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    MFA vs MA

    Dear Colleagues,

    There has been some discussion among my colleagues (for the most part, composers) in the music department at Mills College about consolidating our graduate MA and MFA programs. We offer an MA in Composition an MFA in Performance and Literature (emphases in chamber music performance and Improvisation) and an MFA in Electronic Media. Although we are a small college, we have accomplished alumni/ae, some of whom go on to doctoral programs.

    The conventional wisdom is that an MA is "track" for students who wish to continue in a doctoral program.  Is this still the case? 



    David Bernstein


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    • 2 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
    • HI David -- we have both an MA and an MM (no MFA).  The MM is for performers primarily, and the MA for researchers (who may very well continue into a PhD).  Some majors (composition, music education) offer both an MA and MM track, depending on how much performance is in their curriculum.  I think it makes sense to keep these separate.  What is the impetus for combining them?

    • Hi David,

      We offer an academic MFA for only one reason: like most public institutions, we only receive graduate funding for "terminal" degrees. It is understood that most students will continue in a PhD. If you have funding available for MA students, then you will of course have different criteria. But I sense that the widespread understanding that the MFA degree is linked to funding possibilities has changed its perception as a terminal degree, especially in an academic landscape that has few MM/MA programs left.