A Different Kind of MFA

The American College of the Mediterranean is proud to offer a two-year MFA degree program in painting or sculpture (Sculpture will begin in Fall 2019) in Aix-en-Provence, France through its Marchutz School of Fine Arts. The 60-credit program is conducted in English and accepts artists of diverse interests and backgrounds. The program combines daily studio work, seminars, museum studies, field studies throughout Europe, professional internship opportunities, and a low-residency option.


Seeing, synonymous with discovery, recognition, and discernment is a core value of The Marchutz School of Fine Arts. The mission of the MFA program is to link contemporary artist concerns to a study of the visible world and to give students a cross-cultural viewpoint through extended study in the museums and galleries of Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.

The focus of the MFA Program

  • Emphasizes the combination of studio art process with liberal arts learning
  • A comparative discipline of observation, perceptual analysis and extensive museum and art historical study
  • Accentuates cross-cultural viewpoints through extended study in the cities, museums and galleries of Europe and the Mediterranean Basin
  • Students form a coherent critical platform and an arts management process by which to present their work
  • Integrated apprenticeship courses in studio art education models

MFA Program Overview

The Marchutz School of Fine Arts offers a two-year MFA degree program with a concentration in Painting or Sculpture. The curriculum combines studio practice with liberal arts investigation, critical analysis, museum study, field study, and the flexibility of low-residency during the third semester. The 60-credit program, conducted in English, in Aix-en-Provence, France, culminates in a Thesis Project which includes a public presentation of an original body of artwork.

First-year students work on campus in Aix-en-Provence, France, maintaining a daily open studio practice in their chosen discipline, while concurrently developing independent critical, aesthetic, and art historical research with core faculty advisors. Students are expected to participate in weekly seminars, multi-city field studies, critiques, museum studies, and liberal arts inquiry.

During the second-year, candidates may continue the program in Aix-en-Provence, or take advantage of the program's low-residency option to work off-campus for the fall semester of the second-year. Thesis work can be completed in specific partner locations like Paris, Giverny, New York, Barcelona, and Morocco, or, with approved artist teachers, students may work from their home region through a low-residency format.

Throughout the program MFA candidates' work is evaluated in peer and faculty critiques as well as by visiting artists. Final evaluation and approval is conducted by the MFA Faculty Committee.

Dean's Statement

After forty years of experience with art education at the undergraduate level, The Marchutz School of Fine Arts is pleased to introduce its unique MFA degree program that combines the liberal arts, studio practice, and field studies.

At Marchutz we have seen, over the past 40 years, fascinating and unique concepts introduced into the artistic dialogue. At the same time, we recognize there is a serious lack of rigor and sustained study into the nature of art itself as defined by 35,000 years of examples of it. The professionalization and commodification of the art market, in tandem with the relentless drumbeat to look forever forward and never back, has perhaps weakened the lineage between the past, the now, and the future in the spheres of art and art education. Thus, much of the art work we see today is technically brilliant but short-lived, and too often, void of meaning - at The Marchutz School, we strive for more. "I am the primitive of a new art," Cézanne wrote, but he added, "one does not replace the past, one only adds a new link." The link is of significant importance.

Located in the south of France, the school is uniquely situated to give artists the means to experiment in the studio and the landscape as well as delve into the minds and works of some of the most renowned and revered masters of painting and sculpture within the European heritage.

The Marchutz School of Fine Arts graduate program is one in which a sustained effort in front of the visible world, a desire to compare and contrast the art of multiple generations and cultures, and a patient faith in one's own imagination can be supported and nourished. The apprenticeship model enhances the artists' relationships to works of all generations in such a fashion that their contemporary work, regardless of style or medium, may coincide with the art of the past while simultaneously revealing the uniqueness of identity, time and place.

At The Marchutz School of Fine Arts, we believe such a linkage eventually yields a more powerful expression of significant meaning and a more comprehensive sense of belonging in the world.

-Alan Roberts

Dean, Marchutz School of Fine Arts

Chronology of Studies

The Study Outline

Upon acceptance and in consultation with an advisor, MFA students present a two-year study outline accentuating their focus including a studio plan, criticism research, thesis development, and proposed locations for independent study.

Faculty Advisors

Each MFA student is assigned one studio faculty member and one liberal arts faculty member to oversee and guide the student through the two-year study proposal. Advisor meetings are scheduled three times each semester to present studio work, critical studies portfolio, liberal arts portfolio and journals for review.

Midterm and final grades from professors of content courses will also be reviewed. Continuation in the program is contingent on a positive review from both faculty advisors at the end of each semester.

Drawing, Painting & Sculpture (20 credits)

One of the most important aspects of the program is the accentuation of the three disciplines of drawing, painting and sculpture and their inter-relationship. Although students declare a single concentration, it is imperative that they experiment with all three. Drawing I and II are prerequisites for all MFA thesis work. The MFA curriculum is based upon the principle that drawing is at the basis of all good painting and sculpture. In the first year, all students are required to enroll in Drawing I and II and receive credit before beginning Thesis Practice and Project.

