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MFA Thesis Overview

                              MFA THESIS GUIDELINES

The MFA Thesis is the final requirement towards completion of the MFA degree.  Students must select and secure the sponsorship of their MFA Project by a full-time faculty member before the end of the semester prior to their thesis semester.  The department must be notified of your thesis advisor prior to pre-registration the semester prior to your thesis semester.  Failing to notify the department of your thesis advisor agreement could result in the loss of one’s advisor.  As each faculty member may sponsor a maximum of 3 students per semester, early consultation with preferred sponsors and second readers is advised.  Please be aware that only full time Studio faculty are eligible to be thesis sponsors while only full time Studio and or Art History faculty are eligible to be second readers.  Under close supervision of the faculty sponsor, each student prepares work for a professional level solo exhibition of fully realized work, with attendant photographic and electronic documentation.  Students also produce a thesis statement discussing the salient features and themes of their work and considering the personal, historical and contextual issues that inform it.


Each thesis student presents a first draft of the statement to his or her sponsor in the first week of the thesis semester.  The student and sponsor work together in a series of meetings to discuss and develop the statement and follow the progress of the studio work being prepared for exhibition.  The thesis statement can generally range from four to ten pages, must be free of spelling and grammatical errors, and be formatted and printed as stipulated in the guidelines.  The draft must be passed on to one’s second reader by the date given by the department, usually the second month of the semester.  The second reader will review each thesis statement after the faculty sponsor has signed off on it.  Any suggested corrections or changes will be discussed between the faculty sponsor and the second reader, and the faculty sponsor will oversee the incorporation of these suggestions by the student prior to submission of the statement to the Graduate Advisor and the Dean for approval.



In the semester prior to the student’s graduating semester, students must secure a sponsor from the full-time studio faculty.  The faculty sponsor’s permission is required for pre-registration for the MFA Project, Arc 791.00.  The thesis sponsor advises and assists the student with all aspects of the exhibition and thesis statement.  A faculty member may act as sponsor to a maximum of 3 thesis students in any semester.  Students with outstanding incomplete grades in courses required for graduation will not be permitted to pre-register for the MFA Project course.


Students should begin writing their thesis statements prior to their graduation semester, and must thoroughly discuss their exhibition plans and thesis statements with their sponsors.  Thesis statements generally require at least one set of revisions and often will go back and forth several times from student to advisor. This process takes place in the first few weeks of the student’s graduating semester, and must be concluded by the scheduled deadline.


At the beginning of each semester there will be an announced Thesis meeting (see Art Department calendar for date) with the Graduate Advisor for all students enrolled in the MFA Project course.  At that time, details of the exhibition and MFA documentation will be reviewed.  The Graduate Advisor will ask the Thesis group to select one or two representatives who will become the liaison between the Thesis group and the Art Department staff and faculty. All students are required to attend this meeting.  Representatives from the gallery staff will be present at this meeting to review safety rules and regulations for installation and de-installation in the gallery as well as the production schedule for the Thesis catalogue and postcard invitation.


During the semester, there will be follow-up meetings scheduled with the Graduate Advisor to supervise students’ progress.



Students should consult the Art Department webpage ”For Current Students” for Thesis Information & Deadlines.  Thesis students must submit a “Degree Audit Application Form” (DAAF) by logging onto their MyHunter page and clicking “Apply to Graduate”, fill it out from a transcript (available online through CUNYfirst), and click submit.  Students should submit their DAAF applications at the semester prior to their graduation or during the beginning of the semester they plan to graduate.  This form verifies that the student has completed all required course work for the degree and petitions the College for graduation and the MFA degree.  Be sure to check your account often, if there are any problems with your DAAF you will be notified via your Hunter email address.  If you miss any of these notifications you risk the chance that you may not graduate or your graduation will be delayed.


The student will be responsible to cover the costs of restoring the gallery, equipment, or school property. Graduation will be withheld until such payment is made.


The exhibition will take place in two parts, each running approximately two weeks. The faculty thesis sponsors, based on each student’s individual needs and overall design plan, will decide the exhibition floor plan.


After the thesis statement is approved and signed by the Thesis Sponsor, it is to be read and signed by a second reader before proceeding to the Graduate Advisor and Dean for signatures.  The student will address suggestions or criticisms from the second reader within one week, and any changes will be incorporated into the statement under the supervision of the Thesis Sponsor.


