Jul 17, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Art (M.F.A.)

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Program Overview

Whether you’re interested in teaching, becoming a professional artist, or both, the MFA is a professional, practice-oriented terminal degree program representing the highest level of achievement in the visual arts studio discipline. Faculty mentoring through close, personal attention is one of the keys to our program’s success. You’ll have courses and field-based internship opportunities to help you develop innovative and mature portfolios. You will experience a rigorous environment that encourages creative thought. Participate in critiques, lectures and demonstrations on critical issues and experience personal growth through research, experimentation and critical discussion. Accredited by NASAD since 1979. Learn more at https://www.usd.edu/Academics/Graduate-Programs/Art.

DELIVERY: On campus


Choose a specialization in the following areas:

  • Graphic Design: You’ll learn a rich array of graphic design tools and work with faculty to broaden your understanding of the design field. Courses and field-based internships help students develop innovative and mature portfolios.
  • Painting: Bridging both the technical and conceptual approaches to painting, you will experience a rigorous and supportive environment that encourages creative thought and personal growth through research, experimentation and critical discussion.
  • Photography: You will develop skills in traditional film, digital and experimental forms of photography. Explore techniques in photography development, printing and creative process and participate in critiques, lectures and demonstrations on critical issues in photography.
  • Printmaking: We mentor students to gain the knowledge and skills in both traditional and alternative printmaking processes as the means to develop their personal voice. You have the opportunity to work in facilities that offer the full range of traditional and alternative printmaking processes to allow you to explore any aspect of the medium in your educational journey.
  • Sculpture: Your courses will explore cast metals, metal fabrication, woodworking, mixed media, carving, mold-making and installation projects with traditional and contemporary materials and processes. You’ll have the opportunity for growth and development of individual aesthetics, concepts, technical abilities and a critical understanding of the discipline of sculpture as applied to the production of contemporary art. 

Master of Fine Arts: Total 60 credit hours

Studio or Related Areas

  • Specialization Credit Hours: 32
  • Art Electives Credit Hours: 8
  • Graduate Seminar (Studio Emphasis) Credit Hours: 3
  • Folio Preparation Credit Hours: 2

Other Studies in Art/Design

  • Art History Credit Hours: 9
  • Art Seminar (Academic Research) Credit Hours: 3


  • Open Electives (non-art) Credit Hours: 3

General Application Requirements

  1. Completed application
  2. $35 application fee
  3. Official transcripts*
  4. Letters of recommendation*
  5. Statement of purpose
  6. Resume/CV*

*Requirements for admission vary by program and may require different documentation and have different deadlines. This list is not all-inclusive, to view specific program requirements and submission deadlines, follow the “Admissions Information” hyperlink at the top of this page OR visit the specific program/dept. page found here: link.usd.edu/grad-catalog

Location Matters for Non-Licensure Track Programs

This program is not designed or advertised to lead to a professional license or certification required for employment.

USD is permitted to operate under the terms of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA) policies and standards in offering online courses/degree programs to residents in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  Online courses/programs may also be offered to residents of California (a non-SARA state) because it does not regulate out-of-state public institutions.

Additionally, this program is authorized to offer supervised field study experiences (internship, externship, clinical, rotation, practicum, independent study, study away, etc.) in South Dakota. Please be aware that there may be some restrictions on your ability to engage in supervised field study outside of South Dakota. Please contact a program representative if you have questions regarding supervised field study.

Distance education courses or programs will not be offered outside of the United States without prior written approval from the University, which may be withheld for any reason. If you are taking distance courses while physically located outside of the United States, it is your responsibility to confirm the following: (a) if the country will recognize an online degree; (b) the availability of supervised field study opportunities in the country; and (c) if the country charges any additional taxes, withholdings or fees associated with online distance education programs.

For more information, please visit USD’s State Authorization page or contact your admissions counselor.


Department of Art
605-658-3455 | art@usd.edu | usd.edu/art

Graduate Admissions 
605-658-6140 | gradadmissions@usd.edu  | usd.edu/grad


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