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Vermont College of Fine Arts

graphic design music composition visual art writing writing for children & young adults

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who we are

When times are difficult, art becomes more important than ever. Artists are the people who take the ineffable, wrestle it to the ground, and make it understandable for others. This, more than anything, speaks to the heart of our mission here at VCFA—for it is when we practice art, when we create, when we work with meaning, when we work with ideas and language and design, that we understand what it means to be human.� Thomas Christopher Greene President


Vermont College of Fine Arts, in its historic hilltop campus in Montpelier, ignites transformative experiences for a diverse community of artists and writers. Our progressive, studentcentered graduate study model offers five distinctive master of fine arts degrees, each centered on developing artistic and literary apprenticeships with our nationally prominent faculty and interspersed with periods of deep on-campus immersion. We are the only college devoted exclusively to fine arts education at the graduate level. All of our programs are nationally recognized for excellence in their fields, and our renowned writing programs annually rank among the best in the country.

Vermont College of Fine Arts is about a rethinking of the world, a reconstituting of the creative self.

As a pioneer in the delivery of low-residency graduate fine arts education for more than thirty years, we know how successful this approach is for a wide range of students from all corners of the globe. We are a community of kindred spirits who honor the requisite solitude of the creative process while celebrating the infectious momentum of creative souls engaged in a common purpose.


what we offer

Twice a year, students and faculty gather on the Montpelier campus for residencies. All are housed on campus and take meals together in the College Dining Hall. What follows—seven or ten intensive days of readings, lectures, workshops, events, seminars, critiques, exhibits, performances, recording sessions, and other activities—is an ebullient, energizing, interactive experience. It’s an intentional and striking contrast to the six months of focused, solitary work between residencies. Together, on-and off-campus experiences propel our students into unexplored artistic territory. Over the course of two years, all of them will delve deeply into their own areas of interest, accept the challenge to push beyond assumed limitations and self-doubt, and commit to working harder than they may ever have worked before. Instead of asking, what makes a great artist? What makes a great writer? We turn that question around, asking in its place: what makes you a great artist? What makes you a great writer? What do you need? What should you try?

degree programs

Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Master of Fine Arts in Music Composition Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art Master of Fine Arts in Writing Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children & Young Adults

Somerset Maugham once said, “You know you are home when you get there.� Over the years, thousands of artists and writers have come to call this campus on the hill their home.

Students come because of our rigorous course of study, our emphasis on the creative process, and to work closely with our award-winning faculty members, who both advance and inspire their chosen crafts. They come to create an extraordinary portfolio of fiction, nonfiction, poetry or writing for younger readers; of visual art, graphic design or music composition. But above all, they come to begin impassioned conversations that will carry them through four semesters of artistic immersion and to be a part of the vibrant energy of each oncampus residency.

The on-campus residency begins and ends each semester. Unlike traditional residential programs, the low-residency format allows students to return home after residencies—not only to resume their lives but also to complete the semester of faculty-guided and self-designed study. Throughout the four semesters, students take an active role in shaping their own curriculum while participating in a sustained dialogue with experienced artists and writers of national reputation. At Vermont College of Fine Arts, fruitful learning is year-round.



yourself, here

One of the most rigoberto compelling reasons gonzález I teach at vcfa is that I know my writing students understand faculty the following about the writer’s life: that it’s a practice that’s incorporated into our everyday schedules, that it’s a lifelong commitment to growth, and that we are all part of a public community of artists and thinkers.

This experience has given new hagewood meaning not only visual art to my identity and practice as an artist, ’91 but as a human being. I’ve learned the dailiness of my work, incorporating the discipline that I acquired at vcfa to focus and fuel everything I’ve done since.

We invite you to explore all that we have to offer.

educational model

The residency (on campus) Seven to ten intense, personal, and motivating days Workshops, lectures, readings, performances, exhibitions, and critiques Close collaboration with faculty advisor in planning subsequent semester-course of study

The semester (back at home) Monthly, in-depth focus on your work

Feedback, guidance, and challenge from faculty advisor Master’s level academic, creative, and critical rigor


The benefits

Balance personal and professional life while attaining an advanced degree Integrate arts practice with other commitments and responsibilities Advance creative and critical proficiencies

Develop a lifelong artistic practice Become part of a vibrant, enduring arts community

