


MFA ART Info Sessions

Details, dates and reservations here. 

We encourage potential applicants to attend one of our regularly scheduled Info Sessions in the fall. These informative "open house" events feature an overview of the program and application requirements, along with a tour of the new MFA Art facilities and studios at the USC Roski Graduate Building in the Los Angeles Arts District. They are scheduled throughout the fall. Specific dates and RSVP instructions may be found here. Info Sessions are held either virtually via Zoom or onsite at the USC Roski Graduate Building in the Los Angeles' Art District located at 1262 Palmetto Street, LA, 90013. Prospective students are encouraged to attend other weekly Roski Talks during the fall and spring semesters.
 Roski Talks schedule and details here.