2023-2024 Graduate Academic Catalog

College of Art and Design

Welcome MFA Candidates,


The College of Art and Design at Lesley University [LA+D] has been shaping the careers of professional artists, designers, innovators, and inventors for over 100 years. Founded by Roy Davidson as the School of Practical Art in 1912, the mission was to “train students to become professional artists so they could put their talents to work in rewarding creative fields.” We continue to uphold this mission today, encouraging students to explore and experiment during the creative process while nurturing a critical dialogue for an advanced arts practice.


Our two Masters in Fine Arts programs, the full residency MFA in Photography and Integrated Media, and the MFA in Visual Arts Low-Residency, unite craft, concept, context, personality, and professional priority. The curriculum incorporates rigorous studio practice with critical and cultural exposure, blending traditional knowledge and skill with the capacity to influence a rapidly changing world. The goal of the MFA Degrees is to foster a community of passionate artist-scholars with a strong work ethic, while emphasizing play in learning.


MFA Visual Arts (Low-Residency)

The MFA in Visual Arts Low-Residency program centers on your interdisciplinary exploration, where you integrate various visual arts media over a sustained investigation of cultural contexts. This approach fosters a dynamic and enriching learning experience as you delve into the interconnectedness of different artistic forms while understanding their relevance in your exploration. The program provides you with the tools and expertise to refine your individual vision. Advance your study of art history, culture, and critical thinking through rigorous academic exposure. Increase awareness for how your work relates to contemporary audiences and increasingly global themes. Broaden your knowledge of the visual arts as a profession through attending seminars in professional development, including exhibitions, grant writing, commissions, and media presentations.


The Low-Residency MFA Visual Arts program is specifically designed to integrate your creative thesis seamlessly into your daily life. With a flexible structure, the program allows you to complete your graduate degree while balancing busy schedules and life responsibilities. The program includes two ten-day residencies at the Lesley campus, fostering community building, stimulating conversations, and constructive critiques. After the residencies, you continue your work from home, while artist mentors work closely with you to provide a personalized course of study to help you excel in your craft. These mentors nurture your unique point of view while equipping you with analytical tools essential for a breadth of study and depth of visual expression.


MFA Photography and Integrated Media

Photography sits at the nexus of art and culture. The MFA in Photography and Integrated Media program emphasizes concept and craft, integrating rigorous studio practice, critical and professional studies, and the integration of contemporary media. The program merges established and contemporary technologies through state-of-the-art digital technologies contrasted with alternative, historical, and integrated media processes. Recent thesis catalogues showcase diverse projects, including alternative processes, artist’s books, video, installation, performance, music, chemistry, digital imaging, photo-integrated sculpture, and fine arts like ceramics, painting, and drawing.


A major component of the MFA in Photography program is the Visiting Artist / Scholars integration with Graduate Studio Seminar, as the program fully integrates these outstanding guests as a key component of the learning experience. Visiting Artists and Scholars include Dan Estabrook, Vicki Goldberg, Keith Carter, Luis Gonzalez Palma, Lyle Rexer, Susan Bright, Roy Flukinger, Holly Roberts, Matt Saunders, David Hilliard, John Stilgoe, Deborah Luster, Andy Grundberg, Merry Foresta, Alison Nördstrom, Elinor Carucci, Sebastião Salgado, Jose Falconi, Mark Dion, and Lucy Soutter.


The work cultivated through your intensive MFA experience will serve as a powerful catalyst for your next creative venture in the professional art world and beyond. We are thrilled to embark on this transformative journey involving your artistic growth and accomplishments. We look forward to working with you!


Heather Shaw

Associate Dean and Head of Art + Design