Purdue News

September 28, 2004

Purdue liberal arts offers MFA degree for art and design

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Starting in fall 2005, Purdue University's School of Liberal Arts will offer a master of fine arts (MFA) degree for students in its division of art and design in the Patti and Rusty Rueff Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

Derrick Stanley
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"Our master students in the division of art and design graduate after two intensive years of creating the quality of work that would certainly earn them an MFA elsewhere," said David Sigman, visual and performing arts professor and head of the department. "Many of our master graduates go to MFA programs at other institutions outside of Indiana.

"For graduate students who seek an academic career, the MFA degree is a requirement of employment. Those who seek careers in the design fields find that professional advancement to managerial positions is often contingent upon possession of the MFA degree. The MFA will help to retain our students as well as to attract new applicants who seek a graduate program consistent with professional and market expectations."

The MFA, which requires 60 hours of coursework, is the visual arts academic equivalent of the doctorate. It will replace the current 33-hour master of arts degree in the disciplines of design and studio arts. Earlier this summer, the Purdue Board of Trustees and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education approved the proposal to offer the MFA degree. The MFA is already offered at Purdue in creative writing in the Department of English and in theater.

"The faculty in the division of art and design at Purdue have well-established reputations in their disciplines and have an impressive records of exhibitions and lectures at both national and international levels," Sigman said. "The new Visual and Performing Arts building houses more than a dozen computer labs designed for and dedicated to the visual and performing arts, numerous design studios with integrated technology, and state-of-the-art facilities. Digital photography, digital sound production, visualization of three-dimensional objects and spaces, digitized design and the production of textiles and motion capture are just some of the technological capabilities of this new facility."

The division of art and design, which moved into the new visual and performing arts building in fall 2003, includes the disciplines of studio arts, design, art history and art education. The MFA will be offered towards the studio arts – painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, textiles, sculpture, ceramics and metals – and industrial, interior and visual communications design. Visual communications design includes the creation of logos, corporate identity systems, package design, interface and motion graphics.

Lisa Lee Peterson, professor and director of graduate studies in the division of art and design, said the division will accept applications for the MFA beginning this November for the fall 2005 academic year. Total graduate enrollments will be maintained at the current limit of 35 students. Current students in the master of arts degree program can finish their master's degree or apply to the MFA degree program.

"We know there is a interest in the MFA at Purdue because each year we receive more than 200 requests – from the U.S. and abroad – from students attracted by the quality of Purdue graduate programs in design and the studio arts," Peterson said. "In addition to our reputation, the ability to offer competitive stipends and individual studio space for graduates will help us attract strong applicants to our graduate programs."

The Patti and Rusty Rueff Department of Visual and Performing Arts, which is home to Theatre@Purdue and the Purdue Repertory Dance Company, was created in 1966. The department has 978 undergraduates majors and 65 graduate students, and MFAs in the divisions theater and art and design.

"The faculty of the division of art and design work closely with the College of Engineering and the schools of Science, Agriculture and Technology to explore and teach new technologies that are revolutionizing the studio arts and the design fields, as well as stimulate both graduate and undergraduate research in art, design and digital technology," Sigman said. "Because of Purdue's special academic and technological capabilities, we approach our 40th anniversary with a program in the visual and performing arts that is not duplicated at any other college or university."

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: David Sigman, (765) 494-3056, dsigman@sla.purdue.edu

Lisa Lee Peterson, (765) 494-3062, lisalee@sla.purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


Derrick Stanley, a first-year master's degree student in drawing and printmaking from Indianapolis, works on a charcoal drawing. Next fall, Purdue will offer a master of fine arts (MFA) for the students in division of art and design. The MFA, which requires 60 hours of course work, is the creative arts academic equivalent of the doctorate. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2004/sigman-mfa.jpg


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