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I am pretty new to this forum, so forgive me if this question has been asked repeatedly. I am in the process of researching mfa programs for photography (starting Fall 2012).

Does anyone have any advice as to what programs are good "fall backs". I am currently thinking about applying to 4 top tier schools, and 2 fall back schools.

The 4 I know I want to apply to are Yale, SAIC, RISD, and CalArts.

Also, any advice about interviews? (assuming I make the cut! haha)

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Any advice on fallback schools for photography? Because I am in Texas, I was looking at UT-Austin and U of Houston. Does anyone know anything about these programs? I visited UT about a year ago and they have nice facilities, but I got a strange vibe from the person that would be my graduate advisor. The faculty and students were all super chill though.

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While U.T. is a highly ranked program, I saw very little in the way of good work when I was there. U.H. is better in photography, in my opinion. North Texas is probably the best MFA program in the state.

Outside the state, I'm less familiar with photo programs in particular, except that Univ. of New Mexico continues to have a good reputation. If you want an academic job afterwards, it's the usual suspects that will help give your degree a cachet. UCLA, SAIC, etc. As always, I don't recommend Yale. Oh, and I think SUNY Purchase has a pretty good photo program, and you would certainly make your NYC art world connections there.

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@losemygrip, Can I ask why you don't recommend Yale? Other than some comments I have seen you make about the work coming out of there, what turns you off about Yale?

I am somewhat familiar with North Texas, but I have not visited there yet. Thanks for the recommendations.

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In thirty years of teaching, Yale's Papageorge has probably *refused* admission to more MFA applicants than anyone else in photography. Papageorge has also isolated himself from most other teachers, excepting the ones he's hired. And the handful of tenure-track hires he's made at Yale have all (quietly) bailed on his program without tenuring in.

After three decades and twenty thousand rejects, there are more than a few tenured academics who've suffered his rejection and who won't go near his graduates.

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When it comes to academic hiring, Yale MFAs in photo do not have a good record. I don't know the reason why, but they don't. Look around at the photo faculty at good art schools and see where they went.

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Insufficient coffee this AM and I apologize for bad numbers: over the course of three decades Yale's School of Art has turned down more than 20,000 applicants in painting/printmaking/sculpture/graphic design/photography. Papageorge's photography program has rejected only five to seven thousand of those applicants. Some percentage of those students inevitably earn advanced degrees and tenure.

It is not pragmatic to earn Yale's MFA and then seek tenured employment from someone who - as likely as not - was rejected by Yale. At my age I've heard more than a few of my tenured colleagues exclaim how their academic careers would have more swiftly advanced if only they'd earned an MFA from Yale. Papageorge was notorious for not wanting his students to go into teaching.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey everyone. Good to see the Photo MFA thread is already up and running. I applied at some schools last year...4 to be exact...two that I thought were super tough to get into (SMFA Boston and RISD) and two that I thought would be rather easy to get into (U. Washington and U. Illinois) As it turns out...my fall back schools were tougher to get into (or at least as tough) as the two schools I thought were going to be tougher.

I did end up getting an interview at SMFA and an offer for Post Bacc...but wasn't able to accept. So, I guess, my little piece of advice is...don't count on any school to be easy to get into. I'm sure there are those that are, but it might be harder to find them than you think. :-) So my plan this year...is to do tons of research...build a better portfolio...and just refine refine refine that baby down till it shines like diamonds and hope for the best. hehe.

Best of luck to everyone as we all undergo the fun of applications, fees, port building, and of course...those letters of intent!!! :D

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Hi everybody. So it looks like I'm going to be applying this fall as well. I've decided to go with UCLA, CSULB, Claremont, USC and maybe Cal Arts. My work is mainly abstract and I was looking for programs that would be compatible with that and open to letting me explore/combine other mediums if I felt the need. Is anyone else applying to those schools or know of any other programs they would recommend? Thanks!

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the photo program at yale is great. About 90 percent of all Yale photo graduates are still practicing artists and that really says a lot about the programs reputation and students coming out of the program. i don't know why you wouldn't consider it.

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Hello everyone, I am from the UK and will be applying to MFA courses through Fulbright hopefully! My own 2 choices are Columbia and UCLA but I'm also hoping to apply to Cal Arts, RISD and Pratt. Good Luck everyone I can't wait to get back into studying. If anyone want s to have a look at my website (a little out of date mind) itslinked below Feedback would be greatly appreciated!

http://claritalulic.com/

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Well, thus far I'm looking at the following schools:

MassArt - I can't pass up the opportunity to play with that 20x24" polaroid camera!!

Lesley University/AIB - I am an alternative process junkie, so the idea that I could learn from Christopher James...the man that wrote the book...is too much to pass up.

University of Washington - I applied there last year...they are holding some of my info...so it'll be a pretty easy application process. Plus they have the potential for the Ph.D in Digital Art and Experimental Media. And it would be interesting to see if I progressed enough from last year to this year to get in.

Indiana University/Purdue - They have a pretty new and exciting program.

Bradley University - It's a small small program, which intrigues me. I think I could get a lot out of it.

If anyone has any experience with any of these places, I would love to hear about it!

I'm trying to maybe pick out a couple more places, probably state schools..but it depends on if I can cough up the application fees. :-D

Edited by allenm82
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  • 2 weeks later...

I've also been researching photography programs to apply to within the next couple years. I recently went in for a meeting at Columbia College and toured SAIC in Chicago. Sadly, I didn't get to tour Columbia at the time. SAIC is amazing, but nearly double the price of CC, so I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on Columbia College. They said they were more focused on contemporary photography than anything else, which I'm interested in, but am a little worried about constraints, especially since I just had a discussion with my old photography professors about how they think contemporary photography may be going to the wayside soon. In addition to that, any thoughts on other MFA photography programs that aren't in the price ranges of the likes of SAIC, Yale, RISD, etc. Anyone?

Edited by karadactyl
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Hey all,

I'm applying to get my MFA in Photography now. It's freaking terrifying. My work is documentary, with one foot in the world of fine arts, the other in photojournalism. I'm a bit worried that I'll be outshone by the abstract photographers.

I'm applying to -

University of Minnesota

University of Illinois

University of Wisconsin Madison

University of New Mexico

MassArt

Ohio University (MA in Photojournalism)

University of Washington

Any advice on statement of intent for these schools? My portfolio is solid, but I know my statement blows. Currently, it's a list of classes I took, things I did... not really too interesting.

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