MFA at SVA (or other programs)

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  06 June 2010
MFA at SVA (or other programs)

First, some important things about me.
- I just graduated from SCAD's Visual Effects program. I felt very rushed (3 years from start to finish, with minor) and am not ready to be done learning/networking/collaborating yet. This is not to say I could not enter the workforce as I am, but that I don't WANT to yet. I'm afraid if I stop school now, I'll never return once I get a taste of life outside of homework and cheap food.
- Fortunately the reason I was rushed was because someone else was footing the bills and wanted to cut down on housing costs, so I am not looking at stacking new loans onto existing student loans from SCAD. (So I am not a new graduate who can't find employment and is looking to get further into the debt hole to put off repayments.)
- I want to get a Masters degree eventually anyway and feel like graduate school (for Fall 2011) might be the way to go for me at this point in my life. However, I am somewhat picky...

I am looking for the following in a Masters program:
1. Opportunities to collaborate with peers (undergraduates or graduates) in Animation and Film, so I am definitely leaning towards another private art school with good programs for these areas.
2. Excellent facilities and labs dedicated to certain departments. I became very frustrated at sharing lab space with non-CG departments at SCAD and definitely want restricted labs to avoid this.
3. "Computer Science" classes that lean towards how this knowledge can be applied to CG - I want to lean about hardware and software but not in a setting where the focus is on Software Engineering or Computer Science. Same with programming classes.
4. Lots of electives and opportunities to take electives in other departments. Although I have concentrated on Lighting as an undergrad, I have always been interested in Painting and realized maybe Texturing was the way to go - I really want access to traditional painting classes to supplement this.
5. Location, location, location! This needs to be somewhere I can potentially work part time or freelance and possibly get a job after graduating without having to move.
6. Scholarship opportunities.

Many of these requirements are because I know that this field is about your portfolio and your networking skills, so I am not concerned so much with quality of classes/professors (I mean, I am...) as I am with access to facilities and motivated, talented peers.

I was becoming discouraged since this seems like an annoyingly strict set of criteria and no programs appeared to meet my needs, until I found SVA's Computer Art MFA.

Does anyone know the following things about SVA, this department in particular:
- What do they look for in graduate portfolios? I know SCAD says they don't care, just submit 20 slides of "your best work," but in reality they are very biased towards traditional art (figure drawing, still lifes, etc.) REGARDLESS of department/program you're looking at. I feel like SVA probably has things they favor, even though they are similarly open ended. How much money can you get from scholarships for graduates? How frequently are they awarded? Can you apply after you begin classes? Should I just email the chair and see if he'll talk to me about it?
- Does anyone know how hard it is to get a lab assistantship? What about other free aid for graduates? Although I am relatively free of debt at the moment, I am not interested in paying the ticket price for SVA (60k in tuition + housing costs.) If I wanted to spend 60k on tuition, I would just go to Gnomon. (Then again, if I'm gonna spend 60k on tuition I'd also like a Masters degree out of it.... so torn...)
- How terrible would it be to commute from a lower cost of living area into NYC daily via train? I have never been to the area (will definitely be visiting and attempting this ride before I make any decisions) and am not interested in having to sell off my organs to pay for housing.
- Generally just anyone's experience with SVA, especially graduate programs, espsecially computer arts. Or any other suggestions on programs to look into? I also have been looking at Texas A&M but location is a serious problem with that program.

Last edited by Almaghest : 06 June 2010 at 04:04 PM.
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