Graduate Student Resources

The School of Art offers Master of Fine Arts Arts (MFA) degrees in Two-Dimensional Studies, Three Dimensional Studies, and Digital Arts. We also offer Master of Arts (MA) degrees in Art History and Art Education.

Within these programs students will find a broad range of studio and academic disciplines housed in outstanding facilities. These various disciplines are united by a deep commitment to craft and technical development sustained by rigorous examination of contextual and conceptual issues informing students' work. In the graduate programs at BGSU, we strive to create a productive community of diverse artists and scholars unified by our commitment to excellence. Students come to BGSU from all over the United States and the world. Graduates of our programs continue to achieve an uncommon level of professional recognition, both in terms of exhibition success and in obtaining college and university teaching positions.

All students accepted into the program with a MFA graduate assistantship are awarded shared studios, most often adjacent to the facilities and classrooms where they will be working and teaching. In addition, there is a graduate student workroom/lounge equipped with computers and a printer for work with digital imaging or the writing of papers. Graduate student mailboxes are also located there, announcements are posted, and the room serves as an informal meeting and lunch space.

Performance and Obligation of Assistantship
In articulating School policies related to graduate assistantships, our guiding principle is that the student's academic and assistantship responsibilities are closely interrelated. The School of Art strives to be a campus leader in its sensitivity to the academic needs of graduate students. To this end, we should maintain, whenever possible, our commitment to keeping first-year graduate assistants from teaching. Asking inexperienced young artists to teach can be harmful to their academic progress and does not support the broader educational goals of the School.

In turn, the student must remember, whether working in a technical support capacity or teaching a course, that when they accept an assistantship from the School they are also accepting an obligation to carry out all assigned responsibilities in a competent and professional manner. If a student fails to live up to the terms of their contract, either by not meeting minimum academic requirements or by not adequately performing their responsibilities, they face serious consequences including the potential loss of the assistantship.

Technical Assistantships
In their first year of study, the student will normally be assigned to a technical/administrative support role in the School. It is the policy of the School of Art that, whenever possible, an incoming graduate student on assistantship will not be assigned to teaching. Exceptions will only be made with the approval of the Director, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Division Head. The nature of technical duties assigned will be determined by the Graduate Coordinator working in conjunction with the Director and the Division Chairs.

During Orientation/GradStep Week (one week prior to the beginning of classes), the first-year graduate assistant meets with the Graduate Coordinator to discuss and receive an assistantship assignment. The Coordinator will make every effort to match student abilities and experience with School requirements. After receiving the assignment, the student meets with the immediate work supervisor to plan a weekly schedule balancing the student's academic schedule (including ample independent studio time) with the carrying out of necessary functions.

.25 assignment = 10 hours per week .38 assignment = 15 hours per week .44 assignment = 18 hours per week .50 assignment = 20 hours per week

Teaching Assistantships
If a student is making satisfactory academic progress and has performed well in their first year technical assistantship, they will normally be assigned a teaching assistantship in their second year of study; pending availability of sections.

However, the student must remember that teaching is a privilege that will not automatically be extended. At the beginning of the Spring Semester prior to a student's second year of study, the Graduate Coordinator, together with the Division Heads and the School's Director and/or Associate Director will review the student's performance of his/her technical assistantship, as well as his/her academic and studio work. In rare circumstances a student may be judged not ready to teach, in which case they will be re-assigned to a technical assistantship. A more common outcome of the meeting will be that a student, while ready to teach, will be assigned to meet regularly with a faculty mentor. This activity is in addition to the requirement to enroll in ART 693 Pedagogy during the student's first semester of teaching.

The Graduate Coordinator will work with the Area Heads employing teaching assistants, as well as the First-Year Program Coordinator to determine the exact course assignment. A graduate student engaged in teaching must adhere to the same standards and codes of conduct applicable to all University faculty as described in the Faculty Handbook. It is the responsibility of the graduate student to learn and abide by these standards.

Since in most cases the student is teaching for the first time, Area Heads and the Graduate Coordinator should closely supervise his/her progress. If a student is struggling in the classroom, the Graduate Coordinator should be notified and a plan of action formulated to address the perceived problem. Most students will face difficulties stemming from inexperience with organization, writing a syllabus, developing assignments, grading, language difficulties, etc. However, difficulties arising from behavior such as chronic lateness, absence from class, or harassment of students based upon gender, race, or sexual orientation will not be tolerated.

