About the Program
The ICP-Bard MFA program offers an exploration into the ways in which the photograph operates in society. The 60 credits required for the master of fine arts degree cover the production of a final solo exhibition of original artwork, participation in a final group exhibition, a cumulative publication, as well as the completion of class assignments and internships. The ICP-Bard approach emphasizes creative vision and openness to examining the many iterations of the image, from photography to digital imaging, installation, and video. By considering how photographs are created, presented, discussed, used, and documented, students gain an intimate knowledge of the ways in which images increasingly structure modern society and consciousness.
The graduate seminars, which are led by ICP-Bard core faculty members, blend in-depth study, intensive discussions, and individual work. Students also gain an understanding of the role of art historians by working with ICP’s curatorial team and the Museum's extensive archives. In doing so, students learn how exhibitions are curated, archives are maintained, and research is conducted. In the Resident Artist projects and internships, students learn firsthand from contemporary artists about the practical conditions of making art and innovative approaches to photographic practice. With its strong emphasis on writing and publication, the program encourages students to articulate the relationship between their practice and that of other artists. Through ongoing studio work, critiques, and internships, students challenge their ideas and test new approaches to image making, synthesizing the program’s varied experiences and defining their own ways of working.
The foundation of the program, studio practice is a seminar in which students integrate what they are experiencing and learning into their own creative work. Through ongoing studio assignments, group critiques, and
one-on-one meetings with faculty, students develop their photographic work
and define a personal approach to their practice. A final exhibition of
original work, presented at the end of the second year, is required for
In these topical seminars, students focus on theoretical and critical issues in the history of photography. Working with historians, editors, photographers, and ICP curatorial staff, students engage in research, writing, and curatorial activities. Students' own writing charts the development of their ideas about photography in relation to the work of other photographers. A written thesis, which serves as an anthology of two years of critical coursework and professional practice, is required for graduation.
Internships are an integral part of the program, enabling students to gain practical exposure to various aspects of the field. First-year students are required to intern for individual photographers/artists. Second year students are required to intern with photographic and media- based organizations, such as museums, photo agencies, and magazines. All students are expected to report on their internship in classroom discussions and to record these experiences as part of their final written thesis.
Resident Artist Projects
Each semester, prominent photographers and critics work with MFA students in focused, project-oriented seminars, exposing the students to a wide range of styles and career paths. Each class provides in-depth examination of photographic techniques and emerging issues in photography, as well as group and one-on-one critiques of student work. By engaging in projects that reflect the visiting instructors’ aesthetic, students come to understand the implications of art making in different contexts. Once admitted, ICP-Bard students must earn a total of 60 graduate credits in two years, 30 credits per year, in order to receive the master of fine arts degree. At the end of every year, a board of ICP-Bard faculty members reviews each student's achievements. Credits are awarded or withheld at the board's discretion.