Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in the visual arts?
I have been a professional artist for some time but decided to go back to school to get my MFA in the event that one day I might want to teach at the University level, also it was a good way to get re-involved full time with painting.
How did you decide that it was the right time for you to pursue one?
I decided that putting it off longer wouldn't be a good idea.
What are the most important factors that you considered when evaluating and choosing a graduate program in the visual arts?
I felt it was important to consider the art of the teachers I was going to be studying with. If I felt they had something to offer me I would consider taking from them.
Were there any important qualities about your school which made it stand out more than the others on your list of possibilities?
I met with the teachers and saw some of their artwork. I felt that the teachers at USM had a great deal to offer me personally. I also felt that there would be a much greater teacher student ratio at USM, which turned out to be the case. There are at present only three graduate students, so the teacher student ratio is very good.
Given what you now know, what are tips could you provide for other students with regard to choosing and getting accepted into school?
First I would make sure that the methods and theories of art being taught at the school suit your own personal art or the art you want to eventually create. Some schools teach more illustrative methods, and others lean more heavily on theory. I think it is important to interview the teachers to see if they are people you will be able to learn from. It is important to select a school based on your own needs.
How did you fund your graduate education? How available were scholarships and other forms of financial assistance?
I was awarded an assistantship. I believe there are one or two available.
Exactly what is your graduate degree?
MFA. Since it is a terminal degree the MFA is far preferrable to the MA since it involves more work and study and from what I have heard from people who actually help in hiring people with MFA's are almost always considered over those who hold only MA's.
How does your school help its students to find jobs in the visual arts? What are your employment goals?
I'm not sure if USM helps students find jobs after they receive their degrees. There are lists available of jobs opening up in various parts of the country. It is my intention to continue painting on a professional level and perhaps teach if an opportunity arises that I find agreeable.
Tell us about your education at your graduate school. What did you like and dislike about it?
At USM I have taken courses from teachers who have challenged my views on art creating. IT has been an excellent environment to challenge myself and grow visually. IT has not been easy or always enjoyable, but in my undergraduate programs I didn't get a very good foundation in design, composition or theory, and here at USM those are stressed to a strong degree, which has been good for me since I was lacking in those areas previously. My approach to painting and drawing is gradually changing in a dramatic way for what I hope to be the better. I have become much more aware of the visual dialogue and have had things stirred up in ways that would not have happened had I remained out of school.
How much difference does a good teacher make? Tell us about one good and one bad experience that you had.
I believe that most teachers have something to offer. Of course a teacher that challenges one isn't necessarily always a nice teacher. All the teachers I've had thus far at USM have been excellent in their field. I think a good teacher can make a great deal of difference in a students personal growth depending on how receptive the student is.
Graduate Program Profile: University of Southern Mississippi, Department of Art
Enrollment: Graduate:2,027; Undergraduate: 10,792
School Tuition (in-state/out-of-state): Undergraduate: In-State: $1,488; Out of State: $3,452
Student/Faculty Ratio: 1:17.2
Graduation rate: 44%
Graduate degrees and programs offered in visual arts: Master of Art Education; Master of Fine Art in Painting and Drawing