Degree Requirements

  • Successful completion of all course requirements
  • Complete a minimum of 60 credits, including a minimum of 6 credits in art history and 6 credits in computer sciences/programming
  • Maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B)
  • Produce a thesis approved by the Thesis Committee
  • Participate in a public thesis presentation

The MFA program in computer art is multidisciplinary by nature. As technology and software evolve, new opportunities for creative self-expression emerge. Specific departmental course requirements are kept to a minimum and students meet with the departmental advisor to determine which classes are appropriate for their planned course of study. Students may concentrate their studies in animation, motion graphics and fine art, or pursue a multidisciplinary course of study.

Individual progress is assessed each semester to determine a student’s readiness to proceed to the next level. Although most students earn their degrees in four semesters, some find it necessary or desirable to study for five or six semesters before completing the thesis process. Extended study in the program is deter- mined on an individual basis and important considerations such as course work, visa extension and financial aid must be resolved before extended study can be approved.

The recommended course load is 15 credits per semester. All students must be registered for a minimum of 9 credits per semester in order to remain enrolled in the program.

MFA Computer Art First-Year Requirements

Students must take all of the courses listed under Requirement A and at least two courses from Requirement B and two courses from Requirement C. Students may elect to take one of the courses from Requirement B in their third semester of study.


  • Computer Systems I
  • Digital Art Seminar I
  • Digital Art Seminar II


  • Computer Systems II
  • Programming for Animators
  • Technical Direction
  • Web Programming I
  • Web Programming II
  • App Design and Development
  • Creative Programming for Artists I
  • Creative Programming for Artists II


  • Animation Culture
  • Video Art and Beyond
  • Contemporary Voices
  • New Media in Contemporary Art
  • Theory, Criticism and History of Time-Based Media
  • Ecstasy and Apocalypse
  • New Media Theory

MFA Computer Art Second-Year Requirements

The thesis process begins in the second year and includes a number of requirements that must be completed by due dates set according to the expected date of graduation. Second-year students must register for all of the following courses:

  • Thesis I
  • Thesis Research and Writing I
  • Thesis II
  • Thesis Research and Writing II

How many credits are required to graduate?

60 credits.

How does MFA Computer Art curriculum differ from other graduate programs at SVA?

MFA Computer Art is unique in that it features an interdisciplinary approach to the incorporation of emerging technologies to create linear and non-linear digital fine art. Students come from diverse backgrounds such as traditional fine art media, dance, performance, music, computer science, various engineering specialties, and even entomology. The creative work and research that students pursue is equally diverse. Past creative work includes, but is not limited to, sound art, performance art, interactive installation art, narrative and non-narrative animation, net art, algorithmic art, game art, real-time interactive video/audio processing art, virtual reality art, and narrative and non-narrative linear video art.

Elective courses comprise the majority of the curriculum. Students are strongly encouraged to pursue an individualized course of study that best builds on and expands their creative practice and knowledge.

What are the course requirements?

Requirements are held to a minimum to allow students to customize an individual course of study. Students are required to meet with the departmental Academic Advisor to determine which courses are appropriate for their planned course of study. Required courses make up 27 credits of study. The remaining 33 credits are electives.

Required Courses

  • Digital Art Seminars I & II
  • Computer Systems I
  • Two Art History / Theory courses
  • Two Programming / Technical courses
  • Thesis Research and Writing I & II
  • Thesis I & II

What is the average class size?

Most classes range from 6 to 15 students.

Can graduate students take undergraduate and/or continuing education courses?

All registered graduate students may audit two undergraduate and/or continuing education courses per academic year. (An academic year consists of the Fall, Spring & Summer sessions.) Students do not receive credit or grades for audited courses. Students auditing courses do not have to pay tuition for those courses, but are responsible for registration and any lab fees. Audits are subject to class size limitations and instructor’s permission. These audits are often used for interdisciplinary study or for additional software instruction.

Can I double major?

Students cannot double major in different departments (for example MFA Computer Art and MFA Design). However, MFA Computer Art features a wide range of courses that offer the opportunity for interdisciplinary study and combination of various fields of art practice (for example combining video art courses, programming courses, and physical computing courses in order to create real-time interactive video installations).

Are there summer courses?

The department does not offer any summer courses. Registered students may audit a Continuing Education course during the summer. Additionally, the MFA Computer Art Lab is open to registered MFA Computer Art students throughout most of the summer, for an additional lab fee.

What software courses are offered?

Most courses are generally not software package specific. Recruiters always emphasize that they can teach anyone software but they cannot teach anyone to be an artist. The general curriculum emphasizes development of each student’s individual creative practice rather than teaching specific software packages that tend to become quickly outdated. Most of the courses feature a combination of lecture, creative practice, critique, and production methods. Students desiring intensive software instruction are recommended to audit undergraduate or continuing education classes.

In addition, throughout each semester, the department offers various workshops that cover topics not covered in courses. This includes various software and hardware tutorials, audio/visual equipment tutorials, and MFA Computer Art specific hardware configurations. These workshops are free and open to all MFA Computer Art students.

What is the Thesis?

The Thesis consists of a creative project component, a historical and theoretical research component, and a written Thesis component that students produce in order to earn the MFA degree. The Thesis should express a student’s own individual aesthetic and creative research. In order to make the graduate Thesis unique, students must go beyond their current knowledge through research and practice. The final form is up to the individual student. Examples of past Thesis creative projects include narrative and non-narrative animation, narrative and non-narrative video, sound art, interactive installations, websites, performance and many other diverse expressions that utilized and expanded creative digital art practice. To understand what is expected of a Thesis creative project, please view MFACA Selected Work Vimeo page. These works are all completed Thesis projects.