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>> Credit Hours
>> Course Work
>> Transfer Credits
>> Residence Requirements
>> Graduate Reviews
>> Qualifying Examination
>> M.F.A. Comprehensive Exam and Advancement to Candidacy
>> Dissertation Hours
>> Time Limit to Complete Requirements
>> The Final Examination

Credit Hours

Art Studio 502, Interdisciplinary Seminar (offered Fall only): 3
Art Studio credits (in addition to 502): 21
Art History credits: 6

Outside studio credits: 6
Outside the department: 6
Free Electives: 6

699 Dissertation (taken with the chair of the committee): 12
Total Hours: 60

Course Work

In your first semester of graduate school, you are required to enroll in Art Studio 502: Interdisciplinary Seminar. Nine credit hours is considered full-time. Normally, students will also enroll in 3 hours of art history and 3 hours of studio, either the area’s graduate level course (graduate printmaking, graduate photo) or a graduate tutorial with a specific instructor. If you have entered this program with any deficiencies in credit hours you must complete them within the first year of enrollment. Your academic work after the first semester will be graduate credit courses, topic courses, and one-on-one tutorial instruction.

Your elective course work will be determined with the advice of your Committee on Studies or the Director of Graduate Studies. Substitutions of required coursework requires the support of your Committee Chairperson and must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies before you register for the substitute course. Forms for substitutions are available in the Graduate Office. No more than 24 hours (8 classes), exclusive of dissertation, may be taken with a single professor.

Transfer Credits

You may transfer a maximum of 12 hours of graduate work from another institution, from non-degree status or from a previous master’s degree to the MFA Program. Courses taken as extension credit at other universities are not accepted for graduate credit at the University of New Mexico.

Transfer credits are not automatic with admission. Your Committee on Studies will determine if any credits are allowable for transfer. With the exception of the 12-hour limit, all conditions of transfer noted in the doctoral description of the UNM Catalog apply equally to the MFA.

If you wish to transfer credits, consult with your Committee Chair and if approved, this coursework can be added to your course listing on your Advancement to Candidacy form. This process should be completed early in your program of studies so as to allow adequate planning. When submitting the Advancement to Candidacy form, you should verify with OGS that the official transcript from the institution from which you are requesting transfer credit is on file. Transfer credit is considered in determining the time limit for completion of all requirements.

Residence Requirement

The MFA degree requires at least 24 hours of coursework completed at UNM, of which at least 18 hours (exclusive of dissertation credits) must be taken after admission to the MFA program.

Graduate Reviews

In each of your first two semesters, you will participate in a review of your current and ongoing studio work. All the studio reviews will last one hour and be scheduled for one day, approximately the 12th week of the semester. They are conducted by a four-member committee (three art studio faculty and an art historian) and intended to create a critical dialogue about your work while introducing you to different points of view. They are open to the public. The Department Graduate Office will distribute a schedule and assign the faculty committee.

One week prior to the review you will be required to submit a one-page statement about your work and distribute copies to your committee and the Department Graduate Office. Your committee will be concerned with the clarity of your ideas, both written and verbal and the body of work you have produced. Each committee will have a faculty member designated as the chairperson and he/she will oversee the review process. Following the review, a written evaluation will be available from each committee member regarding content and presentation. The written evaluations are kept in your student file. Students may request photocopies.

Qualifying Examination

Your four-member Committee on Studies (selected by the student) will also comprise your Qualifying Examination Committee. You should schedule your qualifying exam during your third semester, after you have had two graduate reviews. It is your responsibility to initiate this exam and its paperwork.

The examination will consist of three parts:

  • A review of a comprehensive selection of your work.
  • Your presentation of a formal typed essay of 7-12 pages (2400-4200 words) on the work to be reviewed.
  • Your oral defense of the work by you, the candidate.

You must distribute the final version of your typed essay to each committee member at least one week prior to the review. It is your responsibility to provide your chair with the final corrected version of your qualifying review paper, which must be submitted with your qualifying exam paperwork to the Department Graduate Office. No documentation regarding passing this exam will be processed and recorded in your file without the approved paper. At the conclusion of the exam, you will be informed of the results. Results will be one of the following:

  • Pass
  • Fail with no retest. You will be dropped from the program for unsatisfactory progress toward the degree.
  • Fail, with an option granted by the exam committee for a single retake. The second exam will be given following the completion of at least a three-credit tutorial with the Chair of your Committee on Studies. Note: A second failure will result in your being dropped from the program for unsatisfactory progress toward the degree.

MFA Comprehensive Exam & Advancement to Candidacy

Between your Qualifying Review and Advancement to Candidacy, you must meet at least once a semester with your Committee on Studies to plan and monitor your program of studies and to review your creative work. These meetings are your responsibility to schedule and office hours for each faculty can be found in the Main Art Office or Department Graduate Office.

