Master of Fine Arts in Art Photography


Program Description


Our master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degree program in art photography attracts students who have established a strong body of work and are committed to further their engagement with contemporary photographic practices. You work closely with our faculty along with distinguished scholars throughout Syracuse University to further your artistic research.

As a program, we are not interested in promoting a single philosophy or aesthetic; rather, we select students who have begun to crystallize an original perspective. Our goal is to create artists with unique visual voices. Through an intensive study that includes tutorial and group critique along with courses in history, theory, and criticism, you benefit from an intense and passionate learning environment that emphasizes contemporary art and practice. In addition, most of our M.F.A. students have the opportunity to teach their own classes.

Art photography students benefit from a close affiliation with Light Work, a world-class photo gallery, publisher, and artist residency housed on the Syracuse campus.

Why our program?

  • We are dedicated to offering you a learning environment that is challenging, passionate, and exciting.
  • Our faculty members are all practicing artists whose work is published and exhibited internationally as well as included in prestigious collections. Their grants and fellowships include those from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts.
  • Our graduate students have access to their own digital and analog facilities.
  • You will benefit from our close partnership with Light Work, a world-renowned photography center at Syracuse University. This relationship allows you to interact with a roster of international photographers through lectures, internships, and classroom visits. Many of our graduate students are offered a semester assistantship to work directly with their staff and visiting artists.
  • You can take advantage of global study opportunities for M.F.A. students and engage with an impressive array of nationally and internationally known visiting artists.
  • When you graduate, you will belong to a global network of enthusiastic VPA alumni.


The art photography program is housed in Shaffer Art Building, which is home to all programs and facilities in the Department of Transmedia. Our graduate students have access to their own digital and analog facilities, including professional scanning and digital printing equipment. You can utilize production facilities at Light Work as well as our own studios and classrooms, ensuring easy access to professional digital, analog, and lighting equipment, including large format ink-jet printers and a 44-inch color processor.

Visiting artists

You will draw inspiration and insight from the resident and visiting artists who come to the art photography program, the Department of Transmedia, and Light Work each year. Past visiting and resident artists have included Shimon Attie, George Awde, Stephen Barker, Elinor Carucci, Liz Cohen, Kelli Connell, Stan Douglas, Mitch Epstein, LaToya Ruby Frazier G'07, Richard Renaldi, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Amy Stein, Mark Steinmetz, Zoe Strauss, and Carrie Mae Weems.

Recent visiting curators, critics, and editors have included Andy Adams, Flackphoto; Phil Bicker, The Fader Magazine; Peter Galassi, Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Alice Rose George, JGS Foundation, Damaini; Alison Nordstrom, George Eastman House; Ariel Shanberg, Woodstock Center for Photography; Franklin Sirmans, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Lynne Tillman, Artforum.


The art photography M.F.A. degree program requires 60 credits. Below are the general program requirements. Refer to Syracuse University’s graduate course catalog for detailed information about this curriculum and our courses.

Program requirements

Major studio: 24 credits
Studio electives: 12 credits
Art history or related academics: 12 credits
Free electives: 6 credits
Graduate seminar: 3 credits
Final presentation: 3 credits


Last updated Jun 2018

About the School

Our faculty offers rigorous and multi-faceted learning experiences that prepare student-artists for professional and entrepreneurial careers.

Our faculty offers rigorous and multi-faceted learning experiences that prepare student-artists for professional and entrepreneurial careers. Read less