Hartford Art School

MFA in Photography

At a Glance

Our international limited-residency graduate program allows you to pursue a professional degree while maintaining your career. This program is low residency and has a summer semester start. Application Priority Deadline - January 15.

Part Time
Rolling Admission

Degrees Offered

Total Credits


60 Credits


Our unique, international, limited-residency program was developed and directed by Robert Lyons for the engaged professional investigating art, documentary practice, and the photo-based book.

Our innovative program is designed for both mature individuals with established experience in the field and recent graduates who wish to further their practices. It differentiates itself from other programs by coupling intensive on-campus sessions in the summer with traveling spring and fall sessions.

Quick Facts
  • 60 credits
  • Low Residency
  • Application Priority Deadline - January 15
  • Summer Semester Start
  • Course Catalog
  • Apply Now
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About the Program

On-campus learning combined with spring and fall travel enhances our ability to be a truly international program—from our students, to faculty, to off-premise meeting destinations. The art world is situated within a global market and our program is designed to access and utilize this enriching perspective.

For more information, and to see a complete list of degree requirements, visit the Course Catalog.

Coursework involves a curated blend of darkroom work, bookmaking, history, and independent projects, which culminate in a thesis defense and exhibition. Below, you’ll find a few examples of the courses required to complete the photography MFA.

Advanced Photography I, II, and III

Analogue Darkroom I and II

These lab classes will introduce students to the current state of analogue practices. Through a series of demonstrations and assignments students will become familiar with advanced analogue technology in black and white photography. We will review the zone system, roll film and large format sheet film processing options, use of esoteric films and developers and the integration of a methodology to approach this in their own work.

The Photographic Book I, II, and III

These courses are a survey of books produced worldwide during the first and second halves of the 20th century, and from 2000 to today. We will review a selection of seminal works, critique the photographic theme and content, design issues and production quality. In addition we will examine the integration of technology during each period.

Professional Practice I, II, III, and IV

In these seminars students will interact with leading professionals in the field (curators, gallery directors, picture agency directors, and others) to cover a wide range of topics including museum/gallery perspectives in the United States and internationally, editorial and contractual issues for clients, book-publishing issues, pricing artwork, networks, websites and blogs.

Additional Courses

Advanced Photography: Book
Digital Impact: The Truth of Photography
Digital Workshop I and II
Independent Project
Seminar in Contemporary Issues I through IV
Thesis Defense and Exhibition

Career Outlook

photograph by tsar fedorsky

Tsar Fedorsky is an art photographer and Guggenheim Fellow whose work has been exhibited nationally and published worldwide. She holds an MFA in Photography from Hartford Art School and a BA in history from Amherst College. She was awarded an Artist Fellowship Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and was a Critical Mass Finalist in 2015 and 2017.

Her project, The Light Under the Door was published in 2017 by Peperoni Books in Berlin, Germany.

Tsar’s career has allowed her to create images for a diverse group of clientele, including the Boston Globe, United Press International, Agence France Presse, and numerous other publications and media services.

Photography MFA Faculty and Leaders

MFA Photography

Robert Lyons
Director—MFA Limited Residency Photography Program
MFA Photography

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Michael Vahrenwald
Associate Professor
MFA Photography

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Admission Requirements

photography show in joseloff gallery

Please contact the MFA Office at to set up an initial pre-interview conversation with Program Director Robert Lyons. Once invited to submit an application, please prepare the following items for upload to our online application portal:

  • Official Transcripts: International transcripts must be evaluated by a NACES member service.
  • Letter of Intent: Describe your professional and career goals and how you expect pursuing this program will help you to accomplish them.
  • Résumé/Curriculum Vitae
  • Portfolio: Photography applicants must submit a portfolio that represents your best work, indicates your major interest and direction, and demonstrates your ability; at least half of the images should represent work done within the last two years, and all should be from within the last four years. The portfolio should consist of 20-25 images. Please combine all images into 1 PDF file with 1 image per page.
  • Two letters of recommendation: Letters should attest to your ability and competence from a person practicing or teaching in the photography field.

**The MFA programs are not residential programs; international students cannot move to the U.S. for the duration of these programs, but rather are expected to be present in the U.S. during the dates of each residency.** International students participating in these Low-Residency MFA Programs are restricted in the length of time they can stay in the U.S. between the two (2) or three (3) in-person residency sessions each year of the program. Students may enter the U.S.. up to 30 days prior to each residency start date, and may depart up to 30 days after the end of each residency. Please contact for more information and confirmation of yearly residency dates.


Because of the prescribed curriculum, we calculate tuition on a full-year rate rather than per credit hour. Published tuition rates are tuition only, and do not include transportation, lodging, books, supplies, and other University fees. For the latest on the current year’s tuition and division of payments throughout the academic year, please see the current Grad Tuition Rates page, or reach out to us at

Saleem Ahmed

MFA Photography, 2014

Saleem is based in Philadelphia, but has traveled widely for his photography books rooted in India, Bolivia, and Turkey. He struggled with finding his voice as a photographer, but found a mentor in program director Robert Lyons.

“When we went to Berlin for the first time, I shared a project where I finally figured out what I wanted to say. It was my first great critique, and it flipped the switch completely. That process took a long time, but it was awesome.”

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