If such problems are identified, the Division Chair and Area Head in charge of the area in which the student is teaching will meet with the student to determine the nature and cause of the problem and to determine a solution. If, after a set period of time the Division Head or Area Coordinator judges the meeting ineffective, the student will be placed on probation for the remainder of the semester. If there is a recurrence of the problem at any point in the remainder of the semester, the student's teaching assistantship will not be renewed for the following semester. If the misconduct occurs during a student's final semester in residence, the student risks not being awarded the degree.

Academic Standing
In order to remain on a School of Art graduate assistantship, either in studio support or teaching, students must be in good academic standing with the University and be making satisfactory progress toward a degree. Good academic standing is defined in the Graduate Catalog as:

  • 3.0 GPA
  • no more than two incompletes at any one time.
  • timely completion of departmental requirements other than coursework such as comprehensive exams, thesis research, foreign language requirements, etc. by departmental deadlines.
  • the absence of any suspensions, probations, or other disciplinary sanctions as described in the Student Affairs Handbook.

Satisfactory academic progress in a program also involves maintaining the standards of academic and professional integrity expected in a particular discipline or program; failure to maintain these standards may result in the academic dismissal.

A course taken for graduate credit in which a D was received may not be used to meet degree requirements, nor to meet the minimum credit hour requirements for a graduate degree; however, the hours and grade are used to compute the cumulative grade point average. If a graduate student repeats a course, each grade received is counted in computing the cumulative grade point average. To compute GPA, the total number of points (on the 4.0 scale) is divided by the total number of hours undertaken for graduate credit, excluding courses in which the marks INC, IP, S, U, or W/P are recorded.

Academic Dismissal
It is possible for a student to lose funding at the end of a term and be placed on probation (without funding) for the subsequent term. Graduate students are required to demonstrate "satisfactory progress toward the degree" in order to maintain a teaching or research assistantship. Failure to make "satisfactory progress toward the degree" normally results in probation and can lead to dismissal. Satisfactory progress means that master's students must maintain an overall average of 3.0 and doctoral students must maintain a 3.2 grade average.

The Graduate College monitors all graduate student records at the end of each term once grades have been posted. A list of students whose grades fall under 3.0 (for master's students) or 3.2 (for doctoral students) is sent on to the degree program for review.

The following should be considered in cases of unsatisfactory progress. The accumulation of two or more Cs, a D, or an F should cause the student and the graduate coordinator serious concern. These grades are clear warnings to the student in question that he or she is not making acceptable progress toward the degree. Students should be notified in person about their lack of satisfactory progress and the graduate coordinator or other members of the graduate faculty should articulate clearly what the student must do to be successful.

If the Graduate College determines that a student is not in good standing at the end of a term, the student will be placed on probation, continued on probation, or dismissed; students will be notified in writing by the Graduate College. Decisions about probationary cases that are not clear-cut and dismissals will be made collaboratively between the graduate coordinator and the dean designate. When a student is continued on probation, the graduate coordinator will prepare a student success plan for the student that clearly states the outcome required for the student to remedy the academic deficiencies.

Students are rarely dismissed after only one semester of low grades unless they were conditionally admitted. However, students should not normally remain on probation for more than two semesters unless they are very close to a 3.0 or 3.2 and can demonstrate the ability to earn A's. If it is determined that a student already on probation is not likely to earn A's, dismissal should be considered in a timely fashion, rather than allowing the student to continue with little to no chance of successful completion. Final approval of dismissal rests with the graduate dean designate. If the decision is made to dismiss the student from his or her program of study, the Graduate College will notify the student in writing and the Registrar will make the proper notation on the student's record.

Academic Honesty
Academic honesty is the central value of an academic community. It is expected that graduate students will neither engage in nor facilitate cheating (using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids), fabrication (falsification or invention of any information or citation), or plagiarism (representing the words or ideas of others as one's own) in their academic work. Review the Academic Honesty Policy for more info.

The Academic Honesty Policy contains strict sanctions, including expulsion, for all forms of academic dishonesty. Students found guilty of violating other University regulations, such as engaging in moral and ethical misconduct, or in actions that are injurious to others or threaten the orderliness and well-being of the campus, are subject to equally strict sanctions in accordance with the provisions set forth in those regulation.

Supervision of Assistantships
The assistantship supervisor, normally the Division Chair or Area Head for the area in which the student is working, will monitor the weekly completion of responsibilities. If the Supervisor determines that a student is not carrying out assigned duties in an acceptable manner, the Supervisor will meet with the student to review the problem and determine a solution. The School will not tolerate:

  • Chronic unexcused lateness.
  • Chronic unexcused absence.
  • Failure to adequately perform duties, either through inattention, recklessness, or willful damage to equipment or facilities.
  • Consistent failure to observe safety rules.
  • Theft.

