Masters of Fine Arts degree?! (MFA)
 
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  1. #1
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    Masters of Fine Arts degree?! (MFA)

    After you received your Bachelors of Fine Arts degree (BFA), who has gone back to art school and received their Masters of Fine Arts degree?

    'Cuz my mom wants me to go for a Masters of Fine Arts after I get my BFA but I keep telling her that in the "art world," clients DO NOT go by what degree you have but by the quality of your work! This ain't engineering or law!! haha

    I need some backup from you guys.
    So it is true that degrees don't matter in getting good gigs?
    And is a MFA worth it? Do you need one to teach at an art school?!
    AHH!!

    Thanks


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    Hey Den, I think that if you have opportunity to get you MA you should take it. I am just finishing up my Bach of New Media from www.eciad.ca and they are just finishing up the program for the Masters which I will be taking the following year.

    I know we are not in engineering etc but educational credentials in any walk of life will bring you more. Entering into your field may not bring these on an immediate basis but over time I think you will see stronger considerations for positions you are applying for as well as the time spent in the program may take you in new directions which may not have called to you otherwise. In my opinion it is a complete win win.

    And I am quite sure (In Canada anyway) you do need an MFA to teach at a university level.

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    NO ONE CARES if you have a masters, or any degree for that matter. Get your ba of bfa to make your parents happy (especially if they're paying for it), but the value of an art education is in the education, not the piece of paper. And it's at least four years off anyway, so don't stress about it now.


    Tristan Elwell
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    Quote Originally Posted by Presence
    And I am quite sure (In Canada anyway) you do need an MFA to teach at a university level.
    Most MFA programs are pyramid schemes run for the benefit of university art programs.


    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

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    After you received your Bachelors of Fine Arts degree (BFA), who has gone back to art school and received their Masters of Fine Arts degree?...

    ...my mom wants me to go for a Masters of Fine Arts after I get my BFA

    ...So it is true that degrees don't matter in getting good gigs? Do you need one to teach at an art school?!
    I don't know what credentials you need to teach at an art school but the commercial art world doesn't care what degrees you hold. They only care about what you can do for them. Personally I believe that if you were to go out and get some real professional experience while other lunkhead contemporaries of yours were back at school slaving over their BFA, you would end up with the more valuable and practical education. I also believe that bringing professional experience to the table down the road, would open doors to teaching gigs when you were ready to consider that option

    Mark Hannon
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    don't waste your money on that crap! They live off other people's sucess and failures.

    Sadly, we are all blinded from the truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by figure2
    I don't know what credentials you need to teach at an art school but the commercial art world doesn't care what degrees you hold. They only care about what you can do for them. Personally I believe that if you were to go out and get some real professional experience while other lunkhead contemporaries of yours were back at school slaving over their BFA, you would end up with the more valuable and practical education. I also believe that bringing professional experience to the table down the road, would open doors to teaching gigs when you were ready to consider that option

    Yeah, professional experience helps.
    go to any art schools website and just look up the faculty members. you'll see whats required to teach there.
    I did this with MICA (i have a friend that goes there, and apparently its one of the best painting programs in the US for art schools)... most of the teachers had MFA's, quite a few had only BA's, and even a couple only had certificates, not even a BA. From what I know, if you want to teach at a college, you'll have a much better chance with an MFA. Not that I've done it myself, but just from what I've heard, to teach college with only a BA, you have to know people to get you in. That makes sense though.

    and yeah, i'm sure everyone will agree that the degree means very little in the commercial art world... (plenty of people even have PHDs in art, but still can't get a single magazine illustration published or into a single art gallery)... i was talking only about degrees for teaching.

    --Keith
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    Funny thing is, nobody cares what education you have. Jeff and Ron (at Watts Atelier) have done a range of high and low end freelance and in house gigs with no degree at all. They both also teach at Watts, and have more freedom to come up with thier own classes and teach what they want. You do have to have some sort of degree of somewhat to teach at an accredited school, but then you also have to teach what they tell you...

    Elwell is right.

