MFA in Visual Art


One of the two main components of a student’s course of study in the Visual Art program at Vermont College of Fine Arts is a semester-long studio project in which the student develops and/or challenges specific aspects of their art practice under the guidance of an Artist-Teacher who lives and works in the student’s community.

While there is no set prescription for what constitutes this relationship, each Artist-Teacher is asked to engage the student in a rigorous and critical dialogue concerning the conceptual and material issues they confront in their work.

The program has worked with over 1,500 artists throughout the United States, Europe, and South America. Every student researches and chooses his or her studio mentor for the semester with the guidance and support of the faculty. Through this process, the program engages with new Artist-Teachers on a continuous basis, expanding the pool of mentors available to our students. Artist-Teacher applications are reviewed during each residency.

Role of the Artist-Teacher

One of the two major components of a student’s course of study is a semester long (six-month) studio project in which he or she works with the guidance of an Artist-Teacher, preferably from their local area. While each individual student generates an individual study plan for their semester based on the particular necessities or demands of their art practice at that given moment, the dialogue between Artist-Teacher and student generally focuses on the following:

  • Ideas that inform the student’s work
  • Intention versus execution
  • Formal aesthetic qualities
  • The relationship of the work to other artists and/or other traditions of art making
  • The work’s overall relation to their artistic goals and to current social and cultural contexts in which their work exists.

Scheduled Meetings

Outside of an initial meeting to discuss the possibility of working with each other, the recommended scheduled meetings are as follows:

  1. Preliminary meeting to review and discuss the student’s Studio Study Plan. This plan describes the work to be done, the aesthetic and thematic aims, the intended style and form, technical and/or formal problems anticipated, and amount of work to be completed during the term. A Studio Study Plan should be as concrete and specific as possible, without inhibiting or obstructing the student’s ability to work freely.
  2. Four additional studio visits of approximately two hours each.


Because of the low-residency nature of the program, two written evaluations are required over the course of the six-month semester. A Mid-Term Evaluation is due after the second visit and a Final Evaluation after the fifth visit. In addition, the student will write a Mid-Term and a Final Evaluation that is emailed to the Artist-Teacher. These evaluations assess the progress of the study according to the guidelines and evaluative criteria collaboratively agreed upon beforehand.


Program faculty will make a final decision regarding the granting of credit to the student’s studio component after critique and review of the student’s work and review of the Artist-Teacher's final evaluation. Artist-Teachers do not attend the residencies.

Selection Process

The process of finding an appropriate Artist-Teacher to work with is a critical challenge and opportunity for students in the MFA in Visual Art. Not only will they be spending the semester having this artist critique their work, but they will also benefit by the social interaction and the opportunity to develop contacts with a network of regional artists. The program maintains a list of Artist-Teachers who have been approved to work with students; some have previously worked with students and some have not.

Once a student finds several possible Artist-Teachers, he/she arranges to meet with each one. Artist-Teachers must give the student the room to work through a process of determining who will be the best match for them at that particular time. During this meeting process, Artist-Teachers and students often show each other their artwork, and talk about learning styles, methods of critiquing work and study plans. Students are refrained from making a final decision regarding an Artist-Teacher until after the MFA in Visual Art Residency. 

Despite this contingency, if the pre-residency meeting goes well between the Artist-Teacher and student, Artist-Teachers can fill out an application for assessment of suitability for the program.

Artist-Teachers must submit a completed application, and be approved, prior to or during the residency.

Letter of Agreement

Once a student is paired with an Artist-Teacher, a Letter of Agreement for this collaborative partnership is provided by VCFA, along with the necessary forms for midterm and final evaluations. Artist-Teachers are paid in two equal installments totaling $1210 per student, per semester.



Thatiana Oliveira

Assistant Program Director
MFA in Visual Art

866-934-8232, ext. 8636
[email protected]