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Do you want to go further with your artistic abilities? This terminal degree program allows you to build on your foundation and expand beyond the traditional arts. As an MFA candidate, you will hone your craft in digital media and build proficiency in subjects like digital sculpting, digital painting, character design, and other specializations within the digital media industries.

The program culminates with an advanced thesis project that lets you develop and showcase an original body of work that is both personal and reflective of your strongest capabilities as a digital artist. We welcome a diversity of interests, ideas, and backgrounds.

The MFA in Digital Arts program allows you to make the jump from traditional to digital media and equip yourself with the 2D and 3D art skills most relevant to today’s careers in games, animation, and other visual media production environments.


Who Should Pursue This Degree?

If you aspire to turn your artistic capabilities into a sustainable career, or simply pick up where you left off in a previous arts program — particularly in the direction of 2D or 3D digital art production — this program may be for you. Ideally, applicants to the Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts program will have had foundational coursework or formal training in the following: drawing, figure drawing, color theory, composition sculpture, 3D modeling, animation, and digital painting. Applicants with a background in architecture or design may be accepted but will need traditional media rendering skills and a demonstrated proficiency in color and composition.

As a student in this program, you will:

  • Learn the Tools of Digital Artists

    Gain familiarity with the tools and techniques most commonly used for digital painting, 3D sculpting, and more.

  • Tailor Your Elective Coursework

    Focus on the skills and specializations that matter most to you; take advantage of independent study opportunities to design your own courses.

  • Build Your Professional Portfolio

    The MFA thesis project is your chance to make a personal statement and demonstrate your strongest capabilities as a digital artist.


Academic Roadmap

As an MFA student, your studies will begin with a handful of required courses that will form the basis of your digital arts toolkit. From there, you’ll be able to choose from a wide selection of elective offerings in digital art, fine art, animation and production, or project coursework — narrowing your focus in the direction of the skillsets that most interest you. In addition to your regular coursework, you’ll be working toward your final thesis project under the guidance of faculty advisors.

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Houdini Certification

DigiPen is a Certified Partner of SideFX, developers of the procedural 3D art software, Houdini. Certification means our students have demonstrated exceptional skill using the industry-leading tool favored by professional technical artists working in the film, television, and games industries.

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Admissions Requirements

In addition to other basic admissions requirements, applicants to the MFA program must submit an art portfolio.

View all requirements

Topics Covered

By the time they graduate, students in the MFA program will possess the following qualifications:

  • Extensive 3D production experience, including the ability to use the most current 2D and 3D graphics applications in the industry, as well as traditional fine arts skills such as drawing, sculpting, and painting.
  • A deep understanding of the 3D graphics production pipeline, including the creative process and ability to manage projects from brainstorming to completion.
  • Strong research skills, especially as they relate to art history, character design references, and anatomy.
  • A specialization in modeling, sculpting, or character art, as well as a unique and highly developed personal voice as demonstrated by their thesis.

Full-Time and Part-Time Options

The MFA program is flexible to your schedule and can be pursued either full-time for two years or part-time for four years. The part-time program will require some coursework during regular daytime hours.

Full-time sample course sequence

Part-time sample course sequence

MFA Thesis

Your thesis begins with a one-semester Thesis Pre-Production course, during which time you will research, develop, and refine your thesis topic proposal. You will then work on your approved thesis project for two semesters under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

Thesis Work Examples

Student Projects

In addition to your thesis project, you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with your peers on team-based student projects — including games and films — as part of your elective coursework. These projects give you firsthand experience creating 2D and 3D digital assets in a setting that reflects the professional studio environment. These are just a few projects MFA students have helped create.

Meet the Faculty

As an MFA candidate you will take classes from a number of faculty in the Department of Fine Arts, Department of Digital Arts, and Department of Animation and Production. You’ll receive close guidance and mentorship from experienced artists and industry veterans from the world of professional film and game production. These are just a few of the faculty who teach coursework in the MFA program.

DigiPen Faculty Mark Henne

Mark Henne

Program Director (MFA in Digital Arts)

Mark Henne joined DigiPen in 2012. He directs the MFA in Digital Arts program and teaches the senior animated film course in the BFA program, among other topics. He started working in animation and visual effects in 1990 when he joined Rhythm & Hues Studios in Los Angeles. In 1994 he moved to Pixar, where he worked on the original Toy Story and continued there until coming to DigiPen.

Alecia Rossano, MFA

Professor

Professor Alecia Rossano is a classically trained figurative sculptor from Seattle. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Scripps College and her Master of Fine Arts from the graduate school of the New York Academy of Art. She has also studied in Florence, Italy, which inspired her love of Renaissance and baroque art. Her work has been shown in Seattle and New York.

DigiPen Faculty Ryan Finnerty, MFA

Ryan Finnerty, MFA

Assistant Dean of Curriculum

Ryan Finnerty is a Seattle-based artist and educator. He holds a BFA in Painting from Savannah College of Art and Design and an MFA in Drawing and Painting from the University of Washington. Finnerty has exhibited paintings and drawings in several galleries in the Seattle area and throughout the country. He has also served as an artist-in-residence with numerous arts organizations both nationally and locally.


Career Outlook

Graduates of the MFA in Digital Arts program can pursue a number of career paths in the game and digital media industries. Thanks to a heavy emphasis on elective coursework, you’ll be able to tailor your studies to these and other job types.

Potential Careers

3D Modeler

A 3D modeler is responsible for creating the creatures, objects, and environmental features for video games, simulations, animations, and other visual media, as well as 3D-printed objects. A 3D modeler must know how to capture the look, weight, and proportion of an object from all angles and work efficiently with sophisticated 3D art tools.

Character Artist

A character artist has the difficult but important job of creating the 3D characters that will typically be the focus of the player’s attention in an interactive video game. In many cases, the character artist will be responsible for both the modeling and texturing of the 3D character, being sure to create a model that can be properly rigged and animated.

Concept Artist

The concept artist creates visualizations to guide the rest of the art team and ensures a consistent visual style for animations, video games, movies, and other media. They must be able to illustrate rapidly to represent new ideas, working from the creative direction and input of a creative director or art lead.

Entry-Level Job Titles

  • 3D Artist

  • Animator

  • Technical Artist

  • Environment Artist

Senior-Level Job Titles

  • Art Lead

  • Art Director

  • Senior Artist

  • Senior Character Artist

  • Professor of Fine Arts

Alecia Rossano teaches figure sculpture in the studio classroom.

Professor Alecia Rossano talks about her passion for rendering the human form and teaching DigiPen students the traditional art of figure sculpting.

The cover art for Hannah Patten’s comic book GRL PWR.

A DigiPen MFA student turned real women’s stories of harassment and assault into superhero origin stories.

Trang “Sushie” Ta and Jesse Munguia stand next to each other in the DigiPen MFA lab.

With the help of the McMillen Foundation art scholarship, two DigiPen students are eagerly pursuing their dreams of making art for video games.

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