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Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design

Fine Art

Two-year master in English, starts in September

The two-year Master of Fine Art (MFA) program at the Piet Zwart Institute is an HBO Masters offered by the Willem de Kooning Academy, which is part of the Hogeschool Rotterdam (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences).

The Piet Zwart Institute Master Fine Art (Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design, option Fine Art) educates artists toward the fulfilment of their own creative and professional autonomy and encourages enrolled students to see themselves as agents with the potential to shape the field of international contemporary art.

Our ambition is to provide our students with a challenging, supportive and responsive learning environment and a curriculum that offers the creative structure and committed resources they need to develop their individual and collective senses of artistic purpose and agency. We recognise the inherent diversity of perspectives, methods, practices and channels of dissemination that are available to contemporary artists today. We strive to meet our diverse students wherever they are in their artistic trajectories. We offer them critical guidance and opportunities for experimentation and growth in their research and practice, leading to personal and professional validation. We motivate our students to sustain their artistic research and practice while navigating a highly competitive, economically uncertain and deeply evaluative field. We nurture the individuated, eclectic, imaginative approaches of individual artists while familiarising them with the strongly networked, institutionalised, linked, collaborative and collective realities that shape how art is defined and received in the wider culture. And we help them situate the contemporary relevance of their research and practice and create contexts for its exposure (display, publication, performance, etc.).

Fine Art maintains that in order to successfully enter the professional realm, students need steady access to creative resources, consistent exposure to and feedback from other actors working in the field, and socialisation into art worlds and sectors where trends shift, power structures evolve, financial support varies and hierarchies of reputation exist. Many artists face uncertainty when they graduate from Fine Art Masters programmes, and many work jobs outside the creative industries in order to sustain their research and practices. Our approach is geared toward alleviating some of that future insecurity by encouraging students to identify their positions, their motivations and their options. Our programme serves as an incubator for the negotiation of artistic and professional identities, as well as the formation of peer and professional communities.

Core Fine Art tutors are active arts and culture professionals, and our guest curators, writers, artists, gallerists, and fellow educators act as mentors for students and advisors to the programme. Relationships with the professional field evolve yearly, according to the research and practice needs and interests of our international cohort of students, and the current pedagogical projects and professional networks of our core and guest tutors and advisors.

However artists enter the professional field, they do so as producers of meaning. Our collective values are reflected in our pedagogical approach and structure, as well as in the subjects we teach in thematic projects and seminars, in the research and practice-led workshops we organise and in the pedagogical excursions we undertake. To illustrate: over the past two decades and throughout all relevant professional sectors, addressing inequalities in the globalised art world has been a major preoccupation. The need to decolonise institutions and create equal opportunities, the identification of arts work as labour, the regulation of working conditions and wage schemes for cultural workers, and the recognition that unpaid or underpaid cultural work provides massive cultural value, are being hotly debated and are having meaningful policy impacts. We have formally integrated these topical socio-economic developments in the professional field into our curriculum, in both structure and content, so that students can create, communicate, innovate, reflect, organise and cooperate at a professional level.

Facts and figures

The programme at a glance

Programme structure

A view of the study programme

Course elements

The MFA programme is a two-year full-time course that is designed to facilitate self-directed Studio Research and Practice toward the achievement of the final competencies for the Master of Arts degree in Fine Art. Students meet those objectives via learning outcomes, which indicate the expected skills, knowledge, attributes, and competencies acquired through these programme modules:

  1. Studio Research and Practice
    involving independent research and practice, tutorials with core and guest tutors, thematic projects, seminars, workshops, independent study, and self-organized initiatives. Also part of Studio Research and Practice is Analysis of Practice-Group Critique which is involving self and peer evaluation of research and practice.

  2. Proseminar: Research Practices
    Conceived as a provision for first year Master Fine Art students and an invitation to share and discuss, speculate on and test out various definitions of and activities pertaining to research in the context of an artistic practice. 

Students present and discuss their Studio Research and Practice in the Analysis of Practice-Group Critique module and the feedback received there impacts the evolution of their work. The skills, contextual and critical perspectives developed in thematic projects and seminars, workshops, and self-organized initiatives embedded in the Studio Research and Practice module can widen the scope of and focus self-directed research, helping students refine and reflect upon their own work and the work of others. In year one, the primary aim of the Proseminar is to enable students to identify, question, articulate and affirm the value of their existing approaches to research, as well as to test out new ones. As well as engaging with the activitiesassigned in each session, students work towards a public presentation of their response to these questions in the summer, as well as a written statement on their Research Practices which they submit for their Year 1 Assessment in May.

Studio Research and Practice is the main focus, largest component and point of reference for PZI MFA students throughout the programme. Students develop a body of work focused on questions, ideas, or themes that motivate their research and practice and use media, materials and working methods they find most appropriate. Research and work are undertaken independently, in forms and directions that are specific to each student, including archival and field research, technical training, collaborative partnerships, and public presentations.

In year one, emphasis is on experimentation and exploration of processes, materials, and ideas. By the end of year one at least one or more individual and assessable works should give evidence of the ability to integrate self-directed research and critical, contextual perspectives in a developing body of work. In year two, students enter in the Graduate Research and Practice phase, which leads to the production of a written text of circa 6000 words and work for the graduate exhibition.

Public Programme

Vibrant public programmes and publications contribute to the visibility of our achievements. In addition, the MFA programme strives reach out and build relationships outside the academy via institutional partnerships and through individual initiative. An art school is a place where various currents of thought meet, intertwine and disperse, where stable meanings are disrupted and firm beliefs are unfixed, and where encounters create a new, ever shifting, shared space of dialogue. Thus, the MFA programme evolves every year – it is the combination of students, tutors and guests, as well as occurrences, events and critical debates in the art world and in the wider culture, that help define who we are and what we do within the field of contemporary art.

After your study programme

Different possibilities

After your graduation

Congratulations! You just received your Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design: Fine Art Degree.

With your degree, you will receive a supplement, a DS-label. With this English document, you can show the value of your degree abroad when applying for other study programmes or when applying for a job.


Where you can find us
Foto van locatie Location

Piet Zwart Institute

Karel Doormanhof 45 3012 GC Rotterdam