Learn more about the Master of Fine Arts in Photography.

About the Program

The Photography program at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture is a two-year, 60-credit program leading to the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. The program offers students close mentorship, top facilities and interdisciplinary approaches, drawing on the resources available in Tyler’s broad range of studio art programs as well as its architecture and environmental design programs. Whether students want to make bold moves into other disciplines through the lens of photography or be trained as classic still photographers, the breadth of faculty expertise and programs at Tyler offers a pathway, guided by one-on-one attention from faculty.

Students have access to both the resources of a large public research university and the warmth, support and spirit of collaboration that has come to define the Tyler Photography community. Tyler MFA students take advantage of faculty and alumni relationships in the photography and art world and the school’s location in Philadelphia, a vibrant art center with a pioneering photographic tradition, and its proximity to New York and Washington, D.C., to grow their creative practices and careers.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 4 years

Campus Location: Main

Full-Time/Part-Time Status: Full-time status is required.

Interdisciplinary Study: Tyler students expand their technical and conceptual approaches to their work through studio and seminar classes, and become actively involved in the broader art community by curating an ongoing series of exhibitions by established and emerging artists. Through Art History classes, electives and seminars, students are engaged in emerging topics in the field and the broader art world.

Study Abroad: Students may elect to spend one of the two years of the program at Temple University Rome, a home base for immersive artistic, academic and cultural exploration for Tyler students since 1966.

Accreditation: This degree program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Areas of Specialization: The Photography area houses studios that facilitate the use of various creative approaches to the medium, including black-and-white printmaking, critical theory, experimental and digital imaging, handmade cameras, historical processes, large-format photography, offset production, professional digital color and career options for artists.

Job Prospects: The MFA program prepares graduates for careers as professional photographers and educators. MFA graduates also explore the many fields of applied art and act as curators, critics and researchers.

Non-Matriculated Student Policy: MFA courses are restricted to matriculated students.

Financing Opportunities: In addition to federal student aid, teaching assistantships and fellowships are available on a competitive basis to support Tyler MFA students.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: January 6

Applications are evaluated together after the deadline date.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:
Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from college/university faculty members and gallery directors/curators familiar with the applicant's academic and artistic competence. The letters should be submitted with the application at https://apply.temple.edu/Tyler/, along with the statement of goals and resume.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration: 40 undergraduate studio credits and 12 art history credits are required.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: A baccalaureate degree and a portfolio in Photography are required. Official transcripts from all universities/colleges attended, whether or not a degree was awarded, must be sent to the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Graduate Admissions Office, 2001 N. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122-6016.

Statement of Goals: In approximately 500 to 1,000 words, share your specific interest in Tyler's program, research goals, future career goals, and academic and artistic achievements.

Standardized Test Scores:
Applicants who earned their baccalaureate degree from an institution where the language of instruction was other than English, with the exception of those who subsequently earned a master’s degree at a U.S. institution, must report scores for a standardized test of English that meet these minimums:

  • TOEFL iBT: 79
  • IELTS Academic: 6.5
  • PTE Academic: 53

Portfolio: As a Master of Fine Arts applicant, you must submit a portfolio that consists of 20 images representative of the immediate direction of your work. Portfolios are to be uploaded at https://temple.slideroom.com, as instructed at the website. SlideRoom requires an additional fee for this service. Original work, slides, CD-ROMs, catalogs, photographs, books and/or binders are not acceptable substitutes for the SlideRoom portfolio and will not be reviewed or returned.

Resume: Current resume required.

Transfer Credit: Upon approval of the department chairperson and the Vice Dean, up to 9 credits of graduate work may be transferred into the MFA program as Art History or Studio electives. Only credits received within five years of the transfer request are eligible. No decisions are made concerning transfer credits until students have successfully completed 15 matriculated credits at Tyler. The maximum number of credits a student may transfer is 9.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required to Earn the Degree: 60

Required Courses:

Project and Seminar Courses
ART 8004Critique and Critical Discourse I (2 terms)6
ART 8005Critique and Critical Discourse II (2 terms)6
ART 8683/8684Graduate Projects: Photography I (4 terms) 112
ART 9991Directed Studio Practice (3 terms)9
Art History Courses 29
Electives 315
Culminating Course
ART 9995Master of Fine Arts Thesis3
Total Credit Hours60

Courses are sequenced to be taken in the Fall and Spring terms. The sequence is repeated a second year for a total of four courses taken over four terms.


Students select three courses in Art History at the 5000 level or higher. Of these, ARTH 8402 Introduction to Critical Thinking and Practice is required, as is one Art History Seminar. Students may choose from the full range of graduate ARTH offerings for their third course.


Students must earn 3 credits in a studio elective and 3 credits in a professional practice experience course. Professional practice courses are offered in a range of fields such as Arts Management, Community Arts, and Teaching in Higher Education. The professional practice requirement may also be fulfilled by other courses with the approval of the Graduate Director. For the remaining 9 credits of electives, students complete coursework within the Tyler School of Art and Architecture. Students may enroll in courses in other Temple University schools and colleges, provided that coursework complements a particular research interest and has been preapproved by their advisor​ and the Graduate Director.

Culminating Event:
Thesis Exhibition:
An approved thesis exhibition, with a written statement of working philosophy and slide and/or CD portfolio, is required at the final review in order to meet the MFA requirements. The thesis exhibition should be the fruit of the two years' studio research and practice in which the student engaged. The student defends their thesis exhibition to the review committee. The committee then evaluates the exhibition as pass with distinction, pass or fail.


Program Web Address:


Department Information:

Tyler School of Art and Architecture

Graduate Admissions Office

2001 N. 13th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19122-6016



Mailing Address for Official Transcripts:

Tyler School of Art and Architecture

Graduate Admissions Office

2001 N. 13th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19122-6016

Submission Address for Portfolio:


Submission Address for All Other Application Materials:


Department Contacts:

Photography MFA Program Director:

Rebecca Michaels



Art Department Chairperson:

Byron Wolfe