Program Requirements

The MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing at CIIS is a two-year, 39-unit, primarily online degree program with two six-day intensives in San Francisco.

Students attend six-day intensives twice a year (Fall and Spring semesters) and continue the learning experience online the remainder of the semester. The intensives include building relationships with cohort members and the MFA community, attendance in coursework, visits to Bay Area art events or organizations, and opportunities to learn from guest artists through short workshops, readings, talks, and panel discussions.

Intensive Dates:

Fall 2022: Friday, September 30 through Wednesday, October 5

Spring 2023: Friday, January 27 through Wednesday, February 1

The primarily online MFA degree includes the following:

  • In-person intensives (Fall and Spring semesters)
  • Individualized sessions with faculty advisers and art mentors
  • Interdisciplinary conversation across the arts through workshops and online work
  • A focus on multicultural and global perspectives on art making
  • Exploration of inquiry as a vital skill in development of artwork and the artist  
  • International Summer intensives (for degree credit)
  • Articulating an arts context, including one’s relationship to social, spiritual, and/or artistic movements as well as diverse cultural, gender, political, and global perspectives
  • Creating a significant writing, art, or inter-arts project and opportunities to present one’s art through MFA semester showings 

Course of Study

Sample Course of Study for a Fall start (39 units total)

Semester 1 | Fall
MFA 7091 - MFA Interdisciplinary Arts Workshop (6 units)
MFA 7104 - Creative Inquiry for Artists (3 units)
MFA 7219 - Arts Mentorship (1 unit)

Semester 2 | Spring
MFA 7092 - MFA Interdisciplinary Arts Workshop (6 units)
MFA 7282 - Arts in Context (3 units)
MFA 7219 - Arts Mentorship (1 unit)

Semester 3 | Summer Intensive
Choose one of the following:
MFA 7222 - International Summer Exchange (2 units)
MFA 7219 - Arts Mentorship (1 unit) and MFA 7300 Internship (1 unit)
MFA 7713 - MFA Project Proposal (1 unit)
MFA 7220 - Art Making: Global Influences (1 unit)

Semester 4 | Fall
MFA 7712 - MFA project (3 units)
MFA 7038 - Interdisciplinary Pedagogy (3 units)
MFA 7226 - Interdisciplinary Arts Seminar (2 units)
MFA 7219 - Arts Mentorship (1 unit)

Semester 5 - Spring
MFA 7712 - MFA project (3 units)
MFA 7128 - Artist in the World (3 units)

Curriculum Highlights

MFA 7104 Creative Inquiry for Interdisciplinary Artists (3 units)
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 assess that correspondence?

MFA 7282 Arts in Context (3 units) 
What do I make and why? What is my relationship to art and art making? How do I name myself as an 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 an 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.

MFA 7128 The Artist in the World: Preparing the Artist’s Portfolio (3.00 Units)  
All cultural producers (visual artists, writers, performers, et al.) must discover methods for bringing their ideas into the public realm; they must also determine how they want their work to engage with the world politically and socially. Through the examination of models from varied disciplines, you will formulate individual strategies to present your work autonomously. Coursework places a strong emphasis on examining methods of practice at work in the world and considers the varied approaches that artists take as strategic models. Work includes external research in this area, alongside the development of personalized foundation materials, such as artist statements, narrative biographies, and résumés, and an action plan for garnering emotional and financial support. Coursework also develops the communication skills and materials necessary for self-promotion, including visual presentations, written materials, and tools for the web. The course is designed in the spirit of a think tank, and coursework will be tailored to the creative pursuits of enrolled students.

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 reach out to the Admissions Office

Stay Connected to CIIS