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Changing tracks: Should I pursue a BFA or MFA?

LaitmaLaitma Posts: 2Registered User New Member
edited November 2012 in Visual Arts and Film Majors
So, I'm a college graduate with a BS in Environmental Engineering, but I want to go to art school. I was able to take classes at MICA during my senior year (I studied at JHU in Baltimore), so I took Intro to Sequential Art, Narrative Art, and Intro to 2D Animation. I also took Life Drawing and two video game design classes at JHU. I'm interested in ways to tell stories visually, and I want to go through an art program that will give me the credentials to compete for an industry-related job, most likely.

I tend to gravitate toward mentions of "illustration", "sequential art", and "animation", but really, all I want is to be a part of the creative process in determining how to tell a story, be it a film/animation or comic book/graphic novel. But it seems easier to find a steady job in storyboarding/animation work than with comics, so I lean toward programs with animation concentrations; still, I've been told that sequential art also prepares you very well for jobs in storyboarding. Right now I'm looking at SCAD, which has a really great Sequential Art program for both undergrad and grad, and an admissions advisor who will hopefully talk me through my choices.

I'm asking about BFAs vs. MFAs because I contacted an MCAD admissions advisor on pursuing an MFA; however, I was told that if I wasn't sure about my area of study yet, an MFA probably wasn't right for me. I'm leaning toward a BFA right now: something that'll prepare me for an artistic career while also allowing me room to explore other areas that I'm interested in (such as film), but it feels tiresome to have to take general ed classes again. I'm looking into transfer options (to opt out of math/science/english requirements), but don't know yet as to whether or not I'll be required to take basic drawing classes and art history classes. I know that I'm a very hard-working student and have considered pushing a 4-year art degree into 3 years (I almost managed it with the requirements of an engineering degree, which was how I had the time senior year to take art classes), so I'm hoping to be able to work some kind of "accelerated" bachelor's, but don't really know as to how likely of an option this will even be.

What is an MFA in illustration or animation really about? Does this sound like what I want, or should I try somehow to make a bachelor's program work for me? I thought a master's would be about a lot of improving personally as an artist, but all of the thesis work and independent studies confuse me. I would love to work on my own projects (planned graphic novels, animations, etc) but I don't think that those are relatable to my attempting to get a job in art.

If I'm going to pursue a bachelor's, is there any way I can "Streamline" this process to suit me better, as someone who's actively worked on art very hard in the last four years and already has another bachelor's? Continuing Education is an option, but I feel as though an immersive program and support from faculty are very important to helping me network and find the jobs that I hope to be able to get. As well, I'm currently living at home with my parents (no rent, free food) and my job pays well, so I don't particularly want to leave my current situation, unless it is to actually attend school.

Sorry I'm so verbose and kind of all over the place, I'm bad at explaining things. Thanks in advance for any help.
Post edited by Laitma on

Replies to: Changing tracks: Should I pursue a BFA or MFA?

  • mom4artmom4art Posts: 240Registered User Junior Member
    @Latima - Good for you for pursuing what you love. My D's grade school art teacher dropped out of Medical School to pursue art. Certainly not as lucrative as his original path, but according to him, it was the happier path.

    Let's say you can get your BFA in 3 years. It is an expensive degree from the MICA/MCAD/SCAD caliber school. Have you worked through the +/- of the finances? Would a good in-state university program be more affordable?

    I am not familiar with anyone getting an MFA (in illustration, for example) without the technical practice that comes with a Bachelor's in art. I'm sure it is done. Your focus seems to be to get a good job in the visual storytelling business. Your job-related portfolio will be compared to those who have practiced their craft regularly over the last 4 years. Is there a shortcut to this practice? I don't know.

    It sounds like you have already gone to one school to ask for advice, have you asked other schools what would transfer? The rest of us would be guessing.
    Lots to think about. There's no one right answer. Good luck!
  • redbug119redbug119 Posts: 842Registered User Member
    My D is a junior at MCAD, majoring in illustration, and has taken some classes in comic (sequential) art. She is working on a BFA. The curriculum, is set up such that you have a foundation year (and you'll find that pretty much everywhere) where your classes are pre-determined. She usually takes 3 studio classes a semester, but she has had 2 semesters (including this one) where she has had 4 studio classes along with her junior review (like another studio class). She works her a**ss off and barely has time to eat and sleep. Studio classes take up an enormous amount of time - not only do you have 5 hours of class a week, you have assignments that take up big chunks of time. It is very different than taking regular non-studio (humanities, math,etc). I don't see how you would cram the last 3 years into 2 years with a senior thesis the last year. And don't plan on working too many hours, if at all!

    I think the MCAD admissions person was correct. It is best to decide what you want to do first before you go the MFA route.
  • kelsmomkelsmom Posts: 12,539Super Moderator Senior Member
    I work at a school that is MFA-only (no undergrad program). Although we do admit students without a BFA, those students have artistic experience and a vision for their own work (as well as a competitive portfolio). The MFA is not a learning degree ... it is a fine-tuning degree. It is the terminal degree for art ... like a PhD is to other fields.
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