If, after the initial meeting, the Supervisor determines that the student's performance is not improving, the Supervisor will notify the Graduate Coordinator who will then meet with the student and the student's Graduate Advisor/Major Professor. If poor performance continues the Graduate Coordinator will make one of the following two recommendations.

  • The student will be placed on probation for a period of four weeks. If at the end of that period the student is still not meeting expectations, their assistantship will be withdrawn. If after the successful completion of the probationary period difficulties re-emerge, the student's assistantship will be withdrawn.
  • In the case of serious violations of policy, the Graduate Coordinator, in consultation with the Assistantship Supervisor, the Director and/or Associate Director of the School, and the members of the student's Graduate Review Committee, may decide to immediately revoke the assistantship. Examples of such offenses include but are not limited to: theft, vandalism, assault, and threatening or harassing behavior.

Failure to maintain any of these standards may result in a loss of funding and the student may be placed on academic probation (without funding) for the subsequent term. The following are considered indicators of unsatisfactory progress:

  • accumulation of two or more C's, a D, or an F.
  • failure to pass one of the three School of Art graduate reviews required of all M.F.A. graduate students.

If at the end of an academic semester, or at one of the three official student thesis review meetings, it is determined that a student is not in good academic standing, and not progressing toward a degree, the student's Graduate Review Committee will make one of the following recommendations:

  • If a student is not in good academic standing due to failure to pass a graduate review and a subsequent re-review the Graduate Review Committee will recommend:
    • withdrawal of assistantship funding. Student may continue in the program without assistantship. Student may reapply for assistantship after one year.
    • dismissal of the student from the program.
  • If the student is not in good academic standing through failure to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 for two consecutive semesters, the Graduate Review Committee together with the Graduate Coordinator will recommend:
    • withdrawal of assistantship funding. Student may continue without funding and has one semester to bring GPA up to 3.0 and satisfy any outstanding incompletes.
    • dismissal of the student from the program.

Other Forms of Academic Misconduct

  • Academic honesty violations including but not limited to cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, and plagiarism (consult the BGSU Student Handbook for definitions, descriptions of disciplinary procedures, and penalties).
  • Racial and ethnic harassment (consult the BGSU Student Handbook for definitions, descriptions of disciplinary procedures, and penalties).
  • Sexual harassment (consult the BGSU Student Handbook for definitions, descriptions of disciplinary procedures, and penalties).
  • Moral and ethical misconduct.

The adjudication of such offenses is governed by the policies and procedures described the University's Policy on Academic Honesty, and the BGSU Student Handbook.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Candidates for the MFA degree must complete a minimum of 60 credit hours at the graduate level (only grades of "C" or better will count as hours toward graduation).

  • 21 semester hours within studio specialization
  • 12 semester hours of studio elective courses (may come from the specialization)
  • 9 semester hours of studio critique
  • 6 semester hours of art history class
  • 3 semester hours of academic elective (must be graduate level)
  • 3 semester hours of general elective must be graduate level
  • 3 semester hours of pedagogy
  • 3 semester hours of exhibition research

Master of Art (MA) in Art History

  • 21 semester hours of coursework in Art History, of which 6 semester hours must be seminars in two different areas or periods, and at least 12 semester hours of which must be in regular lecture courses
  • 3 semester hours of studio art or related courses inside or outside the School of Art.
  • 3 semester hours of ARTH 6060 Contemporary Art Theory and Criticism
  • 3 semester hours of thesis research

The M.A. Thesis is the premier component of the M.A. program in Art History and provides a student with the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to perform in-depth research, careful argumentation, and editorial revision of his or her prose style. While the length and scope of each M.A. Thesis will depend on the individual nature of each proposed topic, the general expectation for the M.A. Thesis is that it will be an article-length research paper. This paper will be written under the guidance of three art history faculty members, one of whom will be designated as the student's first, or primary, reader/advisor. Typically the student will seek out an advisor in the appropriate field of study to serve as his or her first reader, and consult with that person on the selection of second and third readers. The student should define the paper's content, scope, and length with each of his or her readers and devise a schedule for internal and external deadlines to make sure that he or she successfully completes the M.A. Thesis within the acceptable timeframe allotted to him or her for the M.A. Program.


