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Master of Fine Arts in Craft & Material Studies - Low Residency

Master of Fine Arts in Craft and Material Studies - Low Residency

The Master of Fine Arts in Craft and Material Studies - Low Residency fosters the creative practice, materials knowledge, and academic achievement of independent, self-motivated artists, makers and designers, particularly those with established professional lives, family or community commitments that present geographic challenges to furthering their careers through traditional curriculum. A major tenet of this program is its cross-media approach to pursuing the qualities and potential of materials and processes.  MFA in Craft and Material Studies students are challenged to apply an expanded understanding of material literacy to their creative work in relation to individual interests and awareness of personal, social and cultural contexts. Various forms of art and craft studio practice are expanded with access to state-of-the-art equipment and the exceptional studio facilities at OCAC. Students further enhance their approach to research, writing and presentation skills with guidance from renowned faculty and visiting artists.

Craft and Material Studies students are an integral part of the existing MFA in Craft program, alternating between being immersed in the MFA in Craft curriculum on the OCAC campus and an autonomous, mentor based studio practice within their home community during the seven semester curriculum. Through a home community mentorship program supported by regular online meetings with OCAC faculty, students connect with local communities as well as national networks in an intensive and unique educational experience. Graduates will leave with a confident studio practice, exhibition and public presentation successes and the support of a dynamic network to extend their creative work.

Visit Admissions to learn more about graduate enrollment periods and apply online.

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Courses and Requirements
Course Descriptions
Program Requirements

Academic - 9 credits
Graduate Seminar I-VI
Developed as a foundational curriculum component, Graduate Seminar I–VI examines diverse contemporary topics, empowering students to address historical, theoretical, and cultural positions within an intellectual and artistic arena. Investigating creative impulses and artistic motivations from various competing positions—globalization, localism, colonialism, social cultures, politics, technology, gender and material studies—provides essential contextual understanding for students to deepen their studio practice. Whether on-line or on campus, the Graduate Seminar relies on an open critical exchange between students, faculty, and visiting artists, promoting diverse perspectives while generating research methodologies and an informed critical writing practice.

Studio - 39 credits
Graduate Studio: Integrated Practice- minimum 6 credits
Led by the distinguished Instructor-in-Residence, the structure of Integrated Practice challenges students to consider key issues of craft and material studies within the context of their studio practice. With the goal of promoting discussion understanding and articulation of ideas, various outside academic and professional guests (including, but not limited to artists, critics, curators, writers, performers, art historians) will regularly engage the class as a group and through individual studio visits. Offered on-campus, this course provides dynamic, critical and collaborative activities to build relationships and contribute to versatile critical dialogues in the field.

Graduate Studio: Independent Studio - minimum 6 credits
Working closely with a mentor, students expand on their creative processes, interest, and goals seeking depth and resolve. The Lead Faculty at OCAC will guide students to invite and select appropriate mentors from within or outside of their local communities. Mentors include prominent professionals in their creative practice who can advise students in the development and articulation of the their studio work throughout the semester. With the guidance of the Lead Faculty, students meet regularly online with peers, discussing creative progress and goals as a group. Online critiques with fellow graduate students and faculty creates an open platform to assess recognize generative directions of their work within the fields of contemporary art and craft practice.

Graduate Studio: Intensive Studio - minimum 6 credits
In-resident studio practice on OCAC campus offers students an immersive creative environment with dedicated studio space and access to all studio facilities, expanding upon students’ creative inquiry and engaging other graduate cohorts. Utilizing campus facilities allows for a rigorous studio experience fueling explorations of ideas and making when students continue creating in their home community. During the first two weeks of the summer semester, taken in parallel with “Integrated Practice”, students focus on experimental processes, discovering new materials or methods, while simultaneously developing and producing existing work. Students may choose to stay on campus continually developing their work for an additional two weeks.

Thesis Studio - 18 credits
Focusing on creating thesis work and research, students explore ideas and approaches from previous work developed and articulated through “Intensive Studio” and “Independent Studio." The thesis committee is consisted of three faculty and creative professionals on campus or in student’s home community and work remotely together. Students work with the thesis committee through their thesis year with academic research, a culminating studio project and presentation. Guided by the Lead Faculty, students meet with their peers online to discuss the progress of their work and exchange their ideas in order to critically assess and collegially support the thesis body of work.

Electives - 12 credits
Encouraging learning to broaden and deepen a student’s knowledge or experiences, students may consider opportunities to expand their critical thinking, cultural understanding, material exploration, community or social engagement. Elective course options are flexible and individually designed for students’ needs. During regular advising sessions with the Lead Faculty students are encouraged to design their curriculum by reaching out of their comfort zone or enhancing the strengths of their creative and professional practices.

Chart 1: Credit Requirements (60 credits total)

Studio Academic Electives Total
39 credits 9 credits 12 credits 60 credits
65% 15% 20% 100%

Chart 2: Credit and Degree Requirement by Course

Area of Study Course Title Minimum Credit Requirement Total Credit Requirement Location Offered Semesters
Academic Graduate Seminar 1.5/semester 9 Online FA/SP/SU
Studio Graduate Studio: Integrated Practice
Graduate Studio: Independent Studio
Graduate Studio: Intensive Studio
Min. 6 24 Local or on-campus SU
Studio Thesis Studio   15 Local or on-campus FA/SP/SU
Elective Selected courses   12 N/A FA/SP/SU
Degree Students must participate in immersive
two-week campus-based summer semesters.
Degree Thesis candidacy: Students must pass their Thesis Candidacy Review in their fourth semester in order to move forward with the Thesis year (student's last three semesters in the program).        

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Summer Intensive: Students must participate in on-campus Intensive for 2 weeks in the Summer semesters. (4 weeks - optional)
Thesis Candidacy: Students must pass their thesis candidacy review in their fourth semester in order to move forward with the thesis year, students’ last three semesters in the program.
Thesis Defense: Students must pass a thesis defense with a complete thesis project and written thesis document. Students must present their work publicly.

Seven semesters, including 2-3 summer semesters

Rolling enrollment - apply for Fall, Spring or Summer semester to join the program.

OCAC's studios are home to both traditional and cutting-edge equipment that allow students access to a large array of materials, processes and techniques. For more information on the specific equipment in each of our studios, please click here.

MFA in Craft and Material Studies, Low Residency students must possess or have the ability to access a computer (Mac or PC) with reliable internet access, and be able to use Gmail and Google-based programs.

Karl Burkheimer, Program Chair
Courtney Kemp
Elizabeth Malaska

More information about OCAC's faculty here.

Visit the Admissions page to learn more about graduate enrollment periods and to apply online. Contact us at or 971.255.4192 with questions.




Learn more about our programs of study:
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Master of Fine Arts in Craft
Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design
Master of Fine Arts in Craft & Material Studies
Master of Fine Arts in Applied Craft + Design
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Craft (requires a bachelor's degree)
The Certificate in Craft