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Apply to MFA in Visual Art

A student and faculty member sit in the student's studio, where a large, colorful artwork hangs on the wall.

Thank you for your interest in the Sam Fox School’s MFA in Visual Art (MFA-VA) program at Washington University in St. Louis!

Application instructions are below. No applicant will be offered admission into the program until all required items have been received by the Graduate School of Art.

Application Instructions + Information

  • Application materials may be submitted over time. However, all parts of the application, with the exception of the letters of recommendation, must be submitted by the application deadline. This includes any application for financial aid (which is optional).

  • Admissions decisions are based on the applicant’s portfolio, academic records, statement of objectives, and references. Applicants should have completed a BFA or equivalent academic preparation with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

  • NOTE: Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores.

  1. A non-refundable $40 application fee, paid online by credit card.

  2. Personal and academic information.

  3. Statement of objectives. Provide a concise statement (no more than 500 words, PDF) that gives a sense of you, your work, and your objectives for graduate study. We are looking for information as it relates to your creative work. The statement should primarily focus on your conceptual and material interests and proposed area(s) of study, including any discipline-specific or cross disciplinary interests and historical precedents you may recognize. The statement should also identify your goals for graduate study and the contributions you hope to make at Washington University. Title the document with your name.

  4. Unofficial transcript. Upload a PDF copy of your unofficial college transcript(s). If more than one school was attended, consolidate all transcripts chronologically into one PDF. Note that official hard-copy transcripts or similar records related to your degree completion will be requested at a later date from those who are admitted and plan to enroll. Full instructions about the submission of official hard-copy documents will be provided then.

  5. Curriculum Vitae (CV). Attach a PDF copy of your Curriculum Vitae (CV). Include your phone number, email, address, and website (if relevant).

  6. Other documents (optional). You are welcome to attach other documents, including professional publications or articles, through the online application. Upload PDFs only.

  7. English language scores (if the applicant’s native language is not English). For fall 2022 admission, applicants for whom English is not your native language must submit a score report for the Test for English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT), International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module, or Duolingo test. See the International Applicants section for full details.

  8. References. Each applicant must provide names, titles, and email addresses for 3 references. You should get reference letter consents from professors, instructors, or professionals with whom you have recently worked or studied. Let them know they will receive an email request once you have applied; they will have up to 7 days beyond our application deadline to submit their reference.

  9. Visual Materials/Portfolio. You will be prompted to upload a portfolio in Slideroom. Submit 20 images or samples of time-based media in a Mac OS format. Select your strongest and best work. Your work samples should demonstrate your potential for accomplishment in the study of visual art at the graduate level. Work samples should be uploaded in reverse chronological order with newest work first. Provide 20 items, which can include:

    • Images (up to 5MB each): Each still image should be in .jpg format, no larger than 1200 pixels on the longest side and no larger than 72 dpi overall.
    • Video (up to 250MB each): Must be in a Quicktime-compatible format: .mpeg, .mov. Each submission should be no longer than 3 minutes in length.
    • Audio (up to 30MB each): .mp3 files. Each submission should be no longer than 3 minutes in length.

    Do not use presentation programs such as PowerPoint.

    All digital files submitted should follow a naming convention that includes your last name and the first initial of your first name, such as: DoeJ_GhostSeries_Image1.jpg.

    For each work submitted include title, date, size, medium. If the medium is mixed, name all materials specifically. Do NOT use this area to explain what the work means.

As noted in Item 7, applicants for whom English is not your native language must submit a score report for one of the tests below in order to obtain admission to the MFA program:

  • Test for English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT), with a minimum acceptable scores of 90 (traditional iBT only—we do not accept the TOEFL iBT Home Edition).
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module with a minimum composite score of 6.5.
  • Duolingo test with a minimum acceptable score of 115.

To ensure that we receive your official test score results:

  • TOEFL test takers must use our institution code (6929) when making arrangements with the testing agency for score reporting.
  • IELTS score results must be delivered to us electronically via the IELTS Results Service e-Delivery system. Be sure to use the name of our E-Delivery Account: Washington University in St. Louis.
  • The Duolingo test can be taken at home and is recommended for those who encounter TOEFL or IELTS test center closures. Send PDF or link with scores to

It takes six weeks for scores to arrive, so plan to take the test well in advance of the application deadline.

An exception to the English language score requirement may be made for applicants who have studied in the United States or another English-speaking country for a minimum of three years toward a baccalaureate degree or higher. The TOEFL, IELTS, and Duolingo tests do not in and of themselves presume adequate qualification for study. Functional English and familiarity with additional art-related terminology are required upon entrance in order to pass coursework. International students will be interviewed prior to the issuance of an I-20 for a student visa. In select cases, students will be tested upon arrival and may be required to enroll in reading and comprehension classes.

International students will receive specific instructions regarding the necessary financial documentation for visa purposes when admission letters are issued. For questions regarding non-immigrant student visas, contact Melissa Whitwam, Graduate School of Art programs coordinator, at 314.935.8423 or

In summer 2023, matriculating students will receive a request for official transcripts from all post-secondary study to be sent to us directly from their previous college or university. Transcripts must include the degree(s) awarded and date(s) of conferral, as applicable. Students who attended a Chinese university must also have their transcript and qualification certificate verified (in English) by the Center for Student Services Development (CSSD).

Please note: If you have graduated from a university in the United States, you may still be required to submit a TOEFL score. As institutions vary in their language requirements, the Graduate School of Art does not automatically grant TOEFL waivers. In addition, all international students will be interviewed by the Chair of the MFA in Visual Art program.

For information on cost of attendance, as well as scholarship and financial aid opportunities, please click here.

An application for financial aid will have no effect on the admission decision. The Graduate School of Art strives to provide aid to as many fellows as possible. Financial aid packages most often consist of a combination of fellowships or scholarships, teaching and/or technical assistantships, and loan assistance. Fellowship, scholarship, and assistantship awards are based on artistic and academic merit, as well as need. Federal loan assistance for eligible U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents is awarded based on financial need.

During the 2021-22 academic year, 100 percent of our MFA students received scholarship/remission assistance. Scholarship/remission awards ranged from $7,182 to $46,188 annually, depending on each individual’s situation.

Visit the Financial Aid & Scholarships page for more information.

Each year, representatives from the Sam Fox School attend Graduate Portfolio Days held across the country. The National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA) hosts annual National Portfolio Days specifically for visual artists and designers. These events provide opportunities for those who wish to pursue an education in the visual and related arts to meet with representatives from colleges accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Representatives will be available to review your artwork, discuss their programs, and answer questions about professional careers in art.

Full event details are and registration are available on the National Portfolio Day Association website.

Washington University encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission, financial aid, and employment. The University does not discriminate in access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, veteran status, disability, or genetic information. Applicants with a prior criminal history will not be automatically disqualified from consideration for admission. Inquiries about compliance should be addressed to the University’s Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Washington University, Campus Box 1184, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130.