Ten Low Cost Alternatives to Getting a MFA Degree

treasure chest overflowing with coins

1. Take Continuing Education Classes

Most colleges and universities offer continuing education classes. In many cases, the education you receive in these classes is equal to the training given in any MFA program, but you don’t need to pay as much.

2. Take Business Classes

There are many small business resources available in most decent-sized cities and towns. If you’re far from a city, there are online courses available from most colleges and universities. Taking business classes from an artist’s perspective can be very enlightening, and inspiring.

3. Find a Mentor

Rather than paying thousands of dollars to a professor you don’t know so you can get a degree, find someone whose work you admire and see if they will act as your mentor. It’ll likely cost a fraction of college tuition.

4. Travel

Lots of times people go back to graduate school because they’re feeling antsy in their lives. By traveling you can experience another culture, or simply get out of your neighborhood and out of your routine. Travel is inspiring, and it costs a heck of a lot less than college tuition.

5. Get a Graduate Certificate

Some schools offer graduate certificates, which are short and highly specialized training programs. Often, these programs are designed to teach students a particular skill and can catapult your art to a new level.

6. Switch Jobs

If you’re bored at work, and thinking about going back to school, try finding a new position first. Getting paid to grow beats paying to grow.

7. Start Teaching

The MFA is a teaching degree, meaning it’s often pursued and required to become a college professor in art. If you haven’t taught yet, realize that you might not like it. You also may love it! If you haven’t taught yet, how would you know? You can start teaching with an undergrad degree in most continuing education programs, and if you get a decent job in the right place, they may even pay for your graduate education.

8. Raise Some Funds

Figure out a project you want to do and start crowd funding to make it happen. Sites like Kickstarter and Go Fund Me make that possible.

9. Join Your Local Art Community

If you live in a town or city where there is an art scene, get involved. There’s nothing like connections to fuel your career in the art world.

10. Form a Local Art Community

If you live in a place where there isn’t an art scene, create one! Gather local artists and do a group show. Form a club that meets once a month to share and critique current projects. If there are no artists where you live, share your art and turn everyone around you into an audience.