Graduate Art Program Ranks High among the Nation’s University Art Schools

May 23, 2014

Media Release

Clemson University - Master of Fine ArtsCLEMSON – MFA (Master of Fine Arts) at Clemson University ranks 12th among public institutions as one of the nation’s leading “Top Art Schools” according to assigns 15 ranking categories to each graduate program at each graduate school. Rankings are based on student ratings and cover a variety of student topics, such as academic competitiveness, career support, financial aid, and quality of network. The program ranking covers a period from September 1, 2012 to April 15, 2014.

This ranking comes on the heels of recent published findings shedding light on the impact of arts education on the nation’s economy. The March 2014 article released by the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, “Who knew? The arts education fuels the economy” states that in December 2013, the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released preliminary estimates from the nation’s first Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account. The account is meant to trace the relationship of arts and cultural industries, goods, and services to the nation’s ultimate measure of economic growth, its gross domestic product. The findings showcase the total economic output (gross revenue and expenses) for arts education. In 2011, the most recent year for which data are available was $104-billion.

The article goes on to mention arts education added $7.6-billion to the nation’s GDP. For every dollar consumers spent on arts education, an additional 56 cents was generated elsewhere in the U.S. economy.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a coalition of business and education leaders and policy makers, found, for example, that education in the arts helps instill the curiosity, creativity, imagination, and capacity for evaluation that are perceived as vital to a productive U.S. work force. Additionally, the Chronicle of Higher Education highlights the 2010 IBM report based on face-to-face interviews with more than 1,500 CEO’s worldwide, concluded that “creativity trumps other leadership characteristics” needed in a CEO.

“The Department of Art and the Center for Visual Arts at Clemson University is seen as one of the leading collaborators on campus because our students intersect with all five colleges and will be working in the future with the athletic department through our public art program,” remarks Department of Art Chair, Greg Shelnutt. “This cross disciplinary interaction allows students to experience a well-rounded real world approach to learning through interfacing with other disciplines outside of fine arts such as technology, science, math and business.”

MFA candidates experience rigorous studio activity and strong conceptual development is the main ingredients for success in the program.  The course of study focuses on production or artwork in the studio, exposure to contemporary art history issues, professional practice, and the development of a body of artwork.  The program culminates in an exhibition with a written thesis defended in an oral examination.  This method provides graduates with a deeper understanding of historical as well as contemporary art which prepares for life as a working artist in a 21st century culture.

Because artists require highly specialized work space and equipment the fine Arts graduate students are given a studio area with 24 hours a day, seven day a week access.  In addition, candidates have access to well-equipped studios in the discipline areas: ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture.

The importance for the arts began with the institutions founder, Thomas Green Clemson. As an accomplished painter as well as an art advocate, Clemson’s vision of having a university where the arts are integrated into the fabric of the university is evident through historical records. In 1859, he addressed the Washington Art Association where he said that “The beautiful arts – the magic bonds which unites all ages and nations.”


About the Center for Visual Arts

The Center for Visual Arts (CVA) at Clemson University is where students, visitors and scholars explore contemporary perspectives in art and culture through research, outreach programming and studio practice. With a mission to engage and render visible the creative process, the CVA is a dynamic intellectual and physical environment where art is created, exhibited and interpreted. It educates through academic research and practice with art at its core, drawing upon varied disciplines to examine critically cultural issues and artistic concerns.

Though there is not a physical building for this center, the majority of the activities for the Center of Visual Arts are generated out of Lee Hall on the Clemson University campus. For more information, visit