The painting and sculpture contact courses take place at the Atelier Marchutz, a light-filled space conceived by French architect Fernand Pouillon. Students work together in this common space with painting instructors and are also expected to work independently during the week. 14 credits of intensive painting or sculpture (6 credits during the first year and 8 credits during the second year) are required depending on the candidate’s concentration.


Critical Studies (9 credits)

The Critical Studies courses are seminars in which students and faculty read and discuss criticism essays, artists' writing on art, and philosophical texts. They include field study to museums, artist studios, and galleries. Critical Studies I and II accentuate an overview of critical thought from past generations which will be used as a springboard for Critical Studies III in which a contemporary analysis in conjuncture with each student’s thesis project will culminate in a final 15-page paper to accompany the studio work.


Thesis Practice and Thesis Project (10 credits)

In year two students will, in concert with their faculty advisors, propose and execute a body of work in a purposeful manner which will culminate in a final, public exhibition to be determined and approved by the final exhibition committee.


The Journal

A journal documenting all aspects of the Critical Studies component, Thesis Practice, and Thesis Project is a requirement for all students. Part of the final exhibition presentation will consist of a collation and presentation of the journal work covering the entire two-year process. The final journal presented at the final exhibition can and should take a form that is consistent with the underlying theme of the thesis project presentation.

Art History - 6 credits

A range of art history thesis inquiry courses is offered to the MFA student at IAU College. Students choose two inquiry courses that coincide with their study outline and future thesis practice and project. 6 credits (two courses) of Art History Inquiry are required, with each course including a research paper assigned at the graduate level.

Language and culture (6 credits)

All candidates are required to take at least 6 credits of language and culture courses from the French and Language Department at ACM – French, Spanish, or Arabic. When feasible, students are encouraged however to participate in 12 credits of language and culture.

Critiques and Visiting Artist Seminars

In addition to two critiques per semester by faculty members, students participate in Visiting Artist Seminars including local and international visiting artists who are invited to campus to participate in sessions including lectures and critiques of MFA student work. All students participate in at least one seminar.

January Term Field Study Seminar (3 credits)

All MFA candidates are required to attend one January field study with a study proposal indicating why and how the field study relates to their thesis proposal. Examples of different J-terms available include travel to Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece, England, and France.

Low-Residency Off-campus Coursework

Although students may complete the entire program at the Aix campus, students may choose to take up to 15 credit hours off campus during the fall semester of the second year. They may reside at ACM partner sites (Giverny, Barcelona, Paris, New York, Marrakesh) or return to their home sites in the U.S. The appointed faculty advisors from the Aix campus will coordinate oversight of their independent studies with selected artist-teachers from the specific area.

Arts Education and Teaching Assistantships

The Marchutz School of Fine Arts unique MFA degree program has embedded within it an apprenticeship component. Through direct observation and assistantship in undergraduate studio courses, candidates may choose to embellish the direction of their independent work. As all studio art faculty know, the process of passing on knowledge is one of the most enriching experiences for their own work. Students who may eventually be interested in teaching can, upon approval, take advantage of this component within their two-year study proposal.

Students interested in teaching assistantships may replace 3 credit hours of elective credit with a 3-credit teaching assistantship.

Internship Opportunities

Internships at various museums and galleries are available for students interested in professional opportunities.

Final Exhibition Committee

Each student will present the Final Thesis Project and Critical Studies paper to a committee comprised of the two faculty advisors and two faculty members from the major concentration. Final Exhibition contingent on committee approval.


Students have 24-hour access to the Atelier Marchutz situated on the renowned route de Tholonet in Aix en Provence. In year two all students will have independent studio space as well in studios provided by ACM. Library facilities, lecture halls, classrooms, a student lounge, audio-visual equipment, and computer access are available in one of the three main buildings of ACM situated in the 17th and 18th century center of Aix en Provence.

Tuition Costs


*J-Term fees include tuition for three semester credits, housing, continental breakfast every day and some evening meals, activity fee, orientation, health, liability and repatriation insurance, intra-European transportation, and scheduled cultural activities. Additional student costs include round-trip airfare, lunches, textbooks, and personal expenses.

Program taught in:
  • English

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Last updated March 8, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
2 years
61,460 USD
Total Tuition and Fees; housing additional cost.
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Applications are reviewed on a rolling admissions basis, with financial aid and housing priority given to those who submit a complete application by April 15, 2019.
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Start Date
End Date
May 31, 2021
Application deadline
Request Info
Applications are reviewed on a rolling admissions basis, with financial aid and housing priority given to those who submit a complete application by April 15, 2019.
Application deadline
Request Info
Applications are reviewed on a rolling admissions basis, with financial aid and housing priority given to those who submit a complete application by April 15, 2019.
End Date
May 31, 2021