Hartford Art School
MFA in Illustration
This prestigious program is the only low residency MFA in the country that is dedicated exclusively to illustration.
Whether you’re looking to pursue a career in education, revitalize your creativity, or reinvent your portfolio, you can earn an MFA in Illustration while maintaining your career and commitments at home. You’ll be surrounded by fellow students who are, themselves, highly motivated, established illustrators, illustrator/graphic designers, and illustration educators from across the country.
Through challenging work and exceptional student/faculty relationships, you are guided in advancing your distinct, creative voice while refining and building upon your skills and techniques. You are exposed to current professionals and practices, allowing you to nurture your creative intellect and strengthen your business, promotional, and marketing knowledge.
About the Program
Our low residency program couples intensive, on-campus sessions in the summer with traveling spring and fall contact periods. During the summer, you convene with other students on campus for two weeks, working in a studio environment where you are provided focused interaction with award-winning faculty. The week-long fall and spring contact periods take place off-campus in major cities across the country, where we visit studios, area museums, and invite local illustrators to speak about their careers.
The structure of our program allows you to complete the program in two years (summer, fall, spring semesters each) plus two weeks (final third summer). In between contact periods, you’ll maintain communication with the Program Director and Thesis Advisor while completing assignments and developing a thesis project.
The program is directed by Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame inductee, C.F. Payne, and was founded by the late Murray Tinkelman, legendary Hall of Fame illustrator, educator, and illustration historian.
Unique Travel Component
Between the two-week summer residencies, we meet in major cities across the country that have included: Philadelphia, PA; Columbus, Ohio; New York City, NY; Pasadena/Los Angeles, Calif.; and San Francisco, Calif.
You’ll interact with leading illustrators, illustration entrepreneurs, agents, and licensing experts. Emphasis is placed on exposing you to an abundant and diverse array of illustration styles, markets of illustration, and career experiences. You’ll hear from over 50 professionals in the editorial, advertising, animation, children’s book, product design, and comic book industries.
Guest speakers across the country have included:
Mary Kate McDevitt, Martha Rich, Flloyd Cooper, Mike Hawthorne, Molly Egan, James Bennett, Yuko Shimizu, Tim O’Brien, Brendan Wenzel, Rudy Gutierrez, Laura Bee, Peter deSeve, Edel Rodriguez, Katherine Streeter, Daniel Fishel, Loren Long, Brian Ajhar, Steve Brodner, Dadu Shin, Chris Buzelli, Eda Keban, Craig Frazier, Roman Muradov, Owen Smith, Brian Stauffer, Gemma Correll, Lizette Biancalana, Jeff Sangalli, Mark Ulriksen, Marla Frazee, Victo Ngai, Dan Santat, Paul Rogers, Red Nose Studio, Andy J Miller, Emily Dumas, Dale Stephanos, Kelly Murphy, Victor Juhasz, John S. Dykes, Barry Blitt, R. Kikuo Johnson, David Wenzel, Chris Piascik, James Gurney, Wendell Minor, James Ransome, Etienne Delessert, Istvan Banyai, Allison Bamcat
Studio & Museum visits across the country have included:
Lucasfilm, Norman Rockwell Museum, New Britain Museum of American Art, Walt Disney
Animation Studio, Nickelodeon, Sony Animation, Brandywine Museum, Illuxcon, Huntington Gardens, Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum, Mazza Childrens Book Museum, and more!
All Master of Fine Arts in Illustration candidates are required to maintain continuous enrollment in the program and a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a scale of 4.0.
Students are required to attend each contact period to successfully complete the program, progressing through the two years within a summer start cohort.
For more information, and to see a complete list of degree requirements, visit the Course Catalog.
Arden von Haeger, Class of 2014
Having earned an MFA in Illustration through the Hartford Art School, my career has been catapulted into a new level of creative output, passion and teaching. It was always there - now it has purpose.
Upon the acceptance of your portfolio, complete the online application and submit your $50 application fee.
Please request that one official copy of your transcript from any college and/or postsecondary institution you attended be forwarded to:
Center for Graduate and Adult Academic Services
University of Hartford
200 Bloomfield Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06117-1599
Submit a letter of intent (within the online application). In no more than 500 words, this statement should address your influences, interests, brief life history, current direction, and reasons for applying to a graduate program at this time.
Request one letter of recommendation attesting to your ability and competence from a person practicing or teaching in the field in which the application is made.
Upload your portfolio (URL or PDF format) to the application portal.
Following your acceptance into the program, you will need to submit a non-refundable $300 deposit to hold your spot within the cohort beginning that summer. Visit here and log in using the same ID/PIN you created at the beginning of the application process. Your deposit will be credited to your account and applied toward future tuition.
TOEFL—Official score to be submitted. The University of Hartford test code number is 3436. Visit TOEFL at ets.org. Minimum score: 550 paper-based or 80 internet-based.
