University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee


Art & Design MA/MFA - Studio Art

Matthew Lee used his experience in the harsh, unforgiving environment of Antarctica as the inspiration for his paintings and UWM Peck School of the Arts Master's thesis.

Department of Art & Design Graduate Program in Studio Art

Graduate Admission Applicants:

The MA and MFA in Studio Art only accepts applications for fall matriculation. Our application process is two fold. First apply to the Graduate School and then follow the deadlines listed below to submit your application materials and portfolio to the Department of Art & Design Graduate Studies. Please read all information and follow the deadlines closely.


Step 1: Graduate School Application (Fall Matriculation)
We encourage you to submit your Graduate School application as soon as you decide to apply to the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Art and Design MA/MFA. We recommend applying at least one year in advance for the term you wish to start. All graduate school applications should be in by Mid-November to Early-December, for following fall admission.

Please read over all admission requirements for Graduate School.
International applicants please read over all requirements on the Center for International Education page.
Please complete the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Graduate School on-line application.

All applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable, $56 based application fee, and an additional $40 evaluation fee, also non-refundable, is required for applicants with college-level work from non-U.S. colleges.

Step 2: Portfolio/Application Studio Art (MA/MFA)

Send all application materials to: with the subject heading: APPLICANT LASTNAMEF2016 (ex. John Smith = SMITHJ2016). In one email, submit as PDF files:

MA/MFA application (coversheet and all application materials): February 1

If you are applying for the AOP (Advanced Opportunity Program), all materials for the application are due December 10. Please see criteria and instructions for university fellowship applications.

  • application coversheet
  • digital portfolio
  • image list
  • reasons for graduate study statement
  • transcripts (copies of unofficial transcripts are acceptable for the Department materials)
  • three letters of recommendation (sent to as PDF file on official letterhead by the recommender)

If applying for Teaching Assistantships, Project Assistantships, or Department Fellowships, please also send in a separate email with the subject heading: APPLICANT LASTNAMEF2016 (ex. John Smith = SMITHJ2016) to

  • student portfolio
  • student portfolio image list
  • teaching philosophy
  • resume

Fellowships and Assistantships Information

The Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (AOP) is for new and continuing qualified graduate students who are member of groups underrepresented in graduate study or who are otherwise disadvantaged. Applicants must be American citizens or permanent residents of the United States. The AOP is renewable. These fellowships provide recipients with a monthly stipend for the academic year (fall and spring), coverage of in state-sponsored health insurance. For more information and application forms click here. If you are applying for the AOP (Advanced Opportunity Program), all materials for the application are due December 10.

Fellowships, Teaching Assistantships and Project Assistantships are also available from the Department of Art and Design. Please download the Admission and Awards Applications above.

UWM Department of Art & Design Graduate Program in Studio Art

Located near Lake Michigan on Milwaukee's northeast side, UWM's 92-acre campus is surrounded by county parks that offer scenic beauty and outdoor activity all year long. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee combines the excellence of the University of Wisconsin System with the resources only a major metropolitan area can offer.

Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest city and boasts a lively arts community to which the Department of Art & Design actively contributes. Recent developments include an energetic local alternative art scene as well as international attention brought to the city by the Santiago Calatrava-designed addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. The Institute of Visual Arts (INOVA), UWM’s exhibition venue for contemporary art, contributes to the city's cultural vitality. Chicago and Madison are also within close driving distance, offering a host of arts opportunities.

Program Overview

The Department of Art & Design offers a Master of Arts (MA) degree and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree, 30 credits and 60 credits respectively. The graduate program encourages interdisciplinary activity and exploratory models of thinking and production. Theory and practice are closely linked through Graduate Seminars and Art History offerings, as well as a very active Visiting Artist and Scholar program. Graduate students are encouraged to explore an area of study in depth and to experiment across media and discipline, with encouragement and opportunities to explore hybrid processes, as well as engage in the history and traditions of art.

The graduate program is interdisciplinary. Students may focus in one specific area of focus, or expand into other areas of research. Students choosing a specific focus area may take courses across studio disciplines. The InterMedia focus is intended to be an integrated focus that combines two or more disciplines. Students may focus within the following broad categories:

  • Art and Technology
  • Ceramics
  • Fibers
  • Design and Digital Media
  • InterMedia (integrated/mixed media and installation)
  • Jewelry and Metalsmithing
  • Painting and Drawing
  • Photography
  • Print and Narrative Forms
  • Sculpture

The program is structured to ensure a broad and balanced integration of media, processes and concerns allowing a rich combination of tradition and innovation. Engagement with disciplines outside of Art & Design and within the local, national, and international community is also encouraged, expected and supported. The hallmark of the department is its commitment to diverse ideas and approaches to art that foster an experimental attitude in keeping with contemporary art practice.


