Interview with Ms. Linda Walsh, Graduate Advisor

Interview with Ms. Linda Walsh, Graduate Advisor

at San Jose State University, School of Art and Design

What are the top three reasons that students choose to pursue a graduate degree in the visual arts?

Artistic growth, a challenging community, and a professional degree that prepares one for teaching.

Professionally speaking, why should students pursue graduate programs in art? What advantages can they attain from it? When is the best time to pursue one?

A large percentage of our alumni are teachers, in the Bay Area and around the country. In recent years an MFA degree has become required for college level teaching. Many of our alumni exhibit nationally and internationally, professional practice is part of our program. The best time to pursue a degree is a personal issue, a surprising number of our graduate students are mid-life or older. A rich mix of ages and backgrounds is the norm for our classrooms.

What are the three most important factors that prospective students should consider when evaluating and choosing a graduate program in the visual arts?

Teachers, are there mentors/artists at the school whose work and ideas will challenge you? Fellow students, is there a community that will become your respected colleagues, people with whom to exchange ideas? Location, are there extended resources beyond the university, galleries, museums, communities of artists?

How is your graduate art program different than those at other schools? How is technology integrated into your programs?

We are unusually diverse. Our students come from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, are of many different ages, and have various levels of economic resources. Many of our students move freely between media, beginning study in one area and producing their thesis in another.

Our degree in Digital Media Art at the CADRE Institute reflects the innovative atmosphere in Silicon Valley. Technical facilities include a wide range of computing resources. Students work across the boundaries of computer visualization, animation, digital video, mutimedia, electronic sculpture, and virtual reality. CADRE supports its own networking environment and offers opportunity to produce internet based artworks.

How selective are graduate schools for the visual arts, and what are some hot tips for getting accepted?

We are very selective, accepting about 1 in 10 for the MFA. Good work, well documented, is critical, and we look for a high level of commitment to artistic endeavor. Whenever possible, a visit to campus while school is in session is helpful.

How do most students fund their graduate education? How available are scholarships and other forms of financial assistance at your school?

Parents, loans, work, financial aid.

Can an MFA include a focus on just about any visual art discipline? What's the difference between an MFA with a specialization and an MA in any given specialty?

In our booklet describing the MA/MFA programs we offer at SJSU I count in excess of 20 different areas of possible focus, our students also often mix different areas. As the art world changes, this faculty is open to sponsoring artistic exploration in any number of interesting disciplines.

How does your school help its students to find jobs in the visual arts?

We try to give them all the skills they will need, both critically and in the realm of art making. We have a seminar called "Artists Teaching Art". Students are encouraged to work with a master teacher and gain experience in that teacher's classroom. We also send students out into the surrounding community to other colleges, junior colleges, and high schools to give workshops as an experience and to build their resumes. Many of our graduate students have teaching assistantships and a faculty mentor.

Many of the faculty have numerous exhibitions, commissions, workshops and lectures. They both model and teach the necessities of professional practice for an artist.

Students attend national conventions: CAA, NCECA, ISC, GAS, etc. where faculty introduce them, assist them with interviews and help them learn to network.

All faculty have contacts in the field and try to help students find opportunities for teaching, exhibitions, and commissions.

Tell us about some of your MFA graduates.

New York painter Holly Lane is doing well, sculptors Randy Shiroma, Deborah Kennedy, Diana Plumley Bates are known for their public commissions. Linda Einfalt teaches at Ohio State Columbus, Jeremy Jernigan is at Tulane, Cynthia Handel U of Louisiana Baton Rouge, Jay Kvapil is Chairman of the Art Dept. at Cal State Long Beach…this is to name only a few.

Tell us about some of your noteworthy faculty.

Some of the most acknowledged exhibiton/publication records are Alice Carter, Kathy Cohen, Rupert Garcia, David Middlebrook, Joel Slayton, Stan Welsh, Robin Lasser, Susan Otto, Consuelo Underwood, and Jo Hernandez. Among the part-time faculty, Robert Dawson and Mary White are also very well established.

Graduate Program Profile: San Jose State University, School of Art and Design

Enrollment: 26-27k, @1500 Art & Design Majors @ 90 Graduate Students in Art & Design

School Tuition (in-state/out-of-state): California Residents 1-6 units$679, 6.1 or more $994. Non-resident add $246 per unit.

Student/Faculty Ratio: 16/1

Graduation rate: 98%+

Graduate degrees and programs offered in visual arts:MFA - Art, Concentrations in Digital Media Art, Photography, Pictorial and Spatial Arts; MA - Art, Concentrations in Art Education, Art History, and Multimedia Computing, due to space limitations we are not currently accepting applications in MA Studio or MA Graphic Design

The mission of your graduate art school: The MFA - Art is a highly selective program that provides professional training and education for artists in pictorial arts (painting, drawing, printmaking) or spatial arts (sculpture, ceramics, glass, metals, performance installations and fiber), photography, or digital media art, and prepares college and university teachers in these areas.

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