The MFA program in Photography was created to emphasize craft and concept-driven photography.
The MFA Photography program is built upon photographic history, and the fluid integration of contemporary media with traditional, and alternative, photographic practice. This is predicated upon the philosophy that photography is not a single entity, but is unique among the visual arts in its ability to successfully merge new technologies and cultural influences with artistic production.
The core belief of this program is that concentrated studio practice is essential to an individual's level of visual literacy and their capacity to interpret and communicate signs, symbols, and metaphors. The future of photography will be built upon its past and that contemporary artists are entering a period where antiquarian is synonymous with innovation.
Of the 60 credits, 33 credits (or 55%) are graduate-level courses, 15% are Professional Studies opportunities for internships, mentoring, fellowships, and teaching assistantships. The remaining 30% are electives chosen from existing studio, critical studies, and art history offerings. Content will be delivered in a variety of formats: in class, electronic, and online when appropriate. The program will fully integrate outstanding Visiting Artists as a key component of the learning experience.
We have distinguished faculty who are highly accomplished. Our director, Christopher James, is an internationally recognized artist and writer. His Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, now in its third edition, is the seminal book in its field.
Two visiting faculty work closely with our graduate students every semester and include prominent photographers, critics, and historians. Susan Bright, Roy Flukinger, Matt Saunders, Vicki Goldberg, Lyle Rexer, David Hilliard, Luis Gonzalez Palma, Deb Luster, Dan Estabrook, and Keith Carter. Visiting artists who have given talks include Sebastiao Salgado, Brian Graf, and Mark Dion.
Our students and alumni have exhibited in major shows, curated their own exhibitions, presented papers at international conferences, become college faculty, and won awards.
Every semester, one or two graduate students are given the opportunity to teach their own college courses on the university level. Entering first year students are given the opportunity to become teaching assistants from the outset.
Our program of study is distinguished by its academic rigor, diverse and contemporary approach to photography, and its engagement with the handmade image. Each semester concludes with a dynamic jury of faculty, visiting faculty, and invited guests who review and respond to the work of each graduate student.
Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, we are immersed within a powerful academic and cultural community filled with prominent local resources such as Harvard University, M.I.T., the MFA Boston, the ICA, and the deCordova Museum.
Our Lunder Arts Center — a state-of-the-art faculty that houses the College of Art and Design — is now up and running in the Porter Square neighborhood of Cambridge. We have a wet darkroom, alternative process, and digital photography facilities with access to resources of a major university.
Interim Director, MFA in Visual Arts
Sunanda K Sanyal
Professor of Art History and Critical Studies
MFA in Photography
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Amanda King '14 was featured in The Boston Globe among the most promising master's of fine arts degree candidates in Greater Boston.
A new adventure for two members of the MFA Photography program:Alicia Turbitt and Cotton Miller'13 found themselves teaching photography workshops in the small barrio of Sonrisa de Dios, Nicaragua.
Lesley's College of Art and Design awards $450,000 in merit scholarships to MFA candidates each year in a range of amounts up to $15,000 for the Photography program. To learn more, visit our graduate scholarships information page.