11 Free MFA Programs to Study Photography

The decision to pursue higher education is always one fraught with anxiety over whether or not you can afford it.

After student loans for college, mortgages, plus credit card debt that most Americans have, who can even think about taking on another expense? For those who truly want to pursue higher education in photography, this post will list eleven free MFA programs within the United States that can help you do it debt free.

Baffled by the exorbitant costs for higher education in this country, one day I thought, is there such a thing as “free tuition“? Using Google I combed through comments left on forums and found graduate schools in the U.S. that offer fellowships and “tuition waivers”, a form of financial assistance in which the school charges little or no tuition.

Some observations from my search:

  • Only 1 of these programs listed below specifically offer an MFA in Photography, the others offer an MFA in Studio Art with the ability to specialize in photo – the benefit of studio art programs is that if interested, you can often take classes in other art forms
  • Very few are located on the East or West coasts.
  • Some schools also offer (teaching-assistantship) stipends for related or personal expenses.
  • Admission prerequisites typically require a BFA in Art or Studio Art (including courses in art or art history) but some exceptions can be made, for example if you have a BA/BS in Studio Art – check each school’s website for details.
  • There are few slots available, less than 10 in most cases – so it’s no surprise that competition is fierce.
  • Application fees seem lower (compared to MFA Photo programs) and in some cases you may be able to get it waived too.

Without further ado, here’s a list of 11 free MFA programs, in no priority order. I’ve provided links to their websites for details and recommend you do your own research and verify their commitments to providing tuition waivers and fellowships if/before you apply.

  1. Tulane University (offers tuition waiver to all admitted students plus an assistantship stipend of $15,360 per year)
  2. University of New Orleans
  3. University of Delaware
  4. University of Illinios, Urbana Champagne
  5. University of Connecticut
  6. University of Albany, NY
  7. University of Notre Dame – South Bend, Indiana
  8. University of South Florida, Tampa
  9. University of Arizona, Tuscon
  10. University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  11. Ohio State University, Columbus

Do you know of other free MFA programs with concentrations in photography? Please list them below in the comments!

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