Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fine Arts Graduate School: Tips and Stats

Each year US News and World Report publishes lists of the "best" colleges, universities, and graduate schools across the country. While the lists can seem overwhelming (and maybe even a little inaccurate, as they incorporate obscure criteria like "how much professors are paid" into determining the rankings), I recently read an insightful article associated with the magazine's Fine Arts Graduate School rankings that gives some useful advice.

Here's a summary of the article's helpful hints for MFA-bound students:

  • Consider how you'll be making a living after graduation (not just how you'll make your art) - take advantage of career resources before and during the admissions process and make the school's career center a part of your considerations
  • Look for schools that teach entrepreneurship, as many artists will go on to start their own galleries or arts non-profit organizations (especially during a recession, when jobs for artists are scarce).
  • Network, network, network
  • Vision is essential: because programs are highly competitive, many professors recommend that artists should establish themselves as working artists and build their portfolios (rather than going straight from undergrad to grad school)
  • Know what you're getting into (and be realistic) - While an MFA might make more jobs available to you as an artist, unfortunately, artists are currently unemployed at twice the rate of other professional workers and as always, artists typically don't make much money. However, in my opinion, if you're passionate enough about your talent and creating art, you'll find other ways to earn a living while doing what you love.

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