ProgramsMFA: Design Media Arts

Graduate

Overview

The Master of Fine Arts in Media Arts is a rigorous three-year program that focuses on each individual's personal and creative development within the context of media arts. Each student works toward an individual thesis project that incorporates research and theoretical exploration of a topic of their choice, with the goal of producing a refined body of work that culminates in an MFA exhibition. DMA graduate students come from many fields including the visual arts, sciences, and engineering and artists from diverse backgrounds including the visual arts, sciences, and engineering are encouraged to apply.

MFA students are exposed to new ways of thinking and making through skills and theory courses taken in tandem with individual meetings with faculty members and group critique sessions in the first year. The second year is devoted to the thesis — defining, exploring, and producing work in the studio along with one-on-one tutorials with faculty and group critiques. Students have the opportunity to work as teaching assistants and to collaborate with faculty members on research projects.

Each student works toward an individual thesis project that incorporates research and theoretical exploration of a topic of their choice, with the goal of producing a refined body of work that culminates in an MFA exhibition.

Curriculum

The program is focused on preparing students in three primary ways. First, through the acquisition and development of technical and craft-based skills in various related media. Second, by building a thorough theoretical foundation in media history and theory, and supporting each student’s journey in developing their own unique discursive framework through writing, research, and interdisciplinary engagement with other departments at UCLA. Finally, by helping students hone a sophisticated and compelling body of work, through critiques, seminars, exhibitions and one-on-one mentorship.

A minimum of 101 quarter units of upper division and graduate Design | Media Arts courses is required. 52 of the 101 units require letter grades; 16 units require S/U grades.

Required courses in the first year: DESMA 200, DESMA 252A, DESMA 252B, DESMA 252C, DESMA 269, DESMA 289, DESMA 403 (taken in Fall and Spring) (28 units); Required courses in the second year: DESMA 269, DESMA 289 (taken twice), DESMA 403 (taken in Fall and Spring) (14 units); Required courses in the third year: DESMA 269, DESMA 200, DESMA 403 (taken in Fall and Spring) (10 units); (these core courses units add up to 52 units)

In addition to these required courses, students must enroll in a minimum of 33 units from any combination of the courses DESMA 404, DESMA 289 or DESMA 403, as well as a minimum of 16 units of electives (from DESMA upper division undergraduate courses, DESMA graduate seminars, upper division courses, or graduate courses outside of the department), of which 8 units of DESMA 596, may be applied toward the requirements for the degree.

For a complete list of DMA and other UCLA courses and course descriptions, consult the UCLA General Catalog.

First Year - Fall Quarter

  • 200
    Faculty Seminar
  • 252A
    Programming Media I
  • 289
    Contemporary Topics in Media Arts
  • 403
    Graduate Group Critique
  • 495
    TA Training

Winter Quarter

  • 289
    Graduate Seminar
  • 252C
    Virtuality
  • ###
    Critique/Tutorial/Seminar
  • ---
    Elective(s) of Choice or 596

Spring Quarter

  • 403
    Graduate Group Critique
  • 252B
    Programming Media 2
  • 404/289
    Graduate Tutorial/Seminar
  • ###
    Elective

Second Year - Fall Quarter

  • 403
    Graduate Group Critique
  • 404/289
    Graduate Tutorial/Seminar
  • 289
    Creating Context Collab
  • ###
    Elective

Winter Quarter

  • 289
    Graduate Seminar
  • ###
    Critique/Tutorial/Seminar
  • 404/289
    Graduate Tutorial/Seminar
  • ###
    Elective

Spring Quarter

  • 403
    Graduate Group Critique
  • 404
    Graduate Tutorial
  • 289
    Graduate Seminar
  • ###
    Elective

Third Year - Fall Quarter

  • 200
    Professional Practice
  • 403
    Graduate Group Critique
  • 404/289
    Graduate Tutorial/Seminar
  • 404
    Graduate Tutorial
  • ###
    Elective

Winter Quarter

  • 289
    Graduate Seminar
  • 404
    Graduate Tutorial
  • ###
    Critique/Tutorial/Seminar
  • ###
    Elective

Spring Quarter

  • 403
    Graduate Group Critique
  • 404
    Graduate Tutorial
  • 404/289
    Graduate Tutorial/Seminar
  • ###
    Elective

Faculty Advising

Each entering student is assigned an initial faculty advisor by the department based on student input and faculty availability. The initial faculty advisor is charged with the responsibility of reviewing the first-year student’s progress a minimum of three times in the academic year and may or may not eventually become a member of the student’s thesis committee. Satisfactory first-year student progress is determined by first-year course grades and the quality of the student’s work in the first-year solo exhibition.

In the second year, the Graduate Thesis Committee is responsible for reviewing, at least once every quarter, the student’s progress toward a thesis project and documentation. The Graduate Thesis Committee, approved by the departmental chair, is comprised of a minimum of three members: two senate faculty members from the Department of Design Media Arts, and one senate faculty member from the Department of Media Arts or any UC campus department. The Committee must be established no later than the end of the fourth week of the fall quarter in the second year.

The comprehensive MFA examination consists of an oral examination and a concentrated body of work that will be presented in a master of fine arts exhibition. An accompanying record of the exhibition, including documentation appropriate to the media, for example, images of physical work, research material, other visual material, a written statement, and other materials as determined by the student’s Graduate Thesis Committee, is also required.

For a complete outline of degree requirements, see "Program Requirements for UCLA Graduate Degrees," accessible on the Graduate Division web site at Program Requirements for UCLA Graduate Degrees.

Admissions

Note: We do not accept traditional graphic design portfolios. The focus of the MFA program in media arts is the use of digital media in an art context. We do NOT offer an MFA in graphic design.

Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in order to apply. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in the last two years of upper-division undergraduate work is also required. The applicant’s bachelor’s degree need not be in media arts, though applicants with degrees in interdisciplinary programs that emphasize media arts are preferred. Applicants are expected to have working knowledge of a variety of software. Additional experience with video, interactive media, or 3D modeling and animation is expected.

Students are recommended for acceptance into the Department of Design Media Arts program based on a faculty evaluation of their portfolio, written statements, and official academic records from all higher-education institutions attended after high school.

All applicants are also required to provide two letters of recommendation with the application. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required.

A portfolio documenting no more than ten of the applicant's original works is required as a part of the UCLA Application for Graduate Admission.

Formal faculty review of graduate applicant portfolios takes place in February of each year. Applicant finalists should be available for an in-person or Skype interview as a part of the application process.

For questions, RSVP for a DMA MFA Info Session, see the Graduate Application FAQ document available below, or contact: dmainfo@arts.ucla.edu

Financial Support

Various merit- and eligibility-based financial support is available to entering and continuing graduate students at UCLA. Entering DMA graduate students are offered financial assistance at the time of admission based on the strength of their application; continuing students are usually informed of their second-year financial support before the beginning of their second-year of study. The most common form of financial support is through teaching assistantships, which typically include fee remissions and health insurance.

More information on financial support, including extramural awards, is available through the UCLA Graduate Division.

Information on fees can be found on the UCLA Tuition & Student Fees site.

Important Dates

01.04.23
Application deadline for Fall 2023 Admission