MFA FAQs


TYPES OF QUESTIONS
Application Questions
Degree Questions
Financial Questions
General Questions
Program Questions
Residency (On-site) Questions
Semester (Off-site) Questions

APPLICATION QUESTIONS

It is possible to apply to the program without a first degree. Candidates for professional equivalency should produce a comprehensively expanded CV showing personal life/work experiences relevant to the Creative Practice MFA program,. The CV should, where appropriate, include exhibitions or projects undertaken, voluntary or community work, conferences attended or papers given, all study days attended and courses completed, as well as any teaching, or promotional materials that you have produced.

Up to two semesters of advanced standing can be granted for graduate level work done at accredited institutions if the courses taken relate to the Creative Practice MFA program (pending review of your transcripts). It is not possible to receive graduate level credit for professional experience.

You will want to outline your studio plan, devoting one or two paragraphs to describing your project goals and make reference to possible research you think would support your project. You do not need to submit a full plan, in fact it should be open enough so that it can be influenced by your experiences in the first summer residency. You will continue to develop your project plans throughout the residency based on input from faculty and other students, submitting a final plan for approval by the end of the summer residency. Click the following link for examples of project plans submitted at the end of their first and second summer residencies.

Your portfolio needs to give a clear and detailed picture of your past and current creative practice. You can include work in any and all of the media that you work in. The best way to do this is normally by sending a link (or links) to material online on a website or a blog. Don’t feel that you should only present highly finished and completely resolved works – feel free to include work in progress or projects which maybe didn’t work out the way that you thought they would. Seeing these things is often very helpful to faculty when it comes to understanding who you are and what you’re about artistically. It also helps to assess your suitability and fit to the program, so it’s always in your best interests to give a clear picture of who you really are. Always include descriptive information (date, size, duration and an explanation)


DEGREE QUESTIONS

For clarification, all Transart programs are research-based including the MFA, MPhil, and PhD. The taught component is in support of individual students’ research. The majority of credits are for artistic research under individual advisement. The module learning outcomes confirm this: http://www.transart.org/guidelines-for-module-outcomes

The MFA in Creative Practice is accredited through the School of Art and Media at Plymouth University in the UK. The program carries 240 British credits. This is the same as 120 EU credits (ETCS) and the same as 60 graduate credits in the US. As this is a European degree, 95 percent of human resource departments will be fine with a copy of your diploma and/or transcripts. If you apply for teaching jobs in state and community colleges, notably in California and Florida, they will ask for a credential evaluation. Alumni recommend the following agency which has Transart data on file: Educational Credential Evaluators, P.O. Box 514070, Milwaukee, WI 53203-3470, www.ece.org

Until recently the M.F.A. was seen as the terminal degree in arts education, although the advent of the studio-practice PhD has to some extent recently modified that situation. The M.F.A. is a key step towards becoming a diligent and professional artist, and serves to indicate that the holder has a critically informed and rigorous practice. To quote the CAA (the College Art Association): “The M.F.A., unlike most master’s degrees, is used as a guarantee of a high level of professional competence in the visual arts.” Transart Institute meets the MFA Definitions and Standards adopted by CAA, the College Art Association.


FINANCIAL QUESTIONS

Current tuition can always be found here.

There are no additional fees. Students are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation.

Please see the Financial Aid page for full details of payment options and a list of external funding resources for different countries. Transart can award up to $18,000 in scholarships towards tuition for students who are citizens and residents of developing countries as defined on this list: http://www.isi-web.org/component/content/article/5-root/root/81-developing. Candidates will need to submit financial information. The scholarships are based on a combination of artistic merit, financial need and institutional considerations, e.g. a desired balance in geographical and cultural backgrounds as well as gender and media represented in any given year.

You will be a student at Plymouth University. Since you will be out of the country only for part of the academic year Title IV loans can not be applied. Plymouth University and Transart Institute are eligible for the private student loans which are available through Sallie Mae International. Our school code is 023521.

We have no experience with this as of now. Transart is not US-accredited but accredited by Plymouth University in the UK, which in turn is recognized as a foreign school by the DoE. The Plymouth DoE code is G23521.

Since the institute does not have a DoE code, we cannot provide the 1098 form the IRS requires.