Prior to embarking on any work in the gallery, all plans for Thesis installation must be approved by each student’s Thesis Sponsor and subsequently by the Faculty Thesis Committee.  The Faculty Thesis Committee, comprised of the Graduate Advisor and several other members of the Art Dept. Faculty and Staff, will review all proposals related to the Thesis installation to make sure they adhere to the Safety Rules and Regulations of the Art Dept./Art Galleries.






CUNY Academic Works is the online research repository for the City University of New York. By depositing your work in Academic Works it will receive wide visibility via search engines such as Google, Google Scholar, and Bing. You will receive a permanent URL to include on your CV, as well as monthly download reports telling you how often your work has been downloaded and read.


The following are the general requirements for the School of Arts and Sciences master’s theses submitted electronically through CUNY Academic Works. Candidates should check with their departments for information about any additional requirements specific to their degree program.



The degree candidate should consult her/his graduate advisor for the requirements of the graduate program with regard to choosing the thesis topic and submitting the first and final drafts.  With the consent of the department, degree candidates may elect to submit drafts and conduct all thesis revisions and reviews by readers online through the CUNY Academic Works portal ( For more details, see Step by Step Guide for Students.



The thesis should be read by two faculty readers (thesis sponsor and a second reader), and their approval should be certified by their typed signatures on the title page of the thesis. When the thesis has been approved by the thesis sponsor and the second reader, it is electronically forwarded to the department graduate advisor. If the advisor is satisfied that the thesis has met the departmental requirements she/he electronically approves the thesis. Once the program adviser and readers approve the thesis via CUNY Academic Works, the degree candidate may not make any revisions. For more details, see Step by Step Guide for Readers.



Thesis text should be typed using a legible font such as Arial, Courier, or Times New Roman. All margins of both text and illustrations must be one inch. The text is to be double-spaced, except for quotations of more than four lines, which will be set apart (single-spaced and indented). Footnotes and bibliography will be single-spaced, with double spacing between notes and entries. Pages, including pages of illustrative material, bibliography, and appendices are to be typed or scanned and numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals.


Special Instructions for Video, Film or Other Media  

The student should submit video or film on as an attachment on the academic works site.  Other documentation enclosures not mentioned above should be discussed with the Graduate Advisor prior to submission of documentation.


The content of the thesis should include the following, when applicable, in order as listed:

           Title Page

           Dedication (optional)

           Acknowledgments (optional)

           Table of Contents

           List of Figures

           List of Tables

           Title of Chapters



           Image list

           Image of each piece in the exhibition

           Installation photographs

           Any film or video work in the show


The text should be four to ten pages double-spaced except for quotations of more than four lines, which will be set apart, single-spaced and indented.  Footnotes and bibliography will be single-spaced with double spacing between notes and entries.   Font size should be 12 point. 


Any questions regarding format, footnotes, bibliography, etc., should be resolved according to the guidelines set forth in Sylvan Barnet’s A Short Guide to Writing About Art (Upper Saddle River NJ: Houghton Mifflin, 1969).


In addition, for all electronic submissions, degree candidates should be prepared to submit an informative abstract of no more than 50 words, a list of ten keywords, and a CUNY Academic Works submission agreement.



The first page of the thesis must be a completed Thesis Title Page. The appropriate MFA or MA template is available for download at The following page displays a sample of completed Thesis Title Page. Please note that the names of the first and second readers are typed onto the title page. Do not scan signatures onto your title page.


No ink insertions are allowed. Striking over or crossing out an error is not permitted.



Illustrations, graphics, charts, and photographs must be scanned or produced with an appropriate computer program. Graphic materials must include a descriptive caption that allow users to identify and finding the original materials including the author and original source.  Generally, all graphic materials should be scaled to fit the electronic page size of 81/2 by 11 inches. If and when appropriate, other sizes can be accepted.  The graduate program and the library liaison for CUNY Academic Works, Mason Brown, should be consulted for guidance on the technical and legal scanning illustrations and permissions for copyrighted materials.


Digital photographs of all works in the show with detail shots where necessary are to be submitted after the text of the thesis statement and image list along with the documentation.  Images are to be numbered consecutively and correspond to the image list presented.  The image list must include student’s name, dates of the exhibition, and the title, medium, dimensions and date of each work represented.


Installation Photographs

Students must submit a minimum of two digital photographs that fully document the installation of the MFA Exhibition. These should be images.  Students should be certain that they have adequate installation photographs.  Name of student, dates of show, and the phrase “Installation View” should be marked on file description of each image.  If desired or necessary, further description may be provided on a separate Installation Photograph list.



