When I applied to graduate school, I painstakingly researched every school with an MFA program, using the two following links:
My criteria for selecting schools hinged on: faculty, location, type of program, and work being produced. I applied to 8 schools and could have easily picked 12: Duke University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Syracuse University, UT Austin, UNC Chapel Hill, Indiana University, U of I Urbana-Champaign, and Columbia College Chicago.
- At most institutions, they have 2-5 faculty members, Columbia photography faculty has 10+, plus staff that have MFA’s in photography.
- Location can help narrow, but not in my case. My main stipulation was a school in the United States and not located in California. I went to one of the best California State Universities for photography and I wanted a break from California. After being in Chicago, I would have more schools in or near major cities, because of the art opportunities outside of school (galleries, museums, etc.)
- Type of program/duration
- I looked for photography based programs. A decent amount of photo grad programs I have found are a mix of photography and video and/or digital media based. Or Studio Art with a concentration in Photography. I wanted to work traditionally and I still have the option to c-print. There is the 2 vs. 3-year option. Columbia’s program is now 2-years.
- Work being produced
Two things that helped A LOT when I applied were my undergraduate faculty and this book. It covers everything from how narrow down schools to how to write the statements. This is the older version but there is a newer one.
The best advice I received was to concentrate on the work sample. Submit either one project or up to, but no more than three cohesive project(s). It’s not meant to be a sampling of your 20 best images of different photographic forms. What I applied with: half made during undergrad and half made after graduating.
Good luck with your applications!
Shoot me an email, if you have any questions :D