The Art Department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison offers a wide selection of areas of study, and the MFA program encourages an inter-disciplinary approach to art making.

The graduate program in art is currently comprised of approximately 70 graduate students and 27 full-time faculty. The faculty is a distinguished group of professional artists who are active in the research and exhibition of their work and are also devoted teachers. An important strength of the graduate program lies in the breadth and diversity of its faculty. The program continues to grow and provides a wealth of artistic experiences for its students.

Areas Of Study1

Relief Printing

The graduate relief printing area concentrates on all forms of relief printmaking and unique prints. Specialized courses are offered in woodcut, linocut, and other forms of raised surface printing. The interrelationship between relief printing, monotype/monoprints, hybrid print techniques, installation and those in typographic design and fine book reproduction is encouraged. The Relief lab is equipped with a Takach press, Vandorcook letter press, Charles Brand Press, and Reliance Press.

Screen Printing

Graduate screen printing concentrates on formulating ideas and developing a personal visual language. The program utilizes the technical experience of the intro course (photo based, hand-cut and painted stencils, digital media) and develops the use of color, transparencies, and textural effects to realize print editions and unique prints that reflect creativity and technical competence. The use of the multiple in a contemporary context for installation-based artworks, multimedia, and dimensional prints is encouraged. The serigraphy lab is equipped with two large vacuum bases to print 4x5ft and 5x8ft, three medium size vacuum bases, two washout units, two light exposure tables, light tables, and a variety of screens.


The etching/intaglio classes present this traditional process by laying the groundwork of basic technique to further understanding of its experimental possibilities. Five presses of varying size offer the capacity to explore many techniques, from traditional engraving and etching with hard, soft and granular grounds, to photo etching processes. There is an emphasis on color and multiple plate printing as well as monoprint methods. Aside from methods, students do research into the history of the multiple and its current use in all areas of contemporary art. Enlargement of the medium into installation and use of nontraditional substrates and formats are expected. The use of digital technology such as digital camcorders, digital cameras and inkjet printing expand this medium's contemporary currency.


Lithography works are based in individual conceptual development while utilizing both stones and aluminum plates. Course work is geared to a high degree of craft and professionalism. All phases of lithography are stressed including direct, transfer and photo. The center of the program is a well-equipped workshop incorporating five presses, a very large graining sink, and more than 100 stones of varying sizes up to 30 inches by 40 inches.

Digital Printmaking

Courses in digital print-production techniques provide graphics students with the necessary skills to take original art or digital media to printed output. Courses also provide a thorough explanation of the various systems, software, and hardware fundamentals involved in the integration of digital forms with etching, lithography, screen printing, photography, book arts, and graphic design. Print Production Techniques (Digital Printmaking) is also designed as an introductory course to ART 636 Computer Augmented Printmaking. As part of their course work, students will learn to utilize campus computer facilities as well as the Design Center or MERIT Lab, Print Production Studio, and the Digital Printmaking Center.

Topics covered will include an introduction to image acquisition for high resolution output, color proofing, imaging for photo plates and screens, introductory digital color-management and theory, printmaking and computer art history, and a survey of emerging print technologies including an expanded notion of electronic image presentation and distribution for the web. Simulations in virtual classrooms will be included as part of the learning environment. Student evaluations will be based on work produced for three critiques during the semester and a final portfolio review.

Graphic Design and Typography

The courses in graphic design emphasize the process of visual communication of ideas and information, with attention to aesthetic considerations, techniques, and methods. Course work in letterpress and computer typesetting introduce historical and visual aspects of formal typography and serve to facilitate experimentation with the communicative properties of type. Practical study in this area involves the design and production of books, broadsides, brochures, and posters; the development and application of logotypes and design formats; and utilizing the facilities of letterpress, computer technologies, and graphic reproduction techniques. In addition, a focus on book structures and artists' books is provided.


The photography area encourages students to pursue their advanced research in a multidisciplinary program. Students may work strictly in photography or in combination with other disciplines such as bookmaking, typography, printmaking, installation, video, or web-based work. There is a high teacher-to-student ratio in order to promote a supportive atmosphere for artist development. Students are given a studio with access to a private black & white darkroom and digital lab. The general photography labs include facilities for digital, black & white, and alternative processes.

Paper Making

The courses in paper making are concerned with understanding the inherent materials used in the paper making processes as applied to traditional sheet forming and as they relate to other contemporary concepts in book arts, sculpture and drawing. New paper-making facilities were opened in May 2009 in the Art Lofts building.

