2020-2021 Graduate Academic Catalog

Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Integrated Media

An Emphasis on Craft and Concept

From its inception in 2011, our MFA in Photography and Integrated Media program at the Lesley University College of Art and Design has been designed and nurtured as a collaborative work in progress, created to emphasize craft and concept driven photography. It is comprised of an artist / scholar community of faculty, Visiting Artists and candidates, all of whom share a passionate respect for the hand-made traditions of photographic practice while embracing, with equal passion, what is rapidly being recognized as “the new photography” … a marriage of contemporary analog and digital photographic technologies emphasizing rigorous studio practice, art and cultural context, critical and professional studies, and the fluid integration of inter-disciplinary and contemporary media. Our philosophy embraces the concept that photography is in a state of flux and no longer a single entity. It is unique in the visual arts in its ability to merge established and contemporary technologies in the art of making impressions with light and is an ideal nexus of art and culture. We invite you to join our thriving community of contemporary photographic artists who will be defining the future of photography.

Program Format

Full-time residency requirement: 4 terms

Maximum number of years for residency: 2 years

Typical number of credit hours per term for a full-time student: 15 credits

Total number of credit hours required for graduation: 60

Total in Graduate Seminar I – IV: 24

Total in Critical Studies and Art History: 9

(Includes Issues in Visual Culture in first semester)

Total in Studio Electives: 9

Total in Photography as Cultural Practice: 3

Total in Professional Studies: 9

(Includes internships, teaching assistantships, independent studies, adjunct faculty Teaching Fellowships)

Total in Graduate Thesis Seminar: 6

Of the 60 credits, 33 credits (or 55%) are graduate-level courses, 15% are Professional Studies opportunities for internships, mentoring, and teaching assistantships and adjunct faculty Teaching Fellowships. The remaining 30% are electives chosen from existing College of Art and Design studio, critical studies, and art history offerings. Content will be delivered in a variety of formats: in class, electronic, and online when appropriate.

A key attribute of the MFA Photography and Integrated Media program is the Visiting Artist / Scholar component that is full integrated into graduate seminar and jury experiences. MFA candidates will work with outstanding Visiting Artists throughout the semester in each of their 4 semesters.

Degree Requirements

Successful completion of four semesters in residence in the program, earning a total of 60 graduate credits. This will include full participation and satisfactory evaluations from all components of the program. These will include writing, physical work, presentation at juries, and engagement in all seminars.

Ability to demonstrate a professional level of accomplishment in their self-selected arena of artistic work. This will be realized through aesthetic and technical achievement, conceptual ideas working with integrated photographic / light marking practice in compatible media that reflects the development of personal imagery. Graduate Thesis seminar is all writing and exposition of ideas

Ability to demonstrate an understanding of the various criteria used for making critical judgments about the visual arts, especially photography, including the relationship of visual culture to a societal context. Evaluation will be done through a jury process that will include 2 mid-year in-process juries and 2 end-of-year final juries. Evaluation will be Pass, Fail, or Still In Progress.

Active participation, involvement and dialogue in the seminar critiques of other candidate’s work during the course of study. Generosity of expression is highly valued.

Participation in a final group thesis exhibition and catalogue of their work and writing. Both must be satisfactorily reviewed by the MFA program faculty, Visiting Artists and jurors.

Program Structure

Two-year program (4 semesters) — 60 credits

Semester 1

Graduate Studio Seminar I — 6

Issues in Art History & Visual Culture — 3

Photography as a Cultural Practice — 3

Studio Elective — 3

Semester 2

Graduate Studio Seminar II — 6

Art History or Critical Studies Elective — 3

Art in Context or Professional Studies Elective — 3

Studio Elective — 3

Semester 3

Graduate Studio Seminar II — 6

Art History or Critical Studies Elective — 3

Professional Studies Elective II — 3

Studio Elective — 3

Semester 4

Graduate Studio Seminar IV — 6

Thesis Studio (studio exclusively for thesis work) — 6

Professional Studies Elective II — 3

Graduate Studio Seminar I–IV

Consisting of a full day of activity on a weekly basis, the Graduate Studio Seminar is a team taught course with a core faculty and Visiting Artist/Scholar. Engaging with a variety of aspects surrounding their work, students will be consistently producing and refining their portfolios in Seminar, while simultaneously relating their work to historical and contemporary art concerns. Each week includes studio critique, discussion of conceptual issues, and response to course readings. Through four semesters of Graduate Studio Seminar and Graduate Thesis Seminar, students will produce a strong and resolved portfolio that will culminate with their graduate thesis exhibition and catalogue.

Visiting Artist Component

The Visiting Artist/Scholar component is a key element of the MFA in Photography and Integrated Media program and is intended to promote curricular flexibility and a timely reflection, and response, to the constantly changing identity of photography in the 21st century.

