A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) may be one of the highest paying master’s degrees , but success in the arts takes a lot more than a degree. No matter what type of art you create – visual, written, performance-based or design – you need exceptional skill to make a living as an artist. Will this terminal, graduate-level degree help you land the job you want?

Weighing the MFA CCG电子竞技现场直播 Against the Importance of Your Portfolio

Will an MFA Help Me Get Jobs Or Is My Portfolio More Important

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay , public domain

As a terminal degree at the graduate level, the MFA is a prestigious degree. Employers in the arts don’t take this degree lightly, and neither should prospective students. However, artist isn’t a job role where you need a degree to qualify for licensure or to check off boxes in a job listing. An MFA degree may show prospective employers, agents or professional partners that you put in the time and effort to develop highly advanced skills in your art, but it doesn’t demonstrate precisely what your skills and strengths are. Your portfolio – a collection of your best work that may be presented in visual, written, digital or video format – is what shows employers what you can do.

Ultimately, the biggest benefit of having an MFA isn’t the prestige conferred by the degree itself but the leaps and bounds by which your artistic techniques and competency improve. For many MFA students, there’s also a great deal of personal growth that occurs when pursuing an MFA, which can include learning and confronting their own weaknesses, insecurities and anxieties, according to The Washington Post .

Although students often wonder whether the MFA degree or their portfolio is more valuable, it’s not like pursuing an MFA and working on your portfolio are mutually exclusive paths. The art that you create as an MFA student will build out your portfolio. In many cases, these works of art will eventually replace the best work that you had completed prior to starting your MFA program, simply because your skills have grown and you have mastered new techniques.

You can absolutely develop your portfolio without going back to school for an MFA. However, without professional critiques and guidance, you may not be able to master new artistic techniques or identify and improve your weaknesses as an artist.

The Kind of Career an MFA CCG电子竞技现场直播 Can Get You

The combination of the MFA itself and the enhanced portfolio you developed through your coursework can help you work toward any creative role in your art field. You may be a professional artist, author, actor or dancer. If you’re looking at jobs in which your MFA degree can give you a direct boost, however, you may want to pivot your career search in a slightly different direction.

Artists don’t have “employers” so much as they have agents who represent them and companies – in publishing, dance choreography, filmmaking and more – with which they use their talents to create art. Employers with more traditional work relationships are more likely to be impressed by a degree. Having an MFA in writing , for example, might impress potential employers in publishing companies, magazines and newspapers and advertising and marketing agencies.

Even for jobs for which just having an MFA provides a competitive advantage, your portfolio still matters. Your MFA may get your job application a second look and even lead to an interview, but your prospective employer will likely want to see proof of your skills.

What Career Outcomes You Shouldn’t Expect From an MFA

One thing you shouldn’t expect as a graduate from an MFA program is for publishers, galleries or agents to come knocking at your door to offer you work. Just because you have a graduate degree doesn’t mean publishing companies will call to ask you to write them a book on an advance or Broadway’s biggest directors will offer you a starring role in their play. The MFA isn’t some magical credential that can automatically score you opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to get based on your talent and portfolio. Creative jobs of this nature don’t often happen through recruiting like this, and you often have to stand out to make your own way.

Another potential pitfall is planning on a teaching career that’s unlikely to materialize. Jobs for MFA professors, particularly in creative writing, are scarce and highly competitive, according to Inside Higher Ed . Good jobs in academia are even harder to find. Only about one-quarter of all college faculty positions are tenured or tenure-track today, according to Inside Higher Ed , which means instructors have less job security. Many colleges rely on adjunct professors. These roles are part-time, assigned on a class-by-class basis and usually don’t offer the same pay rate or benefits that full-time professors enjoy, according to The Houston Chronicle .

Because the payoff of earning an MFA degree isn’t always immediate or even obviously a result of the degree itself, art students really need to weigh the pros and cons of going back to school, especially if they will be going into debt to do so.

Additional Resources

What Areas of Arts Are Covered in an MFA?

Is a Final Project in an MFA in Writing Something That I Could Later Publish, Like a Novel?

Can I Get an MFA in Two Areas at the Same Time?

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