    I self-published a book on the fundamentals of drawing from life.

    http://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-D...8951905&sr=8-1
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    Quote Originally Posted by figure2
    I don't know what credentials you need to teach at an art school but the commercial art world doesn't care what degrees you hold. They only care about what you can do for them. Personally I believe that if you were to go out and get some real professional experience while other lunkhead contemporaries of yours were back at school slaving over their BFA, you would end up with the more valuable and practical education. I also believe that bringing professional experience to the table down the road, would open doors to teaching gigs when you were ready to consider that option
    An MFA in fine arts helps if your interested in the world of fine art. The art world has never been so big (despite what others would say) and an MFA looks much better then just a BFA.

    A lot of art teachers who went to art school and then got an MFA said that the BFA was just preporation for the MFA program... which is where it's realy at (education wise). Most fine arts MFA programs are independent study majors. You do your own thing and you either pass or fail.

    Last edited by RefrigeratorCo; April 29th, 2005 at 11:05 PM.
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    An MFA in fine arts helps if your interested in the world of fine art. The art world has never been so big (despite what others would say) and an MFA looks much better then just a BFA.
    You know RefrigeratorCo, this sounds an awful lot like the advice the Wizard gave the Scarecrow in"The Wizard of OZ." While I can't recall the exact quote, the spirit of it was that men of lesser intellect could be made to seem more learned and important if they held the right piece of paper.

    I personally believe that if an artist with a minor (or no) degree walked into a gallery with such stunning work that dollar signs danced in the gallery owner's eyes, nobody would care what degrees the artist held.

    There are 3 things that you would need to succeed in commercial or fine art: skill, work that has a high degree of visual appeal and the marketing savvy to promote yourself. Out of the 3, the last is perhaps the most important as Thomas Kinkade has already proved. I sincerely doubt that an MFA would give you those things.

    Last edited by figure2; April 24th, 2005 at 12:37 PM.
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    Presence- yeah, its true obtaining an MFA is a double win in the long run. But probably not THAT necessary

    Elwell - you never fail to dissapoint. Wait 'til I show my mom this!

    Patton Art
    - MICA is a nice place. I have a friend that goes there as wel. Woaaa, you can be a doctor in art? "Doc Drawer"

    Jet Pack
    - yeah, those Ateliers are cool. life drawings upon hours and hours, very useful. Perhaps more useful than an art school education?

    RefrigeratorCo - ahh, so MFA's mainly benifit the fine art peeps! I can see why Cool

    Figure2 - great connection to the Oz film


    thanks for all the responses. I got some contradicting views but the majority say; It's all 'bout skills. Not that piece 'o paper"

    thanks

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    yeah yeah, you dont need the shiny little "MFA" sheriff badge or "BFA" deputy badge to really get work or to get by in the real world... but, the real badge isnt just whats for show, its made up of all the time spent working towards it.
    alot of you guys are overlooking what, to me at least, is one of the more important aspects of an MFA program(or BFA for that manner)... and that is the experience that you have while you are in the program.
    i stayed in school and finished out my BFA simply because of the whole experience of being able study and produce art full time and getting to be around lots of friends and other people all doing the same thing in really close proximity. sure, most people have to have a part time job while youre there, but for the most part when youre in school, art is your full time job. you get to develop your own ideas and try different things out. the only consequences are maybe a bad grade or something. its not quite like the real world where you might have to work full time to support yourself.

    i started doing freelance work for a couple different video game companies a few years back, right before i even got in my major. i could have taken off and made that a full time job, but i wanted to stay and keep experiencing the art school environment to its fullest. nothing beats hanging out with and working around all my friends from my major all day long and all night, talking about all kinds of stuff... and then wandering over to another majors department to see all the kids in there doing the same thing. i miss school right now immensely, and youre hard pressed to find a similar experience to it ever again. ive been constantly throwing around the idea of going back to school somewhere for an MFA program. im not sure yet if i will.
    RefrigeratorCo is totally right in his description of an MFA program, as far as the fine arts versions go. you do your own thing. You get 2 years to really delve into your study and do alot of discussing about things. i was lucky to be in a major at my art school (during my bfa) that was already set up like an MFA program, and having an extra fifth year at my school was like having a year in an MFA program. my three years in the Drawing Department were pretty much all independent study, with a handful of electives i chose from throughout the school.

    so what im really getting at is that, yeah, its not for everyone, but studying for a BFA or an MFA can simply be about those experiences and conversations and people you share ideas with or people who you work with in the studio till 2 in the morning every night. its what you make of it.

    or you can go to just get the shiny sheriffs badge.

