MFA Degree Requirements

Students are required to take *18 course weights of credit each year. Fine Arts students take the following courses in first year:

  • ART 630, ART 612/613 (Painting) or 622/623 (Printmaking) or 640/641 (Drawing/Intermedia) or 662/663 (Sculpture)
  • 500-level History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture seminar course

Coursework must be completed before commencement of the thesis. First-term studio courses may not be repeated. However, second-term studio courses may be repeated with consent of the Department. After all other program requirements have been satisfactorily met, students must make a major presentation of their creative work. Such a presentation will be considered the equivalent of a Master's thesis.

There is no language requirement for the degree.

The minimum period of residence is two years of full-time attendance at the University of Alberta. Students typically require two academic years to complete their program of studies.

Progress to the MFA Degree


In the first year, the coordinator in the area of specialization is the supervisor for the MFA student and is responsible for assigning the grade for studio research work.

In the second year, students work closely with a thesis supervisor.


1st year students are registered by the Graduate Advisor in all courses offered by the Art and Design department. Registration in external courses is the responsibility of the student. In some cases, the student may need to go to the department offering the course to request consent for registration.

2nd and 3rd-year students self-register in THES 909. Any fall (A1, A2, A3 or A4) and winter (B1, B2, B3, or B4) section is fine. Find your enrolment date in the right-hand column on your Bear Tracks.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies will automatically register you in THES 906 in spring and summer. Adhere to the deadlines for adding and dropping courses. If you experience difficulties registering, contact the Graduate Advisor (Dawn Hunter) for assistance.

Thesis based students may register in 9 course weights (3 courses) outside of the Art & Design department over and above the courses listed above without paying additional tuition fees, only in fall and winter terms. Course based students pay 50% of the course fee to audit any course, in any term. This includes audited courses and courses declared as extra to degree. To register in a course that is taught outside of the department, you will need to go to the department that is offering the course. Courses under 500-level will not be counted toward the degree. Be sure to consult with your Supervisor regarding extra courses. 

After your first year, you do not receive grades for your Thesis work. For every term of the thesis that you are registered in for the duration of your program, you receive a grade of 'IN' until you graduate. Once you are finished, the last term of registration in THES 906 or 909 will show 'CR' meaning 'Credit'.

Continuing students must register in THES during the term in which the thesis and accompanying evidence of program completion is submitted to FGSR.

Courses Extra to the Degree

Students may wish to take courses that are not an integral part of their graduate program. Courses extra to the degree must be designated and approved by the FGSR at the time of registration in the courses. The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research does not include these courses when calculating the student's GPA for continuation in the graduate program or convocation. To register, students complete a Course Extra to Degree form. The department must approve the form and submit it to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

If students do not declare a course as extra to degree when registering in the course and subsequently fail (D+ or lower), the course must be repeated or an alternate course taken for credit.

Ethics Training

Current students who completed the eight hour ethics requirement through a combination of the GET Online Course (5 hours ethics credit), workshops, online courses, or departmental offerings do not need to do additional training. Visit the Academic Integrity and Ethics Training Requirement Resources website to learn about your options for completing the ethics requirement.

Beginning in Fall 2022, the NEW Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement will replace the current Academic Integrity and Ethics Training Requirement. The new Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement will consist of two zero-credit, self-paced online courses: INT D 710: Ethics and Academic Citizenship (for both master’s and doctoral students) and INT D 720: Advanced Ethics and Academic Citizenship (for doctoral students). There are no instructional fees associated with these courses.

How to Register for the Courses

INT D 710 and INT D 720 will be available on August 1 for current and incoming students (Fall 2022) who wish to complete their ethics requirement with the new online courses. The courses cover principles in Academic Citizenship, including topics such as academic integrity, research and workplace ethics, Indigenizing and decolonizing the academy, equity, diversity, and inclusivity, health and academic productivity, and ethical principles in university teaching.

Important Note: The Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement provides foundational ethics education. Depending on your program of study, these foundational courses may need to be supplemented by other specialized training, such as animal user training, human research ethics training, safety courses related to field research, or professional ethics training. For more information, please visit the Research Ethics Office and consult with your department.

Questions regarding the Academic Integrity and Ethics Training Requirement can be directed to:

Professional Development Requirement

Graduate students must undertake a minimum of 8 hours of professional development over the course of their degree as required by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

There are 2 components. Students cannot graduate without meeting both:

1. Master's students must complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) in the first 12 months of their program; PhD students in the first 18 months.

2. A minimum of eight hours of professional development activities inspired by individual career plans.

To meet the 8 hours of FGSR professional development requirements, professional development hours may be counted in each of the broad areas of:

  • Career development
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Internship
  • Mentorship
  • Professional practice
  • Skills training
  • Teaching

To be counted, professional development activities must be trackable and verifiable. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that professional development documentation meets these requirements.

