Graduate programs can be expensive, and a master's in fine arts (MFA) is no exception. Whether you’re hoping to get your MFA in studio art, creative writing, or another area of study, you can find fully funded MFA programs that allow you to go to school without having to worry about tuition—and many of them pay a stipend as well while going through graduate school.
What’s the Catch?
You may be wondering, “What’s the catch?” That’s a good question. Most fully funded MFA programs require the graduate student to work as a teaching assistant in exchange for a tuition waiver and stipend. You’ll most likely be required to teach one class per semester for the english department.
Top 5 Fully Funded MFA Programs
|1||University of California, San Diego||San Diego, California|
|2||University of South Florida||Tampa, Florida|
|3||University of California, Irvine||Irvine, California|
|4||Purdue University||West Lafayette, Indiana|
|5||Indiana University Bloomington||Bloomington, Indiana|
You may also be required to buy health insurance. Some fully funded MFA programs provide health coverage at no cost to the student, but most require the student to pay for the insurance. There are other fees you may need to cover as well. Most tuition waivers cover tuition only, not fees.
A stipend is an allowance the school gives the student above the cost of tuition. Many schools offer a stipend that is large enough to cover a student’s living expenses. You can use the stipend to cover cost of living, textbooks, health insurance, and any fees that aren’t waived. While stipends are nice, they are not intended to allow a lavish lifestyle. You’ll likely have to be frugal to make the stipend last all year.
Fully funded MFA programs are highly competitive, especially those that offer stipends. You’ll have to apply for the program and beat out other students for the assistantship or fellowship. At some schools, all MFA students are fully funded, but there are only a few slots available each year. At others, the MFA class may be larger but the number of assistantships available is often limited.
We’ve evaluated several MFA programs and ranked them based on the school’s cost and enrollment. Schools with the lowest tuition cost and highest enrollment received the most points. Here are our rankings for the best fully funded MFA programs. Click on the links for more information about each individual master's degree program.
The Top 41 Fully Funded MFA Programs
University of California, San Diego
The MFA program at the University of California, San Diego allows students to focus on the type of art that interests them most. Students must have a background in art history, and those with more art history courses are given preference for assistantships. The program includes digital media, video, film, photography, public art, installation art, performance art, sculpture, and painting.
University of South Florida
The School of Art & Art History at the University of South Florida offers an MFA in studio art that allows students to pursue in-depth study of their favorite media, themes, and ideas. Students can choose to focus their studies on video, sculpture and extended media, printmaking, photography, painting, drawing, ceramics, or animation and digital modeling. Each student in the program receives a full tuition waiver and either an assistantship or a scholarship.
University of California, Irvine
The Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine offers a rigorous graduate program in visual arts. This is a three-year program, and the third year is dedicated to the creation of a thesis exhibit. Each student in the program is assigned to a teaching assistant or teaching associate role under faculty supervision.
Purdue University offers an MFA in creative writing through the College of Liberal Arts and MFAs in studio arts, industrial/interaction design, interior design, and visual communication design through the Patti & Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance. Regardless of which program you choose, there is a teaching assistantship available with a ten-month stipend of $18,000, remission of tuition, and other benefits.
Indiana University Bloomington
The College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington offers an MFA in creative writing. The program is three years long and culminates in writing a book-length thesis in the student’s choice of genre. All students receive some sort of financial aid, usually a teaching assistantship. First-year students often receive a supplemental fellowship as well.
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Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers a fully funded MFA in creative writing. The program has small classes and provides one-on-one mentorship for students. MFA students can apply for a teaching assistantship that carries a $18,564 per year stipend in addition to health insurance and a tuition waiver. The program is three years long, and the curriculum is evenly divided between writing and literature courses.
University of Houston
The University of Houston offers an MFA in studio art with a concentration in sculpture, photography and digital media, painting, interdisciplinary practice and emerging forms, or graphic design. The program takes three years to complete and includes 12 hours of art history, 18 hours of concentration study, and 24 hours of related art courses. Paid teaching assistant positions and other paid positions are available for graduate students.
Iowa State University
Iowa State University offers an MFA in creative writing and environment. The three-year program encourages writers to focus on environment and place in their writing. Students engage in one-on-one mentorship with a professor, interdisciplinary study, environmental fieldwork, literature coursework, and creative writing workshops. They offer a stipend of $19,250 for both the Hogrefe Fellowships (they typically offer two per year) and for the teaching assistantships (typically 8 per year). They fund students all three years.
University of California, Davis
UC Davis offers an MFA in art studio that provides an interdisciplinary visual arts education. The program is two years long and allows students to explore a variety of media. Students are encouraged to collaborate with other disciplines while engaging in creative practice and learning art theory. Paid teaching assistant positions and Art Studio Program Fellowships are available to help students pay for their graduate education.
Georgia State University
The Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University offers an MFA in studio with concentrations in textiles, printmaking, sculpture, photography, interior design, graphic design, drawing and painting, and ceramics. Students gain real-world experience from gallery shows and workshops. All students receive teaching assistantships that provide a full tuition waiver and a monthly stipend. Students can also compete to receive the Welch Fellowship.
