Q. What degree do you award?

A. We award a Master of Fine Arts in Fine Arts with a concentration in Photography and Film.

Q. What is the emphasis of the program?

A. The emphasis is fine art photography and filmmaking. This includes narrative, documentary, experimental, and abstract work. Seminars and frequent critiques focus on artistic innovation and critical thought. Students work in still photography, in film, or in a combination of both and are free to investigate other fine arts disciplines. Original methods of presenting work are encouraged. Graduate students work within a community of artists and enjoy interaction with distinguished visiting artists from many art disciplines.

Q. What facilities and equipment are available to graduate students?

A. Graduate students are given 24- hour, seven day a week access to most of our facilities, including darkrooms, digital labs, shooting studios, screening rooms, and graduate work rooms. Graduates supply all the portable equipment and supplies that they need. Studio lighting equipment, large format cameras, and analog filmmaking cameras are available for checkout with prior approval. The university requires graduate students to own their own computer.

Large format digital prints can be ordered through the department or through service bureaus in Richmond. While our students make sophisticated work using our facilities, we aren’t equipped for making studio photographs or films comparable to large, commercial labs.

Q. What are the admission requirements?

A. The graduate program requires 36 term hour credits in studio art at the undergraduate level with a minimum of nine term hour credits concentrating in photography or cinematography. However, applicants who do not meet these requirements will be considered.

Q. How do I apply to the department?

A. Detailed instructions can be found here: http://go.arts.vcu.edu/admissions/how-to-apply/

Q. What kind of financial support is offered?

There are three main sources of financial support for our students: graduate school awards, departmental awards, and externally funded grants, scholarships, and fellowships Although many of our students have been successful in finding funding from these sources, it is advised to enter the program with a financial strategy that will support your graduate studies without the necessity of these awards.

Here is a brief description of the available funding sources:

  • The Graduate School awards on the recommendation of department program directors. It provides graduate student funding for a number of fellowship programs, oversees the awarding and administration of more than $5 million in university tuition and fee support, and supports, pending available funds, a graduate student research grant and travel programs. Eligibility is based on a variety of criteria, including scholarship performance and competitiveness.
  • Departmental awards including stipends, tuition and fee support are made each year to continuing and newly admitted graduate students. Eligibility is based on a variety of criteria, including scholarly performance and competitiveness. Inquiries about such awards should be made directly to the individual graduate program directors.
  • Externally funded grants, scholarships, and fellowships are often available from supporters of higher education and the arts. The Graduate School posts information about a variety of external funding opportunities as well as announcements of upcoming deadlines.

Q. A portfolio of artwork is required with the application. What kind of work are you looking for?

A. You should present a cohesive body of work that presents an intelligent and original artistic vision, a strong point of view, and mastery of technique. Your work should demonstrate that you use photography and/or film to communicate, investigate, express, or question. Applicants who use the camera merely as a recording device aren’t accepted, regardless of the technical skill demonstrated. Avoid submitting a portfolio that is a bit of this and that, or a mere demonstration of various techniques. Don’t submit common, clichéd, or familiar imagery.

Q. Does full acceptance into the program guarantee that a degree will be awarded?

A. No. Please see the Graduate Bulletin for the rules and regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. A student’s work must meet the academic standards of the department, graduate school, and university. In particular, a grade below “B” in any course can cause a student to be dropped from the program.

After a student has completed 15 credits of course work, and before 30 credits are completed, the student must apply for degree candidacy. This is a review of the work accomplished to date. If candidacy is awarded the student is permitted to continue toward graduation. If candidacy isn’t awarded, the student is dropped from the program.

Q. Why should I attend VCU?

A. VCU is a large, dynamic, multicultural university that offers a wide range of programs, opportunities, and experiences. US News and World Report Magazine ranks the VCU School of the Arts as the top public art school in the nation. The school is an especially exciting and stimulating environment with teachers and visiting artists who are at the top of their fields. Richmond is a cosmopolitan city located near Washington D.C, New York, the beach, and the mountains and has a vital contemporary art and music scene.

Q. Can I tour your facilities?

A. Yes! In fact, prospective students are strongly urged to do so. Please contact us to schedule a tour at least a week in advance, so that we can give you our full attention.


VCU 2017-18 Graduate Bulletin

Please visit the Graduate School website for more information.