Each semester, a Visiting Artist/Scholar will be teamed with a core faculty member and 12 MFA in Photography and Integrated Media candidates for an intensive studio and critical studies experience. Visiting Artists will be leaders in the medium and will include contemporary artists, historians, curators, and theorists. Recent and upcoming Visiting Artists include Luis González Palma, Vicki Goldberg, Keith Carter, Sebastião Salgado, Holly Roberts, Dan Estabrook, David Hilliard, Lyle Rexer, Roy Flukinger, Matt Saunders, John Stilgoe, Susan Bright, Deborah Luster, Alison Nordström and Eleanor Carucci, Lucy Soutter, and Deb Todd Wheeler.

Studio Elective

Students choose three studio electives from a list of eligible courses offered at the College of Art and Design, largely inclusive of most current studio courses. Advanced studio work may be requested in the form of independent study

Art History or Critical Studies Elective

Students will take Photography as a Cultural Practice in Semester I. In following semesters they will take two additional courses from a pre-selected list of eligible Art History/Critical Studies offerings from within the University. Advanced art history and critical studies work may be requested in the form of independent study.

Photography as a Cultural Practice

Considering the capacity of Photography to reflect and define cultural mores, this seminar will explore the historical and contemporary nuances of the medium as a social and political object. The complex shifts within photography in a digital context will be discussed, as well as the technological, conceptual, and artistic relationships between photography and other mediums. Creative engagement with these concerns will be a major component of the seminar, and class projects will provide a means for students to apply their own photographic interests and refine their practice. A variety of contemporary methodologies to engage with culture will be presented, such as the use of composite, erasure, integration of text, and appropriation of media images. Classes will also be comprised of field trips to area exhibits, resources, and talks, as well as class visits by working artists.

Issues in Visual Culture

This course accounts for 3 of the art history and critical studies requirements and focuses on the interrelationship between art and society. Accordingly, students examine the role of visual culture and artistic practice within the context of everyday life. To accomplish this task, we address a wide range of contemporary issues relating to the many connections between art and society. To help tackle these issues, we read essays by artists, critics, and theoreticians who have been instrumental in defining our understanding of visual culture over the past three decades.

Professional Studies Elective

Candidates select three  / 3-credit options during their course of study to advance their individual professional aspirations. These can include (but are not limited to): internships, undergraduate teaching assistantships, mentored independent studies, traditional coursework (in areas such as art therapies, business, or art education, and 3 to 4 competitive adjunct faculty teaching fellowships per year.

Thesis Studio Seminar

The MFA in Photography and Integrated Media thesis is the capstone of the graduate school experience and asks the candidate to critically reflect on their creative practice, work and methodologies, and to construct a scaffolding where their concepts and process are contextualized, clearly defined and visualized… it is the artist’s voice on multiple levels. MFA candidates will be expected to discuss their individual plans for a thesis during the mid-year juries at the conclusion of their third semester, and subsequently required to write a multi-page synopsis detailing their proposal and direction. This synopsis must be submitted to the Director of the MFA program and the Visiting Artist / Scholar who will be co-teaching the MFA Thesis Studio Seminar for approval before the MFA candidate begins the writing process and visual component. MFA Thesis Studio Seminar is a Pass / Fail or SIP (Still in Progress) course where the written component is emphasized. The visual components will carry equal weight in the final jury but will be the focus of Graduate Studio Seminar IV. Seminar participation, thesis exhibition and catalogue, and final MFA Thesis jury defense are integrated into the final evaluation.

Degree Requirements

Required Core Graduate Photography Courses (33 credits)

IGRPH 5100Photography as a Cultural Practice


IGRPH 6100Graduate Studio Seminar and Critical Studies I


IGRPH 6200Graduate Studio Seminar and Critical Studies II


IGRPH 7300Graduate Studio and Critical Studies Seminar III


IGRPH 7400Graduate Studio and Critical Studies Seminar IV


ITHPH 7500Thesis Studio Seminar


Thesis Studio- a one-semester course taken in the final semester *: 6 credits MFA students would be required to attend a Critique and Core Studies Seminar for each semester of the program, and to complete the Thesis Studio in order to graduate.

Professional Studies Electives (9 credits)

IGRPH Professional Studies Electives


IGRPH Professional Studies Electives


IGRPH Professional Studies Electives


Professional Studies Electives (9 credits)

The following courses may fulfill the professional studies elective requirements.

IGRPH 7089 Studio Assistantship

IGRPH 7880 Internship

IGRPH 7992 Teaching Fellowship

IGRPH 7999 Independent Study

Professional Studies Elective- Choose three 3 credit options: 9 credits total. Options can include: internships, adjunct faculty teaching fellowships, teaching assistantships, mentored independent studies, practicum or traditional course work in an area such as business management or art education.

Art History and Critical Studies Requirements (9 credits)

IAHIS 5100Issues in Art History and Visual Culture


IAHIS/IPHOT Art History & Critical Studies Courses


IAHIS/IPHOT Art History & Critical Studies Courses


The following is a sample of Art History & Critical Studies Electives

MFA Photography students must take two 3 credit Art History/Critical Studies Electives

In addition to the sample list of courses below, students may also take any 5000-level IAHIS Art History course

IGRPH 5200Advanced Topics in Photography


IGRPH 5300Advanced Topics: Exhibitions and Publications


IPHOT 5122Professional Directions


IPHOT 5740Art in Context


INTDS 5600Writing & the Creative Process


Studio Electives (9 credits)

Studio Elective


Studio Elective


Studio Elective


MFA in Photography Additional Requirements in Studio Electives

Any course cross-listed as a MFA in Photography Studio Elective must have additional assignments/expectations to reflect the appropriate level or the amount of student learning expected of the MFA candidate.  This can be in the form of extra writing, studio projects, critical thinking research, communications and / or participation.  This will need to be reflected in the syllabus and defined for the MFA student. Every MFA student is required to accomplish the added requirements and demonstrate a higher level of achievement and / or proficiency in the studio electives as determined and required by the instructor.  