The School of Art + Design at Ohio University offers MFA programs in ceramics, graphic design, painting and drawing, photography and integrated media, printmaking, and sculpture and expanded practice. These programs provide in-depth study in the specific area of study. All students are eligible to apply for funding in the form of tuition waivers and stipends. The school has a $750,000 annual budget for this type of aid.
Ohio State University
Ohio State University offers an MFA in visual arts with an emphasis in sculpture, printmaking, photography, painting and drawing, glass, ceramics, or art and technology. MFA students work with professors from all seven areas and complete projects in every area. Students have access to private studio spaces to complete their work. This is a three-year program that requires 66 credit hours of courses.
Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University offers MFAs in creative writing; fine arts; theatre performance; and media, technology, and entertainment. Students who want to pursue an MFA in fine arts can choose a concentration in book arts, sculpture, photography, printmaking, painting, drawing, or ceramics. There are teaching assistantships available for all graduate students. The assistantships require teaching two courses per term and come with a tuition waiver and a stipend.
University of Texas – Austin
The University of Texas – Austin offers an MFA in studio art. Students can choose an area of concentration from the following: transmedia, sculpture and extended media, print, photography and media, or painting and drawing, or they can choose to work across all areas of study. The program is interdisciplinary in nature and encourages responsibility, intellectual capacity, and self-motivation. Fellowships and teaching assistantships are available.
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa offers an MFA in creative writing that involves literature classes, forms courses, and writing workshops. Students have a chance to experiment with different forms and strategies. The final thesis project is usually a book-length manuscript. The program takes three to four years to complete. All students receive fellowships or teaching assistantships, which can last for the full four-year duration of the program.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona offers a fully funded MFA program in creative writing. Students can choose to focus on nonfiction, fiction, or poetry, but are encouraged to work on all three. The program is three years long. All MFA students are offered teaching assistantships, which provide health insurance, a salary, and a tuition waiver.
Oregon State University
Oregon State University offers an MFA in creative writing that is fully funded. The program has an impressive past, but its present is even more impressive, with faculty members that have published over 40 books between them, some of which have won prestigious prizes. MFA students have access to graduate teaching assistantships both inside of the School of Writing, Literature, and Film and in other schools.
University of Florida, Gainesville
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida, Gainesville offers an MFA in creative writing that is one of the oldest writing programs in the country. The school has an impressive list of books that have been published by its MFA graduates. This is a fully funded MFA program with a stipend of $24,000.
University of California, Los Angeles
The UCLA Department of Art offers a fully funded MFA program with six areas of study to choose from: ceramics,
interdisciplinary studio, new genres, painting and drawing, photography, or sculpture. The program is taught by internationally recognized artists has an impressive roster of visiting lecturers. The school offers both merit-based and need-based support for MFA students, including assistantships, fellowships, and departmental awards.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
The Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor offers an MFA that is driven by research. The curriculum encourages students to create work that is culturally relevant and makes an impact. Students receive mentorship from Stamps faculty members and have access to the 33,000 square foot graduate studio. Financial support is available to all MFA students.
University of Wisconsin – Madison
The University of Wisconsin – Madison offers a fully funded MFA in creative writing, with an emphasis in poetry or fiction. The program admits poets and fiction writers in alternating years. For the program beginning in Fall 2021, the emphasis is poetry. The two-year program consists of 9 credits of writing workshops, 3 credits of pedagogy, 15 thesis credits, and 15 credits of electives. All students are fully funded.
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University’s two-year MFA in creative writing is fully funded through a teaching assistantship and consists of a thesis, interdisciplinary coursework, and writing workshops. The program is small, so students and faculty can spend time together. The school accepts about 12 students per year, with about half focusing on poetry and the other half on fiction.
Florida State University
Florida State University offers several fully funded MFA programs. Students can choose an MFA in creative writing, acting, studio art, or dance. Teaching assistantships are available for all of these programs.
West Virginia University
West Virginia University offers a fully funded MFA in creative writing. Students can focus on poetry, nonfiction, or fiction. The program is three years long, and students work in their area of focus as well as at least one other genre. The curriculum includes writing, editing, pedagogy, and literature. The assistantship includes a tuition waiver and a $16,750 stipend.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas offers fully funded MFA programs in creative writing and art. Both programs are three years long. The creative writing program culminates in a book-length thesis in poetry, fiction, or literary nonfiction. Both programs provide funding in the form of graduate assistantships.
Wichita State University
Wichita State University offers two fully funded MFA programs, in creative writing and studio art. Creative writing students can choose to focus on poetry or fiction. Studio art students must have at least 12 credits in art history. Both programs offer financial support, including teaching assistantships, scholarships, and fellowships.
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa offers fully funded MFA programs in creative writing, studio arts, and film and video production. All of these programs have financial support available in the form of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and/or fellowships. Most assistantships and fellowships cover full tuition remission or a scholarship to be applied to tuition.
