The Benefits of Earning an MFA Degree

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A woman and a man practising on stage.

The Benefits of Earning an MFA Degree

If you’re an aspiring artist or writer looking to enhance your craft, consider earning a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. An MFA program can provide you with a variety of practical and personal benefits, including improved job prospects, networking and collaboration opportunities, personal growth and development, and financial benefits such as higher earnings and the potential for grants and scholarships. Let’s take a closer look at the many advantages of earning an MFA degree.

Understanding the MFA Degree

The MFA is a graduate-level degree that typically requires 2-3 years of full-time study. It’s a terminal degree in the arts, meaning that it is the highest level of education available in this field. The purpose of an MFA program is to provide artists and writers with the opportunity to hone their creative skills, refine their artistic voice, and develop a strong professional portfolio.

During an MFA program, students are typically required to complete a combination of coursework, workshops, and individual projects. The curriculum is designed to challenge students to think critically about their work, explore new techniques and styles, and develop a unique artistic vision.

What is an MFA Degree?

Before we dive into the benefits of earning an MFA degree, let’s define what it is. An MFA degree is a professional degree in fine arts that allows students to specialize in one or multiple disciplines, such as visual arts, creative writing, and performing arts.

zoomed in picture of people playing the cello and violins

While many people may assume that an MFA degree is only useful for those pursuing a career in the arts, the skills and knowledge gained in an MFA program can be applied to a wide range of professions. For example, the ability to think creatively, communicate effectively, and work independently is highly valued in fields such as marketing, advertising, and entrepreneurship.

Types of MFA Programs

There are many different types of MFA programs available to students, including low-residency, full-residency, and online programs. Low-residency programs are ideal for students who have work or family commitments and need flexibility in their schedules.

Full-residency programs offer a more traditional college experience, with students attending classes on campus. Online programs allow students to earn their degrees from anywhere in the world.

Regardless of the type of program, students in an MFA program can expect to receive individualized attention from faculty members who are experts in their field. This personalized attention allows students to develop their skills and receive feedback on their work in a supportive and collaborative environment.

Choosing the Right MFA Program for You

When choosing an MFA program, it’s important to consider factors such as cost, location, faculty, and course offerings. You should also research the program’s reputation, alumni success rates, and networking opportunities.

Another important factor to consider is the program’s focus and philosophy. Some programs may emphasize experimentation and pushing boundaries, while others may focus more on traditional techniques and styles. It’s important to choose a program that aligns with your artistic goals and values.

Ultimately, earning an MFA degree can be a transformative experience for artists and writers. It provides an opportunity to develop your craft, connect with other creative professionals, and prepare for a successful career in the arts.

Enhanced Career Opportunities

One of the main benefits of earning an MFA degree is the enhanced career opportunities that it provides. Whether you’re an artist, writer, or performer, an MFA degree can help you stand out in a competitive job market.

Job Prospects for MFA Graduates

Graduates with an MFA degree are in high demand in a variety of industries, including advertising, media, and publishing. With an MFA degree, you could work as a graphic designer, art director, or creative director in an advertising agency. You could also work as a writer or editor for a magazine or publishing house.

a college dance troupe listening to their dance coach

Furthermore, MFA graduates are often sought after for their creative problem-solving skills and ability to think outside the box. This makes them valuable assets in any industry that values innovation and creativity.

Networking and Collaboration

An MFA program provides students with the opportunity to network with professionals in their field and collaborate with fellow artists and writers. This can lead to valuable connections and partnerships that can help advance your career.

During your MFA program, you will have the opportunity to attend workshops, conferences, and other events where you can meet industry professionals and showcase your work. You will also have the chance to collaborate with other students on projects, which can help you develop your skills and build your portfolio.

Teaching Opportunities

Many MFA graduates go on to become college-level instructors, where they can use their expertise to inspire and educate the next generation of artists and writers.

Teaching can be a rewarding career path for MFA graduates who want to share their passion for their craft with others. As a college-level instructor, you will have the opportunity to mentor students, develop your teaching skills, and contribute to the academic community.

In addition, teaching can provide a stable source of income and benefits, which can be especially valuable for artists and writers who may have irregular income streams from their creative work.

Personal Growth and Development

Aside from the practical benefits, earning an MFA degree can also provide significant personal growth and development.