GENERAL QUESTIONS

The average age in 2012/13 was 36.8. Most students are in their 30′s and 40′s, some are in their 20′s and a few are 50+. The program attracts many mid-career artists and artists who are currently teaching at other universities but there are also a substantial number of emerging artists and a few students come to us straight out of undergraduate art programs.

TThe program runs in English. Your English must be good enough to read critical texts and have discussions and attend lecture on this level at the residency. Students can work with their advisors in any language they choose. Students can do their research and write their papers in any language their appointed faculty person speaks. Currently we have faculty in German, Italian, Spanish and possibly French. All administrative work including student evaluations and other paper work must be in English. If English is not their first language, students may be required to provide a TOEFL with a score (iBT) of 52 or better.

Students can only begin the program at the summer residency.

Yes. If you’ve explored the job listings of the College Art Association and the Chronicle of Higher Education you’ll find that an MFA is required almost without exception.

Absolutely. There are many professional and mid-career artists and teachers in the program. More are interested in traditional venues than not. We do see an increased interest in non-traditional or non-corporate exhibition venues, partly due to a vital dialogue and exchange of ideas about audiences and intentions and the fact that there are several curators in the program who are also thinking about these issues in new ways. And many artists in the program are working in new genres or new combinations of genres where there isn’t an extensive presentation history i.e. animation, cyber art, digital and experimental media, gaming, robotics, virtual reality.


PROGRAM QUESTIONS

Transart Institute is the only low-residency fine art program which is open to all media genres. and the program is truly interdisciplinary. Our students are generally working professionals with wider world experience than students who have concurrently pursued undergraduate and then graduate courses of study. The low-residency approach, coupled with our unique intensive residencies, gives our students the opportunity for deeper academic experiences than are possible in a traditional context. The intensive residency format allows us to invite practicing artists, media specialists and theorists who would not be able to commit to a full academic program because of their career commitments. The program also allows for an individually tailored approach to learning. Each student creates his/her own educational experience through independent study, working one-on-one with individual faculty and advisors. Finally, students work in their own studios in their own environment. Traditional programs often necessitate working in temporary on-site studio spaces. Balancing making art, supporting a family and holding down a ‘day job’ is one of the more difficult challenges artists face. If students can establish a good, solid artistic praxis with the support of the program in their own environment, the chances are much greater the praxis will continue to flourish in the long term after the program.

The MFA Creative Practice is not tied to any specific creative discipline or media. If anything, it is pan-disciplinary. The artwork itself, and the ideas, content, process and presentation which make it up are the focus of the program. The choice of media remains yours. It should be the media that best expresses what you have to communicate, or the one within which you find your thoughts flow most easily. New media is an open-ended term and is intended here to be inclusive of genres and media not traditionally considered “fine art”, as well as analog media like photography or film that do not necessarily involve digital processes. It also implies an awareness of current media and media practices. Although one needs to have some interest in contemporary art, it isn’t necessary to work digitally to reach the goals of the program. The program attracts as many (if not more) painters and choreographers as it does artists working with robotics and cyberspace.

The main emphasis in the program is on studio art. Cultural studies, writing and research are undertaken to inform the studio project. In the first semester each year students read in preparation for their research and write an introduction to their paper. In the second semester students write a ten page paper. There are no grades given. An advisor is selected on the basis of the research topic in the first year by the directors. Students can normally choose their advisors in the second year. You can expect to spend around 5 hours per week on reading, researching and writing these two papers, though this may vary from student to student according to ability and experience.


RESIDENCY ON SITE QUESTIONS

Three weeks of intensive on-site work consisting of workshops, seminars, presentations, lectures, talks, exhibitions and performances as well as individual meetings with faculty, alumni and students. These residencies take place at the beginning, middle and end of the program. Two semesters of off-site independent work occur between the summer residencies.

Practical workshops are either five days or one day in length and focus on developing non-medium specific strategies for re-thinking creative practice, often developed around a specific theme or set of ideas. Normally students do not work on their own practice in these classes but instead focus on developing individual and collaborative short term projects for the duration of the workshop. Seminars are normally 5 days in length and usually deal with the theoretical and philosophical contextualisation of creative practice. Also expect one-off events such as pecha-kucha sessions, as well as regular critique sessions, and guest artist, student and faculty presentations.