Drawing and Painting
Courses in painting 
emphasizes conceptual, formal, and material logic in the development of an individualized studio practice. This course of study promotes an understanding of contemporary and historical painting and drawing practice as well as the theoretical premises pertinent to furthering the student's intellectual and creative development.

Within the multidisciplinary department, the student is encouraged to access the broad variety of available facilities, equipment, and faculty fundamental to their continued artistic growth and specialization. Graduate students are provided with a private studio space

The sculpture area offers a balance between techniques and concepts. Various forms of expression from object making, installation, and time-based media are encouraged. Issues of professional practice within the traditional art venues as well as in the larger public domain are addressed. Students are encouraged to develop their individual voice as artists, be part of a constructive community, and prepare to be creative citizens.

Facilities are available for most of the processes needed to produce sculpture: welding (including MIG and TIG), a foundry with a large alpine sculpture kiln for foundry molds and two gas melt furnaces, forging facilities, and shops for mixed media construction, casting and paint.

Woodworking and Furniture Design

The wood/furniture area explores the technical and conceptual possibilities of woodworking and furniture design. The curriculum is project-based and teaches a full range of skills from design development through drawing and model building, as well as hand and machine based construction skills. Graduate students receive a work space in one of two private bench rooms attached to the machine room and have 24-hour access to the studio facility. The graduate program stresses advanced visual research and is highly flexible. Graduate students produce both functional and nonfunctional work that represents a wide spectrum of aesthetic perspectives. The context of a very large and diverse research university allows for effective support and mentoring of varied and wide-ranging approaches to art making. Experimentation and collaboration with other areas of the Art Department and the larger university are actively encouraged.

The wood/furniture facilities offer a state-of-the-art laboratory for working with wood. However, the program promotes and endorses a far-reaching exploration of traditional and cutting edge materials as well as newer digitally driven approaches to design and fabrication. Graduate studio research includes extensive one-on-one interaction with faculty from all areas of the Art Department. Additional feedback is provided through group critiques by faculty, fellow students, guest critics, and visiting artists.


The ceramics area emphasizes a relationship between the field of ceramics and contemporary approaches to art making, theory, and criticism. The area offers a diverse approach to materials and processes, emphasizing work that is both technically proficient and conceptually diverse. Through advanced study, students will gain an understanding of the technical concerns involved in ceramic production such as clay and glaze calculation and mold making, while simultaneously developing the critical and historical skills necessary to apply those processes to finished works. The ceramics studio offers a wide assortment of equipment including a fully stocked supply of raw materials for clay and glaze mixing, digital scales and test kilns, electric wheels, extruders, slab rollers, an industrial spray booth, slip casting equipment, and a variety of both updraft gas and computer-controlled electric kilns. Graduate students receive private studio space, and are strongly encouraged to experiment and collaborate with other areas of the Art Department and university. Graduate-level research includes extensive one-on-one interaction with faculty from all areas of the department, with additional feedback provided through group critiques by faculty, fellow students, guest critics, and visiting artists.


Courses in glass stress proficiency in the basic manipulative processes inherent in the glass medium and encourage students to expand traditional boundaries to use old technologies along with new lighting technologies. The glass area has been one of the first tenants in the department's loft building. Facilities are available to accomplish most hot and cold working methods. Students, faculty, and lecturers often exhibit their work in public settings beyond the traditional gallery setting. The graduate studios are in the Art Lofts building, creating a lively environment for making and studying artwork.


The metals area at UW–Madison has a long and distinguished history. The area is designed to challenge students to learn about the making of art through the specific materials, techniques, history, and cultural significance of the metalsmithing and jewelry fields. Technical proficiency is encouraged in the service of deep socially significant investigation and research. Analytical and critical thinking, historical responsibility, and theoretical awareness are explored in a seminar setting with metals faculty. Visiting artists offer lectures, demonstrations, and individual critiques with grad students that round out this rigorous and comprehensive area.

The metals studios occupy six rooms on the seventh floor of the Mosse Humanities Building. With approximately 4,500 square feet of instructional and studio space, these well-equipped facilities include acetylene, ox/acteylene and propane torches, annealing booths, centrifugal and vacuum casting equipment, enameling kilns and enamels, flexible shafts machines at every work station, a large selection of anvils, hammers and stakes for raising, forming and forging, hydraulic die forming, a gas forge, electroforming, manual and electric rolling mills, sand blaster, band and jig saws, lathes, milling machines and drill presses, a dedicated polishing room, spray etchers, sheet metal working equipment, mold making equipment, and a full compliment of hand tools. The resource center includes a computer, digital projector, photo equipment, and metals library.

