Graduate Admissions

Interdisciplinary Arts & Media MFA

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Be Enrolled Part-Time?
Yes. You may attend as a part-time student with a minimum of 6 credits per semester; however, we recommend that you take 11 credits during the first semester to fulfill the Interdisciplinary Arts and Media discipline required courses.
When Do Classes Meet?
During the first semester, required Gateway courses meet during the day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These courses cannot be substituted. All other Interdisciplinary Arts & Media courses—such as history, theory/practice courses, and graduate studio—are offered at various times day and night. Occasionally, we offer intensive and immersive courses on weekends, but these are never required courses. Selected studio courses are offered each summer.
How Is the Program Structured?
Our MFA program is a three-year program requiring 60 credits. You may transfer in 12 graduate credits at the discretion of the department.

YEAR ONE focuses on discipline-based work in media arts, and provides students with a foundation in both professional practices and art theory.  The first semester, students are required to take five courses, four of which are two-credit gateways: Silence/Sonorous Objects, Excavating the Image, Code/Language, and Shaping Solid Light. These gateways (taken in sequence during the semester rather than simultaneously) provide conceptual and technical grounding in sound, image, code, and projection. Along with incoming students enrolled in the three graduate programs in the department, students of the Interdisciplinary Arts and Media program also take Arts as Discourse, a theory-based course. In the spring semester, students are  required to take Art as Practice—part of our four-course professional practice series geared towards helping students advance and strategize their careers, along with electives from our history courses, theory/practice courses and graduate studio electives. 

YEAR TWO is centered on interdisciplinary work through a series of thematic classes, both studio and history/theory, which will include students from across programs. Second-year students are also required to take an installation class (Space and Place OR Visual Environments), as well as Media Performance—an experimental course that examines media in the context of performance. In the spring a student's second year, they are required to take Connected Studio Practices, the second of our professional practive series of courses. Electives with any studio practices course are composed of students from both MFA programs, which will help them to further develop their body of work within an interdisciplinary atmosphere.

YEAR THREE emphasizes the deepening of a student’s practice and body of work, leading to the creation and exhibition of a thesis project. Students are required to take a year-long sequence, Thesis I and Thesis II—the final courses of our professional practice series—to prepare for their thesis exhibition.
What Kind of Background Does a Successful Applicant Typically Have?
We are looking for students who have an ongoing creative practice, regardless of undergraduate degree area. Our program brings together students who have active practices creating works in the visual arts, media arts, video, photography, performance, dance, technical theatre, creative writing, experimental sound, music, and electronic arts. If you are a creative practitioner, are interested in expanding your art practice, and are interested in the inherently interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of media arts, you will find yourself among many likeminded peers. 
Are There Any Program-Specific Scholarships Available?
The Rosenblum Award was established to support Columbia’s graduate students who are presenting at or attending professional conferences related to their fields of study. Awards are capped at $500, and preference will be given to students whose proposals have been accepted by conference organizers for presentation as part of the conference’s official schedule.
  • For a complete listing of College-wide scholarships, click here.
Who Are the Core Faculty?
For a listing, click here.
What Facilities Are Available to Your Students?
The Interdisciplinary Arts Department has numerous resources for students to make artwork with: two computer labs, three installation labs, the finest printing, binding and papermaking studios in the nation, electronics lab, laser cutter, sound lab, and a black-box venue for staging work, visiting lectures, events, exhibitions, screenings, photo shoots and performance. The department has its own equipment center where students check out an extensive array of items including laptops, video cameras, sound recorders, and projectors. Through gateway course experiences, students are offered usage of equipment, materials and space in all department media. The College itself also has facilities and resources available. Significantly, the internationally recognized Center for Book and Paper Arts (CBPA) is part of the department. Additionally, we provide studios for all of our MFA students.
Who Are Some Noteworthy Alumni?
  • Erin Rehberg is founder and Artistic Director of Core Project Chicago and the Associate Director of Kim Nofsinger’s Shelter Dance Repertoire. Her choreography has been featured at Beyond Boundaries, Dance Chicago, Breaking Bounds Dance Festival, Art Exposium, The American College Dance Festival and she was a 2010 recipient of a Chicago Cultural Center DanceBridge Residency. She is currently adjunct faculty of Dance and University Studies at Middle Tennessee State University.
  • Dan Schwarzlose's work in Cambodia is the latest chapter in a consistently fascinating artistic life. In 1998, he helped found the Elastic Arts Foundation, a Chicago-based musicians’ cooperative that produces live music, readings, art, theater, and multimedia events. While a student at Columbia, he worked with chef Homaro Cantu who runs the groundbreaking, surrealistic Chicago restaurant Moto. Schwarzlose toured with Cantu making videos of his amazing creations, and helped create and write the first season of Cantu’s new reality show, Future Food, which premiered in Spring 2010 on Planet Green.
  • Claudette Roper has more than two decades of expertise in corporate communications and media production and has worked on several groundbreaking television programs, including The Cosby Show and Donahue. In addition to teaching at her alma mater, the 2006 Albert P. Weisman Award recipient lectures and conducts workshops on culture, media and otherness. Her work as an interdisciplinary artist, educator and media maker focuses on issues related to justice, family/history, loss of innocence and oppression.

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