Admission to graduate study and a successful Qualifying Review does not guarantee approval of the Application to Candidacy. Your application must be formally approved. The Application for Candidacy is the vehicle that formally establishes your program of studies. The Application for Candidacy is a form that should be filed when you have completed the majority of your coursework (40-45 hours or 13-14 courses). This form asks you to list all coursework that you have taken and will take up to graduation.

The Application to Candidacy form, and complete directions on how to fill it out, can be obtained from the Department Graduate Office.

The Comprehensive Examination form must accompany the Application to Candidacy form. The Comprehensive Examination requires that you meet with at least three members of your Committee on Studies.

You must file the Announcement of the Comprehensive Examination form with the Department Graduate Office two weeks prior to the exam (meeting) date. At the Comprehensive Examination meeting that follows you should obtain signatures from your committee for both the Report of Examination (reverse side of “Announcement of Examination” form) and the Application of Candidacy. Submit these two documents to the Department Graduate Office for final departmental approval. The Examination must be held no later than the semester in which you register for dissertation hours or credit for those hours will not be applied toward your degree.

Your Committee on Studies uses the Comprehensive Examination meeting to review and approve the Application for Candidacy, to review the work, and to conduct an oral Examination.

The Comprehensive Examination establishes that your creative work is of sufficient maturity; that you can begin work on your exhibition; and that your general knowledge of critical and historical issues in art is at the level expected of a MFA candidate.

This examination, which may be written, oral, or both, is not limited to the areas of the student’s course work, but tests the student’s grasp of the field as a whole.

If problems arise with your advancement to candidacy or your comprehensive examination, your Committee may choose to give you time to remedy any shortcomings, then meet again. In this case you will receive a written summary of any necessary additional coursework or preparation. Your application for Advancement to Candidacy can only be granted by the Dean of OGS after confirming that you have met your residency requirement (see above) and the Committee on Studies certifies that you have passed the Comprehensive Examination.

Approval of your Application for Candidacy form in no way guarantees successful completion of the MFA degree.

Dissertation Hours

Students will normally enroll in dissertation hours with the chair of their Committee on Studies. University regulations will not allow credit for any dissertation hours taken before the Comprehensive Examination is passed. Once you have registered for dissertation (699) credits, you must maintain continuous enrollment (exclusive of summer session) until completion of all degree requirements.

Note: If you graduate in summer semester, you also must register for dissertation for the summer.

Time Limit to Complete Requirements

Each student is allowed five years to complete all degree requirements. The time limit starts when the Comprehensive Examination is passed and the Application for Candidacy is formally approved by OGS. For example, if you complete your Comprehensive Exam/Candidacy in the fall semester of year 2010, you will be at your 5-year-time-limit in the fall semester of year 2015.

Under extenuating circumstances, you may request an extension of the five-year-rule. Any written request must be submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies prior to the end of the time limit. Your Committee on Studies Chair and the Director of Graduate Studies must submit written support for your request for an extension.

The Final Examination

Your MFA final oral examination will be conducted by your Committee on Studies in conjunction with your exhibition of creative work. The Office of Graduate Studies will publish a calendar of final examinations and outside faculty, students and staff may attend.

Please Note: You must notify the Department Graduate Office at least two weeks before the date of the examination by completing an “Announcement of Final Examination” form. The Office of Graduate Studies will list on the Office of Graduate Studies web page the dates of your exhibition and the date for your public talk for a period of two weeks prior to the event.

The final examination will consist of:

  • A solo exhibition of studio work that you have organized and installed;
  • An exhibition catalog you have assembled and produced that includes a written essay related to the issues represented in the work (10-15pp in length);
  • A set of 6 slides that represents the creative work in the exhibition;
  • A public presentation, talk or event that informs the audience about the nature of the creative process involved in the creation of the work.
  • Please Note: Creative work submitted for the examination must be new work executed specifically for the final exhibition. The exhibition should in no way be a retrospective of work done in class or tutorial instruction.

At the conclusion of the examination, the members of your Committee on Studies will meet to make their recommendations. The Committee may (1) recommend that the final project be approved without change, (2) recommend that the final project be approved subject to minor corrections, or (3) require the final project be revised. Such a revision requires the full Committee to meet again to determine that their recommendations have been fulfilled.

The Committee reports the results of your examination on the reverse side of the “Announcement for Final Examination” form. The Committee Chair will turn this document, along with the confidential “Report on MFA” from each member, into the Department Graduate Office.

In order to graduate in a given semester, your examination must be held before the OGS graduation deadline.

You must turn in one original copy of the catalog and a set of 6 slides to the Department Graduate Office. Slides must be accompanied by a slide I.D. list. The Department Graduate Office also requires submission of a web page permission sheet. This sheet will allow the Department to display student artwork on our Department web page.

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