Vermont College of Fine Arts has a long-standing history of dedication to artistic practice and intellectual inquiry that define, question, and articulate human experience. As a medium of inquiry, the arts are a way of investigating an ever-changing world and of charting the subjective surfaces of human experience. Continuing the rigorous and ambitious academic model we pioneered in our nationally recognized writing programs, VCFA is rapidly evolving. In the past few years, VCFA has added new programs in graphic design and music composition, meeting the demand for innovative education in these disciplines. And it will continue to grow and change as the world does. As a national center for the arts, VCFA balances its historic strengths—a highly regarded faculty and smart, engaged students—with an inspiring trajectory and drive that establish new standards and set the pace for graduate fine arts education in the twenty-first century.


keisha slaughter music composition ’13

an evolving institution

juliet davis visual art ’04

We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success,” defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.” Chris Hedges Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Gratitude. Inspiration. A fresh drive. Renewed energy to develop my craft as a songwriter. After my first residency I had an insatiable hunger to absorb and write as much music as I possibly could.

It’s impossible to describe what happens in Vermont. But a deep debt of gratitude keeps me trying.

In the tradition of its renowned graduate degree programs, Vermont College of Fine Arts’ Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design offers advanced design students the opportunity to merge creative practice with critical inquiry to advance their thinking, craft, and careers. By pairing our pioneering immersive model with ongoing, focused individual faculty mentorship, the program makes it possible for students to develop lifelong creative practices and gain valuable insights into the always-evolving discipline of design. The MFA in Graphic Design at VCFA holds that graphic design is defined not by any specific medium, but by a common goal of communication through visual media and other forms. ¶ Our faculty is known for its diverse artistic perspectives and for its academic rigor and flexibility. An individual course of study is built specifically around each student’s emerging interests, providing an alternative to the “one-size-fits-all” structure of many master’s programs offered today. Our program compels students to think critically about social, ethical, historical, formal, and philosophical implications—all essential to the graduate experience. Students graduate equipped to deepen their artistic vision, seeing their work within the larger historical and professional contexts of contemporary design theory and practice.

mfa in graphic design faculty Natalia Ilyin, Nicole Juen, Bethany Koby, Yoon Soo Lee, Ziddi Msangi, and Silas Munro distinguished visiting faculty & lecturers include Jeanette Abbink, Kyle Blue, Keetra Dean Dixon, Geoff Halber, and Manuel Lima



At VCFA, graphic designers have munro the opportunity graphic design to shape a larger context for their faculty chair practices. Our lowresidency model helps students to negotiate a world that is increasingly visually connected even as inhabitants are physically disparate. Students and faculty work in an environment that promotes innovative making, deep commitment to craft, critical inquiry, and global connectedness.

graphic design



There is no other MFA in Graphic hanrahan Design program graphic design like it. The innovative teaching ’13 style of this remarkable design faculty creates an environment of trust, encouragement, and brave exploration. The designer who comes through this program has the tools to approach any project, cause, or endeavor with sustainable confidence and creativity.

Vermont College of Fine Art’s MFA in Music Composition invites musicians to infuse their creativity with new energy and ideas, growing more vital as artists and redefining themselves as composers. The program carves out space in the lives of professional musicians and music teachers for inquiry, experimentation, research, and criticism, making room for both the exploration and the refinement of their craft. Students not only produce new work but also hear and share the music they write with an engaged community of well-known industry professionals, visiting musicians, and distinguished faculty. ¶ Through the program’s low-residency, self-designed study model, students define their own paths in Contemporary Composition, Electronic Music, Jazz, Scoring for Media, or Songwriting, while simultaneously remaining engaged in their working lives and artistic practice.

mfa in music composition faculty Rick Baitz, Tamar Diesendruck, Don DiNicola, Michael Early, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Andy Jaffe, Ravi Krishnaswami, John Mallia, Diane Moser, John Fitz Rogers, and Roger Zahab distinguished visiting faculty & lecturers include The Callithumpian Consort, Stephen Drury, Artistic Director; Vermont Jazz Ensemble; Bruce Williamson; Freddie Bryant; and Robert Frankenberry



As faculty, we get to work with early students from music composition all over the map, both literally and faculty musically—from aspiring composers in their early twenties to established performers in their sixties. There’s no other program on the planet where we would be mentoring a young concert music composer who also teaches elementary school, a talented fingerpicking folk guitarist and former music critic, and a music therapist who also happens to be an outstanding singer-songwriter.