University of Kansas
The University of Kansas offers fully funded MFAs in creative writing and visual arts. The creative writing program has tracks in playwriting, creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Students in the visual arts program can choose from textiles/fibers, sculpture, printmaking, painting/drawing, metalsmithing/jewelry, expanded media, or ceramics. Both programs have funding available through assistantships.
University of New Mexico
The University of New Mexico offers fully funded MFAs in creative writing and dance. The creative writing program is a three-year program that combines creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. The dance program is also three years long and provides experience in teaching, choreography, and professional performance. Both programs provide funding through graduate assistantships.
Rutgers University – Camden
Rutgers University – Camden offers a fully funded MFA in creative writing. The program allows students to concentrate in one genre, but encourages them to experiment with other disciplines as well. Rutgers has a literary magazine called StoryQuarterly and hosts the Writers in Camden reading series. All full-time MFA students receive full funding, which includes a stipend and tuition remission.
Rutgers University – Newark
Rutgers University – Newark also offers an MFA in creative writing. The program involves the study of literature as well as the practice of writing. Each student declares a genre and takes 12 credit hours of writing workshops in that genre. Students are also required to take 18 hours in literature. The MFA is the terminal degree for creative writing, and students who complete the program are qualified to teach at the college level.
University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati offers a fully funded MFA in art with a focus in media studies or two-dimensional studies. The facilities include studios for figure drawing, rapid prototyping, woodworking, electronic art and video, darkroom work, digital printing, sculpture, metal casting, ceramics, metal fabrication, silk screening, relief printing, lithography, and etching, There are research grants, travel fellowships, teaching assistantships, graduate assistantships, and scholarships available.
University of Illinois
The University of Illinois has two fully funded MFA programs: one in creative writing and one in studio art. The creative writing program is three years long and covers poetry and fiction. By the end of the program, students will produce a publishable book-length manuscript. The Studio Art MFA combines research with artistic critique and production. Most students receive teaching assistantships that offer tuition waivers.
University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas offers a fully funded MFA in studio art. The program is three years long and requires 60 credits. Students can specialize in sculpture, printmaking, photography, painting, drawing, or ceramics. All students are fully supported through a combination of an assistantship and a fellowship that together provide $19,000 per year in stipends.
Boise State University
Boise State University offers a fully funded MFA in creative writing that is dedicated to fiction and poetry. Students work closely with faculty members and visiting writers. The third year of the program is spent working on a full-length manuscript. All students in the creative writing MFA program receive an assistantship with a $10,450 stipend as well as health insurance and a tuition waiver.
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities offers an MFA in art that balances critical inquiry with studio time. The three-year program emphasizes high-quality creative work and encourages artists to experiment with different media. The school provides financial support and studio space to students throughout all three years of the program.
Illinois State University
The Wonsook Kim School of Art at Illinois State University offers an MFA in art with concentrations in glass, photography, ceramics, video, printmaking, sculpture and expanded media, or painting and drawing. Each student has a solo exhibition in the school’s student gallery. There are assistantships available that provide tuition waivers and either a monthly stipend or an hourly wage.
Washington State University
Washington State University offers a fully funded MFA in art that encourages an interdisciplinary approach. Students meet with faculty regularly for critiques in order to gain insight on their work. All students have access to the art building and to private studio space. Teaching assistantships are available, but they are competitive. The assistantships come with a $13,000 stipend, tuition waiver, and health insurance.
Louisiana State University
The Louisiana State University School of Art offers an MFA with seven concentrations to choose from: sculpture, printmaking, photography, painting and drawing, graphic design, digital art, and ceramics. MFA students have access to assistantships that may include teaching, classroom assistance, shop work, and monitoring of studios, classrooms, and shops.
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi offers two fully funded MFA programs, in English and in studio art. The English program is only ten years old and has been recognized by The Atlantic Monthly and Poets & Writers. The studio art program has four concentrations to choose from: sculpture, printmaking, painting, and ceramics. Both programs feature full funding through graduate assistantships.
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University offers a fully funded MFA in creative writing. The program is dedicated to helping each student develop his or her own unique talents and voice. Students complete 36 hours of study, most of which is writing workshops. Students are free to choose electives from other disciplines as long as they can explain how they will help them in their writing careers. Graduate assistantships are available and provide a 100% tuition waiver as well as a stipend of $11,500.
Our Ranking Methodology
We gathered graduate tuition rates from each school’s website and enrollment data from Google. We used the in-state per semester tuition rates where available. Where tuition was listed per credit, we multiplied by 12 credits to get a semester cost. For annual costs, we assumed that the school year is made up of two semesters. Enrollment numbers are for the parent school, not for a single campus location.
After sorting first by tuition then by enrollment, we assigned points to each school, with a maximum of 50 points for tuition cost and 50 points for enrollment. We added these two scores to get a final score for ranking.
Problems with Your Ranking?
If you work for one of the schools we ranked and you notice an error in the information we used to rank you, please feel free to contact us and let us know so we can make a correction.