Interview with Ms. Sherri Smith, Association Dean for Graduate Studies

Interview with Ms. Sherri Smith, Association Dean for Graduate Studies

at University of Michigan School of Art and Design

What are the top three reasons that students choose to pursue a graduate degree in the visual arts?

  1. They wish to teach at the college level
  2. They seek a stimulating environment to advance their work
  3. They wish to become Medical Illustrators

Professionally speaking, why should students pursue graduate programs in art? What advantages can they attain from it? When is the best time to pursue one?

They can obtain the above benefits, plus a long term network of other artists/designers. Any time, right after undergrad degree not important.

What are the three most important factors that prospective students should consider when evaluating and choosing a graduate program in the visual arts?

Faculty teaching in their area; Program of study; Quality of grad students; Financial aid.

How is your graduate art program different than those at other schools? How is technology integrated into your programs?

Our program is different than others in that the requirements for art studio classes are completely open. Any 36 credits. And we place more stress on connections with the rest of the university than most schools. We require 15 credits grad. Level classes outside the school of art and design.

How selective are graduate schools for the visual arts, and what are some hot tips for getting accepted?

We are quite selective. A quality portfolio is the most important.

How do most students fund their graduate education? How available are scholarships and other forms of financial assistance at your school?

Our offer to most students is to pay half tuition. Graderships and teaching assistantships are available.

Can an MFA include a focus on just about any visual art discipline? What's the difference between an MFA with a specialization and an MA in any given specialty?

Yes. An MFA require twice the credits and is considered the professional degree.

How does your school help its students to find jobs in the visual arts?

We maintain files of job announcements and help them any way we can.

Tell us about some of your MFA graduates.

We have a student now who is deeply interested in both the visual arts and Latin American literature. She does fantastic drawings of kitchen utensils and collages them together, or makes gain composite versions. She has taken up film and video using the same images since coming here. She has given wonderful talks to various audiences, and is spending the summer in Panama doing research. The whole faculty admires her.

Tell us about some of your noteworthy faculty.

Too many fine ones for this document.

Please write and answer other questions you think of that would benefit prospective students.

  1. What kind of students are best suited for your program?
    Mature ones who not only have a well worked out direction to their work but who will benefit from the richness of offerings at a major research university.
  2. Are your faculty interested in working with graduate students?
    Yes, almost all are deeply committed and enjoy working with students in their own discipline and others.
  3. What are the other students like? What is the atmosphere?
    Our students are open and cooperative with each other, help each other rather than behave competitively.

Graduate Program Profile:School of Art and Design, University of Michigan Enrollment: 37 grad, 500 undergrad

School Tuition (in-state/out-of-state): Out of state grad $11,000 semester; In state grad $5423 per semester

Student/Faculty Ratio: 1/1.3

Graduation rate: 95%

Graduate degrees and programs offered in visual arts: MFA Art, MA Art, MFA Medical and Biological Visualization

Related Articles