Difference Between MA and MFA


MA and MFA are two postgraduate degrees in arts that are very similar in nature. Both are done after graduation and often the courses or topics covered in the two post graduate degree courses overlap. This is confusing for students who have decided to make a career in arts for themselves. If you have completed your undergraduate level course and want to go for higher studies, it is prudent to know the differences between the course content and the focus or emphasis in MA and MFA degrees. Choosing the right degree course at the master’s level is crucial to have the right career options after the completion of the course. Let us take a closer look at MA and MFA


MA stands for Master of Arts and is a post graduate degree that provides a master’s level degree in arts just like MSc for post graduate degree in science. This is a degree that is available in most of the colleges and universities across the world. The normal duration of this degree course is 2 years and it is a course that is mostly taught by teachers in the form of lectures in classrooms, and there is very little amount of research that is required in this degree. The most common subjects that are chosen by students to do MA are history, geography, social sciences, languages, philosophy etc.


MFA is an acronym that stands for Master of Fine Arts and is an alternative for all those who want to pursue higher education in arts. This is a post graduate degree awarded by many universities around the world. Fine arts is a field of study that is considered creative by people as the courses offered are visual arts and performing arts such as dance, music, painting, theater, sculpture, drawing etc. The course is designed to hone the skills of an individual in his chosen field of study, and as such the content is mostly applied in nature. The classes are mostly practical in nature, and there is little emphasis on classroom lectures.

Apart from universities, there are arts colleges dedicated to serving the needs of people interested in performing and visual arts that are awarding degrees in MFA.

What is the difference between MA and MFA?

• The major difference between MA and MFA lies in the ratio of courses in liberal arts and fine arts.

• MFA is focused more upon honing the skills of the individual in the chosen course or subject in a practical manner, whereas MA focuses more on broadening the knowledge of the individual through taught courses.

• The content of the course is delivered mostly through practical in MFA, and there is very little emphasis on classroom lectures.

• The subjects chosen in MFA are visual and performing arts such as painting, sculpting, dancing, music etc., whereas subjects taken in MA are humanities, social sciences, and languages.

• You must pursue MFA if you want to become a painter, photographer, dancer, singer etc.

• You must go for MA if you want to become a teacher or have more career options open for them.