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The University of Missouri has played a prominent role in the teaching of the visual arts in North America since Walter Miller and John Pickard first began lecturing on campus in the 1890s. The School of Visual Studies offers graduate degrees in Visual Studies that blend disciplinary training in the history of art, material culture, and media studies with a commitment to public humanities. Through a combination of coursework; outreach, research, and teaching opportunities; and interdisciplinary collaboration with scholars in other fields and professional programs, the MA and PhD prepare students for careers in a variety of educational institutions, cultural organizations, and the creative economy generally.

Degrees Offered

Visual Studies, Master of Fine Arts

On Campus

Admission Criteria

  • Fall semester deadline: January 18
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0

Minimum Language Requirements

Click here to view the minimum English language proficiency test scores

The preferred undergraduate degree for admission to the graduate program in visual art is the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA). However, applicants holding the BA, BS or other bachelor’s degrees are eligible to apply if they have a minimum of 40 hours of undergraduate studio credits or an equivalent commensurate professional experience. Applicants for the Graphic Design Area are required to have a minimum of 2 years professional experience before applying.

Application materials are evaluated to determine if the applicant has the preparation and ability to pursue an advanced degree. Admission is based on the recommendations from the art department graduate faculty members representing each of the media areas. Some applicants, may be placed on a waiting list as alternates, then accepted if others decline their admission offers.

Required Application Materials

For the Graduate School

  • Completed Graduate School online application
  • Unofficial Transcripts- As part of the application submission process, all applicants are required to upload unofficial copies of all post-secondary transcripts to the online application. Official transcripts are only required if accepted by the academic program.
  • Official Results of English Proficiency Exams (International applicants only)

For the Master of Fine Arts Program

Upload all of the following items to Graduate School Online Application system.

  • Letter of Intent/Artist Statement (Stating your goals for pursuing the MFA with a critique of your current work)
  • Current Resume (exhibition, award, publications, artistic experience, etc.)
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation.
  • Application for GTA (optional but necessary for tuition waiver)
  • Digital portfolio: The application process requires a digital portfolio documenting 20 separate pieces of the applicant’s artwork. Applicants can document these works using twenty (20) to forty (40) digital still images and/or moving image files. Please limit submissions to a maximum of 2 images for any one piece of artwork. The artwork in the portfolio should represent your most recent and most accomplished body of work. The work should indicate your major artistic interests and creative direction. The work should demonstrate your creative ability and media competence. If you are requesting consideration for a teaching assistantship, a few of the images could be works that demonstrate your foundational mastery of a specific media area. Portfolios must be uploaded to the Portfolio section of the Graduate School online application. Portfolio guidelines are available at https://visualstudies.missouri.edu/art/grad/graduate-admissions

Visual Studies, Master of Arts

On Campus

*This program is eligible for the STEM OPT Extension.

Admission Criteria

Fall deadline: January 18

Admission to the department on the graduate level is granted yearly to a small number of candidates who hold recognized BA or MA degrees in art history, media studies, or related fields of the humanities and social sciences. In addition to the 3.0 GPA required by the Graduate School, the department requires: a GPA of 3.3 in the major field and a minimum GRE score (below).  It also encourages applicants to have at least three semesters of a single appropriate foreign language (normally German, French, Italian, or Spanish).

Minimum GRE scores

Test Type  Verbal+Quantitative  Analytical
GRE 300 4.5

Minimum Language Requirements

Click here to view the minimum English language proficiency test scores

Required Application Materials

For the Graduate School

  • Completed Graduate School online application
  • Unofficial Transcripts- As part of the application submission process, all applicants are required to upload unofficial copies of all post-secondary transcripts to the online application. Official transcripts are only required if accepted by the academic program.
  • Official Results of English Proficiency Exams (International applicants only)

For the Visual Studies Program

All application materials must be submitted directly through the Graduate School online application. Applications will not be considered complete until we receive the following:

  • GRE scores
  • Three letters of recommendation concerning academic qualifications to undertake graduate work
  • A short statement of the applicant’s scholarly interests, professional goals, and reasons for applying to do graduate work in Visual Studies.
  • A copy of a recent research paper as a sample of your scholarship and writing
  • Curriculum vitae

Visual Studies, Doctor of Philosophy

On Campus

*This program is eligible for the STEM OPT Extension.

Admission Criteria

Fall deadline: January 18

The department accepts as candidates for the Ph.D. students who have earned an M.A. or its equivalent in art history, media studies, or related fields of the humanities and social sciences, either from the University of Missouri-Columbia or from an institution recognized by the University. An M.A. thesis is a prerequisite for the Ph.D. in both art history and classical archaeology. The Doctoral Program Committee determines the acceptability of work completed elsewhere.

Students completing an M.A. degree in the School of Visual Studies who want to continue for the Ph.D. must be accepted for advising by a faculty member on the doctoral faculty. Such students should submit a statement of purpose and a current CV to the School by the January 18 deadline. If students are formally admitted by the faculty, they submit a “Change of Program, Degree, Emphasis or Advisor Form” to the Graduate School.

Minimum Language Requirements

Click here to view the minimum English language proficiency test scores

Required Application Materials

For the Graduate School

  • Completed Graduate School online application
  • Unofficial Transcripts- As part of the application submission process, all applicants are required to upload unofficial copies of all post-secondary transcripts to the online application. Official transcripts are only required if accepted by the academic program.
  • Official Results of English Proficiency Exams (International applicants only)

For the Visual Studies Program

All application materials must be submitted directly through the Graduate School online application. Applications will not be considered complete until we receive the following:

  • GRE scores
  • Three letters of recommendation concerning academic qualifications to undertake graduate work
  • A short statement of the applicant’s scholarly interests, professional goals, and reasons for applying to do graduate work in Visual Studies
  • A copy of a recent research paper as a sample of your scholarship and writing
  • Curriculum vitae