University of Arkansas MFA (ceramics department)

This week I looked at the University of Arkansas as I continue to contemplate an MFA with an emphasis in ceramics. A few people have suggested the art department at the UofA isn’t all that great, but since there is a good possibility my wife and I won’t be moving as previously anticipated I nosed around on the Fayetteville school’s website.

Let me first say that their website is — while not fabulous — a lot better than some other university websites my wife and I have perused over the last four months or so. We’ve been surprised at the lack of organization on these websites, websites that host an incredible amount of information and need to be meticulously ordered to be useful. When looking around the UofA’s site, I generally found what I was looking for quickly. The same was not true for other schools, such as Iowa State.

The ceramics department possesses adequate resources — better than some other midwest schools I’ve looked at, but not the best. It lacks a wood fired kiln, for instance, although this isn’t something I count a necessity. The department is headed up by Jeannie Hulen; she’s the only staff in the department. This is somewhat disappointing to a graduate of the University of Nebraska, where three professors shared teaching responsibilities in clay. This provided for a great diversity of expertise and style, a very well-rounded learning experience.

The advantage of the University of Arkansas is that we’re already here. It’s a commute to Fayetteville from Siloam, but only around 30 minutes to campus from our house if traffic is reasonable. This drive may be offset by potential relocation and out-of-state tuition costs if we were to move for the schooling (and begin school before establishing residency).

The following are some questions I asked Jeannie about the program this week and her prompt (albeit grammar-less) replies. I’ve inserted punctuation and articles for clarity:

    Are you the only prof in the ceramics department?

    Yes, but we have a tech position and they have a MFA in ceramics; also my husband is a potter and accessible, along with Bethany Springer — the sculpture — prof is fantastic.

    How many grad students are in the ceramics department, on average?

    My goal is 3-5.

    What are my chances of getting funding for the MFA (fellowships and assistantships)?

    First year is tough, but second and third are more likely.

    What is the cost (tuition) of the program (I didn’t look for this online, but I suppose it’s there)?

    I’m not sure, but in-state is reasonable.How established is the ceramics department at the UofA? How long has the MFA program included ceramics?

    This is my sixth year; the program before me had no reputation. With all of my work on our Ceramics symposiums, we are nationally significant for such a small program, and my grads and undergrads do very well. For over 20 years ceramics has been included in the MFA.

    Do you have links to online galleries of the ceramic prof’s own work?

    If you Google me, you can see some of my work, as well as at or

I looked cost up on the UofA website. Spring semester of 2008 is $280 per credit hour for graduate students in the fine arts, if I read the chart correctly. This is commensurate with most other midwest schools I’ve looked at such as Missouri, KU, KSU, ISU — the one exception was the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, which cost about twice as much as the others.

Of course, the question remains as to whether or not I will actually go after an MFA. I may be leaning towards it right now (60/40, perhaps?), but it’s by no means certain.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

6 Responses to University of Arkansas MFA (ceramics department)

  1. bryce brisco says:

    I just stumbled across your blog by accident, but the name jeannie hulen caught my eye…i recieved my bachelors in fine arts with honors from u of a, with jeannie as my advisor and worked closely with her and her husband, adam posnak, during my time there. I have the highest regard for both of them , and if you are looking for a graduate program i would seriously consider jeannies program. had i not already done my bach there i would go back…she runs a very conceptually based program, provides excellent insight and is very tuned into contemporary art. the facilities are the best you will find, and they are planning on building a woodkiln in the near future, drop by and meet her, or write me for more info…best of luck bryce brisco

  2. razor says:

    I’m not impressed with their grad program. I wouldn’t recommend going there. Your impressions of the program are correct. I would also add very young and inexperienced staff. Find another program before you lose your tuition.

  3. HL says:


    It may be a little late for my response, but if you’re still interested, definitely look into the program at U of A!!!

  4. HL says:


  5. HL says:

    oops, thought the last time didn’t post! 🙂

  6. pcNielsen says:

    Thanks for the updation!

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