Master of Fine Arts Program

The MFA Program in Painting + Printmaking is highly selective and is presently limited to fifteen participants; it fosters intensive studio practice in the areas of painting, drawing, printmaking, and digital media. The program is ranked among the top ten best graduate painting programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report.



We welcome prospective applicants to join us for a VCUarts Open House on Saturday, November 9, 2019 during which they may tour the facilities, speak with faculty and graduate students, and develop a sense of what our graduate program has to offer. Learn more and RSVP here.

Please contact Cara Benedetto, Graduate Program Director, at prior to your visit so that we know to expect you.

Due to an increasing number of requests to visit our program, we are no longer able to accommodate individual tours or meetings.


Representatives from VCUarts are often available at National Graduate Portfolio Days. Further information about upcoming events can be found here.

VCUarts Graduate Application


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Financial Aid

All of our graduate students receive some aid from the University in the form of either a Graduate School Assistantship (GSA) or a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA). Decisions regarding assistantships are made at the time of acceptance.

Many students also apply for federal student aid. You must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To learn more, or to download the FAFSA, please visit the VCU Office of Financial Aid or the FAFSA website. The priority deadline is March 1st. Please follow up with our Office of Financial Aid a few weeks after you complete the FAFSA to ensure you are not missing anything.




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In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, the MFA in Fine Arts with a concentration in painting or printmaking requires 60 credit hours and is usually completed in two years of full-time study. Most of these credit hours are in studio areas and are augmented by related courses in specialized academic fields. A graduate seminar meets weekly and addresses topics related to contemporary art and theory. Two required semesters of art and critical theory are presented in a course that surveys the major themes of contemporary art criticism.

Graduate students meet with individual committees composed of three faculty members. Each committee and student conducts an ongoing dialogue and critique. At the end of the second semester students discuss their work at a candidacy critique comprising their committee and additional faculty members. MFA recipients mount a comprehensive exhibition of their work at the university’s Anderson Gallery at the successful conclusion of the program’s second year.

Please check the VCU Bulletin for the most up to date information regarding curricular requirements, a plan of study over the course of two years, and course descriptions.

More information about graduate study at VCU can be found on the Graduate School website and in the Graduate School Bulletin.

2019-2020 MFA Guidelines


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Scholarships & Fellowships

The VCU Department of Painting + Printmaking is committed to supporting our students, not only in terms of their practice but also in terms of their financial well being. We believe that one of the best ways to prepare an artist for success in their professional practice is to leave them in the best possible financial situation after they earn their degree. We offer a range of support strategies, including Graduate Teaching Assistantships, Graduate Research Grants, Graduate Student Travel Grants, and sponsored residencies with affiliated programs. Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA’s) provide full-tuition waivers and generous stipends in exchange for 15 hours of work per week. GTA assignments include serving as teaching assistants for full-time faculty, teaching independent classes, and providing technical support for the administrative and studio needs of the department – all skills that will aid students in pursuing teaching or other jobs in the arts. GTA assignments rotate each semester, and we work with students to match assignments with their interests and skills.

Current students can apply for VCUarts graduate research grants for support towards expenses related to exhibitions, conference presentations, or other professional engagements. In 2017-18 our students received a combined total of $10,000 in research support.

External opportunities available to graduate students include:

  • Tuition support for current students to attend Skowhegan in Maine
  • Tuition support for graduating students to attend SOMA Summer in Mexico City
  • Tuition support for current students to attend Mildred’s Lane
  • A residency for students to attend a live/work summer residency in Italy


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Visiting Faculty

Each semester the Department of Painting + Printmaking invites a distinguished visiting faculty member to work with MFA students, both in the Graduate Seminar and in one-on-one studio visits. These individuals bring a fresh perspective to the program, and connect our students with different types of visual arts practices.

