Apply to Graduate Programs

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Our graduate programs offer specialized areas of study in the fine arts, design, media, art and design education and art history. Our graduate faculty and students have earned many awards, honors and professional accomplishments influencing the arts regionally, nationally, and internationally. We have exhibited in leading galleries in Chicago, New York, as well as other urban centers both in this country and abroad. Faculty in both art education and art history have published extensively and assumed leadership positions in regional, national and international professional organizations.

Prospective students must apply for admission to the Graduate School and supply supplemental materials to the School of Art and Design as listed in the checklists linked below.

Initial requests for information about advanced degrees in art and design may be made by contacting the graduate coordinator at mbarnes@niu.edu.

Application Instructions

The M.A. degree is a 30-semester hour program for graduate students wishing to pursue specialized study in one of the studio areas or in studio art.

Our M.F.A. degree is a 60-semester hour program, intended to help you achieve professional mastery in studio arts or design. Both programs emphasize a dynamic mix of cross-disciplinary collaboration and problem-based inquiry.

Application Deadlines (fall entry only)
  • February 1 – Graduate admission with assistantship
  • April 1 – Graduate admission only
Step 1: Apply via the Graduate School

Your application will include:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official college transcripts
  • Statement of purpose/goals

Note: The GRE is not required for an M.A. or M.F.A. in Studio or Design.

Apply to the Graduate School

Step 2: Send the Following Materials to the School of Art and Design
  • Graduate assistantship application
  • School of Art and Design Graduate Assistantship Questionnaire
  • Portfolio
    • Submit 15-20 works
      • Images of work should be submitted with a resolution of 300 dpi, with the longest dimension no more than 10 inches (~2000 pixels). The JPEG and PNG formats are acceptable. All images are to be labeled to correspond with the information sheet. PowerPoint presentations are not accepted.
      • All submissions must be accompanied by an information sheet (PDF file) containing the name of the applicant and a list of images with title, medium, dimensions and date.
    • Submit up to five time-based media works
      • Acceptable file types include Quicktime MOV, MP4, AVI formats, personal URLs, Vimeo or YouTube
      • All submissions must be accompanied by an information sheet (PDF file) containing the name of the applicant and a list of images with title, medium, dimensions, date and technical requirements if needed.
    • Resume and artist statement

Electronic delivery of materials is preferred; alternatively, you can submit your materials physically via a USB or CD/DVD media. Applicants will receive an email with directions on uploading their work via the internet once their initial application is received.

Where to Mail Materials
Coordinator of Graduate Studies
School of Art and Design
Northern Illinois University
330 Gilbert Drive
DeKalb, IL 60115

The M.A. in Art History is a 30-semester hour program for graduate students wishing to pursue advanced research in art history and/or the experience to teach at the two-year college level. When you enroll in our program at NIU, you join a close academic community. Our faculty members are not only recognized for their outstanding research in their special fields of study but also strongly committed to teaching you and seeing you excel.

Contact our graduate coordinator of the Art History division, Sarah Evans, Ph.D. at 815-752-7923 or sevans@niu.edu.

Application Deadline (fall entry only)

February 1 – Graduate admission with assistantship

Step 1: Apply via the Graduate School
Your application will include:
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official college transcripts
  • Statement of purpose/goals
  • GRE scores
Apply to the Graduate School
Step 2: Send the Following Materials to the School of Art and Design

Electronic delivery of materials is preferred; alternatively, you can submit your materials physically via a USB or CD/DVD media. Applicants will receive an email with directions on uploading their work via the internet once their initial application is received.

Where to Mail Materials
Coordinator of Graduate Studies
School of Art and Design
Northern Illinois University
330 Gilbert Drive
DeKalb, IL 60115

Our M.S. in Art and Design Education requires a minimum of 30 semesters hours for graduate students wishing to pursue advanced research and/or certification to teach art in a K-12 classroom.

Whether you are in pursuit of a K-12 licensure in art education, or if you already have a degree and are now looking to expand your skills, you can increase your knowledge and continue your professional development within the field of art education. NIU's Art and Design Education Program offers a comprehensive, supportive and diverse opportunities to create, learn and grow.

To learn more about the M.S. in Art and Design Education, contact our M.S. advisor in Art and Design Education, Kryssi Staikidis at kstaikidis@niu.edu or 815-753-8388.

Application Deadlines
  • Fall entry rolling admissions (for priority consideration): March 1 – Graduate admission with assistantship
  • Spring entry rolling admissions (for priority consideration): November 1 – Gradate admission only
Step 1: Apply via the Graduate School

Your application will include:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official college transcripts
  • Statement of purpose/goals

Note: The GRE is not required for an M.S. in Art and Design Education

Apply to the Graduate School

Step 2: Send the Following Materials to the School of Art and Design
Step 3: Submit Your Portfolio
Art and Design Education

If you did not obtain a B.F.A. from NIU within the last five years, you'll need to submit a portfolio of your work. Your portfolio should contain images of 15 works, eight of which should be drawings that demonstrate basic studio skills (drawing from observation, color theory, composition, etc.).

Image guidelines:

  • JPEGs and PNGs are acceptable. PowerPoints are not accepted.
  • Resolution of 300 dpi.
  • Largest dimension should not exceed 10 inches (about 2,000 pixels).
  • Label images to correspond to the information sheet.

Include an information sheet with the following details:

  • Your name.
  • List of works with title, medium, dimensions and date for each.
Design/Media Arts

Your portfolio should contain up to three time-based works. The work can be in these formats:

  • QuickTime MOV
  • MP4
  • AVI
  • Personal URLs
  • Vimeo links
  • YouTube links

Include an information sheet with the following details:

  • Your name.
  • Any necessary technical requirements.
  • List of works with title, medium, running time (if applicable) and date for each.
Submission Procedure

We prefer electronic delivery of materials. After we receive your initial application, we'll send you directions for uploading your work to our system.

If you want to send a USB drive, CD or DVD or your work instead, mail it to:

Coordinator, Graduate Programs in Art and Design
School of Art and Design
330 Gilbert Drive
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115

Our Ph.D. in Art and Design Education is a 60 semester hour program that prepares you conduct, research, improve your teaching and become an active leader in your field. Our program emphasizes research, theory, philosophical development, discovery and application of new knowledge about art and visual culture.

To learn more about the Ph.D. in Art and Design Education, contact our Ph.D. Advisor in Art and Design Education, Kerry Freedman, Ph.D. at kfreedman@niu.edu or 815-753-7879.

Application Deadlines
  • Fall entry rolling admissions (for priority consideration): March 1 – graduate admission with assistantship
  • Spring entry rolling admissions (for priority consideration): November 1 – gradate admission only
Step 1: Apply via the Graduate School
Your application will include:
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official college transcripts
  • Statement of purpose/goals

Note: The GRE is not required for an M.S. in Art and Design Education

Apply to the Graduate School
Step 2: Send the Following Materials to the School of Art and Design
Where to Mail Materials
Coordinator of Graduate Studies
School of Art and Design
Northern Illinois University
330 Gilbert Drive
DeKalb, IL 60115

Contact Us

Michael Barnes
Professor and Graduate Coordinator
mbarnes@niu.edu

School of Art and Design
Jack Arends Building, room 216
815-753-1473
artanddesigninfo@niu.edu

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