Master of Fine Arts in Visualization
Unlike any degree in the state of Texas, the Master of Fine Arts in Visualization combines creativity with technical disciplines. In this program, you’ll hone your skills as a technical artist as you create a body of work.
With a focus in technological applications and innovations, our program bridges the gap between technical and artistic skills. You’ll become a hybrid creative equipped to problem-solve across teams on collaborative projects.
About the Program
The Master of Fine Arts in Visualization teaches students to visually communicate their ideas through digital and analog mediums. Our interdisciplinary curriculum encourages the development of new technologies and creative applications.
Our graduates are equipped with a unique balance of artistic insight and technical prowess that sets them apart from their peers.
Areas of Emphasis
- Computer animation
- Interactive art
- User experience design
- Visual storytelling
- Virtual/augmented reality
- Visual effects
- Data visualization
The Master of Fine Arts in Visualization curriculum allows you to tailor your studies to your interests and career aspirations. You’ll develop and compile a body of work in coordination with your personalized courses of study.
MFA coursework 60 credit hours
Prerequisite Courses* 0 credit hours
Required Courses 12 credit hours
Prescribed Electives 17 credit hours
Free Electives 11 credit hours
Professional Study 20 credit hours
*Prerequisite courses are to be taken as directed on admission. They will not count as credits toward the degree.
Required courses & research studio
- VIZA 630: Contemporary Art Studio/Seminar I (4 hours)
- VIZA 631: Contemporary Art Studio/Seminar II (4 hours)
- VIZA 680: Professional Practice (4 hours)
- VIZA 693: Professional Study (20 hours)
Selected core courses
- VIZA 654 Digital Image (4 hours) or VIZA 656 Image Synthesis (4 hours)
- VIZA 622: Design Communication I (4 hours) or VIZA 643: Time-based Media I (4 hours)
- VIZA 614: Form, Installation, and Environment (3 hours) or VIZA 684: Professional Internship (3 hours)
Choose at least six credit hours from the list below:
- VIZA 613: 3D Modeling and Animation (4 hours)
- VIZA 614: Form, Installation, and Environment (3 hours)*
- VIZA 615: Computer Animation (4 hours)
- VIZA 616: Rendering and Shading (3 hours)
- VIZA 617: Advanced Animation (4 hours)
- VIZA 622: Design Communication I (4 hours)*
- VIZA 623: Design Communication II (3 hours)
- VIZA 625: Multi-media Web Design (3 hours)
- VIZA 626: Generative Art (3 hours)
- VIZA 627: Design Communication III (3 hours)
- VIZA 643: Time-based Media I (4 hours)*
- VIZA 647: Color Photography (3 hours)
- VIZA 654: Digital Image (4 hours)*
- VIZA 656: Image Synthesis (4 hours)*
- VIZA 657: Computer Aided Sculpting (3 hours)
- VIZA 662: Physical Computing for Art & Design (3 hours)
- VIZA 665: Digital Compositing (4 hours)
*If not taken to fulfill one of the specific divided electives listed above.
Students are required to complete 11 semester credit hours in any graduate level course or undergraduate level course designated as 300-400 level, with approval of their advisory committee chair.
Creating a Body of Work
Your body of work is the visual compilation and documentation of your talents and skills. Completion, exhibition, and defense of your body of work marks your completion of the program.
Support from the Start
You’ll be assigned an academic advisor upon admission to the program. The advisor will help choose your first-year courses. They will also assist in locating a visualization faculty member to chair your advisory committee who has expertise in your chosen focus area.
Your committee chair will help you find at least one two graduate faculty members (one from outside the visualization department) to fill your advisory committee. Once your committee is in place, they will guide and assist with graduate degree planning, research methods, and thesis work.
Mentoring from Industry Professionals
Every summer, select visualization graduate students participate in a Summer Industry Workshop. During this intensive course, students work all day for 10 weeks to produce professional-grade short films. Students are mentored by professionals from top-of-the-line animation studios.
FAQ about the MFA program
How can I prepare academically for the MFA program?