One of the key ways that an MFA program can contribute to personal growth is by providing students with a supportive and challenging environment in which to develop their skills. This can be particularly valuable for those who may have struggled to find their footing in the past, or who may have faced obstacles in pursuing their artistic goals.

Through workshops, critiques, and mentorship, students can refine their artistic voice and develop a strong professional portfolio. This process can be both exhilarating and challenging, as students are pushed to explore new ideas and approaches to their work.

But the benefits of an MFA program go far beyond simply improving one’s craft. For many students, the experience of earning an MFA degree can be transformative, helping them to build confidence, credibility, and a sense of purpose.

Improving Your Craft

At the heart of any MFA program is a commitment to helping students improve their craft. Whether you’re a writer, a visual artist, or a performer, an MFA program can provide you with the tools and support you need to take your work to the next level.

For writers, this might mean delving deeper into the nuances of character development, learning to craft more compelling dialogue, or experimenting with new narrative structures. Visual artists might focus on refining their technique, exploring new mediums, or learning to develop a more cohesive body of work.

View of a person composing music

Whatever your area of focus, an MFA program can help you hone your skills and develop a more nuanced and sophisticated artistic voice.

Building Confidence and Credibility

One of the most significant benefits of earning an MFA degree is the boost it can provide to your confidence and credibility as an artist or writer.

For many students, the experience of earning an MFA degree can be transformative, helping them to see themselves as professionals and to take their work more seriously. This newfound confidence can be a powerful asset, both in terms of pursuing new opportunities and building a strong professional network.

Moreover, an MFA degree can demonstrate to others that you have a professional background and a commitment to your craft. This can be particularly valuable when seeking out new opportunities, whether it’s applying for a grant, submitting your work to a literary journal, or seeking representation from an agent or gallery.

Developing a Unique Artistic Voice

One of the most exciting aspects of earning an MFA degree is the opportunity it provides to develop your own unique artistic voice.

Through workshops, critiques, and mentorship, students are encouraged to explore new ideas and approaches to their work, take risks, and experiment with new forms and styles. This process can be both challenging and exhilarating, as students are pushed to question their assumptions and to push beyond their comfort zones.

But the rewards of this process can be significant. By developing a unique artistic voice, students can stand out in a crowded field, showcase their individuality, and create work that is both meaningful and impactful.

Financial Benefits of an MFA Degree

Finally, earning an MFA degree can provide significant financial benefits.

Potential for Higher Earnings

Graduates with an MFA degree typically earn more than those without one. This is because the degree is viewed as a professional credential that adds value to your work.

Furthermore, having an MFA degree can open up doors to higher-paying job opportunities. For example, many universities and colleges require their faculty to have advanced degrees, including an MFA, to teach in their creative writing or fine arts programs. These teaching positions can offer competitive salaries and benefits packages, providing financial stability for MFA graduates.

Grants, Scholarships, and Fellowships

Many MFA programs offer a variety of financial aid options, including grants, scholarships, and fellowships. These can help offset the cost of tuition and provide students with the funds they need to pursue their artistic goals.

Additionally, some MFA programs offer assistantships, which provide a stipend and tuition remission in exchange for teaching or working in the program. These opportunities not only provide financial support but also valuable teaching experience and mentorship from experienced faculty members.

Opportunities for Residencies and Workshops

Finally, earning an MFA degree can open up opportunities for residencies and workshops, which can help artists and writers further develop their skills and connect with other professionals in their field.

Residencies often provide a stipend, room and board, and a dedicated workspace for artists and writers to focus on their craft. These opportunities can lead to networking with other artists, learning new techniques, and gaining exposure to their work.

a female piano teacher helping her student learn how to play the piano

Similarly, workshops provide a chance for MFA graduates to continue their education and gain new skills. These workshops are often led by experienced professionals in the field and can offer valuable feedback and critique on their work.

Overall, the financial benefits of earning an MFA degree extend beyond just the potential for higher earnings. With financial aid options, assistantships, residencies, and workshops, MFA graduates can find a path toward financial stability while also pursuing their artistic passions.


As you can see, earning an MFA degree can provide a variety of benefits, both practical and personal. Whether you’re looking to enhance your career opportunities, develop your artistic voice, or earn more money, an MFA degree can provide the tools and support you need to achieve your goals.

So if you’re passionate about the arts and looking to take your skills to the next level, consider earning an MFA degree.

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