Department Overview

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 through our inter-arts platform, Mission at Tenth.

Our graduates are prepared for professional careers in journalism, coaching, arts administration, academia, and more. Our faculty have a wide range of research interests, among them: cognitive science, creativity, poetry, and the brain, pluralism in the arts, social construction of whiteness, critical media literacy, and social justice comedy.

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Our Approach

No two artists are the same. This belief shapes our innovative design, allowing us to meet you where you are and take you to where you want to go.

In our program, meaning-making and making art are woven together. We believe that artmaking is a way of reshaping experiences and cultures that leads artists to take action to transform themselves and their communities.

Our students hail from around the world. We’ve built the foundation of our program on the value of diverse racial and gender identities, nationalities, and abilities. We support diversity in artistic and personal identities as well as in our faculty and visiting artists.

Recent mentors and guest artists for the MFA program include graphic memoirist and novelist MariNaomi, visual artist and illustrator Ajuan Mance, writer Kate Walbert, poet and cultural theorist Judy Grahn, performance maker Erika Chong Shuch, choreographers Debby Kajiyama and Jose Navarette, playwright Ade Solanke, and director Deborah Eliezer.

How To Apply

Fall 2022 Applications are open as of November 15, 2021

February 15, 2022 - 1st priority deadline. Submit by February 15th at 11:59pm PT for guaranteed review. ​After this date, some programs may be full and only interview for waitlist spots or not be able to further review applications.

March 15, 2022 - 2nd application deadline: pending program space availability. Applications after this date are considered on a space-available basis and may not be considered if you miss this deadline.

April 15, 2022 - 3rd application deadline: pending program space availability (after the priority deadline). After this date, some programs may be full and only interview for waitlist spots or not be able to further review applications. Applications will be considered on a space-available basis and may not be considered if you miss this deadline.

May 15, 2022 - 4th application deadline for programs still accepting applications (after the Feb 15th priority deadline). After this date, some programs may be full and only interview for waitlist spots or not be able to further review applications.

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Questions? Contact us.

We are here to help! If you have any questions about applying to a program or registering for an Info Session, please contact the Admissions Office at 415-575-6154 or .

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