Harvard University Ceramics Program

Photographic Resource Center, Boston

Paul Taylor Printmaking

Project Nica, Nicaragua

Maine Media Workshops

Santa Fe Photography Workshops

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

Boston Magazine

Boston Public Schools

Cambridge Public Schools

“We see our program as a collaborative adventure inventing a new model for MFA programs in Photography. We are cognizant that the medium itself is currently undergoing great change and rather than become yet another traditional MFA, we want to lead the way into what is becoming the new photography, both in how it is taught and practiced.”

–Christopher James


MFA in Photo and Integrated Media Program

“The program has been a unique mix of intensive group seminars and individualized meetings, as well as a variety of choice in electives. The visiting artist program is particularly valuable, providing informed outside perspectives and important connections within the greater artistic community.”

–Lindsay Rogers,

MFA candidate


“Many prestigious graduate programs are built upon decades old reputations and philosophies that have a void between traditional practices and contemporary media. The new LUCAD MFA program is creating a new path in the medium of photography, theory, and practice; I simply wanted to be here at the beginning of a program that is innovative.

Michael Donner, MFA Photography and Integrated Media graduate

“I would tell someone considering applying to the program to do it! At LUCAD there is a commitment to individual goals. This individualized approach paired with access to a wide range of instructors who are also practicing photographers and artists, with expertise in a variety of genres, make LUCAD the ideal place to earn an MFA in photography. I decided to enroll in the MFA program because I desired a support system of peers and educators to help me strengthen my voice as a photographer. I was looking for a way to have a clearer understanding of the "why" I make photographs and the best way to communicate that "why." At LUCAD I am finding the answers to why.

Jess Somers, MFA Photography and Integrated Media graduate

I wanted to go somewhere that was open to experimentation through time and media and did not limit me to a prescribed idea of what contemporary photography is and should be.  I was also very interested with the fact that this is a brand new program.  Being one of the first students in a MFA program gives a unique ability to really help shape the program and make a name for it.  

Aris Sandoval, MFA Photography and Integrated Media graduate

Core Faculty

CHRISTOPHER JAMES, University Professor, Director, MFA Photography

MAT, Rhode Island School of Design, 1971


CHRISTINE COLLINS, Chair BFA Photography, MFA, Massachusetts College of Art and Design


DAN ESTABROOK, Photography, B.A. Harvard University, MFA University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


ZIAD HAMZEH, Photography, Film, Screenwriting, MA, California State University, Los Angeles


BENJAMIN SLOAT, Photography, MFA, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


ANGELA MITTIGA, Photography, Ed.M. Harvard University and MFA Massachusetts College of Art & Design


SUNANDA SANYAL, Photography (History), Critical Theory, Associate

Professor, PhD, Emory University



SUSAN BRIGHT, Author & Curator, National Portrait Gallery, Acting Director MA Photography at Sotheby’s, London

KEITH CARTER, Photographer & author, University Professor, Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas

ELINOR CARUCCI, Photographer & author, School of Visual Arts, NYC

JOSE FALCONI, Curatorial Studies, PhD, Harvard University

ROY FLUKINGER, PhD, Senior Curator of Photography & Film, Ransom Humanities Research Center, U. Texas, Austin

MERRY FORESTA, Curatorial Studies & author, Founding Director of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative

VICTORIA GOLDBERG, Author of 20 photographic monographs & critic, New York Times for 13 years

LUIS GONZALEZ PALMA, Photographer, author & educator

ANDY GRUNDBERG, Photography critic New York Times, author, Corcoran College of Art & Design

DAVID HILLIARD, Photographer & author, Harvard University and Massachusetts College of Art & Design

DEBORAH LUSTER, Photographer, author, artist & educator  

ALISON NORDSTROM, PhD, former Senior Curator & Director of Exhibitions, George Eastman House

LYLE REXER, Author, curator, critic and educator, Professor, School of Visual Arts, NYC University

HOLLY ROBERTS, Photographer & author, Corrales, NM

SEBASTIAO SALGADO, Photographer, author, journalist, educator

MATT SAUNDERS, Photographer, filmmaker, artist & educator, professor, Harvard University

LUCY SOUTTER, Author, artist, curator, Sotheby’s Institute and Royal College of Art, London

JOHN STILGOE, Author and Educator, Harvard University

DIANA STOLL, Curatorial Studies, former Senior Editor of Aperture Magazine

DEB TODD WHEELER, Photographer and educator, Massachusetts College of Art & Design

JOE WOLIN, Author, critic & historian, Professor, Parson School of Design and SMFA