The M.A. Thesis is normally 40-50 pages, but in some cases (if the topic warrants it) an alternative format/length may be decided upon in consultation with the student's committee chair. The student's faculty advisors are the final arbiters as to appropriate length. While the form will be dictated in part by the student's topic and guided by your faculty advisor, a good thesis should include the following:

  • A clear definition of the nature and parameters of your research project.
  • An assessment of relevant scholarly publications in the field and how your research project draws on and/or contributes to that work.
  • A claim or critical interpretation supported by visual and textual evidence and presented in a well-structured argument.
  • An original conclusion stating your findings, the main evidence for them, and their significance.
  • All citations must be documented with notes and bibliography. All citations should conform to the conventions outlined in either the Chicago Manual of Style or the M.L.A. Handbook.
  • Your M.A. Thesis should include illustrations of the works of art most relevant to your project. Some projects will demand more illustration than others. Scans or photocopies are acceptable. Each image must have a figure number (e.g. Fig.1) and a brief caption identifying the title of the work, artist/maker, and date (where known), and the source of the image (e.g. the publication from which you copied it). Include references to figure numbers in your text, as appropriate.

Important Deadlines

Make sure that you comply with the College of Arts and Sciences deadlines in proposing and completing your thesis. For example, your thesis topic must be approved by your committee and submitted to the Graduate College prior to completing your MA comprehensive examinations, which must be passed successfully prior to writing your thesis.

For more information on the MA Thesis, see the Expectations for the Master of Arts Thesis: Division of Art History (.doc).

M.A. Comprehensive Qualifying Exam: Art History

Prospective M.A. candidates will take a comprehensive qualifying exam after they have successfully completed their required art history coursework (currently 30 hours). Generally, students should pass this exam before they receive approval of their M.A. thesis topic, but all students must share their current thesis topic idea with their advisor prior to scheduling this exam.

Scheduling of the comprehensive qualifying exam by the candidate and advisor should be done one semester in advance in order to provide sufficient preparation time for the student and faculty. Typically the exam will occur near the beginning of the student's third semester, but it may be offered at other times including during the summer. All candidates taking the exam in any one semester should take it at the same time. The exam will be administered over a two-day period with the first two parts, slide identification and essay, given on the afternoon of the first day, and the last two parts, consisting of two essays, given on the afternoon of the second day. The focus of the essays will move from broad to more specific through the two days. Half-hour breaks will be allotted between all sections of the exam.

For more information, see the Guidelines for the M.A. Comprehensive Qualifying Exam in Art History (.doc).

The MFA exhibitions, held each spring, are the culmination of student's academic experience. The thesis show, together with its supporting documentation (slides, statement, etc.) forms the basis upon which the MFA degree is awarded. The fact that a student has passed all courses and maintained the requisite grade point average does not guarantee the awarding of the degree.

Specific dates and the number of shows per year are determined by the Gallery Director in consultation with the degree candidates and the Graduate Coordinator. Each student's Graduate Review Committee must approve the work submitted for exhibition by signing a Thesis Approval Form, which is then forwarded to the Graduate College.

The exhibition must reflect current accepted professional practices in terms of hanging, presentation, and installation. The student's Thesis Review Committee acts as jury for all works, exhibition materials, (announcements, brochures, etc.) and plans. Decisions of the Review Committee are final.

The exhibition is composed of work based upon concepts and issues generated through consultation with the Graduate Review Committees. While it is impossible to specify an exact amount of work required for the show, it is understood that the work will represent a substantial effort. The Graduate Review Committee will judge whether or not a student meets the criteria.

Supporting Materials
In addition to the work produced for the exhibition, a student's thesis project also includes an exhibition brochure, documentation of work, and an artist's statement (formerly known as the "in lieu of thesis statement"), and a resume. All items must be turned in to the Graduate Coordinator by May 1st. Diplomas will not be awarded to students failing to turn in thesis support materials.

Exhibition Brochure
The brochure is either a bi-fold or tri-fold document, printed on high quality card stock. Minimum size is 4"x6". The brochure consists of:

  • a condensed (150 word minimum) version of the artist's statement.
  • a list of each item in the exhibition indicating title, dimension, and media. This list may be presented as a separate insert.
  • one or more full color reproductions of a work from the exhibition.

Documentation of Work
All work included in the MFA exhibition must be documented in the form of slides, or other appropriate means such as CD-ROM, DVD, or videotape. Slides should be labeled (no hand written labels are allowed) with student's name and title at the top, with medium, dimensions, and date at the bottom. A red dot sticker must be placed at the upper right of the image. Any other format must include the same information.