Non-Static Forms

Courses in non-static forms include video and performance art. Students have access to media facilities throughout the university and are encouraged to participate in classes in non-static forms and to experiment with new media. Courses stress methods of exhibition, documentation, and distribution that are unique to the non-static media. Both individual and collaborative projects are possible, and frequent opportunities are available for students to exhibit or perform.

Digital Media

The Digital Media area provides classes and faculty which allow graduate students to expand their use of digital media tools in the context of their own fine art practice. Classes offered cover a wide range of digital forms including digital imaging, web authoring, flash animation, video and audio manipulation and 3D modeling and animation using Rhino and Maya. All classes provide a balance of technical information on the relevant media and coverage of the historical and conceptual implications of their use in a fine art context. Students are encouraged to consider digital tools as part of an integrated art practice that is concept and content driven rather than media specific. As well as supporting students whose art work is presented in digital formats the Digital Media area provides opportunities for artists working in all media to incorporate new methodologies into their practice. In the department and wider campus both Mac and PC based facilities are available with specialized facilities provided for 3D animation, video editing, 3D printing (rapid prototyping) and large format 2D printing.

Fall Deadline January 6
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

For up-to-date application instructions, see Graduate Application on the Art Department website.

To be admitted as a graduate student with full standing, an applicant must meet the minimum Graduate School requirements. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required for admission. 

Submit an online application through the UW–Madison Graduate School and pay the application fee. The application can be found at the UW–Madison Graduate School Application portal.

It will take 24 hours for your Graduate School Electronic Application to process and appear in our system. Generally, the link to the SlideRoom application is sent the following day. Once you receive a confirmation e-mail, you will be able to register with SlideRoom, log in, and complete the Art Department’s supplemental application. You will be sent an email with a link to the MFA admissions application page (SlideRoom). After you register your account you will apply to Program 1—Admittance Application NEW MFA APPLICANTS.

The SlideRoom application will walk you through the process of uploading your portfolio, as well as applying for funding opportunities through the Art Department. The department offers a number of teaching assistantships, both classroom and support positions along with scholarships to qualified applicants. You will also be asked to upload a portfolio of 20 images of your recent art work.

Your portfolio must be submitted through SlideRoom, mailed portfolios will not be reviewed. Applicants may upload images (jpggif, or png), video (movwmvflv), or PDF documents. For all technical assistance with SlideRoom, contact

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Funding For Mfa GRADUATES in studio art

The Art Department awards roughly $1.3 million annually to fund graduate student education. Funding comes in the form of teaching assistantships (TA & TA–IS), project assistantships (PA), fellowships, and scholarship funding packages. TA, PA, and fellowship awards provide full tuition remission, living stipends, and medical benefits. Scholarships range in awarded amounts and are used to offset annual tuition costs. Students apply every year for funding and are awarded comprehensive funding packages based on their continued success in the program. Funding is based on sustained academic and artistic progress and satisfactory performance toward the completion of the degree. For up-to-date application instructions, see Graduate Funding on the art department website.


Art Department Teaching Assistantships: Continuing students apply for teaching assistantship (TA) positions in November, through the Annual Funding Application. Incoming students will apply for TA positions within the department’s Admissions Application. Because of the demanding responsibilities of these positions, the department prioritizes students moving into their second and third year of the program. All continuing students are offered an interview for TA positions. Students completing their third year of the program are not eligible to teach a fourth year. Qualified incoming applicants will be considered for an interview, as class sections become available. Students may hold a TA position for two years only. An appointment as a TA includes remission of all tuition (excluding segregated fees or extra course fees) and health insurance coverage for the duration of the appointment. Appointments usually require teaching two studio sections or three discussion sections per semester.

Art Department Project Assistantships and Teaching AssistantInstructional Staff: Project assistantship (PA) and teaching assistant–Instructional Staff (TA–IS) positions are available within and outside of the department. These are limited-term appointments that pay a salary and provide benefits for studio, lab, or research work. TA–IS applications are included in the Annual Funding Application provided to continuing students in November. Incoming students will apply for TA–IS positions within the department’s Admissions Application. An appointment as a TA–IS includes remission of all tuition (excluding segregated fees or extra course fees) and health insurance coverage for the duration of the appointment.