Summer Residencies are intense and exciting for everyone involved: events take place from 9 in the morning to 8 at night every day of the week. Unlike a traditional residency program where you attend classes but rarely run into other students or faculty between classes, at Transart almost everyone is away from their jobs and family and focuses instead on their praxis, projects and colleagues. Because of the nature of the residency, you are very strongly advised not to bring along extra projects and to avoid any and all simultaneous external creative or employment obligations during the residency period, as you will definitely need time for rest and reflection.

Bringing family or partners to a residency requires advance planning and may prevent you from benefitting fully from the intensive residency experience. The program is small, intimate, experimental and highly responsive to student and faculty suggestions, so please be aware that the schedule can change at very short notice, which may make planning around a family difficult. Family and partners are welcome at all public events but they cannot attend classes. Please do not bring them to Transart social events without checking first. The institute is unable to supply information on day care, babysitters or summer classes for children.

Five days of intensive on-site work consisting of presentations, critique sessions and talks. Professional development workshops are available at some residencies. Each student installs work and/or brings documentation of work as applicable, presents their project and gets feedback on the work and the presentation. There are also visits to exhibitions and performances as well as individual meetings with faculty, alumni and students. These residencies take place between the fall and spring modules.

Due to the low-residency nature of the program, if you do need a visa it can be a tourist visa. Transart Institute will write you a letter confirming your status as either an applicant or an accepted student if you need one.

This is not possible due to the short duration of the residencies. Normally a tourist visa is all that is needed. With some countries an official invitation may be needed to obtain any visa. The institute can help make these arrangements.

Students are encouraged to bring physical work whenever appropriate or possible. For the third summer students participating in the MFA thesis exhibition will bring work selected by the MFA Thesis Exhibition and Performance Event as well as any other work they wish critiqued depending on the nature of the project and whether the student is documenting, performing or exhibiting the project. The form of your final presentation is determined in the project plan and finalized at the second fall residency where students try out their intended presentations in a New York gallery for presentation input. Wherever and wherever possible we encourage students to bring physical work whenever they can, as there is often no substitute for encountering the work face-to-face. Optionally students can provide documentation or evidence of their studio practice as part of the thesis they will submit.

 

SEMESTER OFF SITE QUESTIONS

Via Plymouth University Transart Institute offers access to hundreds of periodicals and subscriptions via online licensed databases, as well as a wealth of library research opportunities and tools. Students receive a full induction into accessing this material at the first summer residency.

No, advisors are assigned to students based on academic compatibility, not geographic proximity. Communication is by telephone, or Skype, e-mail, postal mail, and in-person meetings at residencies.

Students are assigned their individual studio and research advisors. In the first year you will normally work with summer faculty and experienced Transart advisors. You can work with one pre-approved advisor from outside of the program in your second year. Faculty, guest artists and lecturers are all good sources for suggestions. Transart has a pool of international advisors and can approve artists and curators outside of the program as long as they are qualified. You will have at least two critiques each semester with your studio advisor. An ever-growing list of available advisors and media specialists with their locations, bios, areas of interest and websites is listed on the website. For your research advisor in your first year you will be placed with Transart summer faculty and experienced Transart advisors. You can work with pre-approved advisors outside of the program in your second year. Again, faculty, guest artists and lecturers are all good sources for suggestions, or you can also work with one of your summer seminar faculty. Your advisor will support your research efforts with input by email at three stages of the process.

Your guidance committee consists of your research and studio advisors. You will have an initial meeting together at the summer residency. These meetings reaffirm the vital connection between the studio and research components of your project. Any member of the committee can call a meeting at anytime during the semesters if questions come up.

Students engage in regular off-site critique sessions run by alumni via Skype. These conversations provide a way of staying connected with your fellow students and also help to hone your critical and presentation skills.

Students need to work an average of 20 hours a week. We understand that you are active professionals and that your workload will not necessarily be evenly distributed over the weeks of the semester. Each person must find their own rhythm and process for this. 20 hours per week gives you an indication of the overall amount of work expected of you by faculty and advisor throughout the program.

Your studio and research advisors will send you and the institute evaluations of your project at the end of each module or semester. This is done on a pass-fail basis. There are no grades. Students also post monthly progress updates (‘evidence of process’) on their wordpress blogs hosted at Transart. For students new to blogging there is an introductory session as well as individual help at the residency and during the semester.