Students in video installation

MFA Art and Social Practice

MFA in Art and Social Practice

The 3-year MFA program supports artist and cultural producers who wish to explore the social role of art and engage with collaborative, process-based, and community-based strategies of art making. The curriculum is designed to position students in leadership roles within their community to create artistic, conceptual, and educational projects addressing a broad range of social themes. The Center for Community Engagement assists students with forging community partnerships. Through graduate teaching opportunities and mentorship, the program also readies students to teach in higher education. Located 60 miles North Houston, students will connect with a rich variety of arts professionals and resources that Houston has to offer. Additionally, the program invites renown leaders in art & social practice to engage with students as visiting artists.

The MFA is open to applicants who hold a Bachelor of Fine Art (or international equivalent), or a bachelor’s degree in another discipline outside of art if the applicant demonstrates a track record of interdisciplinary creative research.

Read the Glasstire article about student collaboration with faculty member Jody Wood.


The priority deadline to be considered for competitive funding is January 15, 2024.

A select number of Graduate Assistantships and Graduate Teaching Assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis each year. The Graduate Assistantships and Scholarships offered offset the cost of tuition and make SHSU’s MFA in Art & Social Practice an affordable program. Out of state and international students may be eligible for in-state tuition. In addition, competitive scholarships may be available from the University, the College of Arts and Media, and the Department of Art.

Graduate assistantships are available in photography, foundations, drawing, XR Lab, university galleries, visual resource center, undergraduate studios, or may be arranged as a placement with an area nonprofit depending on student desires and strengths. Second and third-year MFA students will have the opportunity to teach classes in the department. These assistantships will provide MFA students with the opportunity to work alongside faculty and gain experience in classroom practices and operations.


Graduate students are provided with individual off-campus studio space in the newly renovated Natural Science and Art Research Center and have access to all facilities in the Dana G. Hoyt Fine Arts Building on campus, including public galleries, design studios, animation studios and computer labs, photography darkrooms, studio and digital photography labs, sculpture, ceramic, painting, and drawing studios.

Graduate Faculty & Visiting Artists

Core faculty in the graduate program include:

  • Jody Wood (Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Art)
  • Rebecca Finley (Chair and Professor of Art)
  • Michael Henderson (Associate Dean, Professor of Art)
  • Dr. Melissa Mednicov (Associate Professor of Art History)
  • Jessica Simorte (Assistant Professor of Art)

Students are also encouraged to work with additional faculty in the Department of Art in sculpture, ceramics, foundations, drawing & painting, photography, animation, education, and graphic design. In addition, students may take electives in departments outside of art.

Past guest artists and curators have included:

  • Mark Menjívar (Spring 2023 Social Practice Artist-in-Residence)
  • Jon Rubin (Carnegie Mellon)
  • Tanja Peterson (RedBud Art Center)
  • Ashley DeHoyos (DiverseWorks)
  • Rachel Adams (Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts)

Admission Requirements

Admission to the MFA in Art and Social Practice requires a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate Art coursework and a bachelor’s degree in any art discipline including Photography, Digital Media, Animation, Graphic Design, and 2D, 3D, and time-based Studio. If student has a bachelor’s degree in a discipline outside of art, they must have a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate a track-record of interdisciplinary creative research in their portfolio.

Application materials include:

  • Graduate Admissions Application (submitted online through
  • Application fee
  • Official transcript from undergraduate degree granting institution
  • Supplemental materials specific to Art and Social Practice:
    • Your artistic background and experience
    • Your interest in art as a social practice
    • What you hope to achieve in this MFA program
    • Resume or CV
    • 3 Letters of Recommendation including contact information
    • Digital portfolio provided via link(s) to Dropbox, Google Drive, Vimeo, or other website(s) where work can be viewed
    • Statement of Intent describing:

After your application is received, you may upload your supplemental materials online at the SHSU Self Service Center. It may take up to 48 hours for your application information to become visible on your account.

The Department of Art will accept approximately six students per academic year into the program. The priority deadline to be considered for assistantships is January 15, 2024.

For questions and more information, contact Jody Wood (

Department of Art Box 2089, Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX 77341-2089 Phone: 936.294.4311