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    well, it would depend on which atelier you went to. I wouldn't go to an art school unless they were paying me, since I've already been to one, and most of what I learned was about growing up and such, not as much about art. Too many required classes that were unrelated to drawing, and general education classes that were subpar because they were teaching at an art school, so the classes were either unrelated at all to art and horrible, or just horribly boring. I've taken a few REALLY great GE classes at a community college, and luckily, they transferred.

    wes is right too, the time is really important and good, but getting the right kind of instruction that you want is the tricky part...

    I self-published a book on the fundamentals of drawing from life.

    http://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-D...8951905&sr=8-1
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    honestly i was under the impression that a degree doesn't do too much when it comes to a portfolio driven career, but nonetheless wes has brought up great points that going through the experiences of a degree program really help you develop not only as an artist(in the sense of concepts/ expanded horizons) but also as a person by giving you different perspectives, techniques, concepts from others, etc. it's a lot like this site, we all have different views of the same subject matter, it's really nice to be able to look into how others see and feel, and to be able to actually see them go through their process to create their visual interpretations of what we all see/feel.

    so basically what i've taken from this is that it's not for everyon, but it sure doesn't hurt to go through the process

    thanks for posting the question denart, and thanks for all the input from others

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell
    NO ONE CARES if you have a masters, or any degree for that matter.
    I think this is a bit much, if you are talking about concept art and freelance illustration alone but if he is going for an MFA I am guessing his sights are a little further than this. There are countless institutions and positions that an MFA will open the doors to career wise, especially in the long term.

    El I would love to see you in a room of MFA's telling them that it is a pyramid scam when most of them went for their own reasons, not because of some marketing program which convinced them to go. It isn't 1973 anymore.

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    hey man, youd definetely woop my ass anyday in art haha. If you have the time and money, sure go for the masters, just cuz it looks good. Although this is art we're talking about, so skill matters more than degrees. But it doesn't hurt though. Maybe some places will give you more money because you have a masters. REACH FO DA SKY YO!

    Da Vinci was a concept artist
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    Quote Originally Posted by Presence
    There are countless institutions and positions that an MFA will open the doors to career wise, especially in the long term.
    And how many of them are DOING art instead of TALKING ABOUT/TEACHING art? You can teach art without a degree, just not at an accredited school.

    While I still agree Wes makes a thourough point about the time to incubate in a creative and encouraging environment, you just gotta figure out where that is going to be best for you. If money is not as much of an issue, go where you think the environment and instruction will best suit what you want to learn, regardless of the paper you do or do not get at the end. Make the choice based on what your goals are and where you can best meet and exceed them, wether it's a University, an Atelier, or Richard Schmid's garage.

    I self-published a book on the fundamentals of drawing from life.

    http://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-D...8951905&sr=8-1
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetpack42
    or Richard Schmid's garage.
    now THAT would be cool

    --Keith
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    it's funny how they call it a "master degree". It doesn't mean that the person is one.

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    You need to look at how you're going to grow artistically while doing your masters. If you can afford to practice and learn (depending of the school ?), GO FOR IT ! It's true that the piece of paper won't be worth much in the eyes of possible employers, it's your skills.
    Personally, I'd check how solid the curriculum is, what's the level of expertise around and probably go for it. Be mindful of scams tho.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jetpack
    And how many of them are DOING art instead of TALKING ABOUT/TEACHING art? You can teach art without a degree, just not at an accredited school.
    Every proff at my university is a practicing artist, this is why for us we do look forward to an opportunity to spend more time with this kind of instruction and experience as well as take another opportunity to push ourselves in creative directions which may not have been available to us in terms of equipment/affordability either.

