Columbia College Chicago Launches New Master of Fine Arts Degree

From "Visible from Space," Paul Catanese, 2016. Photo: Phil Dembinski '08.
Program offers mentorship from faculty artists, teaching opportunities.

CHICAGO (August 14, 2018)–Columbia College Chicago today announced the launch of a graduate degree program in fine arts to prepare graduate students to become professional working artists in their chosen medium.

Starting Fall 2019 and housed in Columbia’s Art and Art History Department, the Fine Arts MFA will offer students mentorship from professional artists/educators, professional practice development, and opportunities to teach while engaging in national and international conversations on contemporary art.

With world-renowned galleries and alternative spaces in the nation’s third-largest city, Chicago remains an ideal and affordable location for artists to develop their studio practice while building industry connections. The program’s entrepreneurial focus will ready students to succeed at the intersection of creative and business practice while learning from studio artists immersed in their fields. Designed for students working in diverse materials, concepts, and techniques, the program offers an interdisciplinary experience and a collaborative space for critique and professional growth.

“Columbia’s Fine Arts MFA merges the traditional pillars of creative expression, historical grounding, and theoretical insight with the business, shop management, and public media experience artists need to develop beyond their studios,” said Art and Art History Chair Duncan MacKenzie. “Our campus is proudly in the center of one of the world's most creatively engaged and artistically driven cities. As such, the MFA supports makers beyond the typical and traditional graduate school experience.

“We have seen explosions in the contemporary art market; interest in voices and ideas of contemporary artists has never been higher,” MacKenzie said. “Today’s artists extend their practices beyond gallery walls and take control of their own public personas.”

The MFA program will include on-campus studio space, access to the college’s 15,000-square-foot fabrication facility, and mentorship from notable faculty artists, including: visual artist and 3Arts award winner Fo Wilson; hybrid media artist Paul Catanese; Adam Brooks, co-founder of Industry of the Ordinary; interdisciplinary artist and College Art Association Board Member Melissa Potter; and co-founder of weekly art podcast Bad at Sports, Art and Art History Chair Duncan MacKenzie.

“We are pleased to launch a new MFA in Fine Arts brimming with faculty who have dedicated their lives to generating, connecting, and amplifying communities of creative practice; working artists who offer mentorship, support, and access to this dynamic cultural landscape,” said Catanese, director of graduate studies in Art and Art History. “Chicago is a vibrant creative hub with an exceptionally supportive artist community; an accessible, energizing platform where emerging professionals can propel their careers onto a global stage. Artists living and working in Chicago are immersed in the cultural life of a global city that thrives on dialogue and intersection between all forms of creative endeavor.”

For more information, visit the Fine Arts MFA program page.


Columbia College Chicago is a private, nonprofit college offering a distinctive curriculum that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts and business for nearly 7,500 students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Dedicated to academic excellence and long-term career success, Columbia College Chicago creates a dynamic, challenging and collaborative space for students who experience the world through a creative lens. For more information, visit


Danielle Wilcox
Columbia College Chicago