music composition


The MFA in Visual Art program is a vibrant, local, national, and international community of artists and critical thinkers. The program’s precedent-setting pedagogy is based on the understanding that art does not exist in a void, but within a social context, and that process is always part of the product. Students and faculty convene twice a year on the Montpelier campus to interact in a dynamic academic environment that supports a broad diversity of artistic practices and cultural work. The program offers a high level of critical and creative discourse to a wide range of students, inspiring them to form vital and generative practices that not only value their own experience and situation but challenge conventional notions of success. œ The program places emphasis not on the particular medium, but on the content of each artwork. What is the piece trying to say? In what kind of conversation is the piece trying to engage the world? The result is a unique, interdisciplinary program in which students examine themselves and their art, emerging from the program with a dynamic new vision of themselves, their work, and the world around them.

core and recent visiting faculty include Doug Ashford, Gregg Bordowitz, David Deitcher, Michelle Dizon, Ashley Hunt, Steve Kurtz, Miwon Kwon, Sowon Kwon, Lana Lin, Michael Minelli, Carlos Motta, Ulrike MĂźller, Mario Ontiveros, Humberto Ramirez, Dont Rhine, Marie Shurkus, and Faith Wilding


yukiyo kawano visual art ’12

visual art


Students work in a unique mentorship under the direction of an artist/teacher from their local community. These artists/teachers serve not only as expert mentors who challenge and guide their creative work, but also as an introduction to the local community of artists. Through their artists/teachers, students form lasting relationships with artists in their own backyards.

I realized that the stories I tell need to come from my person, my history, my memory—to make art through my own lived experience.

Established in 1981, the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing Program was one of the first low-residency programs in the country. Year after year, The Atlantic has named it among “the best of the best,” one of the top five lowresidency MFA programs nationwide. Our more than 1,400 alumni have published thousands of books and received nearly every literary award in the country. ¶ Students in the MFA in Writing Program convene twice each year for intensive tenday residencies. They participate in small, dynamic, faculty-guided workshops in which each writer’s work is carefully examined. Special sessions are offered in translation, the novel, and other focused topics. In addition to workshops, daily seminars, lectures, and discussions, as well as readings by faculty, graduating students, and visiting writers from all over the country, students engage in formal and informal exchanges within this broad-based writing community.

mfa in writing faculty Laurie Alberts, Ralph Angel, Robin Behn, Jen Bervin, Kurt Caswell, Mark Cox, Trinie Dalton, Matthew Dickman, Nancy Eimers, Sascha Feinstein, Connie May Fowler, Abby Frucht, Jody Gladding, Douglas Glover, Rigoberto González, Philip Graham, Robin Hemley, Richard Jackson, David Jauss, Ellen Lesser, Patrick Madden, Richard McCann, Clint McCown, William Olsen, Jess Row, Mary Ruefle, Natasha Sajé, Betsy Sholl, Sue William Silverman, Domenic Stansberry, Larry Sutin, Leslie Ullman, Nance Van Winckel, Robert Vivian, David Wojahn, and Xu Xi distinguished visiting faculty & writers in residence include Richard Bausch, Claudia Emerson, Patricia Hampl, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Barry Lopez, Jean Valentine, Wally Lamb, Mark Doty, Nick Flynn, Gish Jen, Andre Dubus III, Terrance Hayes, Brian Leung, James McBride, Honor Moore, Donald Revell, and Yusef Komunyakaa, among many others.

W W W.VC FA . E DU / W R I T I N G



Cited by The Atlantic as among “the best of the best,” Vermont College of Fine Art’s MFA in Writing program is one of the oldest of its kind.


We learn about each other’s gonzález imagination writing through our writing, and we faculty learn about each others’ intellect through the constant exchange of ideas that takes place in and outside of the classroom. We continue to trigger and fuel our conversations throughout the semester, and that keeps our roles as writers vibrant, relevant, and rewarding.


The goal of all creative writing, wojahn Rilke tells us, is to writing change our lives. In the nearly thirty faculty chair years that I have taught at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I have seen time and again how indelibly the MFA in Writing Program has transformed budding writers’ lives—simply (and mysteriously) by helping them to realize their potential as artists. This seems to me a small but crucially good thing in this world, a world very much in need of the virtues good writing can offer it.

