Studio Practice


The studio practice MFA at CCA is a rigorous interdisciplinary program designed to foster critical thinking, self-awareness, and ambitious artistic production in a supportive environment.

The program prepares students for a long-term engagement with a contemporary arts practice through a combination of mentoring, coursework, and co-curricular opportunities that are deeply engaged in contemporary issues and in dialogue with the professional art world.

Our curriculum is designed to generate critical dialogue with faculty and visiting artists and culminates in a final exhibition of work and a written thesis. Students have the opportunity to work with a professional curator to develop and install a significant public exhibition.

We accept students through an interdisciplinary admissions process that looks for both conceptual ambition and formal excellence.

An Individually Crafted Two-Year Program

The MFA studio program is defined by deep engagement with the practices, discourses, and histories of contemporary art and its myriad disciplines -- from painting to installation to performance.

At CCA Our Students . . .

  • have access to our excellent facilities for production in ceramics, film and digital media, jewelry and metal art, glass, photography, printmaking, sculpture, 3D printing and fabrication, and textiles.
  • build practices by examining the relationship between craft and concept in their work and the work of others, whether they choose to focus in one area or work across multiple disciplines.
  • take graduate electives in Writing, Curatorial Practice, Visual and Critical Studies, Film, and Design -- or participate in our Fine Arts / Graduate Program in Visual and Critical Studies dual-degree option, earning both an MFA and MA.

As students develop or reexamine their work, or both, they are given the opportunity to individually craft a curriculum that reflects emergent practices.

In addition to our exploratory core curriculum, students receive guidance in composing a balance of theoretical, practical, and project-based courses that best suits their areas and methods of inquiry.


Our program provides a course structure that revolves around core curriculum and individual studio visits and advising.

In addition to our regular faculty, composed of active professional artists, writers, and curators, students may elect to work with artists, curators, critics as well as others and have access the Bay Area’s many fields of research.  

We offer flexibly scheduled studio research labs that allow faculty to draw on their professional connections and expertise and off-site project-based courses that encourage collaboration with external venues, institutions, or communities.

Students have a curated public thesis exhibition staged in the spring of their final year that is connected to curriculum and emphasizes gallery practice and professional development.

Teaching assistantships are offered that allow for mentored teaching experience and exposure to diverse pedagogical models.

Students also have access to selected post-graduation awards and teaching fellowships.

Visiting Artists & Curators

The program invites national and international visiting artists/critics who are linked to Fine Arts seminars, Open Critiques, and spring exhibitions.

Additionally, guests lecture, run critiques, and participate in individual studio talks.

Students benefit from our Graduate Lecture Series and the many programs and exhibitions at the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.

The Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program, organized in collaboration with Pier24 Photography and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, attracts renowned photographers for public lectures and studio visits.

See also Lecture Series »