Program accreditation
National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Program goal

The mission of the M.F.A. in Fine Arts with a concentration in photography and film is to facilitate a comprehensive, advanced, intellectual and artistic understanding and use of the mediums of photography and filmmaking. The specific goals of the program are as follows: to foster a climate that inspires creativity, intellectual curiosity, freedom of expression and critical thinking; to attract and sustain a faculty of the highest quality by providing an environment conducive to their achieving and maintaining national and international stature; and to attract highly artistic and intelligent individuals interested in advanced study of the medium.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate a familiarity with contemporary critical theory and an ability to apply and investigate those ideas in their work.
  2. Students will gain and display advanced skills in conceptual and technical use of the medium.
  3. Students will be able to create photographs and films that display an advanced level of intelligence and artistic vision.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online today.

Admission requirements

Admission requirements
Degree:Semester(s) of entry:Deadline dates:Test requirements:
M.F.A.FallJan 15None

Special requirements

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, applicants must meet the requirements listed on the website above.

Degree requirements

The advanced study of photography and film is both broad and varied. Therefore, the program’s requirements are flexible and determined by the needs of each student on an individual basis. There are, however, a few definite requirements. In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, on completion of the program, students must have knowledge of contemporary art history, a more in-depth knowledge of the history of their disciplines and an understanding of the critical dialogue that is connected with their medium. Courses are suggested for students to meet these requirements, based on their backgrounds.

Curriculum requirements

Take 24 credits in the following:24
Photographic Studio (3 or 6 credit hours, may be repeated)
Take nine credits in the following:9
Research in Photography and Film (3 or 6 credit hours, may be repeated)
Take 12 credits in the following:12
Graduate Seminar (3 or 6 credit hours, may be repeated)
PHTO 699Thesis (1 or 3 credit hours, may be repeated)3
Select 12 credits in approved electives from the list below.12
Total Hours60

Approved electives

(other courses maybe approved by department upon request)

ARTS 601
ARTS 602
Seminar in Art
and Seminar in Art
CRAF 690Graduate Seminar1,3
ENGL 671Film and Television Scripts3
GSWS 691Topics in Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies1-3
KINE 690Graduate Seminar (with permission of graduate adviser)4
KINE 695Advanced Sound3
PAPR 525Issues in Contemporary Visual Arts3
PAPR 527
PAPR 528
Art and Critical Theory
and Art and Critical Theory
PAPR 591Topics in Painting and Printmaking1-4
PAPR 615Graduate Printmaking3,6
PAPR 690Graduate Seminar1-3
PHTO 692Independent Study in Photography and Film1-3
PHTO 693Fieldwork, Internship3,6
PHTO 699Thesis 1,3
SCPT 591Topics in Sculpture1-4
SCPT 690Graduate Seminar1,4
THEA 603Dramatic Literature and Theory3
THEA 604Modern Theatre: Theory and Practice3
THEA 661
THEA 662
Graduate Direction
and Graduate Direction
THEA 791Seminar in Special Issues in Theatre1-3

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for this degree is 60.

Paul B. Thulin
Assistant professor and graduate program director
(804) 828-6056

Additional contact
Justin James Reed
Associate professor and interim chair, Department of Photography and Film
(804) 828-1695

Program website: