Artists change the way we see the world. Artists impact local and global economies and affect the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Artists enrich our emotional world and illuminate our personal experience. Artists produce structures that resonate, cause interaction and establish connection. Artists educate.

MECA’s MFA Program is designed for artists looking for a transformative learning experience who are passionate about taking risks, thinking critically, and advancing their careers. Built upon a rigorous curriculum that culminates in a final thesis residency, graduate studies at MECA offers a dynamic and supportive learning environment for artists who want to define and pursue a sustainable and attainable vision for their own art practice.

Among the first low residency MFA Programs in the country, MECA now has two options to choose from. Our full residency MFA gives you the option of moving to the Arts District in Portland, Maine, with 24/7 access to 200,000 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities in Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, Metals, Wood, Ceramics, Photography, Digital Media, and Expanded Practices. Both options include the hallmarks that make our program distinct— two eight-week summer intensives in Maine, a rigorous curriculum and exceptional commitment to one-on-one student mentoring by core faculty, studio advisors and distinguished visiting artists, critics and curators. Online and in-person course work emphasizes research, experimentation, reflection, collaboration, and engaged problem-solving.

Our low residency MFA combines intense periods of on-campus instruction with the freedom and independence of working from any home location, anywhere in the world.

  • Choose from a full-time MFA in Studio Art or low residency option
  • Two years of in-depth structured studio and course work
  • Trimester structure promotes continuity, flexibility, and independence
  • Emphasis on developing a studio practice that is grounded in contemporary art history, and critical issues
  • Only 15 students accepted each year allows for a remarkably high degree of access to faculty compared to other MFA programs
  • Engaged and distinguished core faculty
  • Consistent one-on-one student mentoring
  • Access to national and internationally known visiting artists, curators, and critics
  • Carefully selected Graduate Advisors for Fall and Spring trimesters
  • 24/7 access to studios and facilities
  • National and International Field Trips
  • Thesis Residency for graduating students
  • Thesis exhibition and final thesis defense in MECA’s Institute of Contemporary Art
  • Rigorous written and published thesis
  • Curriculum designed to promote the development of a professional lifelong practice.

Educational Philosophy

At MECA, we believe in the transformational power of an arts education to serve as the foundation for a lifelong pursuit of personal and professional goals. As educators and artists, our philosophy is built on the premise that there is a growing demand for creative problem solvers who understand the importance of research, exploration, reflection, collaboration, and thinking beyond traditional boundaries. Our students discover and build on their own unique creative process through immersive studio practice.

Access to Exceptional Facilities, Resources, and Space

MECA’s MFA Program takes place in the historic five-floor Porteous Building, which provides 200,000 square-feet of academic classrooms, computer labs, studio facilities, and administrative services. During the Summer Intensive and throughout the academic year every student is given 24/7 access to individual studio space and specialized labs. Also located in the Porteous Building, the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA serves a critical regional role in its commitment to presenting contemporary, provocative work by living artists from Maine and around the globe. The Joanne Waxman Library is one of the largest independent libraries in Northern New England and a major resource for the region.

Access to Urban Centers & the Natural World

Located on the southern coast of Maine, Portland is just the right size, easy to navigate on foot, filled with arts and culture and minutes from islands, beaches, lakes, forests and farmland. Just a few hours from Boston and a few more hours to Manhattan, the city of Portland is a collection of unique neighborhoods with a strong commitment to community. Between the outdoor activities, the booming local food movement, and the vibrant visual and performing art scene, Portland offers a place to live and a way of life.

National & International Field Trips

MECA’s MFA Program believes in the transformative power of a first-hand cultural experience. Each year students travel to important art destinations in North America and Europe including New York City, Montreal and Venice. Selected destinations have significant art historical value and inspire studio and academic course work. Program tuition offsets costs making the trip more affordable for most students.

MFA Credit and Academic Calendar

MECA’s Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts takes two full years (24 months) to complete sixty credits. From 1998–2009, each year was divided into two twelve-credit semesters. Starting June 2010 the program moved to a trimester system with each full-time trimester equaling ten-credits. One credit equals 45 hours of combined contact and independent work.

MFA Grading System

Letter grade system with grade point equivalents. Plus and minus grades are computed in to grade point averages. “W” (withdrawal) and “I” (incomplete) are not calculated into the grade point average. Graduate students must maintain a 3.0 GPA (A=4.0), satisfy all course requirements as stated in course syllabi, and must be granted committee permission to proceed to the second and final year.

Sample of Visiting Artist Faculty

Alumni Residency at MECA

The MECA Alumni Residency is designed to bring a small group of MECA alumni back to Maine each summer. Running congruent to the MFA Summer Intensive, alumni return to the MECA studios to engage in an intensive on-campus experience.

  • Learn more & apply: Alumni Residency at MECA

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MFA Students at the 2015 Venice Biennale.