Students are encouraged to track hours with the Individual Development Plan & Professional Development Completion Form

Activities should ideally focus on developing extra-disciplinary skills:

  • comprises of formal training or active learning with an assessment component (self-assessment, reflection, quiz, write-pair-share, evidence of knowledge application)
  • falls outside of research methods training, capstone project, thesis or equivalent, and required practicum
  • supports the career goals and/or seven skills/competencies identified in the individual development plan

The following list of acceptable professional development activities has been pre-approved by the Department of Art and Design, to be amended from time to time. Any students requesting professional development credit for activities not included in this list are required to obtain approval by their Department's Associate Chair of Graduate Studies and Research in order to have it counted and added to the list.

  • Three minute thesis (3MT) workshop [1 hour PD credit]
  • Graduate Teaching and Learning levels 1, 2, 3 [level 1 completes the PD requirement]
  • Career development activities as elected graduate student association executive or as elected members of University, Faculty or Department committees [ 2 hours PD credit]
  • Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) with the Fine Arts Building Gallery [2 to 4 hours PD credit]
  • Internships as defined by the FGSR (maximum 8 hours PD credit)

Pre-Oral Examination (one year before the final Oral Examination)

The supervisor proposes exhibition dates to the FAB Gallery Committee for ratification approximately one year before the defense. The FAB Gallery manager informs the student and the supervisor about tentative exhibition dates for either the upstairs or downstairs gallery.

Continuing students must register in THES 909 during the term in which the thesis and accompanying evidence of program completion is submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

Thesis Document Preparation

Up to one month before the exhibition is installed and the final oral exam takes place, the student makes an appointment with the Graduate Advisor (Dawn Hunter) to discuss final steps.

MFA students document their work and prepare their thesis support document according to Thesis Preparation instructions. The thesis document will be up-loaded to the University of Alberta, Education and Research Archive (ERA) with help from the Graduate Advisor.

Oral Examination Scheduling (5 weeks before the final Oral Examination)

The supervisor organizes the final oral Examination Committee, typically chaired by the Department Chair, Associate Chair, or a designate. The MFA committee requires a minimum of three committee members, including one from outside the department.

The supervisor notifies committee members of available exhibition viewing dates prior to the oral exam. Typically two viewing days are required.

Day of the Oral Examination

Before the exam, the Graduate Advisor ensures that the Supervisor has the Thesis Approval/Program Completion form. After the exam, the examining committee signs the Thesis Approval/Program Completion form. The supervisor or committee chair returns the signed form to the Graduate Advisor.

A copy is placed in the student's file and the original form is held until the student has up-loaded their thesis support document to ERA (see 'Thesis Completion'). Once the document has been up-loaded to ERA, the signed Thesis Approval / Program Completion form is then sent to FGSR.

FAB Exhibition

The exhibition typically is scheduled around the time of the thesis oral examination. The exhibition opening welcomes the university community and public, and hence, exhibiting artist(s) should plan to attend.

Procedure for Submitting Work to the University of Alberta Art Collection

The supervisor will set up a meeting with the student, the supervisor, and the art curator for the University of Alberta Art Collection in order to select a work for consideration; this meeting will take place while the show is installed.

The work selected may be in the show or, if a work in the show is not appropriate, it may be a work produced during the final year of study.

The proposed acquisition will be selected at this meeting; a release form will be signed, and the student will be made aware of the fact that final acceptance of the work is the decision of the Museums and Collections Services Acquisitions Committee.

The curator will present the proposed acquisition to the Acquisitions Committee, and this committee will make a final decision.

View the Graduate Program Manual from the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

MFA supervisors ensure that students are aware of their responsibility to arrange for delivery of selected works to Museums and Collection Services. The signed Program Completion form is then sent to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

Thesis Submission Deadlines

Students must register in both fall and winter terms regardless of when they are scheduled to defend their thesis. Tuition will be adjusted if the thesis completion paperwork has arrived at FGSR in accordance with the deadlines in the following chart. Review the important thesis and registration deadlines at the end of your program.

MFA students document their work and prepare their thesis support document according to the Thesis Preparation instructions.

Convocation Application Deadlines

The University of Alberta holds two convocation ceremonies each year with the following application deadlines. All students must apply for convocation to be included on the list of convicting students. Students who do not wish to attend the convocation ceremonies must still apply for convocation in order to receive a degree.

Bear Tracks will be available for graduate students to apply for graduation:

  • May 1 to September 30 for Fall Convocation
  • November 1 to April 3 for Spring Convocation

Note: All applications for convocation are subject to review and approval by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Applying to convocate on Bear Tracks does not guarantee convocation.