2019-2020: Kenny Rivero, Noam Segal
2018 – 2019: Caitlin Cherry, Joseph del Pesco
2017 – 2018: Wendy Vogel, Kimberli Gant, Kanishka Raja
2016 – 2017:   Michael Berryhill, Douglas Boatwright
2015 – 2016:   Fawn Krieger
2014 – 2015:   Thom Donovan, Christopher K. Ho
2013 – 2014:   Arnold Kemp, B. Wurtz
2012 – 2013:   Bruce Pearson, Holly Coulis
2011 – 2012:   Lisi Raskin, Jeremy Sigler
2010 – 2011:   Jill Moser, Matthew Day Jackson
2009 – 2010:   Spencer Finch
2008 – 2009:   Suzanne McClelland, Douglas Melini
2007 – 2008:   James Hyde, Virgil Marti
2006 – 2007:   Sebastiaan Bremer, Bruce Pearson
2005 – 2006:   Diana Cooper, Joanne Greenbaum
2004 – 2005:   Pamela Fraser, Virgil Marti
2003 – 2004:   Joe Fyfe, Bonnie Collura
2002 – 2003:   James Siena, James Hyde
2001 – 2002:   Diana Cooper, Rob Pruitt


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When can I visit the MFA Program in Painting + Printmaking?
Each fall VCUarts organizes an Open House for prospective applicants.The next open house is November 10, 2018.

Is it recommended that I attend the Open House?
Attendance at the Open House is optional and has no bearing on admissions decisions.

How many graduate students are enrolled in the Department of Painting + Printmaking?

Do you admit a specific number of painters or printmakers each year?
No, we do not have any guidelines regarding how many graduate students are working in a specific medium. At any given time, we have graduate students who are working in painting, drawing, printmaking, digital processes, or any combination of these media.

Is it possible for graduate students to pursue investigations in other media while enrolled in Painting + Printmaking?
Yes. While it is expected that all of our graduate students have a strong interest in and understanding of two-dimensional media, it is common for our students to work in other forms. Currently there are graduate students in Painting + Printmaking who are also making sculpture, installation, and video.

What are the graduate studios like?
Each of our graduate students works in his/her own private studio located on the third floor of the Fine Arts Building. Each studio is approximately 300 square feet, has permanent walls that span floor-to-ceiling, and has a locking door. All of the studios have natural lighting and are well-ventilated.

I began my graduate studies at another institution; will my credits transfer to VCU?
No, our graduate students are required to complete all of their graduate coursework and thesis research at VCU.

When is the application deadline?
The deadline is January 15th for all applicants.

Can I apply to more that one graduate program in the VCU School of the Arts?

How many applications does the graduate program in Painting + Printmaking receive each year?
The number of applications varies from year to year, but we typically receive between 180 and 210 applications.

How many graduate students does the Department of Painting + Printmaking admit each year?
As we have a total of 15 graduate students, we admit seven or eight new grad students each year.

Will the Department of Painting + Printmaking review or provide feedback on my portfolio prior to my application?
No, the Department cannot provide advice on portfolios, nor can we review artist statements or other materials in advance of the application process.

Can you tell me if letters of recommendation and/or transcripts have been received?
Due to the number of applications we receive, our staff cannot provide each applicant with confirmation of the receipt of his/her materials. Applicants are encouraged to track the receipt of their materials via the online application interface.

Does the Department conduct admissions interviews?
Yes; in February, The Department Chair and the Graduate Program Director interview finalists via Skype.

When will I hear from the Department regarding admissions decisions?
Final admissions decisions should be made by the end of March.

How much do graduate students in Painting + Printmaking pay in tuition and fees?
General information regarding tuition and fees, as well as a link to a “tuition calculator”, can be found here.

What financial assistance is available to graduate students?
All of our graduate students receive some aid from the University in the form of either a Graduate School Assistantship (GSA) or a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA). Decisions regarding assistantships are made at the time of acceptance. Many students also apply for federal student aid (

How do I apply for the Graduate School Assistantship and the Graduate Teaching Assistantships?
All applicants are automatically considered for assistantships. There is no separate application. Applicants are notified of awards upon acceptance.

I have a question that isn’t answered here. Who should I contact?
Please address any procedural questions regarding the application to:
Melanie Christian, Executive Assistant to the Dean and Graduate Studies Coordinator
School of the Arts Dean’s Office

Please address inquiries about the graduate program in Painting + Printmaking to:
Cara Benedetto, PAPR Graduate Program Director


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