December 13, 2018

MFA programs

Oregon College of Art and Craft

Courtesy Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) MFA.

“The root of craft is practice. So how do you practice looking, considering, thinking, outside of the classroom? Venturing further afield is a vital component of the MFA in Craft pedagogy.” —OCAC MFA in Craft Chair Karl Burkheimer

In the expanded field
Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) has a long tradition of educating entrepreneurs, critical thinkers, and creative makers who transform through engagement with materials. OCAC’s campus is nestled in the majestic Southwest hills of Portland, Oregon. But the learning arena extends far past the insular comforts of our 9.5+ acres of idyllic making space.

“Craft is action. Craft is applied," says OCAC MFA in Craft Chair Karl Burkheimer. "You cannot merely think craft. You’ve got to do something.” Through Field Studies, MFA students venture outside the confines of the academic landscape for yearly extracurricular adventures. Destinations include national art and design centers (as well as offbeat galleries and quirky studios) in Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.

When graduate students set foot outside our coveted small campus…tucked within a medium–sized city in the Northwest…they enhance their rigorous studio experience by engaging vast, dense, and differing creative ecologies in an on–the–road laboratory.

Destination high density:

MFA in Craft: Critical Studio Practice
During two full academic years and one mid–sequence summer term, the dynamic 60–credit program focuses on self–directed work, interdisciplinary studies, abstract thinking, and critical reflection. In addition to working closely with a graduate committee unique to their practice, students essentially spend five days a week making in their personal studio space, followed by two days of critiques and seminars.

MFA in Craft and Material Studies—Low Residency
The Low Res program combines the rigor and the rhetoric of a traditional program with added flexibility and independence. An interdisciplinary approach fosters the creative practice, materials knowledge, and achievement of self-motivated artists—particularly those with professional lives, family, or community commitments.

Field Studies for both programs include investigative trips to high density cosmopolitans such as Los Angeles, CA. “MFA in Craft students venture into those spaces, seeking that density,” says Karl. As Portland's neighbor, LA becomes a rich resource to engage a large mass of creative endeavors and urban institutions. These trips to LA, New York, and Seattle supplement students’ studio focus and artistic development.

The opportunity of open space:

MFA in Applied Craft + Design (AC+D): Design Thinking with the Hand
A collaboration between OCAC and Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), the two–year joint AC+D program is grounded in hands–on making, mentor–based studio practice, entrepreneurship, and social/environmental engagement. With individual student spaces housed in an expansive workshop, the cross-disciplinary studio environment fosters unbridled collaboration.

AC+D Field Studies simultaneously seek out the high density of city art centers and the grandeur of the open space. Students venture into the world for short immersive trips to locales such as Marfa, Texas and LA. Recently, the program returned to Joshua Tree for a weekend of experimental art at High Desert Test Sites that included a tour of Andrea Zittel’s studio at A–Z West. Along the way, they visited Joshua Tree National Park and experienced the fiber work of AC+D Asterisk-in-Residence Sarah Wertzberger at The Hammer Museum in LA.

The voice of design:

MFA in Industrial Design (MFA ID)
MFA ID students balance personal research with studies in the creative and professional methods of Industrial Design—all while connecting the hand to the heart to the mind through their practice. The core of the program is intelligence derived from the material making of objects and products.

Studies focus on human-centered research, sustainable practices, start–up business knowledge, sketching and computer skills, materials experimentation, model and making skills, and craftsmanship. Concurrent with the study of design within a global landscape, MFA ID Field Studies directly engage the unique regionalized voice of design in the Northwest. Students visit established design ventures as well as the grassroots, enterprising industries the Northwest is known for.

Ready to experience the expanded field? Explore OCAC's robust MFA programs and their unique Field Studies.

MFA programs at OCAC / Request information / Apply now

MFA students have access to eight well–equipped studios on campus, including Book & Print, Ceramics, Digital FabLab, Drawing & Painting, Fibers, Metals, Photography, and Wood.

Financial support
OCAC provides access to generous tuition support for students through scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs. For more information or to visit the campus, contact the OCAC Admissions Office: graduateadmissions [​at​]

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