    You can indeed teach art at a non accredited school without your BFA but if you have chance why would you not want to? Especially if educational instruction is in your sights, even if it is a long term goal.

    I know everyone is in a portfolio driven state of mind and this is true in terms of the game industry or film but Art travels much much further than this 2% piece of the pie. A masters in some cases is the only thing which will get your foot in the door.

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    'Cuz my mom wants me to go for a Masters of Fine Arts after I get my BFA but I keep telling her that in the "art world," clients DO NOT go by what degree you have but by the quality of your work!
    You always have the "I can now teach college art" safety net. In any case I hear you should get out in the word for 3 or 4 years before grad school. When you get there they will be like "Ok, you can do that, now show us something else" and it's a good idea to know what you really want to do by then.

    EDIT: and if the work doesn't come in at the pace you like you'd be suprised how far you can get with a master's degree alone regardless of what it's in. Of course your mom might not be aware that the MFA is a huge program. It's the terminal degree for art so it's a 4 year study.... again.

    Paul Rhye
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    wes - oh yes, its very true that the experience far surpasses the degree. And the environment/student body is a big part of art school experience. Like 80% of it! haha

    jetpack - oooh, so which art school did you attend? sounds like you didnt have that good of a time. And what's a GE class (idiot...!)

    injection - my exact thoughts.

    obid619 - yes, reach for the sky! join my bro

    egerie - scams....I'll be sure to check out a reputable art school if I ever do decide to get an MFA (that's like 5-6 years away...!)

    Presence - what are you referring to when you said "2% piece of pie?" The portfolio?!

    pvrhye- good idea about getting out there and getting a gig AND THEN go back to graduate school. And woaa, it takes 4 years to get an MFA? I thought it was only 2...
    meh

    This thread is great!!!
    Great help!!
    Thanks!

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    Seems like theres a few people that would undermine the value of a degree. Honestly a very bad position to take.

    Your education is probably the absolute best investment you can make for yourself, and the fact of the matter is that people DO care that you have a degree. If you want to go freelance then perhaps you can sidestep some of that, but if you want to get a job at a company (and who doesnt, freelance is a rough life no matter how you cut it...no benifits = suck) you will be at a MAJOR disadvantage.
    A degree tells the people youre working for something about your work ethic, that you can take instruction, complete projects, work with others etc. It has tons of benifits other than the obvious improvement of your technique.
    I can tell you as a someone who is studying game design and looking into entry level positions in the field that most companies now require a degree if theyre going to hire you. This wasnt the case 5 years ago.

    As far as the Masters is concerned, i think its very good advice to go out and get some experience first before coming back to school. You need time to digest and apply the information youve earned before adding to that.
    While a masters is less of a requirement than a BFA, having a higher degree will often make you eligable for higher pay (as in you get an auto pay upgrade at some places) because more highly educated individuals are more valuable to the company.
    Now, of course, in the art field, if you dont have the portfolio to back up your degree it wont be worth much. But having a good portfolio and a degree on top will put you ahead of the pack.

    "The sky was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel" -- William Gibson
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    Chaos- lol, a bad position to take, huh? Man, There is a ton of working artists out there without degrees. I went to a business seminar that Jeff Watts held, and at one point he had a contract on the table with Dreamworks for a visual development job worth well over six figures, no degree. (not to mention the freelance and in house jobs many artists i know have gotten, and many artists at watts have gotten). sorry dude, I have an AA degree with honors, and I couldn't even get company responses on my pathetic portfolio (because it sucked, obviously). If any impact on art related jobs, in house or no, it's negligible at best. I said making a degree your goal is worthless, not getting an art education. As Jeff said, "There's no such thing as starving artists, just bad artists."

    denart- i went to the Art Institute of Seattle, majored in Animation Art and Design. Now I am at Watts, and the education I am recieving here is worth ten times what I paid at AIS (because it's ten times better), and it's 1/3rd of the price!

