The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts

ART (MFA) Application Process

The Graduate program in Art provides professional concentrations in a specific area of art including ceramics, drawing and painting, graphic design, new media, photography, printmaking, and sculpture.

January 15:  All materials must be postmarked by January 15 to be considered for Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Admission.

Late applications will be considered for admission depending on space availability and administrative decisions. Note that it is very unlikely that graduate assistantships will be available to students who submit late applications.

Application Requirements

The Master of Fine Arts program in art, with its emphasis on professional study, is designed for the mature individual who by previous training and study has sufficiently prepared for the undertaking. It is strongly suggested that applicants have a minimum of 12 credits of art history at the undergraduate level. Any qualified student who has graduated from an accredited college that offers a bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, or bachelor of fine arts in the area of art or the equivalent may seek admission. The School of Visual Arts requires a minimum of 3.00 junior/senior grade-point average (on a 4.00 scale) for admission to the master of fine arts program. Exceptions to the minimum 3.00 average may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests.

Students seeking admission to the graduate program in Art at the Penn State School of Visual Arts must do the following:

1.   Apply to the Graduate School at Penn State using the electronic application found at More information about applying to the Graduate School at Penn State can be found here.

2.   Letters of Recommendation: As part of the electronic application through the Graduate School Portal, applicants will be asked to provide names and email addresses of three people. Letters of recommendation should attest to scholarship and ability to work independently. References should be faculty or professional individuals who are acquainted with your academic qualifications and whom you feel are able to present an accurate evaluation of you. Each reference will be contacted by email only after your application has been submitted and will be asked to upload their letter at that time.

3.  Official Transcripts: As part of the electronic application through the Graduate School Portal, applicants will be asked to provide two (2) official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended, both undergraduate and graduate.

NOTE: Applicants are required to upload copies of official transcripts to their electronic application on the Graduate School Portal. Hard copies of official transcripts may be requested at a later date.

NOTE: International applicants must submit official or attested university records, with certified translations if the records are not in English. Notarized copies are not acceptable.

4.   Test Scores: GRE scores are not required for application to the Master of Fine Arts program. The language of instruction at Penn State is English.  International applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, 213 for the computer-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). Applicants with iBT speaking scores between 15 and 18 may be considered for provisional admission, enrollment, and, if necessary, remedial course work. The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5. 

International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a graduate degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

5.  Portfolio: Submit a portfolio for review using the Slideroom web application at  The portfolio should consist of 18-20 examples of the applicants original artwork presented in a digital format.  The majority of the work should be in the area of the applicant's interest with a lesser emphasis on related areas.  If you are unable to supply digital images through Slideroom or if you have questions about the portfolio process, please contact the Penn State School of Visual Arts by calling 814.865.6570.

6.   Statement of Professional Aims: Submit a Statement of Professional Aims for review using the Slideroom web application at  The Statement of Professional Aims should include your intentions for proposed study, an indication of your personal philosophy, beliefs, and goals in regard to education and art, and evidence that you are prepared to undertake graduate level work in the Master of Fine Arts program.

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding our MFA program, click here.

For additional information, contact:
Jean Sanders, Associate Professor of Art
Studio Graduate Program Officer
210 Patterson Building
University Park, PA 16802

Last Revised fall 2018