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Course Offerings

People on a bridge over a slough


Core Courses

Art 210 A, B & C: Practice Based Research Sequence

This is a required core course sequence taken by students in their first year. It offers a graduated learning opportunity to engage in practice-based research. Students can use each course in this sequence to discover or develop their research interests while also building their understanding and experience in the field. Students engage in discussions, readings, field trips and site visits focused around a theme chosen by the instructor, as well as pursuing their own research related to that theme.

Art 210A: Sites

Students develop site-specific understandings through practice-based research in a particular place

Art 210B: Systems

Students explore systems-thinking through practice-based research into particular material pathways and / or infrastructural systems

Art 210C: Contexts

Students build skills, capacities, and understandings for ethics, protocols, and relationship building through engagement with a particular community

Art 220 : Methods & Histories

Required first year seminar on social and environmental art histories and research methods, including issues and strategies for artists working in the field, and case studies of artists and key projects. 

Art 230: Theory & Practice

Required first or second year graduate seminar focusing on contemporary theory as it relates to social and environmental art practice, including discussions of theory as practice and vice-versa. 

Art 240: Art Pedagogies

Required first year seminar course introducing and exploring pedagogical methods and approaches in art education and in art practice. The teachings of Paolo Freire and others serve as working models to construct open and respectful learning environments both in and outside the classroom.

Art 250: Writing Matters

This 2-credit seminar course provides instruction and guidance in developing writing skills as a dimension of project-based art. Beginning with the assumption that working with words is a material practice, students will explore a range of writing forms and approaches, share and compile textual and other resources, and experiment with best practices for developing their relationship with research and writing. Students create a preliminary annotated bibliography and outline for organizing and directing their thesis work.

Art 260: Curatorial Collective

This 2-credit seminar course is required for MFA students to take in the spring quarter of their second year in order to collectively prepare for the presentation and/or exhibition of their thesis work. The class takes students through the process of developing a public presentation of the results of their two-year MFA research projects. The course critically examines multiple modalities and histories of exhibition and presentation from traditional art exhibition to experimental forms of public dialog. Students address issues of diversity and access in developing exhibitions and presentations.

Art 270A & B: Project Development and Critique Sequence

This is the required project development sequence of the second year of the MFA curriculum. Students pursue their thesis research in the field and in the studio. Through discussions and critiques in class with peers, faculty, and invited guests, students share their ideas, progress, methods, and problems and deepen their ability to engage in conceptual, scholarly and interdisciplinary dialogue about their projects and the work of fellow students, offering and receiving critical feedback. In addition to individual and group critiques, students will lead discussions on topics, texts, and practitioners relevant to their developing work.

Art 270A: Project Development and Critique 1 

Part 1 of this course sequence provides a context for students to develop their thesis project with full dedication. Group and individual critiques will focus on in-depth assessments of works-in-progress, as well as developing potential contexts for exhibition or other public engagement or display. Readings, discussions, guest lectures, and site-visits are designed to support student research and foster collaborative practices of all kinds, including sharing skills, information, resources, contacts, logistics and opportunities. Discussion topics will be chosen in response to student projects, and to timely issues in the field. 

Art 270B: Project Development and Critique 2

In Part 2 of this course sequence, students are expected to be fully engaged in their thesis work. Discussion of readings chosen by students and lecture presentations relevant to student projects supplement critiques and support strong ties between the student's creative project and the development of their written thesis. Group and individual critiques include visitors from throughout the university, other UC campuses, community members, and professionals in the field. 

Art 280: MFA Project Production

In the culminating course of the MFA, students produce their final project in conjunction with refining and completing their written thesis. This course provides students with practical support, critical feedback, curatorial guidance, and mentorship. Discussions of strategies for public presentation, documentation, promotion, distribution and professional next steps are combined with technical assistance, critiques, tutorials, and writing and studio production along with presentation of their final projects.

Art 299: Thesis Research

Independent tutorial with faculty members. Students are required to take Art 299 in each quarter of their second year. 


Students choose a minimum of 4 elective courses from departments throughout the university over the course of the two year MFA.

Sample schedule for MFA student

A minimum of 72 quarter units are required for the Environmental Art and Social Practice MFA degree.

First Year (34 credits)

Fall (12 credits)

Art 210 A   Practice-Based Research Group 1: Sites (5 credits)

Art 220      Methods & Histories (5 credits)

Art 240      Art Pedagogies (2 credits) 

Winter (10 credits)

Art 210 B   Practice-Based Research Group 2: Systems (5 credits)

Art 230     Theory & Practice, or Elective (5 credits)

Spring (12  credits)

Art 210 C   Practice-Based Res. Group 3: Contexts (5 credits)

Art 250     Writing Matters (2 credits)

Elective (5 credits)

Second Year (38 credits)

Fall (12 credits)

Art 270 A   Project Development and Critique 1 (5 credits)

Art 299      Thesis Research (2 credits) 

Elective (5 credits)

Winter (12 credits)

Art 270 B   Project Development and Critique 2 (5 credits) 

Art 230      Theory & Practice, or Elective (5 credits)

Art 299      Thesis Research (2 credits)  

Spring (14 credits)

Art 280      MFA Project Production (5 credits)  

Art 260      Curatorial Collective (2 credits)

Art 299      Thesis Research (2 credits)  

Elective (5 credits)

Link to Grad Student Handbook