Visual Art Semester

The Postgraduate Semester in Visual Art (PGSVA) is an individualized, project-based program of study specifically designed for MFA graduates. Participants in this program will develop a substantial research project and/or body of artwork, and the semester will culminate in a public presentation and critical discussion of the work.

Upon completion of the PGSVA, Postgraduate Fellows will receive 15 units of academic credit, eligible for most employers’ continuing education reimbursement programs. As an added bonus, Postgraduate residencies have been designed to coincide with the regularly scheduled MFA in Visual Art residencies, so Fellows will be active participants in the exciting dialogues with faculty, visiting lecturers, guests and MFA candidates that characterize every residency.

The Calendar

The Postgraduate Semester unfolds over 27 weeks, beginning and ending with participation in the MFA in Visual Art on-campus residencies. During the first residency, Fellows meet with faculty to confront and further refine the conceptual, aesthetic and practical issues at stake in the proposed projects, and to develop a detailed plan for the rest of the semester. Fellows who have chosen to focus primarily on studio work will also consult with the faculty to identify the best artist teacher match for their project. The first residency provides all Fellows with the opportunity to take part in group discussions and critiques with other students as well as participate in all of the other public lectures, workshops and activities offered through the regular MFA in Visual Art residency program.

  • Research/Writing Focus

Postgraduate Fellows whose sole focus is research/writing will have an expanded engagement with their Faculty Advisor during both the residency and non-residency periods. Communication during the non-residency period -- approximately six to eight scheduled contacts -- will occur through the mail and over the phone. The mid-semester reporting process begins with each Fellow’s assessment of the on-going development of their project, identifying its successes and areas for improvement and articulating any revisions to be made. Fellows submit this report to their Faculty Advisor for an engaged, critical discussion about the growth of the project and its future progression and critical goals. After this discussion, both the Fellow and the Faculty Advisor write separate reports, revising the semester’s plan as needed, and submit these reports to each other as well as to the office. This approach is designed to keep Fellows in charge of their projects while also taking advantage of the Faculty Advisor’s extensive knowledge and critical insights.

  • Studio Production Focus

If a Fellow's Postgraduate Semester is geared primarily toward studio production, a selected faculty member will oversee the project. The Fellow will have at least five studio visits with their Artist-Teacher, who will be selected in consultation with the assigned Faculty Supervisor. As noted above, the Fellow directs the mid-semester reporting process. In an initial report the Fellow will take stock of their progress toward the goals set for the semester and re-evaluate their commitment to these goals, identifying any adjustments or shifts that are necessary. Fellows will then submit this report to their Artist-Teacher for an engaged, critical discussion of both the progress and the assessment of that progress as well as the future direction of the project. After this meeting both the Fellow and the Artist-Teacher write separate reports, revising the semester’s plan as needed, and submitting these reports to each other as well as to the office and the assigned Faculty Supervisor. This approach is designed to keep Fellows in charge of their projects while also taking advantage of the Artist-Teacher’s expertise and the Faculty Supervisor’s role as an engaged outside observer.

Coming Together

The two different Postgraduate Semester tracks (Research and Studio) have been developed to identify and emphasize a particular focus, but projects focused on Research may also involve Studio work and vice versa. The primary difference between these two tracks are whether the Fellow wants to work with an Artist-Teacher or exclusively with a Faculty Advisor and what form the culminating project will take (see below).

During the second residency on the Montpelier campus, Postgraduate Fellows whose projects are research based will conclude their time in the program by presenting their research projects in a public lecture/presentation. Postgraduate Fellows with a studio concentration will install an exhibition of their work at the second residency. Fellows are encouraged to consider lecture/exhibition venues on campus as well as in the town of Montpelier. VCFA will help facilitate access to possible sites off-campus pending availability. The second residency will also be organized around extensive feedback and critical responses to the completed project from the faculty, visiting artists, other Fellows, and the MFA students in residence.

Application Questions & Guidance

Project Description

  1. Because the Postgraduate Semester is project oriented, applicants need to provide a basic description of the proposed project. Be as specific as possible, identifying: a basic thesis, some of the conceptual ideas, influences and objectives or materials you envision for the project. Briefly describe how this project relates to and/or differs from the work you produced when you were enrolled in your previous MFA program. (Maximum 500 words)
  2. In the second residency of the Postgraduate semester, you will be expected to make a public presentation of your project. Please describe the kind of public presentation you envision for your project. If you are planning an exhibition or site-specific work, discuss the type of site and how you envision the audience encountering the work. (Maximum 300 words)
  3. Describe what you will need from the MFA program semester to help you realize your project. Consider the role that the residency, faculty guidance, Artist-Teacher mentorship, and the VCFA community at large might play in that process. (Maximum 300 words)

Personal Description

  1. Describe your current work as an artist since earning your MFA. Talk about the development of your studio practice, intellectual development as well as the social, historical, and/or cultural context of your practice. Explain how the Postgraduate semester will enhance, encourage, and/or support your development as an artist/scholar. Be sure to address why you are applying for a Postgraduate Semester now, explaining why this moment is appropriate for you personally as well as for the development of your practice. (Maximum 500 words)
  2. Include an Artist Resume.
  3. If proposing a studio-based project, please provide documentation of no more than 20 artworks that you have made since graduating. Please also provide the following information: An image list, headed with your name, and in chronological order each image with its dimensions, medium, title and date of creation. For time-based media work, include total running time and the length of excerpt not to exceed 13 minutes. Work can be submitted on CD or DVD.
  4. If proposing a research-based project, please provide a writing sample. (Maximum 1000 words)
  5. Applicants can specify up to 3 VCFA faculty members with whom they would like to work, explaining why they these particular faculty members will help them to actualize their project. When appropriate, VCFA will facilitate the requested match; however, it cannot guarantee that the desired faculty members will be available. You will be informed of the Faculty Advisor prior to the start of the residency.

Tuition and Fees

  • Semester tuition (6 months): $7,147.00
  • Optional residency: $933.00
  • Room and board (per residency): $877.00


Danielle Dahline

Program Director
[email protected]

Thatiana Oliveira

Assistant Director, Visual Art
[email protected]

Admissions Deadlines