    Last edited by jetpack42; April 26th, 2005 at 11:56 PM.
    I self-published a book on the fundamentals of drawing from life.

    http://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-D...8951905&sr=8-1
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetpack42
    denart- i went to the Art Institute of Seattle, majored in Animation Art and Design. Now I am at Watts, and the education I am recieving here is worth ten times what I paid at AIS (because it's ten times better), and it's 1/3rd of the price!

    I also plan to attend an Atelier and it's a whole lot cheaper than the University I used to attend to!

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    Den 2% of the pie is the concept art industry in terms of the visual arts industry.

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    i was at Cal State Fullerton. it does have a good art program but mainly for the animation department. most of the teachers i had were not working in the field. they docreaet art to sell, but too me thats differnt when the guy is a graphic design teacher and not working in graphic design.

    i also was taught by a student at the school. it was her first teaching job also. she didnt really teach any technigues and even had the nerve to say she wouldnt in fear of us taking her "unique" style. she wouldnt let us use real oils, only the water based cause they were safer.

    it was just a bad experice for me, also many of the student did not take there art classes as seriously as i did. sure they talked the talk but they didnt show the same love of art as i did. they were more interested in darwingthey fave teacher with gas or a pirate with an unorthodox peg leg. thats just not me

    i also suffered in the GE class (general ed) i couldnt pay attention and didnt do to well in them. i didnt like being forced to have a writing assignment in a life drawing class because its a rule for any class in the GE program to have a writing asignment. made no sense to me.

    im also gonna say that having a masters will help you out in the long run. but you need to uderstand that going to a university is not the best way to get good at art. go to an art school like AI or Cal Arts or AC if you want to get the degree yet stay in a more art related college. after i suggest going to a small atelier to hone your skills.

    heres the main difference....

    college degree = you take classes and no matter your school your get the degree if you pass the class.

    art college = you get the degree, have more of an art study, but still no matter your skill you get the degree (better then a norm college tho)

    atelier = you go to get good.no degree but thats not your purpose. the school is more concerned with your skill and talent then your ability to pass a class

    you best option is to get a degree then head off to a ateiler. or the other way arround. or at the same time.


    good luck tho

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    Quote Originally Posted by |NTeRN
    heres the main difference....

    college degree = you take classes and no matter your school your get the degree if you pass the class.

    art college = you get the degree, have more of an art study, but still no matter your skill you get the degree (better then a norm college tho)

    atelier = you go to get good.no degree but thats not your purpose. the school is more concerned with your skill and talent then your ability to pass a class

    you best option is to get a degree then head off to a ateiler. or the other way arround. or at the same time.


    good luck tho

    yeah, wouldn't it suck if you get a degree but no one would even hire you cuz you lack the skills?

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    Intern is correct. I briefly went for my MFA at CS Fullerton's program. But my first two weeks were a joke. The faculty and staff were elitist, untalented, ego-maniacs who were not teaching ANYTHING! In fact, The program practically wanted their MFA students to teach their undergrad classes FOR FREE! The isolated, ignorant attitudes on this campus was sickening. I knew I was wasting my time and MONEY. But I really felt bad for the students. They were being fed BS and nothing practical or usefull to land them a job.

    As for getting an MFA:
    Unless you really want to teach Art in a public the school system, then you must get your MFA. Even then you are stll not guaranteed a job.
    Tell your parents that times have changed. Degrees don't amount to much in Art unless you plan on being a doctor or lawyer of some sort....
    Companies will not value you, or hire you based on your education in the Art field. Your value is based upon your work, reputation and rates. Nothing more.

    Just do great work, promote yourself, and make great contacts. The rest will follow. In fact, most people are MORE impressed with a talented SELF-TAUGHT Artist then one who went to some Art school.

    So EVEN if you think you need this degree to teach...it's not SO. Many proffessional artists have their own private classes. Look at Feng, Marshal Vandruff, ...the list is endless.

    So don't waste your money on an MFA unless you can afford to. If money is not an issue then , sure do what ever you want. Just don't expect anything to happen just becuase you earned an MFA.

    Oops! I just read Ellwell's post and he pretty much summs it up! It's exactly like a pyramid scheme! Good observation!!!

    Last edited by otis; April 27th, 2005 at 01:25 PM.
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