Mar 20, 2023  
Rensselaer Catalog 2008-2009 
Rensselaer Catalog 2008-2009 [Archived Catalog]

Electronic Arts M.F.A.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Departments

The M.F.A. program is designed for students pursuing artistic and academic careers emphasizing electronic media. Admission is highly competitive, and applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree and display a high level of ability in any artistic medium. In addition to the standard transcripts, recommendations, and statement of background and goals, prospective students submit a portfolio of creative work. The primary consideration in the selection process is evidence of talent and commitment to personal development as a creative artist.

The M.F.A. degree requires 60 credit hours of coursework at Rensselaer, including up to nine credit hours of master’s thesis. Completion of the degree generally takes two years. Independent creative work done under a faculty mentor’s supervision is encouraged. The degree emphasizes developing creative skills in digital video, computer music, imaging, animation, interactive media, performance, and installation art. The student’s work at Rensselaer culminates in a required thesis project, submission of written thesis document, and a thesis defense. The thesis project is a major artistic effort and may include a full-length performance, installation, or exhibition.

All students are expected to develop competency in using various media available in the iEAR Studios as well as in the theoretical and critical issues relevant to their fields of interest. Since the program is geared towards preparing students to participate actively in the art and music communities, practical aspects of production and presentation of creative work are emphasized.

The M.F.A. Plan of Study consists of 60 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, including:

(See footnote 1 below)

  • at least 30 credit hours in 6000-level courses
  • three history or theory courses at the 4000 or 6000 level, one of which must be: ARTS 6110 Electronic Arts Overview
    (See footnote 2 below)
  • a demonstration of competency in interdisciplinary electronic arts
    (See footnote 3 below)
  • four credits of artistic residency through Arts Practicum (ARTS 4050)
  • enrollment in Electronic Arts Practice every fall semester of residency
  • two to nine credits of Master’s Thesis in the second year of residency

(See footnote 4 below)  

  • required public presentation and participation in critiques at the end of each semester


  1. Individual requirements can be waived, in exceptional circumstances, by the department without decreasing the total number of credits for the degree. It is also possible to reduce the total number of credits required by transferring up to six credits of previous graduate work or by waiving up to 12 credits for professional experience, up to six credits of which can be graduate transfer credit.
  2. History/theory courses may be either four credits (4000-level courses) or 3 credits (6000-level courses).
  3. Competency is demonstrated through two qualifying reviews. Each student will participate in two end-of-semester departmental critiques, which will be judged by the Electronic Arts Faculty. The first review will identify the technical and creative areas to be addressed in the second review. The faculty must agree that the student’s work shows competency and artistic merit in interdisciplinary media in order for the student to progress toward his or her final thesis.
  4. When enrolled for Master’s Thesis credits, students will also be expected to have regular individual meetings with their advisers. In their final two semesters of residency, students must enroll in a minimum of one thesis credit each semester. The maximum number of thesis credits in which a student can enroll is nine.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Departments