The departments of East-West Psychology and the Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing MFA share a vision of interdisciplinary education and creative scholarship. To express that vision, they are offering new joint programming to help you further develop as an artist and a scholar. Beginning Fall 2023, we will have three degree options that explore the relationship between inquiry and art-making, practice and research. Each will place your original work at the core of your degree. Plus, with an accelerated timeline and instructors who offer real-world professional guidance, you can meet your educational and artistic goals affordably.

M.A. and Accelerated MFA

Your artistic and academic paths will converge as you complete an M.A. in East-West Psychology and then take only one year to complete an MFA.

Ph.D. and Accelerated MFA

Your art and scholarship will be mutually enriching as you work toward exceptional academic achievement. Complete your Ph.D. coursework and then a one-year MFA, and earn a doctorate enriched by creative insight.

Ph.D. with Creative Dissertation Pathway

Earn your doctorate by producing original work based on your art practice. Spend equal time in your East-West Psychology and MFA coursework and then complete a dissertation of original work based on your art practice.

Additional Details

Accelerated Programs 

The Accelerated MFA for EWP M.A. and Ph.D. students is open to practicing artists working across all disciplines and forms (creative writers, visual, performance, media artists, and more). When applying, you’ll submit a portfolio of writing/art with your application. In your Admissions statement of purpose, you’ll need to propose a final MFA project. You can apply for dual admittance — or can apply within one year of your graduation from EWP. The 6-MFA units you will take while in the EWP M.A. or Ph.D. program will count toward degree requirements in both programs. 

  • EWP M.A./Accelerated MFA - Apply to both the EWP M.A. and the MFA Accelerated Program. Complete the 36-unit EWP M.A. and then a 21-unit MFA in one year. You’ll take 6 of the required MFA units while in EWP (Creative Inquiry for Interdisciplinary Artists, 3 units, and Arts in Context, 3  units). 

  • EWP Ph.D./Accelerated MFA - Apply to both the EWP Ph.D. and the MFA Accelerated Program. Complete the 39.2 - 40.6-unit EWP Ph.D. and then a 21-unit MFA in one year. You’ll take 6 of the required MFA units while in EWP (Creative Inquiry for Interdisciplinary Artists, 3 units, and Arts in Context, 3  units). 

Creative Dissertation Pathway for Ph.D.

The Creative Dissertation Pathway is also open to artists working across all disciplines and forms who want to put their practice and the making of original work at the core of the Ph.D. We welcome creative writers, visual, performance, media artists and more. Students in the Creative Dissertation Pathway will be guided in the development of their writing/art within the MFA and will propose and complete a dissertation of original work based on their art practice. An MFA faculty member will chair or serve on their committee. Apply only to the EWP Ph.D., and in your goal statement, share what prepares you to take the Creative Dissertation Pathway. You will also need to provide samples of your artistic work. Complete 19 units in EWP and 18 units in MFA and produce a creative dissertation (original work based on your art practice).

Sample Classes

Working across multiple departments means even more topics to discover and explore. 

  • This course is grounded in the belief that curiosity about one's work and world are valuable and related to each other--and it provides you the chance to engage inquiry as a discrete act (a way to ask specific questions) and a way to probe larger contexts. Through readings, class visits with guest artists, interdisciplinary exercises, and/or arts activities, we'll ask: What environments allow a question to thrive and become the working matrix for your art? Which questions arise for you in the context of what art or arts practices? In what ways do your questions, art and world correspond with each other and how can you be responsive to, articulate about, and assessing of that correspondence?

  • What do I make and why? What is my relationship to art and art-making? How do I name myself as artist and why? In this course, you'll learn to articulate your artistic heritages and the social, cultural, political, historical, spiritual, psychological, and/or contemporary influences on your work. You'll learn to talk about yourself as art maker and place yourself within an art lineage and current generation of artists. You'll also seek out potential new influences that will initiate the future of your work. Through reading, discussion, art-making, inquiry, and research, you'll create and present the context that holds your work.

  • The word research has origins in the Middle French verb recercher, meaning to "seek out, search closely." In this class, we'll seek out imaginative, intellectual, sensory/sensual, and methodological habits and processes that artists engage, searching them closely for the ways they allow us to acquire and integrate new knowledge and contribute generously to the world through art practice. Applying learning from Creative Inquiry for Interdisciplinary Arts and Arts in Context, students will engage as participants and observers of their artmaking. As preparation for their art practice dissertations, they'll (1) work on an art project, (2) keep an exegetical or research journal of their art-making process, and (3) prepare an integrative reflection.

Entry Requirements

Applicants to the dual programs must apply to both the East-West Psychology program and the MFA. Those interested in the Creative Dissertation Pathway should apply to only the East-West Psychology program. Applicants to any of these programs must submit a portfolio of writing or artwork as part of the admissions process. Their work will be reviewed by East-West Psychology and MFA program chairs and faculty.

  • Autobiography: A four-to-six page (typed, double-spaced) introspective autobiographical statement discussing your values, emotional and spiritual insights, aspirations, and life experiences that have led to your decision to apply.

    Goal Statement: A one-page (typed, double-spaced) statement of your educational and professional objectives.

    Academic Writing Sample: A writing sample of eight-to-ten pages (typed, double-spaced) that demonstrates your capacity to think critically and reflectively and demonstrates graduate level writing abilities. A sample that uses outside sources must include proper citations. You may submit copies of previous work, such as a recent academic paper, article, or report that reflects scholarly abilities.

    Art Sample: For writers, 15 to 30 pages of poetry, prose, script, or mixed genre work. For visual, performing, sound or interdisciplinary artists: please provide links or URLs (or you may submit CDs or DVDs). Artists working in more than one form may submit samples in multiple forms.

    Vision Statement for MFA (admissions essay): A one-page statement speaking to the following: What do you hope to accomplish during your time with us and how do you hope to develop professionally? What do you hope to achieve artistically and professionally in the next five years? How is the MFA important to helping you achieve these things?

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.