the usu photo mfa is an independently-driven, mentor-based, three-year program

Designed to provide students with the time, resources, and support to develop and achieve thoughtful, professional studio practices, the USU Photo MFA curriculum is focused on individual visual research and augmented by seminars in art history, professional practice, and pedagogy along with opportunities for interdisciplinary study and collaboration across the university.

The prospective student must exhibit both academic excellence and a well-developed personal artistic vision. Competitive assistantship stipends are available to select candidates, who may serve as teaching assistants in their first year and teach their own undergraduate course each semester of their second and third year. 

Each MFA photo candidate is provided a private darkroom and studio/office space, a BenQ PhotoVue monitor, 24-hour access to photography facilities, longterm camera checkout, and an annual consumables budget. See facilities/equipment info here.

program curriculum + requirements

Students must earn 60 credits total and complete a minimum of four semesters in residence as full-time students for the MFA degree. The following classes are required:
  • 42 credits of graduate level studio art, determined by the student in consultation with the Thesis Supervisory Committee Chair, including a minimum of: 6 credits studio art outside of the declared emphasis area (consult professor before registering)
  • 3 Credits of ART 6900: Graduate Seminar: Professional Practices (required for studio arts disciplines; optional for graphic design and interior design students in the case that a related course, more specific to their area of study, be taken in its place at the recommendation of the students Thesis Advisory Committee)
  • 3 credits of ARTH 6755: Contemporary Art 1989-present
  • 3 credits of additional Art History (6000 level), area specific theory, or theory-related credits outside the department as advised by the Thesis Advisory Committee
  • 3 credits of ART 6910: Graduate Interdisciplinary Critique
  • 3 credits outside the art department as specified by the supervisory committee
  • 3 credits of ART 6970: Research and Thesis

For students not serving as graduate assistants otherwise employed on campus, nine credits per semester is the minimum for full-time status. (12 credits is considered a maximum.) For students employed on campus, full-time status is dependent upon the number of hours per week that the student works. For instance, for a graduate student who is employed on campus for 20 hours per week (.50 FTE), 6 credits is considered full-time. Students in their last semester, who require fewer credits to complete their Program of Study may also be considered full-time.

to apply

All applicants are required to have earned a BFA degree or its equivalent in the Visual Arts, including a minimum of 12 credits of Art History. GPA in art courses during the last two years of undergraduate work must be at least 3.0 on a 4-point scale. A digital portfolio of recent work must be included in the application for MFA consideration.

Students may submit either MAT or GRE scores. MAT scores should be at or above the 40th percentile; applicants taking the GRE should have verbal and quantitative scores at or above the 40th percentile. The MAT/GRE is not required for admission, however, they are required for consideration for USU’s “Excellence Tuition Waiver.” (Disregard any emails stating that your application won't move forward without these tests; it is an automated email that the department cannot change.)

Visit the School of Graduate Studies to submit an application.

Completed applications must include:
  • Completed application form
  • Letter of intent
  • Official transcripts of all previous graduate and undergraduate work
    • Must be sent by the institution in a sealed envelope, or: sent through an official transcript clearing house; or sent by the school by their official e-mail.
  • Three letters of recommendation from qualified professionals
  • A portfolio of recent work (20 digital images combined into a single PDF) submitted electronically
    • Work depicted must be recent, i.e., no more than two years old
    • Images should be sized at 1080 in the longest dimension @ 72dpi
  • One-time $55.00 application fee, paid at time of application

  • Create a USU account if you don't already have one.
  • Start the application. After you select the “Start Application” menu option, choose “New Graduate Application.” Complete and save each section in the left pane.
  • Add supplemental items. Enter additional required information and materials by choosing “Submit Supplemental Items” from the “My Account” page. This is where you will enter names and email addresses for people you want to provide letters of recommendation, and it is also where you will enter your letter of intent and portfolio. Supplemental items will be added to your application after you submit the application fee.
  • Check your application status on the "My Account" page.
  • Send a copy of your transcript(s) to the School of Graduate Studies ( An official transcript must be ordered from each previously attended college and/or university. Official transcripts should be sent directly from each previously attended college and/or university to the Graduate School using the following address: 0900 Old Main Hill, Logan UT 84322-0900.
  • International applicants must take the TOEFL or IELTS and have your score sent directly to the School of Graduate Studies by the testing service.

When complete, applications will be forwarded by The School of Graduate Studies to the Department of Art + Design for review.

Completed applications and portfolios must be received by February 1.

Please note:
  • Only completed applications delivered by Feb. 1 will be reviewed
  • Admission will be considered for Fall semester only
  • Deadlines for Financial Aid may be earlier

Review Process:
Applications are reviewed by the Department of Art + Design faculty. Candidates are selected primarily on the basis of their portfolio, which should demonstrate a level of development beyond the need of classroom instruction and encouragement. The faculty will also look for evidence of significant personal exploration in the portfolio.

Secondary to the portfolio, but important nonetheless, the applicant's letter of intent and letters of recommendation will also be given careful consideration. Letters should address both academic and artistic accomplishments as well as potential for further growth in both of these areas. In reviewing these letters, the faculty will look for: indications that the applicant will be capable of prolonged and concentrated effort; how the applicant is guided by realistic personal goals; and how those goals align with the USU Photo mission.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to visit the USU campus and meet with faculty well in advance of the February 1 application deadline.
The graduate program has limited enrollment, and admission is very competitive. Because only a small fraction of applicants can be accommodated, there can be no guarantee that applicants who meet admission requirements will be accepted into the program.

Financial Assistance:
Departmental support is available to graduate students on a competitive basis. Students requesting financial support should apply to the department by February 1. Other assistance is available through the University Financial Aid Office.

Questions/Schedule a Visit:
For questions or to schedule an in-person or virtual tour and portfolio review, email professor Jared Ragland at

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