Writing for Children & Young Adults is dedicated to serving those who write and care deeply about children’s and young adult literature. Ours was the first MFA program in the country to focus exclusively on writing for children, middle grade and young adults. Established in 1996, it has quickly attracted the attention of accomplished writers, editors and publishers around the country. ¶ A hallmark of the program is its dynamic, cohesive writing community. After the vibrant exchange of ideas that takes place during residencies, students embark on their faculty-guided, independentstudy projects. The flexibility of our model allows students to follow their particular interests and passions while developing the habits of the kind of artistic practice that will serve them throughout their professional writing careers.

mfa in writing for children & young adult faculty Margaret Bechard, Coe Booth, Alan Cumyn, Sharon Darrow, Sarah Ellis, Susan Fletcher, Louise Hawes, Amanda Jenkins, Uma Krishnaswami, Jane Kurtz, Julie Larios, Martine Leavitt, Leda Schubert, Shelley Tanaka, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Tim Wynne-Jones distinguished visiting writers, illustrators & writers in residence MT Anderson, Holly Black, Libba Bray, Marla Frazee, David Macaulay, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, and Katherine Paterson

Covering the gamut of writers for young people, from those most interested in picture books to those who are branching into the realm of young adult, the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults features faculty who are among the most prominent in their field. Both faculty and alumni are nationally known writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for young people and appear regularly on lists such as School Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year, New York Times Notable Books of the Year, American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, Los Angeles Times Book Award, Redbook Children’s Book of the Year, Booklist Reviewer’s Choice, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and Best Picture Book of the Year. Faculty books have won honors such as the Newbery Honor Award, Michael L. Printz Award, the Parents Choice Gold Award, the Christopher Medal, and the Edgar Award, as well as the National Book Award, the Caldecott Medal, and the Newbery Medal.


sundee frazier writing for children & young adults ’04

writing for children & young adults


tim martin writing for children & young adults ’14

I’ve been given rare entrée into a larger writing community, one where I’m continually challenged within a demanding program, but where I am also cheered on every step of the way.

I joined a community of writers who believe, as I do, that writing for young people is a way to change the world.

montpelier and vermont


Vermont, with its unparalleled natural beauty and quiet New England flavor, has long been a haven for writers and artists.

Its pastoral landscape and rural charm provide a retreat from the stresses of daily routines and urban life and the physical and psychic space needed to foster the creative process. We are located in Montpelier, the vibrant state capital, a sophisticated but unpretentious hub of activity, nightlife, and cultural events. It is a seamless extension of our campus. The campus sits atop a hill overlooking downtown, surrounded by views of the spectacular Worcester mountain range. The college includes a collection of historic buildings representing a variety of nineteenth century architectural styles, including the grand College Hall, the anchor of a tree-lined green. In summer, the green offers students a place to gather, relax, and play softball, Frisbee,® or tennis. In winter, students will find downhill skiing less than 30 minutes away in Stowe, Sugarbush, or other nearby resorts, or cross-country skiing and snowshoeing just off campus. In any season, Montpelier offers ample walking routes, either around the town’s neighborhoods or in Hubbard Park, a wooded city park with well-maintained trails.

Montpelier is easily accessible by train, bus, car, or air. It’s less than three hours northwest of Boston and two hours south of Montreal. Vermont’s largest city, Burlington, is less than an hour away by car, bus, or shuttle service.

student services and resources


VERMONT COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION Imagination, daring, and impossibly high ambition—these are the qualities that connect each successive generation of VCFA alumni. From a quiet gathering in College Hall to a growing network of alumni around the world, the VCFA Alumni Association keeps alumni, faculty, and staff linked to the college, to each other, and to their artistic disciplines in myriad ways.

GARY LIBRARY The Gary Library supports study and research, providing a variety of library services to students, faculty, alumni, and staff—whether on campus or off. The Vermont College of Fine Arts World Catalog is a unique electronic catalog of over 60,000 libraries worldwide. One simple interface searches through a single catalog that lists virtually every book ever printed. Also listed are millions of sound recordings, periodical titles, movies, maps, musical scores, and manuscripts. Most titles are available via interlibrary loan. Through this World Catalog, electronic books and periodicals, as well as thousands of public domain titles, are immediately available in fulltext format.

THE COLLEGE HALL GALLERY Located in College Hall, the Gallery offers regular exhibitions of student and alumni work. It is also a vibrant gathering place for local and regional events.

THE VCFA CAMPUS STORE Also located on the first floor of College Hall, the campus store is a daily stop for many students during the residency, whether for a cup of coffee, books by faculty authors, or signature items and gifts.

