Master of Fine Arts in Illustration


Program Description


Each year a select and diverse group of creative people come to study at Syracuse University’s esteemed master of fine arts (M.F.A.) illustration program from around the U.S. and the world. Some students are recent college graduates, and others have professional experience, while some have minimal art education.

But no matter where you start, Syracuse’s intimate illustration program with its worldwide reach offers online coursework in addition to classes at its two New York City locations (the Fisher Center and Lubin House) as well as in Syracuse; Los Angeles; and Florence, Italy. You'll study with award-winning, full-time faculty, and part-time instructors while interacting with top-level national and international industry professionals.

Our course offerings are as diverse as our students. Come to build on your undergraduate portfolio, reinvent your creative voice, or develop your teaching skills. Expand your knowledge, stay to discover your visual voice, and make your mark!

Why our program?

  • You can further develop your talents in illustration and also acquire teaching skills.
  • You will receive individual attention from our award-winning faculty members.
  • You can take advantage of online classes and global study opportunities, including those in New York City; Los Angeles; and Florence, Italy.
  • You will engage with an impressive array of nationally and internationally known industry professionals.
  • When you graduate, you will belong to a global network of enthusiastic VPA alumni.


The illustration program's studios and classrooms are housed in Shaffer Art Building, which is also home to the Department of Transmedia, jazz studies in the Setnor School of Music, and Syracuse University Art Galleries. The building also contains a 60-seat lecture hall and the 300-seat Shemin Auditorium.

Visiting artists

Throughout the year the illustration program and the School of Art welcomes numerous nationally and internationally known visiting artists to campus. Speakers in the illustration program include video gaming professionals, animators, editors, art directors, and illustrators, many of whom are alumni. You may interact with them through presentations, class demos, lectures, and critiques. These experiences are a critical component to your artistic growth.

Past guests have included Sophie Blackall, Steve Brodner, Marcos Chin, Joe Ciardiello, John Cuneo, Shaun Cusick, Jeffrey Decoster, Michelle Dickens '03, Mark English, Shane Evans ’92, Donato Giancola ’92, Max Ginsburg '53, Brian Gordon G’97, Sterling Hundley, Gary Kelley, Barry Mosher, George Pratt, John Rush, Elwood Smith, Joe Spadaford ’00, David Wiesner, and Eric Wilkerson.


Below are the general program requirements for the M.F.A. in illustration. Refer to Syracuse University’s graduate course catalog for more 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