There are well-equipped studio facilities that offer access to a wide range of tools and equipment in each disciplinary area. These studios and labs are housed within our campus buildings, as well as within our new Kenilworth facility.

In 2006, the new Kenilworth Building became home to all graduate studios. This is a stand-alone renovated factory building on Milwaukee's East Side, less than a mile from the UWM campus. Kenilworth contains studios for all of the arts, including dance, film, music and theatre, and also contains gallery space, a screening room, various installation sites and studio facilities. It is in a thriving neighborhood of coffee shops, bars, restaurants and movie houses, and is next door to a graduate housing facility. All graduate students will have working studio space and 24 hour access to this state of the art facility.

The Faculty and Recent Graduates

Graduate faculty members in art are all exhibiting and publishing artists who express a wide range of concepts, content, and media in their work. Recent faculty involvements have included public art commissions and exhibitions within the city of Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago, nationally and internationally, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, New Orleans, New York, Washington D.C., Canada, Peru, Great Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Italy, South Africa, China, Taiwan, and Korea, as well as visiting artist and speaking engagements throughout the United States and abroad. Our graduate students are strongly encouraged to interact and work within the community, and to explore multiple venues and audiences for their work. Recent graduate student successes include countless showings throughout the Milwaukee urban area, a prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation grant, a prestigious International Sculpture Center's Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award 2007, an exhibition winner in a New York gallery installation, participation in Art Chicago as well as The Stray Show, exhibitions in China, a feature article in Ceramics Art and Perception, and a feature article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's We Section.

We have active liaisons with the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, the Center for 21st Century Studies, the Center for International Education, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Film and Art History Departments and a host of community-based, not-for-profit cultural organizations. Along with Artists Now!, our timely Visiting Artist and Scholar program, we offer the opportunity for artist residencies at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado, as well as ongoing study abroad trips and programs, and various opportunities for focused international research, which have recently included trips to South America, China, Europe and a residency at the New Bauhaus Graduate Program in Public Art in Weimar, Germany.

The Visiting Artists, Curators and Scholars Program

The Department of Art & Design maintains an active and exciting Visiting Artist Program, Artists Now!, which usually offers graduate students direct contact in the form of studio critiques, group discussions, brown bag seminars and public presentations. Artists and curators in recent years include: David Wilson, Santiago Cucullu, Walid Raad, Joyce Scott, Kathryn Spence, Marianne Weems, Zoe Beloff, Faith Wilding, Gregory Sholette, Nato Thompson, Jane Simon, Siah Armajani, Christiane Paul, Liz Bachhuber, Sheba Chhachhi, Habib Kheradyar, Irit Rogoff, Zhang Zhaohui and Ma Youngfeng, Gean Moreno, Deb Sokolow, Claire Pentecost, Kanishka Raja, Peregrine Honig, Jana Brevick, Adelheid Mers, Michael Banicki, Patrick Nagatani, Sara Velas, Dan Andersen, Renato Umali, Michiko Itatani, Michele Feder-Nadoff, Paul McMullan, Nick Cave, Faythe Levine, Gary John Gresl, Mads Lynnerup, Dianna Frid, Betsy Damon, Michael Rakowitz, Terry Barrett, Antonio Martorell, Glenn Adamson, Howard Risatti, Jamie Bennett, Paul Berger. Film, Modern Studies, the Center for International Education and the Center for 21st Century Studies also host countless renowned luminaries working in media, criticism and visual culture. There is also a constant stream of artists and critics that visit Milwaukee's other institutions of visual culture. There is a wealth of opportunity within the UWM community to experience an impressive array of creative work, studio art, media-production, and critical and scholarly thought across disciplinary boundaries. Graduate students within the program are expected to take full advantage of these resources, and be a part of the intellectual and creative community beyond the studio doors.

For further information:
Shelleen Greene, Director of Graduate Studies
Mitchell Hall 371

MA/MFA Opportunities

Awards and Fellowships

The Department of Art & Design offers the following awards, which are applied for through the Office of Graduate Studies in Art:
Layton Fellowships
Layton Research and Travel Awards


The Department of Art & Design offers at least one graduate thesis exhibition each semester. Other exhibition opportunities abound on campus and in the community.