Slides must be presented in a plastic, archival quality sleeve and should have a left hand margin to allow for binding.

Artist's Statement
The final artist's statement must be at least 1500 words in length, and no longer than 2000 words. A draft should be given to the Graduate Committee Chair for editing prior to handing in the final version. The statement should include a title page with name, MFA and area of specialization, and date. Any footnotes and bibliography should be placed at the end of the document. The statement must be on 25% rag paper and printed on a laser quality printer.

Leave at least a 1.5" left margin, 1" right margin, and 1" top and bottom margins on standard 8.5"x11" pages.

The resume should be current and updated supporting your education, work, and exhibitions.

Before a student is allowed to participate in the MFA Thesis Exhibition, the student must pass a series of three reviews. The first review takes place in February of the first year, the second in November of the second year, and the third and final review in March/April of the second year. Students must pass each review in order. Only after passing the third and final review is the student cleared for participation in the MFA Exhibition.

The Graduate Review Committee
By the end of the first semester of their first year, students are required to submit to the Graduate Secretary, a list of three graduate faculty members who will comprise the student's Graduate Thesis Committee. One of the three will serve as chair/major professor, normally a faculty member from the student's area of specialization. Additional members may serve as guests and may come from outside the division or School of Art.

Students select Committee members by asking a range of faculty members to their studio for a conversation about the student's work. Based upon these conversations, students invite three faculty members to serve on the committee. Normally, committee members serve for the duration of the thesis. If a student wishes to drop a member from the thesis committee, they must notify the Graduate Advisor/Major Professor and the Graduate Coordinator and provide a substitute member.

Students should maintain regular contact with committee members between official reviews, by periodically re-inviting them to their studios to view work in progress.

Location of the Review
Reviews will be conducted in students' regular studios. If, for whatever reason, that space is inappropriate, arrangements should be made to hold the review in another location within the School (i.e. vacant classroom). Permission to use an alternate space must be obtained at least two weeks before the review.

Review Statement
At least one week prior to the review, students must submit a one-page statement of purpose to all Committee members. The documents should frame relevant issues and serve as a template for discussion during the review.

Results of Review
Immediately following the review, the Review Committee Chair will meet with the student in order to communicate the substance of the Committee's opinion on progress toward the MFA exhibition. The Committee Chair also prepares a written summary of the Committee's discussion, which is then submitted to the Graduate Secretary for inclusion in the student's permanent file.

The Graduate Review Committee will either:

  1. pass the student to the next review, or in the case of the third review, the MFA exhibition, OR
  2. deny the student's passage to the next review

Should the Committee deny passage to the next review, a "re-review" will be scheduled 4-6 weeks from the date of the first review. During this period the student must address the issues raised by the Committee and demonstrate progress toward established goals.

If, in the judgment of the Committee, the student has not progressed in addressing issues raised, the Committee will impose one of the following courses of action:

  • withdrawal of assistantship funding. (The student may continue study without funding and reapply for an assistantship in the next admission cycle. The decision will be made by the committee following a review of recent work.)
  • dismissal from the program.

Any appeal of the Committee's decision will be brought to the School of Art's Graduate Standards Committee within four weeks for discussion. Any further appeals should be filed in accordance with procedures outlined by the Graduate College.

Full time students on an assistantship must register for at least 12 credit hours per semester. Students may not take more than eighteen credit hours per semester without permission of the Graduate Coordinator and may never take more than twenty. Part-time students may register for fewer than twelve hours, though they should keep in mind that they have six years from the time they begin their degree program to complete their requirements. An extension of one year may be obtained if it is requested before the elapsing of the original six years. Students must be enrolled for at least one credit hour during the semester in which they apply for graduation. If a student leaves campus with all degree requirements completed except for a written thesis or thesis exhibition, they must register for at least one credit hour each semester until their eventual graduation. Neither the School nor the University will automatically register the students. The students must arrange registration either by coming to campus, or via mail, email, or fax. This requirement does not include summer sessions. for other rules and regulations pertaining to course registration, add/drops, etc. please consult the Graduate Catalog.

Incoming students register during the Grad/Step Orientation week, held the week before Fall classes begin. Ongoing students register by filling out a course registration form (available in the grad workroom). After obtaining the approval/signature of the Graduate Coordinator, the form is give to the graduate secretary for official registration. In order to assure accurate measurement of enrollments, it is important to register early in the registration period. Courses with perceived low enrollment are subject to cancellation.

Updated: 02/17/2019 04:14PM