“I know you’ve said before on this blog that the prestige of your graduate school is critical. How are European MFA degrees viewed in the United States?”
My guess would be to say that it’s neutral. I don’t think it hurts, but I don’t think it helps tremendously either. The majority of people who apply for college teaching positions in the United States have graduate degrees from the United States, so perhaps a European degree might make you seem more “exotic”? It’s tough to say, as every search committee has its own specific agenda that is impossible to predict.
I wish I could tell you that graduate school should only be about the educational experience that you have during that time, but unfortunately the reality is that that just is not the case. One of the most important things to attain in graduate school is the strong professional connections that will help launch you into the art world. In terms of professional contacts, location is everything. For example, if you want to make it professionally in New York City after graduate school, going to a graduate school in Alaska is not a smart move.
The faculty that you study with in graduate school is critical; they will provide the bridge into the professional world for you. If you study with faculty who are at the top of their field and live either in or within a few hours of New York City, they will have invaluable contacts that you won’t find anywhere else. I dislike having to put so much emphasis on New York City, as I don’t want to discount other artistic communities in other parts of the world, but New York City really is where the “movers and shakers” are in the art world.
In your case, if your intent is to eventually work professionally in the United States, an MFA in Europe probably isn’t the best choice in terms of networking. All of your professional contacts will be in Europe, and you’ll essentially have to start from scratch when you come back to the United States. If the professional networking is not a concern for you, then it doesn’t matter where you go to graduate school, and you can just focus on the educational experience. Whether or not the professional networking matters to you depends on your reasons for attending graduate school. Some people go because they want to teach at the college level, whereas others just do it for themselves. If you’re going to graduate school because you want to teach college, then the networking is going to be crucial to have.
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