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Studio Art MFA students' work on exhibit in the AU museum
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MFA Studio Art at a Glance

  • Students choose 2- or 3-year tracks for 36-credit curriculum.
  • Students can take graduate courses throughout AU and use photography, engineering, and other facilities to support their practice.
  • Students have 24/7 access to their own studio space in the Katzen Arts Center and exhibit thesis works in the AU Museum.
  • Everyone gets funding based on merit and financial aid.

MFA student in studio with paintings.

Mission & Values

AU's MFA in Studio Art, historically grounded in painting, is multidisciplinary and empowers artists to contextualize their practice within historical and contemporary issues. 

By exploring cultural, conceptual, and material approaches critical to the constantly evolving art world, the program prioritizes understanding different perspectives and the role of artists within them. Additionally, it emphasizes the significance of process, images, and identity, including matters related to gender, race, class, and sexuality, which are critical in art-making today. 


2022 MFA Exhibition, featuring works by Katie Hartley (left) and Hyunsuk Erickson(right).
Installation view of in*position (spring 2022 thesis exhibition) featuring works by Katie Hartley (left) and Hyunsuk Erickson (right). Photo by Greg Staley.

Student Work

Our MFA program is deliberately non-compartmentalized with an emphasis on studio practice: students are encouraged to experiment and broaden their individual practices. The MFA program is a gateway to becoming an active professional artist. Students create in private studios in the Katzen Arts Center surrounded by peers and a multivalent arts community, where they become part of a local community of artists. MFA candidates show their completed thesis work in annual group exhibitions at the AU Museum — see also Marcus Civin's 2024 exhibition Essay with Student Interviews.

Student with camera and record-player in studio.

Funding & Admissions

Everyone gets funding based on merit and financial aid: all accepted MFA students receive an award based on merit. Applicants should submit a FAFSA to maximize need-based funding opportunities. 


MFA Students with Rush Baker.
MFA Students with Rush Baker.

Our Community

The Studio Art MFA program is home to a robust community of practicing artists. Meet the faculty, our alumni, and your peers:


Katzen Arts Center rotunda entrance at night.

Facilities & Resources

Each artist in the Program is provided with 24-hour access to a private studio in the Katzen Arts Center. Printing, sculpture, and new media workshops, along with facilities for photography and 3-D printing, are available in the Katzen Center or on campus.
Explore Facilities

MFA student at work on a painting with other artwork in backgroud.


Our flexible cohort-based program can be completed in two years or three based on your personal preference and goals. In addition to a core curriculum of thesis, research practicum, and theory, candidates select graduate-level courses within the Studio Art program and university to support their practice.
Studio Art Courses




News & Events

  • Jarrett Arnold's (CAS '23) solo exhibition at The Alchemy of Art, Baltimore runs March 7–March 31, 2024.
  • Jenny Wu's (CAS '15) solo exhibition It Depends runs at Morton Fine Art in Washington, DC, February 15-March 16, 2024.
  • Studio Art MFA student Pooja Campbell (CAS ’25) is a recipient of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ Visual Arts Fellowship.
  • Alumni Nieko McDaniel's (CAS '20) solo exhibition Patience… & However Possible, is on view at The Sechrest Gallery at High Point University, High Point, NC January 16-February 16, 2024.
  • Works by recent MFA graduates are included in the exhibition After the End Quote on view at BWI airport's Yumi Hogan Gallery.
  • Professor Kyle Hackett’s solo exhibition Circular Narratives ran in fall '23 at Vinegar in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Professor Tim Doud's "Art at Amtrak" commission A Great Public Walk was unveiled at Washington's Union Station.
  • See more alum notes.


Lindsay Mueller

Lindsay MuellerMFA Studio Art ‘24

“I’m here to push my artistic practice so I have the energy, self-critique, and discipline to keep growing beyond graduation.”

As a child, Lindsay Mueller’s school art classes were supplemented by weekly classes taught by a neighbor, a local artist. “By high school I realized I could take it more seriously,” Mueller says. “I applied to some art schools in addition to non-art schools. I wasn’t sure how viable it was as a career—it wasn’t the most practical choice to make where I grew up.”  

Mueller attended Boston University for a dual degree program in psychology and art. “I realized I could do both, but I spent most of my time in the school of visual arts and was involved in the community there.” After graduation, Mueller moved to Northern Virginia and became an arts coordinator at a retirement community, teaching classes and curating exhibitions. “It was helpful to have a community arts perspective, not just academic art.”  

Since enrolling in the MFA program at AU, Mueller has focused on pushing her artistic practice. Her paintings have expanded to become more sculptural with three-dimensional surfaces. “I feel freer to use vibrant colors and to be more inventive in the work,” she says. Working alongside a close-knit cohort of students and professors has also helped Mueller grow as an artist. “They’re people I can really talk to after graduation. They care about my practice and are interested in what I’m doing—they’ve been generous.”  

Mueller’s work is drawing attention. Last year, she won the Young Artist Award in the Bethesda Painting Awards, an annual juried art competition honoring accomplished painters in the area. Her work, Slow Collision, was featured in a group exhibition at Gallery B. While focusing on her painting, Mueller has continued to teach as an instructor at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Arlington, and as a TA at AU. “I love teaching—I get to exchange ideas with others,” she says.  

Julia Rommel

Julia RommelMFA Studio Art ‘05

Having really amazing instructors who exposed me to so much theory and contemporary art criticism exploded my head in terms of what art can do and how it can reach out into broader society.

New York City-based artist Julia Rommel creates minimalist paintings that explore relationships between color and form through strong blocks of color and the stretching and manipulation of painted canvases. Rommel's recent exhibition at Bureau, New York was profiled by Artforum, and her painting Cool Topics was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2021.  

At AU, Rommel’s time experimenting in her studio built a solid foundation for her professional practice and an understanding of the dedication required for success as an artist. In her coursework, “We moved through the history of how so many artists think about making work, and that helped me move through my own failures and successes at making work.” Rommel also cites the program’s Visiting Artist Series as an essential part of her education, both in forming connections to the New York art world and for her exposure to successful artists who provided their critique and insights.  

Rommel is preparing for an exhibition in Oslo, Norway in fall 2022. “I’m trying to figure out how to add ‘surprises’ to each composition while staying really minimal,” all in the pursuit of joy in the painting process.