Fine Arts: Fine Arts, MFA
Discover an Interdisciplinary Artist Community
CCA’s Graduate Program in Fine Arts - Studio challenges you to take your work to a higher level through rigorous practice and a robust exchange of ideas with an engaged and diverse artistic community.
As your work evolves, you will gain a deeper understanding of the dynamic relationships among art, culture, and society.
Find Your Place in Contemporary Art Practice
Immerse yourself in a single medium or work across multiple disciplines, including ceramics, glass, media arts, painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and textiles.
Expand Your Critical Thinking & Creative Practice
Through in-depth investigations of material and theory, you’ll explore current artistic practices and cultural issues with some of the nation’s leading artists and critical thinkers.
Our Fine Arts faculty -- professionals who have exhibited and curated in public and private venues as well as international biennials -- will give you the necessary conceptual context in which to create and sustain your art practice. Social practice and public forms workshops – pioneered by CCA faculty – offer opportunities to engage in site-specific projects, community collaborations, public interventions, and activist art practices.
Our Graduate Studies Lecture Series brings to campus speakers who represent diverse viewpoints and exemplify the vast array of discourse and modes of production available to you.
Another vital resource is the acclaimed CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, which presents groundbreaking international exhibitions.
Build a Lasting Career in the Arts
The diverse and dynamic San Francisco Bay Area is home to an extraordinary number of alternative, municipal, and artist-run exhibition spaces as well as distinguished regional and national museums.
Whether you’re collaborating with one of the many Bay Area arts organizations, exhibiting at a local alternative space, or working as a mentored teaching assistant, you’ll be acquiring the relevant experience and building strong networks to prepare for life beyond graduate school.
Social Practice at CCA
Inaugurated by Ted Purves in 2005, the Social Practice Workshop at California College of the Arts (CCA) was the first Master’s level curriculum of its kind in the United States. Since then, the field of socially engaged art has continued to change and expand, and with that evolution, new questions about academic and professional preparation of practitioners in this creative realm have developed.
The Social Practice curriculum embedded in CCA’s Graduate Fine Arts program engages creative practitioners in the theory and practice of public and socially-engaged art.
Offered each semester, the Social Practice Workshop immerses students in the discourse of socially engaged practices, providing opportunities to work contextually in a variety of public spaces, including urban environments and specific regional communities, as well as online social spaces and institutional structures. The Workshop is taught by core faculty Amy Balkin, Susanne Cockrell, Ranu Mukherjee, and offers opportunities to work directly with an international group of visiting artists and partners in an intimate workshop setting. Visitors have included Bik Van der Pol, Torolab, Tania Bruguera, Ben Kinmont, Amy Franceschini, Bureau of Linguistical Reality, Ana Teresa Fernandez, Leslie Dreyer, and Christopher Cozier.
Students who wish to focus on social practice can take a range of rotating courses adjacent to the Workshop, such as; Resistance, Art and the November Election 2018 (Kim Anno), Ecodomics (Ignacio Valero), Social Bodies (Jay Carter), the Art Benefit Auction class for Critical Resistance (Christine Wang), as well as course offerings in adjacent graduate programs Visual Criticism and Visual Studies (VCS) and Curatorial Practice (CURP).
The studio practice MFA at CCA is a rigorous interdisciplinary program designed to foster critical thinking, self-awareness, and ambitious artistic production in a supportive environment.
The program prepares students for a long-term engagement with a contemporary arts practice through a combination of mentoring, coursework, and co-curricular opportunities that are deeply engaged in contemporary issues and in dialogue with the professional art world.
Our curriculum is designed to generate critical dialogue with faculty and visiting artists and culminates in a final exhibition of work and a written thesis. Students have the opportunity to work with a professional curator to develop and install a significant public exhibition.
We accept students through an interdisciplinary admissions process that looks for both conceptual ambition and formal excellence.
An Individually Crafted Two-Year Program
The MFA studio program is defined by deep engagement with the practices, discourses, and histories of contemporary art and its myriad disciplines -- from painting to installation to performance.
At CCA Our Students . . .
- have access to our excellent facilities for production in ceramics, film and digital media, jewelry and metal art, glass, photography, printmaking, sculpture, 3D printing and fabrication, and textiles.
- build practices by examining the relationship between craft and concept in their work and the work of others, whether they choose to focus in one area or work across multiple disciplines.
- take graduate electives in Writing, Curatorial Practice, Visual and Critical Studies, Film, and Design -- or participate in our Fine Arts / Graduate Program in Visual and Critical Studies dual-degree option, earning both an MFA and MA.
As students develop or reexamine their work, or both, they are given the opportunity to individually craft a curriculum that reflects emergent practices.
In addition to our exploratory core curriculum, students receive guidance in composing a balance of theoretical, practical, and project-based courses that best suits their areas and methods of inquiry.
Our program provides a course structure that revolves around core curriculum and individual studio visits and advising.
In addition to our regular faculty, composed of active professional artists, writers, and curators, students may elect to work with artists, curators, critics as well as others and have access the Bay Area’s many fields of research.
We offer flexibly scheduled studio research labs that allow faculty to draw on their professional connections and expertise and off-site project-based courses that encourage collaboration with external venues, institutions, or communities.
Students have a curated public thesis exhibition staged in the spring of their final year that is connected to curriculum and emphasizes gallery practice and professional development.
Teaching assistantships are offered that allow for mentored teaching experience and exposure to diverse pedagogical models.
Students also have access to selected post-graduation awards and teaching fellowships.
Visiting Artists & Curators
The program invites national and international visiting artists/critics who are linked to Fine Arts seminars, Open Critiques, and spring exhibitions.
Additionally, guests lecture, run critiques, and participate in individual studio talks.
Students benefit from our Graduate Lecture Series and the many programs and exhibitions at the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.
The Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program, organized in collaboration with Pier24 Photography and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, attracts renowned photographers for public lectures and studio visits.
See also Lecture Series »