PA positions are offered to qualified students, both incoming and continuing students by direct selection of faculty members. There is no separate PA application. Eligible incoming and continuing students who have submitted either their Admittance Application or the department’s Annual Funding Application will be considered for PA appointments. In past years, MFA students have been successful in locating PA, TA, and TA–IS positions in other departments, primarily in positions requiring experience in art, design or writing backgrounds. PA Appointments can range from one semester to the full calendar year and provide full tuition remission (excluding segregated fees and extra course fees) and health coverage for the duration of the appointment.

Fellowships: Fellowships are awards that enable graduate students to pursue their degrees full-time. The steering committee nominates students for fellowships. The Graduate School has general fellowship information on its website. These fellowships are administered through the Graduate School.


Office of Student Financial Aid

333 East Campus Mall #9701
Financial Aid information for graduate student grants, employment appeals and general loans is available at Student Financial Services. Please note that the Art Department does not have anything to do with student financial aid awards.


Work-study is awarded through student financial aid. Work-study positions are listed in the work-study office. Many professors in the Art Department hire work study students to assist them in lab courses.

Grants Information Collection

Room 262 Memorial Library, 608-262-6431

The Grants Information Collection is one of a network of approximately 200 collections established by the Foundation Center, an independent national service organization in New York, to provide an authoritative source of information on foundation and corporate giving for nonprofit organizations. Resources on scholarships, fellowships, grants and other funding opportunities for individuals also constitute a large part of the collection’s holdings. In addition to publications from the Foundation Center, including its computerized database, FC Search, the Grants Information Collection also includes other sources of information in both print and electronic format on private and corporate foundations and federal funding agencies. Here, supplemented by other campus collections, users can also find books, periodicals and pamphlets and a sampling of videos on fund raising, proposal writing and philanthropy.

The Albert Murray Fine Arts Educational Fund

A number of Art Department graduate students have received support from this fund. Applications for graduate and undergraduate students are available in the Art Department office. You may also contact the Albert K. Murray Fine Arts Educational Fund, Post Office Box 367, Adamsville, OH 43802-0367.

College Art Association

The College Art Association has a Professional Development Fellowship program to help students of color make the transition from graduate school to a professional career. The fellowship is available to students who demonstrate financial need and will receive their MFA or Ph.D in the upcoming academic year. Contact: College Art Association, 275 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, phone: 212-691-1051 x209.

Fulbright and Other Travel Programs

Fulbright Fellowships provide round-trip international transportation, tuition (when applicable), health and accident insurance, and maintenance for one academic year. The Fellowships Office also administers other travel fellowships including the Lusk Memorial Fellowship and the Miguel Vinciguerra Fellowship. For applications contact the Fellowships Office, 327 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706, 608-265-2409.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 60 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (30 credits out of 60 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements No other specific grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations MFA QUALIFIER
Students will host a solo exhibition of their work during the fourth semester of the program. This exhibition serves as an opportunity for the student to meet with their committee to discuss their research as it relates to contemporary studio practice and content, historical context and formal issues. The qualifier functions as a critique in which students can expect to defend the work and field specific questions asked by their committee. After the hour long meeting the committee will give the student a list of questions that the student will write responses to. Two weeks following the exhibition the student submits their written responses for evaluation. The committee will then approve the student to advance in the program.

After the successful completion of the qualifier, students will host a solo exhibition of their work. This exhibition takes place during the sixth semester of the program. The students’ committee will come together one time to discuss the candidates’ masters body of work along with the decisions the student made in presenting both their work and research. At this meeting students should expect to defend not only their practice, but be able to articulate evidence of their academic research as it relates to the exhibited works. After the hour long meeting the committee will convene and make their recommendations for the conferring of the MFA degree.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Courses Required

ART 700 Introduction to Graduate Studies in Art3
ART 908 Seminar-Art (Students must take two Art Seminar courses)6
ART 508 Colloquium in Art1
Art History (Students must take two Art History courses that are >300 level )6
Outside Academic Elective >300 level (This course cannot be a studio course and must be taken outside of the Art Department)3
Total Credits19

Additional Coursework

(Graduate students work with their graduate committee chair to structure coursework and develop research outside of the programs' 19 required credits adding up to the required 60 credits). Below is a partial list of additional coursework students may take while in the program. 

