Graduate Program in Painting

Our graduate painting and drawing programs are intrinsically linked with the premise that each discipline informs the other and ultimately supports the student’s decision to work in a single medium or a combination of media. The Painting graduate program draws upon contemporary practices and discourse in the field to prepare students for a life in the arts. Students are encouraged to work across disciplines and techniques in order to develop a body of work that reflects their independent investigations in painting. Studio practice is supplemented with art history seminars, visiting artist lectures, summer workshops, and travel study programs to New York City, culminating in a solo M.A. or M.F.A. thesis exhibition.

The School of Art offers both the Master of Arts degree in Studio Art and the Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting.  Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s top graduate programs in the visual arts, the School of Art at Kent State University provides abundant opportunities for graduate students to advance their skills in all areas of studio art.  We offer the only MFA program in northeast Ohio, and the only program in the state of Ohio to offer this breadth of studio specialties.  Working in close consultation with a major advisor, graduate students pursue a sequence of course work that encourages the development of an independent, critical approach to artistry in the discipline.  Studio space on campus is available on a limited basis for full-time resident students.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Dedicated studio space for graduate students
  • Competitive Graduate Assistantships that offer tuition remission and a stipend
  • Working with a range of graduate faculty 
  • Renowned visiting artist program
  • Access to state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and tools
  • Travel study opportunities, including a group trip New York City offered every semester
  • Kent Blossom Art Intensives

All of the School of Art studios and classrooms are located under one roof in the Center for the Visual Arts, which had its grand opening in 2016. Pictured below is one of the graduate painting studios.


MFA Graduate Painting Studio



Each month throughout the school year, visiting artists in all studio art disciplines are invited to campus for public lectures, studio visits and demonstrations. Around ten visiting artists and scholars visit Kent State every year. Artists exhibiting in nearby Akron and Cleveland are also invited conduct studio visits with MFA students when available. 

Students also have opportunities to meet artists and curators on travel study trips to New York City as well as day trips to museums and galleries in nearby Akron, Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, and Pittsburgh.

Additionally, during the summer Kent Blossom Art Intensives, the School of Art has as many as fourteen visiting artists come to campus. Artists give talks open to all disciplines and the public, and work with participants in their related field. Download a list of past visiting artists in the painting and drawing area below.

Painting and Drawing Visiting Artist List (PDF)


Applicants are expected to have an undergraduate degree in studio art and a 2.75 overall grade-point average (3.0 in the art major).





The admission cycle for fall 2023 is now closed and we are no longer accepting applications.  We invite you to consider applying to our program when the next application cycle opens in August of 2023 for Fall 2024 admission.  Our application deadline for the School of Art is generally in early February, so please be sure to check our website next fall for exact deadlines and ensure that all application materials arrive by that date to qualify for admission consideration.

For more information or to schedule a visit, contact Gianna Commito, Professor in Painting at or 330-672-7536 or Associate Professor in Painting Shawn Powell at or 330-672-9728.

Program Outline:  Master of Arts

23 hours – studio studies
3 hours – Art History elective
6 hours – ART 67199, M.A. Thesis
32 total

M.A. in Studio Art

Program Outline:  Master of Fine Arts

36 hours – studio studies
9 hours – electives
9 hours – Art History electives
6 hours – ART 69199, M.F.A. Thesis
60 hours

M.F.A. in Studio Art