What are the technical requirements for the program?
All incoming students are required to own a laptop with the following minimum specifications:

  • Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
  • The latest Mac Operating System (currently v10.9 or v10.10)
  • At least 8 GB of RAM (16 GB recommended)
  • A 256 GB hard drive, 7200 RPM or faster (flash storage recommended)
  • At least 10 GB of available hard-disk space for installation and to preview/work on files
  • An Adobe-certified GPU card with at least 1 GB of VRAM
  • A 1280×800 display (2880×1800 recommended)
  • Must be able to connect to the Internet

    Students are also required to purchase the following:

  • A portable external hard drive with storage of at least 1 TB
  • A yearly subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud software suite

    NOTE: The MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department is a Macintosh-based studio program and cannot support PC platforms.

    Where can I find tuition and fee information?
    All tuition and fees are listed on the main sva.edu site here along with information about housing, health services, international student concerns, and much more.

    What kind of work do you look for in students or prospectives?
    The department makes great efforts to attract students that are diverse in practice, background, and career goals. The curriculum encourages students to experiment outside of their normal working habits in an effort to expand their creative inquiry. As a result, the department doesn’t favor any particular visual aesthetic. We are committed to supporting and nurturing each student’s individual creative trajectory.

    How big is the department, and how many people are accepted each year?
    There are currently 70 students total in the MFA Photo/Video department. The rate of admission varies from around 15% - 20% in any given year.

    Do students get their own studio space?
    Because each of our students have very different individual needs, we provide flexible classroom, studio, and lab spaces in lieu of smaller, assigned studios. We do maintain two installation spaces in the building which can be reserved on a weekly basis, and also provide an option for students to apply for more permanent studio space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The Greenpoint spaces are awarded on a semesterly basis to students who have demonstrated a need for a long-term space via a detailed proposal. A call to fill any vacant studio space in this location is sent out to every student before the end of each semester.

    Can graduate students take classes in other departments?
    All registered graduate students may audit two undergraduate and/or continuing education courses per academic year, including the summer session. Students do not receive credit or grades for audited courses. Students auditing courses do not have to pay for tuition for those courses, but are responsible for registration and any lab fees applicable to the course(s) audited. Audits are subject to class size limitations, and instructor’s permission. These audits are often used for interdisciplinary study or for additional software instruction. Courses in other graduate departments may not be audited.

    Can I transfer credits from another program?
    Up to 15 credits may be transferred toward your SVA Masters of Fine Arts degree. Transfer credits will only be accepted from another accredited MFA, MS, or MA degree program. Additionally, the department you enter will only accept credits for courses that concur with courses they offer. Any student wishing to transfer credits from another institution should submit course descriptions and/or syllabi with the application. For more information on transferring credits, please contact the department.

    Can I double major?
    Graduate students may not matriculate or take courses in more than one graduate department (for example: MFA Photography/Video and MFA Computer Art). Students may, however, concentrate in different areas within the MFA Photography/Video department (for example: video and installation).

    Are there summer classes?
    The department does not offer any summer classes. Registered students may audit continuing education and undergraduate courses over the summer. Students who pay a summer access fee may check out cage equipment for use over the summer, and may utilize the computer labs through July.

    How big are the classes?
    Critique courses are generally limited to 10 students. Studio classes range in size from 10 to 12 students. Academic courses range from 12 to 15 students.

    What are the course requirements?
    Master Critique is required every semester. Students must also take Introduction to Digital Imaging, Historical Perspectives, Criticism & Theory, and Contemporary Issues classes, and a minimum of 60 credits. Interdisciplinary exploration within the department is permitted and encouraged. All students are also required to take Thesis Project, Thesis Forms I & II, and complete an approved thesis project. Students meet with the department’s Academic Advisor and Chair to determine which courses are appropriate for their planned course of study.

    What software is offered?
    Courses are not application-specific. Studio classes are usually a combination of theory, critique, and software instruction. Widely used software includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Premiere, and AfterEffects. Students desiring intensive software instruction are recommended to audit undergraduate or continuing education classes.

    What kind of lab facilities does the department have?
    The department has approximately 30 Mac Pro computer stations for still and moving image editing, as well as high-end peripherals like film scanners, flatbed print scanners, and inkjet printers. Hardware and software is state-of-the-art and updated every year. Please see the Facilities page for more information.

    How much help is available for students in the labs?
    There are, on average, 6 lab assistants available each semester who work in the computer and video labs, available to answer any lab questions that arise. There is also a systems administrator who oversees the lab operations.

    What about analog photography?
    Due to the quick turnaround required for most classes and real-world assignments, the department encourages the use of digital printing. Many students do shoot with film, scan, and print digitally, but very few students’ output is completely analog. However, if you require the use of a darkroom, you may see the Academic Advisor to register for “MFA Darkroom” in order to use the undergraduate black-and-white gang darkroom.

    What is the thesis?
    Each student must complete a thesis to graduate from the department. A thesis is a significant body of creative work and a research paper. The medium and format of the thesis is the students’ choice. Students generally choose from one of the following disciplines: photography, video, interactive media, or installation. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged. Thesis critique classes meet weekly, wherein students present and discuss their work.

    Do you have a mentoring program?
    Students in their Thesis (final) year may choose or be assigned a Thesis Advisor – usually an artist, editor, writer, or other authority outside the MFA Photo/Video faculty – to meet with them during the Spring semester of their Thesis year. This provides another point of reference and feedback for Thesis students, as well as a valuable networking opportunity. A list of current and past Thesis Advisors can be found here: Lecturers and Thesis Advisors.

    What kinds of jobs can I get with this degree?
    MFA Photography, Video & Related Media has been the starting place for professionals in a wide range of disciplines and fields, including fine art, commercial photography, video production, editing, college-level education, web design, curating, multimedia production, and museum & gallery management. This department does not subscribe to the belief in a singular career goal for all MFA grads, rather, it recognizes the wide range of roles and varieties of impact that creative interlocutors have in society. Students who graduate from this program are armed with professional level skills and critical contextual knowledge to pursue unique, challenging, and memorable careers of their own choice and volition. SVA also has a useful Career Development office, which supports students and alumni in life after SVA.

    How rigorous is the program?
    Students in the program are expected to produce work or complete technical based assignments at least every other week for critique or other classes. At the same time, they are expected to participate in meaningful group discussions in all their classes. For some students, this can be a difficult transition as they learn discipline and the rigor of making work at this pace. Faculty and peers will quickly get to know what you are capable of producing and will challenge you creatively, intellectually and technically. In addition, the program has an academic component to further your knowledge in critical analysis, theory, and history in order to flesh out the context of your creative inquiry.