Recent Visiting Artists, Curators and Scholars

Charles Beneke, Radiative Forcing
Trudy Benson, Why Are You Still Painting? The Importance of Painting in a Post-Digital Age
The M12 Collective
Special Entertainment, Andrew Swant & Bobby Ciraldo
Ray Chi, Playing for Keeps
Kristen Winking, Global Collaborations & the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
JD Beltran, Materials, Metaphors and the Language of Storytelling
Kiel Johnson, Handmade, Hardwork, & Having Fun
Christian Patterson, Photography, Narrative and the Book
Carol Golemboski, Photography and Magic
Ryan Mandell, Shifting Utopia
A Bill Miller, Revisiting the Gridworks Collection Project Archive
Nick Tobier, Starts in the Streets
Zoe Nelson, Painting Through The Absence
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Living Between Cultures
Rosa Menkman, Beyond Resolution
Bob Ebendorf, Jewelry as Personal Adornment
Souther Salazar, Half imaged/Half Remembered
Kryssi Staikidis, Two But Not Two: Artistry and Research as Personal and Cultural Narrative
Patricia Olynk, The Mutable Archive

MA and MFA Requirements

Program Requirements

Course Requirements: Master of Arts (MA) degree
30 credits minimum
18 credits in Studio Art executed during graduate study
3 credits in Art History
3 credits in Art & Design Graduate Seminar: Philosophy & Concepts
3 credits in Art & Design Graduate Seminar
3 credits in graduate coursework in discipline related to student's research

Course Requirements: Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree
60 credits minimum (or 30 credits beyond the MA degree or Qualifying Exams, and including MA degree requirements)
36-42 credits in Studio Art executed during graduate study
3 credits in Art History
6 credits graduate coursework in a discipline related to student's research
9 credits in Graduate Seminars in Art offered by the Department of Art & Design
0 – 6 credits in area related to student's research

Requirements for 30-credit MFA degree (beyond the MA or MS degree)
3 credits in Art & Design Graduate Seminar
3 credits in Art History or graduate coursework in a discipline related to student’s research
24 credits in Studio Art
(Up to 6 credits in related Areas outside the Department of Art and Design may be substituted for Studio Art credits, in such Areas as Art History, Film, Anthropology, Archaeology, Aesthetics, or others. Specific courses are chosen in consultation with the Major Professor)

Other Department Requirements
A grade of a B or above is required for all courses counting toward the graduate degree. Students participate in one Graduate Review each academic year. As a capstone project, students present a Thesis Exhibition of artwork completed since admission to the program.
Students complete a Comprehensive Examination consisting of final written and oral examinations.

Advisor and Thesis Committee

Major Professor
The Major Professor advises on courses and Graduate School requirements and supervises research. The Major Professor is Chair of the Thesis Committee. While students are initially assigned to the area head of their focus for advising, they must choose a Major Professor from among the graduate faculty of the Department of Art & Design sometime during their first year of study.

Thesis Committee

In consultation with the Major Professor, the student will assemble his or her Graduate Thesis Committee. The committee consists of three or more members (usually not larger than four). At least three members must be graduate faculty, and at least two must be from the Department of Art & Design. At least one member of the committee must be faculty in the student’s area of focus. If a student desires, the fourth member of the committee may be from the Department of Art & Design faculty, UWM graduate faculty or a professional from the Milwaukee community. The student’s Major Professor will serve as the Chair of the student’s Graduate Thesis Committee.

Time Limit
The UWM Graduate School requires that the student complete all degree requirements within a specific time limit. A student in the 60-credit MFA program must complete all degree requirements within 7 years. A student in the 30-credit MFA program must complete all degree requirements within 5 years.

Click here for the link to the University Graduate School bulletin for further information on the MA degree.

Click here for the link to the University Graduate School bulletin for further information on the MFA degree.

MA/MFA Curriculum

Graduate Studies in Art Activities

Graduate Reviews
Each semester Graduate Reviews provide an opportunity for students to meet with a committee of Graduate Faculty and arts professionals in an extensive dialogue about the student’s studio research.

Graduate Student Progress Reports
Each semester graduate students meet with the faculty in their area of focus or their Thesis Committee for a review and discussion of the progress of their studio research and academic studies. A report is made to the Office of Graduate Studies in Art.

Thesis Exhibition
Graduate Thesis Exhibitions take place during the last semester of study toward a degree (with the exception of Summer Sessions). The Degree Candidate must have the consent of their Major Professor to present his/her Thesis Exhibition. All MA and MFA degree candidates must present a Thesis Exhibition in the UWM Arts Center Gallery to complete their degree requirements.

MA/MFA Course Descriptions

Click here for Graduate course descriptions.