This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Program accreditation
National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Program goal

The mission of the M.F.A. in Fine Arts with a concentration in photography and film is to facilitate a comprehensive, advanced, intellectual and artistic understanding and use of the mediums of photography and filmmaking. The specific goals of the program are as follows: to foster a climate that inspires creativity, intellectual curiosity, freedom of expression and critical thinking; to attract and sustain a faculty of the highest quality by providing an environment conducive to their achieving and maintaining national and international stature; and to attract highly artistic and intelligent individuals interested in advanced study of the medium.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Advanced studio practice: Students engage in rigorous research as they definitely recognize and deploy the tools and materials needed to advance their practice. 
  2. Group critique: Students are expected to present their work through a brief oral articulation of the intentions of their studio practice. In addition, they are expected to be able to articulate a critique of their peers’ work.
  3. Applied criticism and theory: Students understand historical and contemporary theories and are able to apply and investigate those ideas in their work. Students can define their practice in relationship to other media and culture.
  4. Advanced professional engagement: Students demonstrate the ability to understand, engage and generate professional contexts for their work.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online today.

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
M.F.A. Fall Jan 15

Special requirements

Applicants must meet the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School. They must:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution

  2. Have completed a minimum of 36 credit hours of art at the undergraduate level or have equivalent experience

  3. Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0

The application to the M.F.A. program must include:

  1. A statement of intent 

  2. Three letters of recommendation from instructors or professional references in the applicant’s intended field of study

  3. Academic transcripts 

  4. Curriculum vitae/resume

  5. Portfolio for review

Additional information for international applicants can be found on the International Admissions website.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, the M.F.A. in Fine Arts with a concentration in photography and film requires 60 credit hours and is usually completed in two years of full-time study. Program course work consists of graduate studio and research, graduate seminars, group critique, and other studio/academic electives.

Graduate students must meet regularly with committees composed of three graduate faculty members, both individually and as a group, during each semester. At the end of the second semester students must present and defend their work for candidacy review. At the end of the fourth semester students must participate in the thesis exhibition, defend their work for thesis review and submit a written thesis.

Curriculum requirements

Course Title Hours
PHTO 670Graduate Studio24
PHTO 681Candidacy Research6
PHTO 690Graduate Seminar6
PHTO 699Thesis 6
Electives (500-level or higher in any subject area) 19
Graduate seminar 26
Studio elective 33
Total Hours60

Electives may be chosen from among all university courses listed as 500-level or higher and require approval from a faculty adviser.


Select credits from CRAF 690, KINE 690, PAPR 690, PHTO 690 or SCPT 690.


Select credits from CRAF 683, CRAF 691, KINE 671, KINE 692, KINE 695, PAPR 683, PAPR 691, PHTO 691, PHTO 692, SCPT 530, SCPT 691 or SCPT 692.

The minimum number of graduate credit hours required for this degree is 60.

Mary Beth Reed
Associate professor and graduate program director

Additional contact
Jon-Phillip Sheridan
Assistant professor and chair

Program website: