Master of Fine Arts in Electronic Arts

The MFA in Electronic Arts program is currently being redesigned. This program is not accepting applications at this time. Application to the PhD in Electronic Arts program will remain open. Prospective students interested in graduate study in Arts at Rensselaer should consider application to this program.

The Master of Fine Arts in Electronic Arts degree program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 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 form of this creative work may include musical compositions and performances, videotapes and installations, multimedia presentations, performance art, and computer-generated or mediated images. 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 performance of creative work are emphasized.


Admission to the M.F.A. program is highly competitive and is based on the submission of a formal application package. The applicant's prior academic records as well as references are examined for evidence of singular ability to meet the graduate standards and degree requirements of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Applicants are expected to have completed a Bachelor's degree and to provide evidence of accomplishment in some aspect of music or the visual arts, usually via an artist's portfolio.

The successful portfolio and application will show growth and development as an artist, experimentation with the artist's chosen medium, and a desire to work with all the electronic arts tools. The portfolio should represent what the applicant considers to be their best work in any medium. Acceptable submissions include but are not limited to urls, DVDs, slides, artist books, CD-ROMs, video and audio recordings, music scores, etc. Candidates should anticipate the portfolio review to be completed in approximately 30 minutes and submit appropriately.

Required Materials

  • Completed graduate application (online application required)
  • Non-refundable application fee of $75
  • Statement of Background and Goals
  • Portfolio (online submission or URL preferred)
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Official transcripts and evidence of degrees earned, in English, of all post-secondary education listed
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores, if applicable

Applicants must submit the requested materials online in addition to sending hard copies of the required supporting credentials NOT submitted in the online application, together in one envelope, to Graduate Admissions (address below) by the application deadline of January 1st for fall entry.

Graduate Admissions
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590

Applicants requesting financial aid should submit the completed application and all supporting materials by the application deadline, to ensure competitive consideration for awards (Later applicants with strong credentials will be considered pending the availability of aid.)

Rensselaer research and teaching assistantships and university, corporate, or national fellowships fund many of Rensselaer's full-time graduate students. Assistantships are based upon the applicant's academic record, previous experience or potential, and recommendations. A fixed number of Teaching Assistant (TA) and institutionally supported Research Assistant (IRA) positions are available to each department in order to attract the very highest quality students. For each of these positions, Rensselaer will provide tuition waivers and stipends. A full-time graduate student assistant is responsible for a maximum of 20 hours of work weekly, which may include aiding in the classroom, in the laboratory, or in research. The continuation of financial assistance is contingent upon satisfactory performance of assigned duties and satisfactory academic progress, as well as aid availability. Notification of awards begins in February and is made by the department directly to the applicant.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute admits qualified students without regard to gender, sexual preference, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, marital status, or disability.

Q:Is the GRE required for admission to the MFA program?
A:No, the GRE is not required for admission to the program. However, if you took the exam and scored well, it couldn't hurt.
Q: Can I start the MFA in the spring?
A: No, we only accept application for Fall admission.
Q: I missed the application deadline. Is it too late to apply?
A: Qualified candidates can be admitted right up to the start of the semester. However, our financial aid packages are typically exhausted by the end of April. So, while you may be accepted into the program, it is unlikely you would receive any financial support.
Q: What is the minimum undergraduate GPA required?
A: The minimum undergraduate GPA required to be admitted into the program is 3.0. Qualified candidates with an undergraduate GPA of less than 3.0 need to demonstrate supplemental academic rigor or professional development.
Q: What is the minimum TOEFL score for international students?
A: Applicants whose native language is not English must have a minimum TOEFL score of 230 CBT 570 PBT. An IELTS score of 7 or higher may be substituted. Qualified candidates that do not meet the minimum will be required to show evidence of spoken proficiency via an interview.
Q: Is financial aid available for international students?
A: Assistantships and Fellowships are merit based. All qualified candidates are eligible.
Q: Can I submit my portfolio online?
A: We are currently unable to accept portfolios online. If your portfolio is located online, please provide us with the URL at the top of your Statement of Background and Goals in the online application.
Q: Will I get my portfolio returned if I am not accepted into the program?
A: Your portfolio will only be returned to you if you provide a pre-paid envelope for us to do so. Unclaimed portfolios are destroyed.
Q: When will I be notified whether I've been accepted or not?
A: Admission decisions are typically finalized in mid-March. Financial aid decision follow shortly.
Q: How many applications do you receive? How many students are accepted in the program? How many students receive financial aid offers?
A: The department typically receives up to 60 applications. We accept approximately 20 percent (10-12 students) and offer funding to 50% (5-6) of the accepted students.

MFA Graduate Student Handbook 

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