A Free Online Info Session with Adriana Beltrame dos Santos
We value the complex range of human experience that provokes art and welcome artists from all disciplines — literary, visual, performing, media, and interdisciplinary — into an innovative laboratory for individual and collaborative artmaking.
The Art of Inquiry
The MFA program at CIIS doesn't have an aesthetic or perspective on what art should be, instead the program prioritizes the idea that inquiry matters, and that engaged in a deep, reflective inquiry will change our students for the better.
CIIS’ Interdisciplinary Arts department offers a unique Master of Fine Arts degree that focuses on the vital role of inquiry in artmaking. We value the complex range of human experience that provokes art and welcome artists from all disciplines – literary, visual, performing, media, and interdisciplinary – into an innovative laboratory for individual and collaborative artmaking.
Working in small groups, individually with faculty, mentors, and organizations in the Bay Area, students clarify directions for their art and join a community of artists with valuable connections and relationships. We know most artists live a multi-faceted life, so we also offer professional development courses and internships focusing on building an arts career, community engagement, teaching, and editing and publishing.
If you are interested in a degree at the intersection of Arts and Scholarship, learn about our new degree options under the Combined MFA-M.A. or Ph.D. tab.
We offer an MFA as well as several joint MFA programs with the East-West Psychology department for those looking to enrich their experience with additional scholarship.
Master of Fine Arts – Join a community of the radically creative. We believe that questions central to your life are also questions that are core to and can inform your art—and, if you probe them on your own and in a community of artists, you can advance your life and art.
East-West Joint Degree
East-West Joint Degree – Combine your academic and creative passions by getting an MFA and either an M.A. or Ph.D. from our East-West Psychology department.
Faculty Research and Scholarship
Our faculty explore a wide range of research interests, including pluralism in the arts, social construction of whiteness, and social justice comedy.
On the Cosmic Dimension of Human Stories
CIIS professor in Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing Carolyn Cooke and professor in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Brian Thomas Swimme, explore the impact of time-developmental cosmology and its potentiality to impact, and possibly transform human consciousness.
In Conversation with Alex Burger
Listen to this episode of the MFA produced podcast, Artifact, in this fascinating conversation with faculty member Alex Burger about his artistic process producing a podcast drama.
Free Yourself from Tech
In this conversation with faculty Pireeni Sundaralingam and designer Olafur Eliasson for the DLD conference, they explore many possibilities to make technology more humane.
Our focus on inquiry. We believe that questions central to your life are also questions that are core to and can inform your art—and, if you probe them on your own and in a community of artists, you can advance your life and art. Also, what separates us from other MFA programs is that in our workshop classes, you’ll meet with and share your work with artists working across many mediums, forms, and disciplines. We believe in these conversations “across the arts.” You’ll be asked to better articulate your work—and that process of becoming more aware of and articulate about your work will help you become clearer about the directions of your work and more accomplished.
Since 2009, the MFA interdisciplinary academic journal, Mission at Tenth, has presented and promoted new inter-arts and cross-genre work that reflects the diverse and culturally complex history of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mission at Tenth reflects the inter-arts perspectives of our program through multiple platforms, including our podcast series Artifact and Meaning Making and our inter-arts journal.
Visit the Mission at Tenth website for past issues and other MFA-related projects.
We have a strong interdisciplinary program, and we also want for you to have the chance to work directly with artists that expertise in your form, medium, or discussion. Our art mentorship provides you the chance to work with a mentor throughout your degree. You can work with a mentor in your local community or draw from our diverse list of mentors.
Our intensives, which have customarily been offered in person (though we have switched to virtual since 2020) occur each fall and spring. They include structured time that includes class meetings (each class usually meets at least 3 times during the intensives), field trips to a museum or other arts event, visits with guest arts, readings, talks, panel discussions, and a work-in-progress event in which all MFA students present their work. Intensives also include informal time in the mornings, at lunch, in the late afternoon or evening for students to relax, get to know each other, and talk informally. Lunch is provided each day.
MFA online coursework is mostly asynchronous so students can integrate coursework into their lives. Online work includes posting original artwork, completing art-driven projects, readings, discussion, and review and response to other students’ work. Faculty will also engage with students online. Some classes will meet virtually on occasion during the semester to give students the chance to engage in person outside the intensives. These meetings are included in the course syllabus or arranged during the intensive to make sure students can attend.
Our Department in Action
Attend the Virtual Spring Open House on January 27, 2024 to get to know your admissions counselors and learn more about CIIS' bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. programs.