Arthur Gibbons, Director

MFA Bard College MFA Bard College MFA Bard College

Prospective Students FAQ

Q: Can I arrange a campus visit?

A: Yes. The best time to visit campus is during the summer when our session is in progress. We also hold information sessions and campus tours in the fall; dates are listed on our Visiting Bard page once they are confirmed. To visit Bard at another time, contact our office at 845-758-7481 or email

Q: Can I submit my application if my recommendation letters have not been uploaded?

A: Yes, you can submit your application whenever you are ready, up through the deadline of January 15, 2014.

Your recommenders can still upload or mail their letters after you have submitted; the deadline for letters of recommendation is January 25, 2014. 

Q: Do you accept transfer credits?

A: No. Applicants who transfer from another MFA program must complete all program requirements.

Q: Do you require the GRE?

A: No. Applicants who have taken a GRE test may submit their scores if they wish.

Q: How competitive is the admissions process?

A: The admissions process is highly competitive; in 2013 we received over 300 applications. Of these around 70 were invited to interview, and 28 were admitted to the program. Painting is the most competitive discipline, receiving well over 100 applications.

Each discipline accepts 4-5 students each year. There are about 12-15 students (3 class years worth) in each discipline, and a total student body of approximately 80.

Q: How do I apply for financial aid?

A: Applicants who are invited for an interview must submit the 2014-15 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by March 15, 2014. You can complete the FAFSA online after January 1, 2014 at International applicants must submit a copy of the International Student Financial Aid form. You will also need to submit a copy of your 2013 tax return to Bard as proof of income.

The FAFSA is used to apply for all need-based financial aid: scholarships and loans. Fellowships are awarded based on merit and do not require an application. Fellowships are typically smaller than scholarships.

Q: How is the program structured?

A: Students in Bard's MFA program are in residence for three summers (8 weeks each, in June and July). During the rest of the year (August-May) students complete an independent study project, which they come back and present the following summer. During the third and final summer students present their thesis projects to the public, either through a joint exhibition or as part of an evening presentation. 

Students who start the program in summer 2014 can complete the program at the end of the 2016 summer session. Official graduation (receipt of diploma) is the following May.

Q: How should I submit my letters of recommendation?

A: The preferred method of submission for letters of recommendation is online through the SlideRoom application system, as it is fast, reliable, and matches your letter with your application automatically. You can also track who has submitted their letters. You will need to start your online application before your recommenders can upload their letters, but it is ok to submit your application before all letters are received.

We also accept mailed recommendation letters if a recommender does not want to use the online format. Mailed letters should be postmarked by January 25, 2014. If your recommender is mailing a letter, please be sure that they include your full name on the letter so we may match it with your application. There is no recommendation form/questionnaire to submit.

If you have applied in the past two years, you can re-use any letters that were previously submitted through SlideRoom by clicking Add Reference and then selecting Reuse Previous.

Q: I am reapplying to the program; what do I need to submit?

A: We retain application files for two years. Applicants from 2012 or 2013 still have their previous applications on file and may re-use transcripts and letters of recommendation; all other application materials will need to be resubmitted. Applicants from 2011 and prior will need to submit an entirely new application.

Q: I don't know what discipline my work falls into: what should I do?

A: For logistical reasons we separate our program into 6 disciplines: Film/Video, Music/Sound, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, and Writing. Students are "housed" in one of these disciplines, but are free to explore and work in forms outside of their discipline. If your portfolio work falls into more than one of these categories, you have two options.

1. Consider which discipline you would like to focus your attentions on during your graduate study, and/or which area you identify with more closely, and apply to that discipline.

2. Apply to two different disciplines, following the portfolio requirements for each. You will have to submit two separate applications (though SlideRoom allows copying of content from one to the other in most areas) and pay the application fee twice.

Sometimes the faculty, upon reviewing an application, decide to transfer it to a different discipline if they feel the work is more appropriate to the other department.

Please call our office at 845-758-7481 or plan to attend an information session if you would like to speak to someone about your particular situation.

Q: Is financial aid available for foreign students?

A: Yes. Foreign students are considered for fellowships and may apply for scholarships. Most foreign students are not eligible for government loans, but you may be able to apply for a loan from your home country.

Q: My college can't send my transcript by the application deadline. Can I send an unofficial transcript?

A: Yes, starting in fall 2013 we accept unofficial transcripts for the initial application. We prefer that you upload a copy of your transcript(s) as part of your SlideRoom application. If you cannot upload your transcript(s), you may mail them to the address listed on our Applying page. If you are later selected as an interview candidate, you will be asked to submit official copies of all transcripts at that time.

Q: What are the requirements for foreign applicants?

A: Foreign applicants are required to submit the same application materials and fee as US applicants. In addition, applicants for whom English is not a first language must demonstrate English speaking proficiency. There are several ways to meet this requirement:

Show proof of a high school or college degree earned at an English-speaking institution
Score at least 90 on the internet (iBT) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
Score at least 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test

Q: What is the total cost of the program?

A: The estimated tuition (starting in 2014) is $55,000. Tuition includes three summer sessions and two independent study periods. Fees for 3 summers are approximately $1,500. On-campus housing (optional) for 3 summer sessions is estimated at $5,000.

Over 90% of our students receive financial aid in the form of fellowships and/or scholarships to offset part of the cost; the average financial aid award covers about 1/3 of tuition.

Q: What should I include in my portfolio?

A: Specific portfolio requirements for each discipline can be found on our Applying page. In general, your portfolio should demonstrate what you consider to be your strongest work over the past three years, with an emphasis on work from the past 12 months. You may include multiple works from a particular series, but it is recommended that your portfolio not consist entirely of one series of work. If your work spans more than one discipline, you can include work from the other disciplines as well.

Sculptors and those with large installation pieces may include overview shots or video of an installation as well as detail shots. Film/Video and Music/Sound applicants should limit their overall time-based sample length to 30 minutes, but can include segments from a number of longer works. Writers may submit 15-20 pages from one longer work or multiple examples of shorter work.

We do not accept portfolio materials by mail - all portfolios are submitted through SlideRoom.

Q: When will I be notified about my admission status?

A: If you apply for summer 2014, you will receive an email in mid-February regarding your interview status. Those who are offered interviews (which take place on Saturday, March 15, 2014) will then be notified by April 1 regarding whether they have been accepted, placed on the wait list, or not offered a space in our program.

Q: Will I be notified when my application is received?

A: With our online application through SlideRoom, you will create an account that you can access repeatedly to complete your application. Once you've submitted your application you will receive an automated email from SlideRoom confirming it's submission. 

If your recommenders submit their letters through SlideRoom, you will also receive an email when each letter is submitted.


2015 application is now available in Slideroom. 

Please visit our 'applying' page for the link and application guidelines.

Alumna Corrine Fitzpatrick MFA '11 writes about the Bard MFA program for Artforum's

Info Sessions dates are now posted.