How Getting Your MFA Works

MFA Careers and Accreditation

When you earn an MFA degree, expect to have developed strong conceptual skills and to be able to skillfully execute your craft using the tools of your trade.

If you graduate with an MFA in creative writing, you should be well-prepared to become a publisher, professor, editor or writer. Program coursework tends to emphasize helping writers develop a process for their craft, rather than conduct research.

With an MFA in theater, you can go on to become an actor, director, theater educator, set designer, costume designer or much more. This graduate program lets you focus on many of the dramatic arts on and off the stage. Unlike other subject areas, drama has become much more broken down into subspecialties over time, allowing greater opportunity to specialize within this arena.

There are numerous subjects in which you can earn an MFA, and there are just as many (if not more) careers it prepares you for. To name just a few, consider that holding an MFA will prepare you for careers as an art therapist, painter, videographer, animator, sculptor, jewelry maker, photographer, interior designer, set designer, lighting person, book author or professor. And that's just a short list!

As we've learned, earning this degree begins with choosing a program. And only you know what's best for your future. It's up to you to choose an MFA program that meets your needs, interests, lifestyle and budget. However, you'll want to make sure that whatever program you choose is accredited by a recognized institutional agency, such as the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). NASAD accreditation is a non-governmental system of academic review. This review follows a process that determines how well a school or program meets NASAD's standards as well as its own. Schools in the United States aren't required to have accreditation, although without it, they're ineligible for certain program funding. An MFA from an institution that isn't accredited may not be recognized by some employers.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD). (Jan. 8, 2010).
  • College Art Association (CAA). 2010. (Jan. 9, 2010).
  • Cornell University, College of Arts and Science, Liberal Arts. 2009. (Jan. 9, 2010).
  • Department of Dance Home Page, University of Oregon. (Jan. 9, 2010).
  • "Masters of Fine Arts Subject Concentrations for Graduate School." 2010. (Jan. 9, 2010).
  • National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). 2003. (Jan. 9, 2010).
  • National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA). (Jan. 9, 2010).
  • School of Theatre and Film | ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. (Jan. 9, 2010).
  • "Terminal degree." 2010. (Jan. 8, 2010).
  • UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. (Jan. 9, 2010).
  • The University of Iowa. 2008. (Jan. 9, 2010).