HOUSING Students reside on campus during residencies. Meals are available in the college cafeteria, which is run by the internationally known New England Culinary Institute. VCFA offers classic New England dormitory housing. Most dorm rooms consist of two beds per unit, with desks, lamps, and closets. A few single rooms may be available. Each floor offers a lounge area and community showers and bathrooms, and each building has a kitchenette. Laundry facilities are available in-house.

HUNGER MOUNTAIN, THE VCFA JOURNAL OF THE ARTS Since 2002, Hunger Mountain, a print and online journal of the arts, has published innovative literary and visual art. The print issue comes out annually in the fall, and the online content is a broad mix of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, visual art, young adult and children’s writing, interviews, reviews, and craft essays. Hunger Mountain stories, poems, and essays have been mentioned in the Pushcart Prize anthologies, Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, and New Stories from the Midwest.

CLASSROOM & LECTURE FACILITIES There are a variety of classrooms on campus, in addition to three major lecture halls: Noble Hall, the College Hall Chapel, and Alumni Hall, site of the original college gymnasium.

TECHNOLOGY Wi-Fi is available throughout the campus, and in addition to the MAC and digital print studio, the student computer lab is equipped with both PCs and MACs.

admissions & financial aid


Further information on financial aid is available on our website and in consultation with the Director of Enrollment Management. Please contact

Inquiries regarding the accreditation status by the New England Association should be directed to the administrative staff of the institution. Individuals may also contact: Commission on Higher Education New England Association of Schools and Colleges 209 Burlington Road Bedford, MA 01730-1433 781.271.0022 |

Roger Crowley bac k cov e r i m ag e o f co l l eg e h a l l |

Anthony Pagani d ow n tow n m o n t p e l i e r |

ACCREDITATION Vermont College of Fine Arts is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.

Charles Gauthier

Questions regarding Veterans benefits should be directed to the Registrar at or 802.828.8724.

p r i n c i pa l p h oto g ra p h y |

While mindful of the value of a diversified student body, VCFA faculty and administration make admission decisions irrespective of age, gender, sexual preference, race, religion, nationality, disability, or any factor apart from the criteria expressed above.

FINANCIAL AID Vermont College of Fine Arts participates in the federal student aid loan programs (Direct Stafford Loan and Federal Direct Grad PLUS) and offers a limited number of VCFA scholarships, some based on merit. All financial aid begins with the filing of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which can be found at

VETERANS BENEFITS Vermont College of Fine Arts is approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to accept Veterans benefits for Veterans and their dependents, in addition to participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Sametz Blackstone Associates

Candidates are admitted based on their records of preparation to do graduate work in the discipline and/or genre(s) in which they apply, and on the judgment of the faculty that they can succeed in their program and contribute to the collaborative learning environment of the college. Candidates’ creative and critical ability, commitment, and goals must be appropriate for graduate-level work and consistent with the requirements and goals of the program to which they apply.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS Vermont College of Fine Arts is certified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to admit international students and to issue I-20 Certificates of Eligibility for Nonresident (F-1) Student Status. Admissions staff members are familiar with the SEVP process and are available to assist prospective international students. The Registrar serves as the Primary Designated School Official and can be contacted for further information about SEVIS.

co n c e pt a n d d es i g n |

ADMISSIONS Admission to the Master of Fine Arts programs of Vermont College of Fine Arts is a selective process based on both the potential and academic qualifications of the applicant.

NON-DISCRIMINATION Vermont College of Fine Arts does not discriminate in its admissions, employment, or policy procedures on the basis of age, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, political party affiliation, or physical impairment.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES MT Anderson Robert Atwell Tami Lewis Brown Eliza Cooke Browning Charles Bunting Letitia Chambers Kathleen Dolan Alexandra Enders Chris Graff Harry Groome, Emeritus Joan Grubin Cornelius Hogan Madeleine Kunin, Honorary Sydney Lea, Emeritus Susan Newbold Katherine Paterson Richard H. Saudek Bill Schubart Peter Smith Susan Spaulding Peter F. Watson Elaine Franz Witten Thomas Christopher Greene ex officio

This publication was manufactured with electricity that was offset through the purchase of Green-e速 certified renewable energy credits. It is printed on Mohawk Options PC 100 paper that is made from 100% post-consumer waste and manufactured using wind power. Inks used in the printing of this publication are high-solid, soy-based, and VOC free.

Vermont College of Fine Arts 36 College Street Montpelier, v t 05602

VCFA Program Viewbook  

VCFA Program Viewbook / read about the six MFA programs at Vermont College of Fine Arts #VCFA

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