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ART, THEORY, PRACTICE, at Northwestern University is one of the nation’s most competitive MFA programs. Each year we only accept five candidates and fully support ten graduate students during their tenure with full tuition waivers, health care coverage, and yearly stipends ranging from $24,000 to $32,000. GRE scores are not required to qualify for this financial support.

Financial support comes in two forms: University Fellowships and Teaching Assistantships. Every one of our MFA students is given the opportunity to build teaching experience by completing multiple Teaching Assistantships during their two years of coursework. This allows graduates to gain experience in classes at varying levels and in diverse media. Such breadth of familiarity proves invaluable to those who intend to teach after earning their degree.

Additional internal and external funding opportunities are available to A,T,P, graduate students during their two-year residency. Of the awards administered through Northwestern, our MFA students are eligible for Graduate Research Grants (GRG) as well as Conference Travel Grants. The Graduate School website also lists external funding sources particularly suited to A,T,P, students.


The official application forms must be completed and submitted online through The Graduate School’s website here

Applicants may submit materials starting September 13, 2023.
Online applications will not be accessible until this date.


As part of the application process, you will be asked to submit unofficial transcripts. Upon admission the Graduate School will ask you to submit the original paper copies of your official transcripts to this email address:

You will also be required to submit 2 letters of support by your recommenders through the Graduate School website, according to the instructions provided in conjunction with The Graduate School online application. A word of advice on choosing your recommenders: Ideally your recommenders should be professionals in the field that can speak about you as an artist and about the potential of your work (employers in non-art-related fields and fellow students may not be the best choices). GRE scores are not required nor requested.

Applicants will also submit an Academic Statement and Personal Statement. The Academic Statement in CollegeNet and the answer to the "Why Northwestern" prompt in Slideroom can be one and the same. 


Information about a fee waiver for the portion of the application submitted through the Graduate School's online system can be found here. Please note there are a finite number of waivers available for domestic applicants and U.S. citizens. If you wish to apply for waiver eligibility, we encourage you to complete your TGS application earlier in the application cycle, prior to the month of December. Currently, there is no option for receiving a fee waiver for the portion of the application submitted to the department through Slideroom. We regret the 23-24 application cycle will not support international applicant fee waivers. 


As a second step all applicants must submit their portfolio materials, artist statement and CV to the department with our online application, via Slideroom, here. You must file your department application under the exact same name as your Graduate School application. 

*The SlideRoom application will be undergoing maintenance on Sunday, November 12, from 4am to 3pm ET. During this time, the application will be unavailable.


Applicants may submit materials starting September 13, 2023.
Online applications will not be accessible until this date.


Your portfolio should consist of 20 images, video and/or other supported files. If you are submitting only still images, we recommend that you submit the full 20 images rather than fewer images. If you are submitting a combination of still images and works documented in other media, you may only submit a total of 20 files. If you are submitting time-based work only, please provide up to 5 samples. If your work is web interactive, please provide a screen shot and place the url in the title information. Media can also be linked from Vimeo and other sources in the application portal. More information about supported files and size requirements, can be found here.


You must submit your artist statement and CV with the online application. Your artist’s statement, which should not exceed 750 words, should address the issues and concerns that inform your practice in some detail. For additional questions concerning the MFA application process, please contact the Program Coordinator, Sara Medlin.

Both sections of the application ask for information about why you want to attend Northwestern University specifically (in Slideroom, this is a question; in The Graduate School application, this is an academic statement). Please know that you may use the same information for both of these sections.


ATP will host two virtual information sessions in the lead up to application deadline:

TBA early November 

TBA early December

If you are unable to attend one of these sessions, please contact Sara Medlin to view a recording of the session after it occurs. In-person visits to campus are currently suspended. 


What if my undergraduate degree isn't in art?

Provided you have a degree from a 4-year, accredited institution, you are eligible to apply. 3-year degree programs from accredited international institutions will be considered. 

What if my undergraduate institution didn't use a GPA system?

The TGS portion of the application asks for your GPA from any previous degree you have obtained. Several art schools do not use this system, so you should just leave this section blank on the application if that is the case.

Do accepted international students receive the same benefits as accepted students who are US citizens or US permanent residents?

All accepted students receive the same tuition waiver, stipend, and health insurance subsidy.

What is the minimum acceptable score for an English language proficiency test?

The minimum score for TOEFL is 80 (internet based). For other tests, please contact The Graduate School's Office of English Language Programming.

I am not a US citizen, but my undergraduate degree was from an institution where english was the primary language of instruction. Do I need to submit english language test scores?

No. Though please note that the application system will not adjust for this automatically, so your application will be marked incomplete until our staff has manually marked your application as not needing these test scores. Any delay caused by this will not impact the review of your application materials.

Can letters of recommendation, TOEFL scores, and other application documents be submitted via email?

No. All application documents must be submitted in the designated portals. If your recommender is having difficulty submitting the letter, or if you wish to change a recommender you have previously nominated, please contact the Admissions office directly at