The MFA Art Degree Program

Roski’s MFA Art 

The Master of Fine Arts in Art program at the USC Roski School of Art and Design is a two-year, full-time, studio-based program. The USC campus is located in the center of Los Angeles, home to notable museums, a vital local artist community and an international gallery scene. 

The MFA Art Experience

The USC Roski Open Studios on Feb. 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

The Roski School enrolls a select cohort of five to eight MFA Art candidates each year, making for an intimate experience. The program  is uniquely interdisciplinary—it’s an intensive, experimental individual studio program featuring intellectual exploration and critical exchange with artists and academics.

Members of our internationally acclaimed USC Roski faculty work closely with you, as will the members of a growing community of well-known professional artists, critics and curators who participate in our weekly Visiting Artist and Scholar Seminar, as well as the Resident Artists and Scholars Program. 

Why Roski?

As an MFA Art candidate you’ll have your own private studio in the Roski Graduate building, which is located in the Los Angeles Arts District. The program is designed to maximize your individual studio experience. Our instructional model is focused on critical dialogue during regular studio visits with faculty, guest artists and curators, and group critiques with student peers. 

  • MFA Art candidates also take courses with USC Roski’s renowned Critical Studies faculty. In this core block, you’ll take classes 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 you to explore possibilities for complementary fields of study at one of the world’s leading research universities. The vast array of cross- and interdisciplinary opportunities offers an unparalleled environment for advanced study and practice,  especially in combination with USC Roski’s intellectual and artistic reach, and its position on the Pacific Rim and in one of the world’s major art capitals.

  • You’ll work with Roski’s distinguished faculty and receive critical input from visiting artists and scholars through a series of private studio visits. Sessions typically occur weekly, but may be more or less frequent, as determined by individual student needs and faculty advisors.

  • You’ll also gain insight and perspective through a weekly seminar investigating current issues and directions in the visual arts. Student peer analysis and implications of forces contributing to conceptual development are faculty-moderated.

Your MFA Art Faculty

A diverse and internationally renowned range of artists and thinkers makes up the Roski School’s faculty—a cross-disciplinary team that represents time-based and social practice, as well as more traditional 2D and 3D work. Your professors and mentors exhibit in Los Angeles and around the world, and are known for breaking new ground in practice and research, as well as being innovative teachers.

See the Roski MFA Art Faculty

Robert A. Day Professor of Art and Design / Vice Dean of Faculty and Research
Professor of Practice, Art / Director, MFA Art
Associate Professor of Critical Studies / Director, MA Curatorial Practices and the Public Sphere
Associate Professor, Art / Chair of Art 2D
Professor of Art
Professor of Practice, Art and Design / Chair, Foundation
Associate Professor of Practice, Art
Judge Widney Professor of Art
Associate Professor of Teaching / Chair, Art 3D
Professor of Art
Professor of Art
Professor of Art
Associate Professor of Practice, Art
Assistant Professor of Teaching, Art and Design
Chair and Associate Professor of Critical Studies

Your Written Thesis

The senior capstone also requires an accompanying written thesis, in which you provide a rigorously researched and theoretically and historically grounded set of arguments relating to your studio project. A committee of supportive faculty, including your thesis supervisor and two other members, will guide you in both thesis elements.


Your Thesis Exhibition

michon sanders MFA Art thesis exhibition, All I have to do is stay Black and die, 2022

For your MFA Art capstone, you’ll show your work in a solo thesis exhibition, mounted under the program director’s guidance, in the spring of your second year at Roski. The exhibition is installed in the Graduate Gallery—a 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.


See Past Thesis Exhibitions