Liberal Arts

Students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees are required to take courses in areas such as art history, cultural studies, and English.

These courses add a beneficial layer to your education—from engaging you as a visual thinker and encouraging you to make new connections with your own artmaking to interacting with individuals studying a wide range of disciplines and expanding your artistic and intellectual communities.

First Year Program Overview

The Museum School's First Year Program provides an opportunity for burgeoning artists to enrich their own art practice by engaging new and different perspectives on creativity—through reading, discussion, lectures, writing, and occasionally a trip to a local art site. Helping students develop a wider critical-philosophical vocabulary for thinking about their own work, the First Year Program introduces a set of culturally canonical ideas and thematically organized texts relevant to art making today but also provides a basis for a liberal arts education more broadly; texts will primarily be drawn from literature, philosophy, and theory. This course introduces students to the intellectual work of reading and responding to demanding texts and ideas at a college level, both in discussion and in writing, and also introduces resources that will support students in their academic continued endeavors. Participation in the First Year Program also enables many students to become more proactively involved in defining their own interests and designing their own course of study at SMFA at Tufts, all the while developing a close set of cohorts and friends who can speak to one another's work.

First Year Program Logistics

The First Year Program is a three-hour class offered first semester and required for all first year undergraduate students. Class time will be broken into a two-hour lecture with discussion for all students together, followed by a one-hour small group discussion.

For more information about the SMFA's First Year Program, please contact the director, Hilary Binda.

For faculty in the liberal arts areas please see Tufts School of Arts and Sciences 

Studio Art at SMFA at Tufts

MFA students must complete a total of 60 SMFA at Tufts course credits (15 Tufts credits) in studio art. This includes the mandatory MFA Contemporary Art Practice (CAP) seminar and three graduate seminar electives. Please note students are permitted to register for 8 SMFA at Tufts credits of studio art each semester.

Graduate Seminars

The graduate seminars (CAP seminar and three approved elective seminars) are part of the studio credit requirements for successful completion of the MFA degree. A student who fails to attend the CAP seminar and/or successfully complete the course must repeat the CAP seminar the following year.

Graduate Critiques

MFA students must complete a section of Graduate Group Critique in each of the four semesters of the program. In addition to these requirements, it is mandatory that all graduate students attend the topic graduate colloquia scheduled during the fall and/or spring semester. Please note that during the student’s second year, he/ she may substitute MFA Individual Critiques: One-to-One for MFA Graduate Group Critique in the fall or spring semester. This substitution may occur in only one semester.


The SMFA at Tufts Graduate Colloquia are conceived, proposed, and coordinated by Graduate advisors and MFA students. The Graduate Steering Committee reviews and selects proposals. These all-day events, generated around a topic relevant to contemporary art and culture, take place at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Speakers include invited guests, SMFA at Tufts faculty, and MFA students. Colloquia are an instituted part of the Master of Fine Arts curriculum. Attendance is mandatory for all first and second year MFA students. SMFA at Tufts Graduate Colloquia are open to the general public.

Art History/Academic Electives

Over the course of the program, four upper-level or graduate-level courses are required, and must include two art history and two academic electives. Electives may be art history, humanities, or an academic field other than humanities with advisor’s approval. Please note, graduate students may take a maximum of two of their four academic courses in Summer School.

Master of Fine Arts Degree Requirements


All second-year MFA students are required to develop a thesis throughout the year and present a thesis exhibition at the end of the year. MFA students will apply theory and method in a project, formulating a question and developing a potential answer that has a consideration of the broader implications of their practice (such as aesthetic, social, political, economic, and scientific, among others). A thesis is never a definite conclusion, but a moment within the student’s development that demonstrates their ability to carry on their work outside the confines of the institution. The thesis carries a total of 12 SMFA at Tufts credits (3 Tufts credits), 6 SMFA at Tufts credits (1.5 Tufts credits) in both semesters of the second year. The Thesis Committee awards the final 6 credits based on each student’s exhibition.

Approval for Thesis

At each student’s second Review Board, a determination is made as to whether a student can move on to their thesis year. This approval process is managed, and approval is ultimately determined, by the specific faculty members participating in each Review Board. The outcome of the approval process is recorded in the student’s Review Board folder and submitted back to the Registrar’s Office.

Review Boards

The Review Board is an assessment and critique of a student’s entire semester of work. The Review Board provides each student with the opportunity to articulate their intent, discuss process, and receive critical feedback and direction from faculty and peers. MFA students are required to have Review Boards in each of the first three semesters of the program. MFA students are required to peer-review one student in each of the three Review Board semesters.

Final MFA Exhibition

The MFA Program culminates in a self-curated final exhibition, including a statement of the artist’s intention and goals. This group exhibition provides a platform for students to gain greater exposure within Boston and the Tufts community. Credit for the exhibition is awarded by the SMFA at Tufts Review Board, which is comprised of the student’s academic advisor and one member of the graduate studio faculty. *Please note that participation in the final MFA exhibition can only take place once an MFA candidate has met all graduation requirements.

For a detailed look at requirements by year and semester