MFA in Social Practice

Master of Fine Arts in Contemporary Art Practice: Art and Social Practice

PSU's Art and Social Practice MFA is composed of a unique combination of individual research, group work, and experiential learning. The program's blend of critical and professional practice, collaborative social engagement, and transdisciplinary exploration produces an immersive educational environment. Based in Portland, Oregon, the program operates on the PSU campus, and in our space at the King School in Northeast Portland. The programs'  flexible residency model allows for travel and even the ability for students to reside outside of Portland during their course of study. A weekly conversation series on KPSU Radio promotes the understanding of a wide range of approaches and methodologies.

The 90 credit, three-year course leans toward a democratic approach that encourages students to shape the direction of their own education, and continually redefine and develop the program as a whole. Students connect their art practice to research in the field through electives and community partnerships, promoting cross-disciplinary. Student work and research is presented publicly, culminating in final graduate projects presented in the third and final year of the program. Each student also produces a book for the Social Practice Reference Points series on a prominent theme or person, or a workbook.

The program produces an annual intervention event at the Portland Art Museum called Shine a Light, and has exhibited work and created projects for the Whitney Museum of American Art, Betsonsalon in Paris, apexart in New York, and Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, among other venues and locations.

The program accepts approximately six students annually. The deadline for applying is usually the 2nd Sunday in January. Interested persons are encouraged to make arrangements to visit the program.


More information about the MFA Social Practice program

Course of Study

The MFA program requires 90 credit hours of coursework. Just under half of these credit hours are directed studies and weekly group workshops. The rest are distributed among contemporary art history and theory seminars, special topics, writing, pedagogy and professional practices seminars, non-art electives, and a graduate project. Students are encouraged to connect with and follow lines of inquiry outside the traditional study of studio art.

The 90 credit hours required for completion of the program are distributed as follows:

  • 40 credits  Directed Studies + Workshops
  • 12 credits  Visiting Artist Seminar
  • 12 credits  Contemporary Art History/Theory
  • 8 credits    Electives (outside department)
  • 12 credits  Graduate Seminars
  • 6 credits    Graduate Project

MFA Faculty

Harrell Fletcher, MFA Art & Social Practice Program Coordinator, Ausplund Tooze Family Professor of Art and Social Practice
M. Michelle Illuminato, Art Practice, Social Practice, CORE Head
Lisa Jarrett, Art Practice: Drawing, Mixed Media, Community and Art in Context

MFA Questions