UC Berkeley MFA Program Information

UC Berkeley MFA Program Information

Applications will be accepted starting September 17th, 2018. The application/portfolio period will close at 12:00AM (EST) on December 17th 2017. Letters of recommendation are also due by 12:00AM (EST) December 17th, 2018.

Final decisions will be made mid-to-late March. You WILL be notified of you admission status either by a letter from Graduate Division.

***Please read this entire page before you call, thank you.***


Here is the link to UC Berkeley’s Graduate Division. You will find all the requirement and application information you need there.


Frequently asked questions

How many people apply to your program? How many do you accept?

175-200 applicants per year. We admit 6 students per year.


The UC application asks for a personal statement and a statement of purpose. Where does my artist’s statement go? Can I combine it? If so, with which document?

The UC graduate division application has a separate entry box for EACH statement;  the UC graduate division application explains in detail what is meant by the “Personal statement,” and Statement of Purpose.” Please note carefully the difference between them. In your “Artists’ Statement we ask that you discuss your understanding of your process, you discuss the ideas you are working with, and you identify the critical and historical conversation/s you hope to engage in with and through your work.


What is your selection process?

We begin by viewing portfolios, anonymously. The second round includes a careful examination of your statements, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Final rounds involve a phone interview with selected finalists.


Can you describe your MFA program?

Incoming MFA students are already deeply engaged in their creative practice and possess technical proficiency in their chosen media. Graduate coursework and independent study are designed to help students develop a critical understanding of their creative work in the multiple contexts of specific localities and global contemporary art. Students are encouraged to take university-wide and cross-disciplinary courses linked to their research interests, studying and collaborating with faculty and graduate students in areas as diverse as Geography, Environmental Sciences, Classics, Art History, Disability Studies, Philosophy, Cognitive Science, Interactive Design, Rhetoric, Film Studies, and Comparative Literature.

Peer-to-peer discussion and critique form the heart of Berkeley’s MFA Program. Students respond to their classmates’ work, and learn to think, speak and write critically about art’s functions and possibilities.  A Visiting Artist Lecture Series, along with studio visits, offer graduate students the chance to connect with internationally-known artists. Students also have the opportunity to teach in the second year, mentored and closely supported by a faculty member.  Exhibitions in the first and second year of study require students to maintain a rigorous pace of creative research and establish a professional art practice. The final thesis exhibition, completed after the second year of study, is held at the Berkeley Art Museum.

For a more detailed description, please go here.


Who pays my tuition?

For California residents, we pay your tuition costs for both years, HOWEVER, if you’re from out of state, Art Practice can only pay your in-state-tuition, and you will have to pay the difference of out-of-state tuition. During this first year you may apply for California state residency, so that in your second year, you will be a California resident and Art Practice covers 100%. We strongly encourage grads to apply for  fellowships and grants available locally and from within UC. Here is where you can learn more: http://grad.berkeley.edu/financial/fellowships/

If you work as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) teaching an Art Practice undergraduate class,, you are paid for that as well.  If you have more questions regarding costs, please contact: Dee Levister, dplev@berkeley.edu.


Do you offer tours of the MFA studios?

Only after students are admitted to our program do we tour the studios. However there are usually open studio events during the year. Please join our Facebook feed to be apprised of upcoming open studio dates. https://www.facebook.com/UCBArtPractice/


Where are the MFA studios?

They are located at the Berkeley Global Campus (formerly Richmond Field Station), which is about 20 minutes away from campus by car or BART Transit to the BGC is available from campus, but is not frequent, so cars or bikes are best for transportation to the studios.


How many images should I submit?

The maximum image count is 20, plus up to five minutes of video.


Is it okay if my letters of recommendation or transcripts miss the deadline?

No, we can no longer provide a grace period. You can upload a set of unofficial transcripts when you apply, but the official ones will have to go directly to Graduate Division. Your recommenders must be contacted as soon as possible so they will meet the deadline.


Should I contact you if I have trouble with my application or uploading my portfolio?

No. Contact Graduate Division if you have trouble with your application or portfolio.


What should I include in my portfolio?

We are interested to see your recent work, particularly work made within the last 3 years.  Include what you consider to be your strongest and most developed projects. Try to put accurate information in the descriptions regarding materials, sizes, etc.


What if I work collaboratively?

In cases where you submit collaboratively-made projects, we are interested to know what the role of each collaborator is, to the extent that it is possible to clarify them. If you AND your collaborator are both applying to the program, we do expect you to submit individually made work as part of your portfolio.


Can I send you my application via snailmail?

No, we no longer accept hard copy applications. All applications are submitted through the Graduate Division website.