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Take Your Career to the Next Level with a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Studio Arts from Northern Vermont University

Refine your artistic vision, enhance your practice, and work with artists from around the country and the world in Northern Vermont University-Johnson’s M.F.A. in studio arts program. This unique 60-credit graduate degree in studio arts is offered in two formats:

1) A campus-based program conducted on the NVU-Johnson campus

2) A low-residency program in conjunction with the renowned Vermont Studio Center, located just beyond the NVU-Johnson campus. Students complete four one-month residencies (six credits each) at the Studio Center, where they have a haven to create while they connect with a community of resident artists and visiting artists from around the world. In addition, there are two independent month-long residencies, where students can choose alternative sites to complete the remaining 12 residency credits. With these residency credits and an additional six credits in contemporary art issues, six two-credit packets of images documenting art work completed, and the six-credit thesis preparation and exhibition credits, a total of sixty credits are earned for the MFA degree. Students typically finish their studies in three to four years.

Both formats prepare serious artists ready to take the next step in their careers. You’ll work with accomplished faculty and motivated peers while you focus on making connections in the art world and immersing yourself in Vermont’s diverse and multifaceted artistic communities.

We also offer a bachelor of fine arts degree in studio arts at our Johnson campus.

Learn more about the M.F.A. low-residency and on-campus options below.


Residencies at the Vermont Studio Center plant the seeds that grow the artistic spirit and intelligence, while regular critiques from the M.F.A. faculty at NVU-Johnson provide direction and support. Every day is a revelation — a rethinking of how we see the world in our given discipline. We give you the power to create, analyze your work, and harness the full strength of your vision to achieve growth and mastery of your own artistic expression.

Student artists find success through the unique collaboration of NVU faculty, the Vermont Studio Center and the student, through his or her independent studio work and Studio Center residencies. We empower you with a focus on “nurtured independence” through the combination of residency and independent studio time. Our flexible, low-residency model meets the diverse needs of adult learners as they pursue artistic advancement.

A Multidisciplinary Approach

You’ll create work in a variety of disciplines, including drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and mixed media. Coursework ends with an exhibit and artist’s talk in the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery at NVU-Johnson.

Residencies at the Vermont Studio Center are an integral component — and a main attraction — of our M.F. A. program. Candidates complete four four-week residencies at the Studio Center between May and November. During their time at the center, students receive individual critiques from NVU’s M.F.A. faculty and from visiting artists at the Studio Center. The center welcomes a variety of prominent visiting artists throughout the year. (View current schedule of visiting artists.)

Students typically complete two sessions a year for three years and have the option of completing residencies concurrently or not, depending on individual circumstances (such as job flexibility, home life, the schedule of visiting artists, or the plans of other students). Students may enroll in more than two program sessions a year if space is available at the Studio Center and if approved by the student’s advisor and the provost. Special permission is required in order to complete fewer than two residencies a year.

M.F.A. students work closely with an advisor from the M.F.A. program at NVU-Johnson to plan an overall approach to meeting degree requirements and to navigate any special challenges. Reflecting the nature of graduate work in the arts, credits at the Vermont Studio Center are offered on a pass/no-pass basis.

Required Courses

ART 5211 Studio Center Residency I 6 credits
ART 5212 Studio Center Residency II 6 credits
ART 5213 Studio Center Residency III 6 credits
ART 5214 Studio Center Residency IV 6 credits
ART 5215 Independent Residency I 6 credits
ART 5216 Independent Residency II 6 credits
ART 5311 Contemporary Arts Seminar I 3 credits
ART 5312 Contemporary Arts Seminar II 3 credits
ART 5831 Independent Studio Work I 2 credits
ART 5832 Independent Studio Work II 2 credits
ART 5833 Independent Studio Work III 2 credits
ART 5834 Independent Studio Work IV 2 credits
ART 5835 Independent Studio Work V 2 credits
ART 5836 Independent Studio Work VI 2 credits
ART 5911 M.F.A. Thesis Preparation 3 credits
ART 5912 M.F.A. Thesis Preparation 3 credits
ART 5900 M.F.A. Continuous Registration 0***
TOTAL 60 credits


The campus-based M.F.A. in studio arts program offers artists the opportunity to complete a graduate degree while taking advantage of the rich local and regional artistic communities. As with the low-residency M.F.A. program (run in coordination with the Vermont Studio Center), the campus-based program gives you the chance to work closely with established artists while focusing on your own creative projects, culminating in a final show.

Academic rigor, studio work, and immersion in a community of professional and emerging artists combine to create an ideal environment in which to grow and master your artistic expression — and to build meaningful relationships that help to support a sustainable, lifelong practice in the arts.

Multidisciplinary Options

Students can specialize or pursue a combination of studio disciplines, including painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, photography, ceramics, digital media, and design. Students also investigate contemporary art history and art theory in the context of their own work.

18 cr. Graduate Studio Projects Three six-credit studio projects, each stationed in one of the studios in NVU-Johnson’s Visual Arts Center (VAC). Projects are arranged by completing a graduate studio project application form, making a contract for the following semester working under M.F.A. faculty supervision in cooperation with appropriate studio faculty. Taken in conjunction with M.F.A. colloquium — see below.
4 cr. Art/Build Internship An internship with area arts agencies, venues, projects, and exhibitions.
6 cr. Contemporary Arts Seminar Two three-credit courses
10 cr. M.F.A. Colloquium Five two-credit courses taken concurrently with the three studio projects and two theses courses — Preparation and Exhibition. Weekly group meetings with all M.F.A. students enrolled that semester to discuss and critique project and or thesis exhibition progress, challenges, and successes.
12 cr. Summer Studio Residencies Two six-credit residencies at NVU-Johnson’s VAC. Each residency comprises an eight-week intensive studio residency housed at the VAC in June and July. Weekly meetings/critiques with M.F.A. faculty.
2 cr. Contemporary Arts Travel Intensive Students plan a solo or group educational trip to New York City or other appropriate destination with the advice and consent of M.F.A. faculty.
2 cr. M.F.A. Thesis Book Students prepare documentation of their exhibition, including portfolio images, artist statement, and other appropriate documentation.
6 cr. M.F.A. Thesis Preparation and Exhibition
Summer A One Art/Build Internship (4 cr.); One Summer Studio Residency (6 cr.) 10
Fall A One Graduate Studio Project (6 cr.); One M.F.A. Colloquium (2 cr.); One Contemporary Arts Seminar (3 cr.) 11
Spring A One Graduate Studio Project (6 cr.); One M.F.A. Colloquium (2 cr.); One Contemporary Arts Seminar (3 cr.) 11
Summer B One Summer Studio Residency (6 cr.); One M.F.A. Colloquium (2 cr.); Contemporary Arts Travel Intensive (2 cr.) 10
Fall B 1 Graduate Studio Project (6 cr.); 1 M.F.A. Colloquium (2 cr.); Thesis Preparation (3 cr.) 11
Spring B Thesis Exhibit Preparation; Final M.F.A. Colloquium (2 cr.); Thesis Book (2 cr.) 7
Thesis exhibit can happen in Spring B semester or the following summer or fall


For more information on this and other graduate programs at Northern Vermont University-Johnson, contact Graduate Programs Recruiter Edward Bassett at or 802.730.4880.
A woman with curly hair, smiling, looking at the camera, with trees and a brick building in background.

The knowledge and relationships I’ve gained from classes, professors, peers, friends and others I’ve met through the program will help me to continually grow…

– Anna Wadlington

Apply Today.

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