Studying Sculpture at BU
The Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture at Boston University School of Visual Arts (BU SVA) is a two-year, studio-intensive program that focuses on catalyzing and amplifying students’ creative work within the context of an ongoing and immersive critical discourse. Students work across the broadest possible range of fabrication techniques and material production, as well as exploring cross-disciplinary and genre-defying creative possibilities.
Sculpture shares material, process, language, technology, and history with aspects of our social and physical infrastructure and can offer direct access to the complex questions and problems embedded within both. Using this sense of immediate connection to the world as a point of departure, the Sculpture MFA at BU offers a challenging yet supportive environment for artists who actively envision new potentials for the future of art itself.
The hallmarks of our program are intimacy and intensity. In addition to regular studio visits with SVA’s core graduate faculty, students have extensive one-on-one contact with numerous internationally renowned visiting artists, curators, writers, and critics. Weekly group critiques, thematic seminar courses, professional symposia, technical workshops, and field trips add to the wide-ranging and immersive conversation that forms the basis of the department’s studio culture.
The MFA program in Sculpture at BU remains committed to providing a platform for the incorporation of highly distinctive voices from social, economic, cultural, and geographic positions consistently under-represented within the field of contemporary art. Our curriculum is designed to balance intensive critical conversation and art historical and cultural theory with the flexible and uniquely intimate studio-driven discourse informed by the plurality of our students’ individual perspectives. Students are encouraged to deepen their relationship to their specific areas of interest and to broaden their creative horizons by engaging with the extensive academic, technical, and human resources available within the university community at large.
The city of Boston, with its rich history and diverse culture, provides another important resource for our program. Boston is home to world-class museums and contemporary institutions that attract internationally active artists, curators, and writers. The city hosts a thriving culture of talks and lectures, making the art-academic experience in Boston exceptionally vital.
Program of Study
This four-semester program culminates in the creation of a significant body of thesis work exhibited in a professional gallery in the final semester. Upon graduation students in graduate Sculpture will achieve advanced professional competence. They are expected to gain a breadth of understanding in the visual arts, including non-Western and historically marginalized content and contexts. Students learn to think independently as they develop and articulate thesis content and learn to synthesize information related to theories and practice.
Individual studio practice is the fundamental component of the two-year graduate program. The development and progress of student work is supported by a close-knit cohort of peers, in frequent one-on-one studio visits with core faculty and visiting artists and critics, through weekly sessions of group critique, and in end-of-semester reviews. In addition to 24-hour access to individual studios, a shared sculpture project room, and fabrication facilities, students are encouraged to explore the extraordinary range of academic opportunities and media production resources available to them within the broader Boston University context.
The Graduate Sculpture Seminar course meets on a weekly basis, with each semester’s curriculum designed to focus on a specific theme or question relevant to the contemporary practice of sculpture and its concomitant discourse. Readings encompass both historical and contemporary positions within art history and critical/cultural theory, with students offering critical engagement in the form of in-class discussion and written analysis.
In addition to working closely with core full-time faculty, graduate students benefit from regular visits with practicing artists, who present lectures and conduct studio visits and critiques. Learn more about the Tuesday Night Lecture Series and visiting artists.
Visiting Artists & Critics
Frequent lectures by guest artists, historians, and critics offer students the opportunity to build awareness of the varied practices and discourses of contemporary art. In particular, the well-known and extensive cross-MFA Tuesday Night Lecture Series features a diverse roster of accomplished visiting artists who give talks about their work in an intimate, accessible format. Guests deliver a lecture on their work, visit studios usually one-on-one, and are often invited to socialize afterwards with the graduate students in a more informal context. SVA’s additional yearly or semester Contemporary Perspectives Lecture Series also brings established artists to campus to deliver lectures on their work and interact with the graduate students.
The degree prepares students to contribute to the expansion and evolution of contemporary art. This includes opportunities to practice writing and curation and preparation for teaching in higher education for students who engage in the opportunity to be Teaching Assistants who gain experience in the classroom working directly with undergraduate faculty. Teaching Assistantships with BFA and BA courses in art help students understand pedagogy in the field, help offset tuition, and prepare students for a teaching career in higher education at a time when universities are expanding cross-disciplinary and multi-modal approaches.
MFA Sculpture provides ample opportunity to travel and engage with the professional world, including school and program trips to New York and in the area. Graduate students and faculty visit galleries, museums, fabrication facilities, and various cultural events within the Boston area, New England, and beyond
Other direct experiential learning and important professional experience include:
- Opportunities to serve as teaching assistants within SVA;
- The option of completing a for-credit Internship course;
- Work with faculty and peers to develop and take part in exhibition and symposia opportunities in and beyond the degree
- The Kahn Career Entry Fund for the Arts was established to provide funds to assist talented students who complete undergraduate or graduate programs at CFA at the beginning of their careers.
- Scholarships and other funding opportunities are available to Graduate Sculpture students. For more information, visit the Graduate Tuition and Financial Aid page.
Electives and Resources
To support the most expansive vision for their creative work, students are encouraged to explore the immense range of elective course offerings in SVA or programs across BU schools and colleges. Elective course credits in graduate-level coursework (500 level or above) are required for completion of the degree. Postwar and Contemporary graduate Art History courses help contextualize graduate students’ ideas and practices. The College of Fine Arts Policies for Graduate Students apply to this program. Students must earn a minimum of 60 course credits in graduate-level coursework (500 level or above).
Students have the opportunity to connect with professional curators etc. A variety of targeted technical workshops supplement students’ skillsets and awareness of various material, technological, and formal possibilities. In addition, regular symposia are offered to address specific professional practices.
Beyond the SVA library, the BU Libraries include special collections of interest to graduate art students, such as the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center’s extensive artist book collection, photography and other important archival materials and the textile collection in the African Studies library.
Associate Professor, Sculpture and Drawing
Associate Professor of Art, Painting; Affiliated Faculty, BU Center for Antiracist Research
Assistant Professor of Art, Sculpture; Chair of Graduate Studies in Sculpture
Assistant Professor of Art, Sculpture
Next Steps for Applicants
The best way to determine if BU is right for you is to visit us in-person or remotely. Faculty members are available to meet with you and to discuss your educational interests, individual learning needs, and career goals.
Explore our admission requirements, financial tools, and resources to determine if the program is the right match. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions along the way.