MFA in Studio Art

Our program values making as a way of thinking and engaging the world. We support both specific technical forms of making and cross-media practices as important forms of research and critical expression.

Several sculptures of turtles are arranged inside of a circle outlined in orange chalk.

Katherine Hair’s “Turtle Derby; You Can’t Go Home Again” (wax, chalk, soil. 2022).


The Studio Art (MFA) program supports diverse forms of specialized research within a common environment of artistic production and critique. Guided by specialists in a variety of traditional and experimental forms, each MFA candidate develops a body of work in the context of expansive discussions about art’s aesthetic, social, economic, and political dimensions. Specialization through thesis research prepares students to work in contemporary fields of art wherein medium-specific histories present secondary (though important) concerns within a broader exploration of art’s evolving functions and forms.

Who/What/Where We Are

Program faculty members are all working artists, exhibiting and presenting in regional, national, and international settings.

The MFA degree prepares students for participation in a broad range of professional contexts from gallery exhibition and art commission to curating, publication, or activism. Our graduates often also seek teaching positions in postsecondary college and university settings and typically accrue some teaching experience to this end by serving as instructors in our undergraduate programs.

Students in the Studio Art MFA program (Painting, Sculpture, New Media, Printmaking & Photography) benefit from a unique range of possible collaborators and advisors across the university. Historically, students have developed connections within the College of Fine and Applied Arts through coursework in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, or Theatre or across the campus through study in such areas as Gender and Women’s Studies, Media and Cinema Studies, History, or English/Creative Writing.

The twin cities of Champaign-Urbana present many opportunities for creative cultural production; larger urban centers (Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis) are only two and a half hours away, offering destinations for galleries, exhibitions, symposia, and professional connections.


The School of Art + Design provides personal studio space for each MFA student and 24-hour access to the School’s many production facilities that include installation and critique spaces; woodshops; workshops for ceramics, plaster, and metalworking; comprehensive computer and digital output labs; and an extensive equipment checkout system. We also offer the archives of the Krannert Art Museum and the collection of the Ricker Library of Architecture and Art.

Faculty Research Interests

Conrad Bakker
painting, sculpture, alternative economies of art production and distribution, thing theory

Cristobal Bianchi
Public space, experimental poetry, poetics of the sky, cultural trauma, psychoanalysis, birds, participation, performance, art and social change

Kira Dominguez Hultgren
Textiles, material and visual critical studies, embodied knowledges and practices, research methodologies, adjacent and approximate assimilations

Rachel Fein-Smolinski
Health humanities, medical archives, science fiction, disability activism, pain, addiction, gender and sexuality, queer phenomenology, body horror, interdisciplinary photo and installation

Ryan Griffis
experimental geography, political ecology, research-based practices, collaboration & collective forms of making, documentary media

Ben Grosser
software, networks, social media, surveillance, computer vision, computational agency

Kevin Hamilton
interactive media, telepresence, research methodologies, history of technology

Patrick Earl Hammie
painting, portraiture, illustration, body in visual culture, narrative, gender, race, identity

Laurie Hogin
painting, neuroscience, landscape and ideology, color, desire, materialism, narrative

Emmy Lingscheit
printmaking, post-natural world, systems

Guen Montgomery
objects, materiality, the everyday, gender and identity

Melissa Pokorny
sculpture, landscape and memory, collecting, nature/culture, magic

Stacey Robinson
graphic design, illustration, graphic novels, speculative futures

Joel Ross
photography, sculpture. text/image, nationalism, identity, legality, narrative

Stephen Signa-Aviles
sculpture, bricolage, material studies, decolonization, myths & rumors, labor history and migration, sports and music culture

Deke Weaver
performance, animality, myth, ecology, storytelling


We offer a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Painting, Sculpture, and New Media. In this program, students work under the supervision of faculty from three different graduate areas (Painting, Sculpture, and New Media) to develop bodies of work in a variety of media and disciplines. The degree requires at least 64 graduate credit hours over three years of residence, culminating in a thesis project that includes an exhibition component (participation in the MFA exhibition in the Krannert Art Museum) as well as a written component.


We have teaching opportunities available, and full funding is offered to most of our MFA students. Financial support is made possible by Graduate Assistantship appointments and by awarding students with grants and fellowships, given out by the School of Art + Design, and by the University of Illinois Graduate College. Our Graduate Assistantships are 9-month appointments that require 10 hours of service per week. They include a stipend, and they come with a full tuition waiver and a partial campus fee waiver.


Fall admittance only. The deadline for Fall 2023 admissions is January 15, 2023.

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