SThe Pearson Test of English (PTE) minimum score is a 58. Visit the PTE at: pearsonpte.com.
SThe IELTS is also accepted with a minimum score of 6.5 or higher.
Guarantor’s Statement—As part of the application, international students must provide a bank statement to ensure adequacy of funds. This statement is also used to issue an I-20 form to students. The Guarantor’s Statement is necessary for obtaining a visa.
Admission into the MFA Illustration program occurs on a rolling basis. Applications will be considered until the year’s cohort of 20 for the start of the summer semester is full, with a priority deadline of January 14.
Some partial tuition scholarships are available for entering candidates. The awarding of scholarships is determined by the Illustration Committee and is based purely on the merit of professional work. Portfolios are reviewed prior to May 1 and students are notified of awards by June 1.
The goal of this merit-based program is to recruit the very best applicants to the University’s graduate programs. The award defrays 25% of the student’s annual tuition, up to $5,000, for each of the first two years after matriculation and is paid directly to the student’s Bursar’s account. No extensions of the award beyond two years are possible. Nominations are made by the director. Recipients are not required to provide any services to the University in exchange for the award.
Click here to goto Financial Aid.
Illustration MFA Summer Faculty
Studio courses during the July contact period are intensive, concept- and technique-focused classes that are team taught by industry leaders. You’ll complete assignments each of the two weeks that aim to spark inspiration, learn new techniques, practices, and insights.
Lauren Mills, Artist
Most children’s books today, whether they are picture books, chapter books or novels are character driven. We, as the audience, are invested in what happens to that character. We want to see how that character solves his or her problem, gets his or her wish, or comes to terms with something and sees the world differently. There is something about the character that we can relate to and care about. We want to know the character will live a deeper, fuller life at the end of the book.
Our alumni are accomplished, award-winning professionals in markets across the field of illustration. They make up a close-knit community of lifelong friends and resourceful peers, from all over the world, who are always encouraged to reach out, compare thoughts with, ask advice of, and share triumphs with.
We have had 13 cohorts of graduate students, totaling nearly 100 alumni out in the field. Many of our former students credit their continued success to the body of work developed during their time as a student in our program.
Current Student Work
The Program Experience
Frequently Asked Questions
Our program is designed with working professionals in mind. Think of the Low Residency structure as a combination of on-campus and online learning. You’re afforded the convenience and flexibility while also benefiting from the value of learning in a studio environment.
In short, you’ll be away from home for 10 weeks total. We meet in-person four weeks out of the academic year: two weeks in July, one week in October, and one week in March. Each time we meet is called a contact period. There are 10 weeks total of contact periods.
Just over two years—two years plus two weeks, to be exact. Even though you aren’t on campus full-time, the curriculum is designed so that you maintain status as a full-time student. You’ll complete the program at the end of your third July contact period.
The University of Hartford is our home-base. Your three July contact periods are held here on campus in West Hartford, CT. The four Fall and Spring contact periods you attend are held across the country, in cities that reflect the thriving and changing markets of illustration. Cities for the Fall and Spring contact periods have included: San Francisco, CA, New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA, Philadelphia, PA.
We take pride in collaborating with leading and legendary illustration professionals from across the country. Take a moment to learn about our administrators, visiting faculty, and lecturers here.
Throughout the two years, you will maintain close communication via email, telephone, and video conferences with your thesis advisor and with Program Director, CF Payne. They’ll work with you to develop an individualized timeline of progress points to best suit your longterm goals.
A vital element of the program is the development and presentation of your Thesis project, which will be initiated during the first summer contact period. This Thesis project will be a self-initiated capstone body of work developed by you, under the guidance of your Thesis advisor Doug Andersen or Bill Thomson and Program Director CF Payne. You will meet with your Thesis Advisor and Program Director during each contact period and stay in contact with them throughout the year.
This Thesis affords you the opportunity to create a body of work that can be used to strengthen and expand your portfolio and launch your career in exciting new directions. The Thesis will consist of three elements: the art, the descriptive narrative, and a business plan showing how you plan to promote and sell your body of work. Portions of each student's Thesis project will be exhibited during the final contact period of the program.
The program cost for students entering during the 2019-2020 academic year is estimated to be around $56,500. This includes lab, registration, and technology fees. Students should expect additional expenses for transportation to and from contact period locations, hotels, meals, art supplies, and car rentals. Please see updated tuition information here.
Merit-based scholarships are available and determined by the Program Director and the MFA in Illustration Admission Committee. Financial aid for domestic students is available through the U.S. Department of Education.
To learn more, please contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance at 800.947.4303 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why wait? Entering cohorts begin each July. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, until the cohort of 20 is filled.
Sibu Puthenveetil, Class of 2019
Being around artists for two years, and having them as my peers and teachers has been absolutely invaluable to my growth. I’ve been to places where I normally wouldn’t have gone, talked to people whom I would normally have shied away from, and created work that I didn’t know I was capable of.