The Master of Arts program in art requires a minimum of 38 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00. The degree is offered with emphases in the following studio art disciplines: ceramics, graphic design, three-dimensional (3D) design, drawing, intermedia and video art, jewelry and metal arts, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture.

M.A. students must hold a B.A. or B.F.A. in art equivalent to that offered by the University of Iowa. Undergraduate deficiencies, if any, may be made up concurrently with graduate study but do not count toward the graduate degree requirements.

Required Courses

The 38 s.h. of credit required for the degree includes at least 16 s.h. in a primary studio art emphasis; 8 s.h. in a secondary studio art emphasis chosen from one of the studio art disciplines listed above; and 6 s.h. in the history and theory of art, excluding readings and directed studies.

Committee Review

Students undergo a division-wide review for M.A. candidacy by the faculty during their third semester in residence. All those except painting and drawing students must submit a written artist's statement or thesis.


M.A. students in intermedia and video art, and 3D design are required to write a thesis. They may earn 1 s.h. for writing a technical or substantial thesis by registering for ARTS:6000 M.A. Written Thesis, with approval of the thesis supervisor. Thesis credit earned in an M.A. program is not applicable toward M.F.A. requirements. M.A. students in other studio art disciplines choose the thesis or nonthesis option in consultation with their discipline advisor.

The College of Education offers an M.A. program in art education; see the M.A. in teaching and learning in the Catalog.

Deadline date for submission of materials to the Office of Graduate Admissions is February 1 for studio art programs; admission is for fall.

Application materials should be uploaded onto a student's admissions profile (see instructions below under "Application Procedures"). All applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College and the School of Art and Art History requirements.

School of Art and Art History Requirements

Prospective graduate students must meet the School of Art and Art History's admission requirements for the specific degree program they plan to enter. They must submit application materials to the University's Office of Graduate Admissions and to the specific program they wish to enter. Program-specific application requirements and deadline dates are listed below.

All applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website.

Applicants whose first or official language is not English and whose previous academic degrees were not earned at an English-language institution must score at least 100 (internet-based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). All applicants must have a minimum TOEFL iBT speaking score of 26 and a listening score of 25. An application is not reviewed if scores are lower than the requirements specify. As an alternative to the TOEFL, applicants may take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). They must have a total score of 7.0, with no subscore less than 6.0. In addition, all IELTS test takers, regardless of score, are required to take an on-campus English Proficiency Evaluation. The Duolingo English Test (DET) with a score of at least 105 also is accepted.

All students for whom English is not a first language and who have first-time appointments as teaching assistants (TAs) are required to take a test to assess their effectiveness in speaking English before they are assigned assistantship responsibilities. No applicant is considered for an appointment without an iBT speaking score of 26 and a listening score of 25. The English Speaking Proficiency Assessment (ESPA) is the test the University of Iowa uses to assess students' oral language and listening skills. The English Language Performance Test (ELPT) is a supplement to the ESPA test and is designed to measure the ability to communicate in English in a classroom context in one’s field of study. The ELPT is given to students who have scored 50 or 55 on the ESPA, and to foreign language TAs who have scored 45. To learn more about the ESPA and ELPT, visit the English as a Second Language Program website.

Application Procedures

Prospective students may apply online through the Office of Admissions website. After submitting an application, applicants will receive email instructions on how to access their admissions profile on MyUI. Applicants then upload the required supplemental documents through a secure portal. 

Required documents include transcripts from all colleges and universities an applicant has attended, contact information for three individuals (able to assess applicants' potential for graduate study) designated to provide letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

Applicants should consult the Studio Art Graduate Bulletin on the School of Art and Art History website. No separate application is necessary for scholarships or teaching/research assistantships for studio art applicants.

Studio art applicants' portfolio requirements are listed below. Images in the portfolio should be uploaded pdf files no larger than 72 dpi and 1240 by 1240 pixels. File size must not exceed 18 MB. Images must be numbered according to the order they are to be presented to the admissions committee, beginning with 01. Applicants must include an inventory list that includes each image's name, title, medium, size, and approximate date of work, as well as their name and emphasis. They may supply a link to their personal website.

Portfolio contents and submission requirements for each program are as follows:

  • Ceramics: 10 to 20 images.
  • Three-dimensional (3D) design and jewelry and metal arts: eight images in the primary studio art discipline and two in a second discipline.
  • Graphic design: documentation of 15 to 20 projects. Applicants should include a brief description of each work, illustrated with embedded still images and supplemented by links to online media. The precise number of images varies according to the nature of the work. Contact the School of Art and Art History with questions.
  • Painting and drawing: eight images in the primary studio art discipline and two in a second discipline.
  • Photography: 20 images in photography and two or three images in a second discipline.
  • Printmaking: 10 to 20 images.
  • Sculpture and intermedia: applicants submit the following depending on their preferred area of emphasis:
  • Sculpture: 20 images in sculpture, including details, and two or three images in a second medium. Video links may be included.
  • Intermedia: documentation of five to ten projects, including a brief description of each work illustrated with embedded still images and supplemented by links to online media. The precise number of images varies according to the nature of the work; contact the School of Art and Art History with questions.

The Office of Graduate Admissions notifies all applicants by mail of admission decisions.

Fellowships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and tuition scholarships are awarded to graduate students on the basis of artistic and/or scholarly record.

Iowa Arts Fellowships

The Graduate College awards Iowa Arts Fellowships to two incoming or first-year studio art graduate students each year. For more information, see Iowa Arts Fellowships on the Graduate College website.

Teaching and Research Assistantships

Assistantships are awarded to graduate students on the basis of academic record, promise as scholars or artists, and demonstrated ability to do the job. Quality of performance in one's graduate program at Iowa is generally the major criterion for awarding teaching assistantships. The number of hours of work required depends on the amount of the award.

Scholarships and Fellowships

The School of Art and Art History offers a variety of scholarships and fellowships made possible by contributions from alumni who wish to support promising artists and scholars. These awards are made on the same basis as teaching and research assistantships and a separate application is not necessary.

Information for graduate scholarships and fellowships is included in the admissions package and also is available from the School of Art and Art History main office.

Renewal or reappointment for fellowships and assistantships depends on adequate progress toward the degree (students must accumulate at least 18 s.h. of graduate credit each calendar year and maintain a grade-point average above the required minimum) and satisfactory performance of assistantship duties.

Decisions on assistantships and financial aid generally are made during the latter part of the spring semester for the following academic year.

Many graduates pursue careers that match their degree specializations, for example, commercial or graphic designer, conservation or museum curator or administrator, art educator, public artist, or community art center coordinator or instructor.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans represent one way to complete a program of study. Actual course selection and sequence will vary and should be discussed with an academic advisor. For additional sample plans, see MyUI.

Art, M.A.

Plan of Study Grid (Manual)
Academic Career
Any SemesterHours
38 s.h. must be graduate level coursework; graduate transfer credits allowed upon approval. More information is included in the General Catalog and on department website. a, b, c  
First Year
Primary emphasis course 4
Elective d 2
History and Theory of Art course 3
Primary emphasis course 4
Secondary emphasis course 4
Elective d 2
Second Year
Primary emphasis course 4
Secondary emphasis course 4
History and Theory of Art course 3
Division-Wide Review e  
Primary emphasis course 4
Elective d 2
Elective d 2
Final Exam f  
 Total Hours38