Are There Any Fully Funded MFA Programs?

If you’re researching graduate programs in the arts, then you may be wondering if there are any fully funded MFA programs for your degree. Full funding for graduate programs is not uncommon. Some of the best schools in the country offer full funding as an incentive to attract top students, but schools that offer this incentive typically require that students meet stringent admissions requirements. Applicants should also demonstrate strong proficiency in the subject area or show real need for full funding.

Definition of Full Funding

First, you should consider what “fully funded” means when it comes to MFA programs. Some schools define full funding as covering the cost of tuition, excluding things like student activity fees or other expenses that a student might encounter. Because graduate programs are so demanding, many students forgo full-time work to focus on their studies. MFA programs that don’t cover living expenses may not be an option for students with families and other financial obligations. Other schools will award students full tuition, fees and a stipend for living expenses. The amount of the award depends on several factors, including how much the school can afford to spend, the number of qualified applicants and students’ particular needs.

Schools with Fully Funded MFAs

Graduate programs are just as competitive as businesses when it comes to attracting top talent, which is why many schools offer fully funded degrees. The MFA information blog, The MFA Years, offers a complete list of schools that currently offer fully funded programs. The site only counts schools that offer tuition and stipends as part of the award package.

As of the time of this writing, there are 50 schools in the United States that offer fully funded MFA programs. Each school may offer just one program or several, and each school has its own set of requirements for granting full funding. For instance, the University of Wyoming in Laramie awards MFA students two years of graduate funding in the form of assistanceships. The assistanceships include a waiver of tuition of fees, student health insurance and a stipend of $11,700 per academic year. The University of Miami offers financial aid to every MFA candidate, but the award varies based on program, and it can include teaching assistanceships or creative writing scholarships.

Program Requirements and Expectations

There are many reasons to pursue a Master of Fine Arts, but it doesn’t always make practical or economic sense, particularly if you have a family or a full-time job that you love. MFAs don’t guarantee employment. However, if you do choose to get your MFA, then you should take note of the program requirements and expectations when choosing a school. You may have to teach for all or part of your time at school, or you may have to attend conferences, deliver lectures or assist faculty members with various tasks. Recipients of full funding also must maintain strong academic credentials, and they usually must avoid disciplinary actions.

Graduate school can be challenging, time-consuming and expensive. Choosing a program with full funding, including living stipends, is a great way to offset the financial impact of earning an advanced degree. Many prestigious writers and artists hold degrees from top universities because these universities typically offer the best financial incentives. There are usually heavy strings attached to fully funded MFA programs, so look for a program that helps you to achieve your academic goals.