Art Studio
ART 722 Graduate Painting I2-3
ART 726 Graduate Intaglio Printmaking I2-3
ART 736 Graduate Graphics Workshop I2-6
ART 826 Graduate Intaglio Printmaking II2-3
ART 836 Graduate Graphics Workshop II2-6
ART 912 Advanced Research-Drawing1-4
ART 914 Advanced Research-Sculpture1-4
ART 922 Advanced Research-Painting1-4
ART 924 Advanced Research-Ceramics1-4
ART 944 Advanced Research-Art Metal1-4
ART 996 Advanced Research-Graphics1-4
ART 999 Independent Study1-4
ART 309 Digital Art and Code4
ART 316 Lithography4
ART 328 The Computer in the Visual Arts4
ART 334 Wood Working3-4
ART 336 Serigraphy3-4
ART/​DANCE  341 Sound Design for the Performing and Visual Arts3
ART 343 Metal Fabrication and Welding in Sculpture3-4
ART 354 Glassworking4
ART 376 Photography3-4
ART 409 Digital Fabrication Studio4
ART 414 Art Foundry3
ART 446 Artists' Books4
ART 454 Neon: Light as Sculpture4
ART 456 Illustration3
ART 466 Papermaking: History, Elements and Techniques4
ART 470 Special Topics in 4D Art3-4
ART 511 Art Performance3-4
ART 518 Artist's Video4
ART 521 Installations and Environments4
ART 528 Digital Interactive Studio4
ART 531 Screen Performance3-4
ART 608 Interdisciplinary Critique in the Visual Arts3
ART 636 Computer Augmented Printmaking4

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


Student progress will be reviewed through coursework or at yearly meetings. If the advisor and graduate committee find that at the yearly meeting or at any other time that a student has failed to achieve satisfactory progress with academic or conduct expectations the student may be dismissed from the program.

Students placed on probation will be placed on probation for one semester and will be reviewed by the program steering committee following the probationary semester. Students placed on probation may be dismissed or allowed to continue based upon review of progress during the probationary semester.


All students are required to conduct a yearly progress report meeting with the chair and members of their committee. The committee will meet at the end of the student's sixth semester to review work for the MFA degree.


12 credits per semester, 13 with petition

Time Constraints

The MFA show of creative work must be completed by the sixth or seventh semester of the candidate's studies.

Master's degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.


In the three-year program of study, students may receive both M.A. and MFA degrees. 

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. To facilitate a mastery in both the practice and understanding of major trends in contemporary visual culture.
  2. To facilitate a broad and diverse understanding of the historical underpinnings, methodologies and techniques of contemporary visual art.
  3. To facilitate the development of critical thinking through coursework within the department and across campus as well as through independent study with individual professors.
  4. To facilitate exposure to a wide set of professional resources and career opportunities.
  5. To develop and complete original research that advances a field of study in at least one of the broad based discipline areas offered by our program.
  6. To attain the skill set necessary to evaluate and interpret professional writing from a variety of disciplines in order to develop a theoretical framework for their own artistic research.
  7. To develop develop a rigorous and sustainable studio art practice both in and out of a studio context.
  8. To develop professional practices that facilitates a sustainable career in the arts; that allows students to present their research to diverse audiences through public lectures, symposia and exhibitions.


For more information about faculty, see UW/ART.

Faisal Abdu’Allah (Printmaking)
Yeohyun Ahn (Graphic Design)
Emily Arthur (Printmaking) 
Lynda Barry (Comics)
Derrick Buisch (Painting & Drawing) 
Jeffrey Clancy (Metals)
Laurie Beth Clark (4-D)
Sarah FitzSimons (Sculpture)
Aristotle Georgiades (Sculpture)
Lisa Gralnick (Metals)
Gerit Grimm (Ceramics)
Stephen Hilyard (4-D)
John Hitchcock (Printmaking)
Tom Jones (Photography)
Tomiko Jones (Photography)
Helen Lee (Glass)
Tom Loeser (Wood Working)
Dennis Miller (Graphic Design)
Meg Mitchell (4-D)
Michael Peterson (4-D)
Douglas Rosenberg (4-D)
Elaine Scheer (Painting & Drawing)
Gail Simpson (Sculpture) 
Leslie Smith III (Painting & Drawing) 
T.L. Solien (Painting & Drawing) 
Fred Stonehouse (Painting & Drawing) 
José Carlos Teixeira (4-D) 


Mary Hoefferle (Art Education) 
Michael Valliquette (Art Foundations) 


National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2025–2026.