Visual Arts

Visual Arts (VA75)

This program is designed to provide intensive professional training for the student who proposes to pursue a career within the field of contemporary art—including art making, criticism, and theory. The scope of the UC San Diego program includes painting, sculpture, performance, installation art, public art, photography, film, video, and digital media. The program is unique in that the course of study provides for and encourages student mobility within this range of traditional and media-based components. It also offers opportunities for collaborative work.

Program Info

Area of Study Division of Arts and Humanities

Cinema/Film/Media, Digital/New Media/Software/Hardware, Painting/Drawing, Participatory/Collaborative, Performance/Site/Event, Public Culture/Architecture/Urban, Sculpture/Object/Installation, Speculative Design, Theory/Text.

Department Visual Arts
Major Visual Arts
Degree Master of Fine Arts
Admissions Terms Fall
Additional Notes

All application materials, including the Visual Arts Portfolio, must be submitted online. We do not accept hard copies of materials.

Application Deadlines January 4, 2022 (Fall 2022)

Basic Requirement

Admissions Tests
English Proficiency Exams

(international applicants only)

A test of English language proficiency is required for international applicants whose native language is not English and who have not studied full-time for one uninterrupted academic year at a university-level institution in which English is the language of instruction and in a country where English is a dominant language.

The following test(s) are accepted by this department:

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
PTE (Pearson Test of English)

The Visual Arts Department requires TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores from all international applicants whose native language is not English. Please make arrangements to take the exam no later than November.

The minnimum speaking score on each exam
TOEFL speaking scores of 23
IELTS speaking scores of 7
PTE speaking scores of 65

Request to send your scores from the TOEFL website. Our school code is 4836. The department code is 15.

English Language Requirement for International Teaching Assistants (TA).

International students whose native language is not English will be required to demonstrate English language proficiency before they may serve as teaching assistants.

International graduate students who are nonnative speakers of English must be certified as having requisite language skills before they can serve as teaching assistants (TAs; UC San Diego Graduate Division policy in compliance with Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 41).

Evidence of English Language Proficiency

Students may be certified either on the basis of their score on one of the following:

• have a TOEFL iBT Speaking subscore of 30
• have an IELTS Speaking subscore of 9.0
• have a PTE Speaking sub-score of 90
• be an international graduate student who serves as a language assistant in courses conducted in their native language.

Upon admission acceptance, those students with TOEFL speaking scores of 23 – 27, IELTS speaking scores of 7-8, or PTE speaking scores of 65-82 are required to take the English Language Certification Exam.

Students who do not pass the English Language Certification Exam are given the opportunity to improve their language skills.
Letters of Recommendation

Minimum of 3 recommendations required.

Letters of recommendation should come from individuals, preferably previous professors, who can best explain why you are prepared and would be successful in rigorous academic studies at the graduate level.

Statement of Purpose


Online Statement of Purpose Only. 750-1000 word limit, not to exceed 3 pages.



Additional Requirements

Visual Arts Portfolio Requirements

The portfolio consists of an Artist Statement and samples of your artwork.

The Artist Statement should aim to explain, justify, extend, and/or contextualize your body of work, while placing your work in relationship to art history, theory, and the contemporary world. The Artist statement will be read by the admissions committee and your peers in the program, while the Statement of Purpose is reviewed by the admissions committee only. For this reason, applicants may upload their Statement of Purpose in the Artist Statement portion of the portfolio, given it addresses the prompt.

The samples of your artwork should best showcase your research abilities and current/recent projects. You may create your Visual Arts Portfolio in a number of different formats. Our program is cross-disciplinary and it is not unusual for an applicant to have several different artistic mediums within their portfolio. The admissions committee is interested in seeing your most accomplished, recent work, rather than a chronology of work done over the span of your career. A good gauge would be to include work you've done within the last two years.

More details about portfolio submission can be found here

Contact Info

Campus Office Mandeville 216
Phone (858) 822-3884
Fax (858) 534-8651
Mailing Address
University of California, San Diego
Mandeville Center
9500 Gilman Drive, #0327
La Jolla, CA 92093-0327