The graduate program will set its deadline for the final approval of the thesis. The deadline for the electronic deposit of the approved thesis via CUNY Academic Works is set by the Office of the Dean for the School of Arts and Sciences and is typically about three(3) weeks prior to the date of graduation at which the degree is conferred. The specific due date for each semester is posted at



When the thesis has been accepted by the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, the thesis approval form will be signed and forwarded to the degree audit department of the Registrar’s Office to certify the final approval of the thesis. A copy will be forwarded to the Department’s Graduate Advisor. The Dean’s Office will electronically submit the approved thesis to the CUNY Academic Works administrator for Hunter College Libraries.


Deadlines for thesis papers and documentation images will be due the day following the opening of the second thesis exhibition.  NO EXCEPTIONS!


NOTE: If documentation and approval are not submitted by the deadline at the end of the appropriate semester, students must submit documentation in the subsequent semester, and must pay maintenance of matriculation fee (approximately the price of three credits) for the semester in which they will graduate.




This exhibition will be presented as a production of the Hunter College MFA program in conjunction with the Art Galleries.  Responsibilities for organization of the exhibition are as follows:


MFA Thesis

Sponsor:  Each student must have written approval from his/her Thesis Advisor on all aspects of installation plans.


Faculty Thesis

Committee:  Prior to any installation in the gallery, all plans for Thesis must also be approved (in writing) by the Faculty Thesis Committee. The Faculty Thesis Committee (comprised of the Graduate Advisor and members of the Art Dept. Faculty and Staff) will review all proposals related to Thesis installations to make sure that they adhere to the Safety Rules and Regulations of the Art Dept./Art Galleries.


Artwork:   Students will provide all artwork and related material (including A/V equipment) and install themselves.


Wall text:  If students would like wall labels, they are responsible for their creation and placement. If doing wall labels, please be consistent throughout exhibition.


Liability:  Should any materials including equipment or artwork be damaged or stolen, Hunter College (including the Art Department or the Galleries) are NOT responsible.


Opening: The exhibition will open on the designated date. The Gallery assumes responsibility for planning and staffing the opening.


Catalogue:  Students will work with Tim Laun to produce a brochure for the exhibition that will be available during the run of the exhibitions.  A color catalog covering both part I and part II will be produced after the show has closed.  You will receive an email with instructions on submitting biographical information and images.


Installation: Students will provide all artwork and related material and install themselves.  Students must provide their own tools, paint, and supplies.  As many people will have access to the galleries during installation, students should wait to install expensive equipment until just prior to the opening.


Installation Plans: All installation plans for the Thesis exhibition must follow the guidelines listed below and be approved by the student’s Thesis Sponsor. The following rules are necessary for students’ safety.**


Lighting: Gallery staff will do the lighting without exception.  The electrical system is delicate and temperamental so students are not permitted to do their own lighting.

-Students must work with the Preparatory (Phi) on lighting. (Usually this is completed 1-2 days before the show opens to the public.)


Electricity: Students cannot work directly with any electrical features of the gallery other than the socket outlets.  Under no circumstances can electrical cords be attached to the track-lighting system in the gallery.  Students cannot for any reason enter electrical closets or mechanical rooms. (They are hazardous environments.)


Food/Drink: No food or drink can be brought into the gallery at any time during installation.


Storage: The gallery cannot provide storage.  Students may NOT leave artwork, boxes, equipment or tools in the backroom for the duration of the exhibition.  During installation, students may leave work and related materials in the gallery ONLY but the galleries are not responsible for any lost property. If work is not removed following the exhibition, the gallery is not responsible for it. Any remaining work will be disposed of.


Hazardous Materials: All hazardous materials (paints, solvents, etc.) must be properly disposed of in the appropriate locations within the MFA building.  Under no circumstances can any such materials be left unattended in the gallery.  Students working with such materials should wear appropriate organic vapor masks.


De-installation:  The student must remove all work within a week of the closing date of the Thesis show.  Students are responsible for returning the gallery to the same state in which it was found prior to the Thesis installation.  Graduation will be withheld if the gallery is not returned to the proper state after the exhibtion ends.


Thesis installations involving any of the following features* will require special permission by the student’s Thesis Sponsor and the Faculty Thesis Committee:  Holes to be made in the wall that is larger than those necessary to hang hardware; any holes to be made in the floor (including those necessary to secure A/V equipment); and wall drawings or painting; hanging work from the ceiling.