Applicants wishing to improve their chances for admission or to avoid the need for taking prerequisite courses should consider the following preparation guidelines:
- Mathematics Two semesters of calculus and one semester of linear algebra.
- Computer Science Proficiency in a high level programming language (such as C/C++, Java, or Python) and a course in data structures.
- Art and Design At least two semesters of foundation courses such as drawing, figure drawing, painting, sculpture, design, color theory and photography.
What are the prerequisites for applying to the MFA program?
Students must possess a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a related field. Example majors include, but are not limited to, arts-related fields such as fine art, design, and architecture; technical fields such as computer science, mathematics, and engineering; or a variety of other fields with a strong visual emphasis.
Do I have to have an artistic or technical background?
Yes — both. Our students need technical skills and artistic talent to be successful. We want to see proof of these abilities in your transcript and portfolio when applying.
What is a body of work?
The student is expected, in concert with their advisory committee, to identify a conceptual and/or aesthetic basis for their body of work. It is a set of artworks that demonstrates a high-level creative investigation and accomplishment. The body of work is required to be showcased publicly to complete the program.
Will I have other opportunities to interact with companies?
Since 1999 we have been running a very successful summer course with instructors from industry (ILM, Pixar, R&H, Disney, Dreamworks, and Reel FX so far). We plan to continue this offering. Many of our students also participate in internships.
The Department of Visualization also holds advisory board meetings twice a year where members take the opportunity to meet our students and see student work. Members of the board come from animation, gaming, architecture and graphic design companies.
Is there a Career Resources Center available for the students?
There is a career center on campus, however, placement for visualization students is primarily accomplished through industry visits and networking with former students and recruiting staff at the various companies. We also hold a Viz Industry Fair every year that allows students to connect with prospective employers working in high level positions in some of today’s leading companies and receive professional feedback on their work.
What benefits does the Texas A&M University Visualization program offer that I could not receive at other universities?
It is one of only a handful of programs that stresses both the technical and the artistic aspects of the field. Our success in student placement in challenging and rewarding positions is unrivaled. Our students’ access to professors and equipment is excellent, and cost is among the lowest of all such programs.
How long will this program take to complete?
This program should take two years to complete.
What’s the difference between the MFA and M.S. programs?
The MFA program is a terminal degree, which allows you to teach at the university level or work in industry. The M.S. degree can be used to enhance your skills for working in industry or prepare you to pursue a Ph.D. degree.
Who will be part of my advisory committee?
This committee is composed of a chair and at least two additional graduate faculty members. The chair and one of the members must be visualization faculty. The third member must be from outside the visualization faculty. Committee chairs assist in finding graduate faculty members to join the committee.
Applying to the MFA program
Students wishing to enter our master’s program should have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as graphic design, art, or computer science. You’ll be required to submit your portfolio when you apply to our program.
FAQ about the admission process
What do we look for in an applicant?
We look for open-minded individuals with technical skills and artistic talent who are ready to conduct research in an area of visualization.
Is a GRE score required for admission?
No, the MFA program does not require the GRE score at this point.
Is a portfolio required to apply?
Yes, an online portfolio is required to apply and should showcase recent, high-quality work.
How does the admission process work?
Submit your application at Texas A&M GradCas along with a non-refundable application fee. The fee may be waived only in exceptional cases for low-income applicants and McNair Scholars.
Your application should include the following:
- Official transcripts from all colleges or universities you have attended
- 3 letters of recommendation (academic references preferred)
- Statement of intent essay
- Résumé or Curriculum Vitae
- Link to your online portfolio
What are the admissions deadlines?
Evaluation of applications will begin on January 15 and continue until the cohort is filled. Note that some scholarships require applications to be submitted in full by January 15 to receive full consideration.
What kinds of financial aid does the program offer?
We have been able to offer financial aid to many, but not all, admitted students. We have found that most of our students who seek assistantships are able find them by their second semester here, though this is not guaranteed. Their skills are in high demand.
There are a small number of fellowships available. The fellowship awards process is very competitive, based primarily on GRE scores and past academic performance.
For more information about financial aid, please visit financialaid.tamu.edu.