Skip to main content

Meeting of the Board of Regents | May 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008 - 11:00pm

sed seal                                                                                                 






Higher Education Committee


Johanna Duncan-Poitier




New York Studio School: Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Program in Painting or Sculpture


April 30, 2008


Goals 2 and 4






Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)


Should the Board of Regents authorize the New York Studio School to offer a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) program in Painting or Sculpture as its first degree program?


Reason(s) for Consideration


Required by State regulation


Proposed Handling


The question will come before the Higher Education Committee at its May 2008 meeting, where it will be voted on and action taken.  It then will come before the full Board at its May 2008 meeting for final action.


Procedural History


The New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, Inc. was incorporated in 1964 under the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law as a non-degree school of fine art.  On March 4, 2004, it submitted a petition for a provisional charter under the name, New York Studio School, and consolidation of the existing corporation and the new Regents-chartered corporation, with the Regents-chartered corporation as the survivor.  The Department conducted peer review visits to the School in May 2004 and August 2007.  On March 3, 2008, the Department canvassed all degree-granting institutions in New York City for comment on the School’s proposal.  A recommendation for a provisional charter appears separately on the Board’s agenda.


Background Information


The New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, 8 West 8th Street, New York, New York County, trains young artists in their development as professionals and enrolls approximately 300 students in a variety of programs throughout a year.  As a result of an extensive review, the Department has determined that the School and its program would meet the standards for registration as set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education if the Regents grant the requested charter and authorize the program by master plan amendment.




It is recommended that the Board of Regents approve a master plan amendment to authorize the New York Studio School, New York, to offer an M.F.A. program in Painting or Sculpture.  This amendment will be effective until May 31, 2009, unless the Department registers the program prior to that date, in which case master plan amendment shall be without term.


Timetable for Implementation


If the Board of Regents approves the master plan amendment, the Department will register the program and the School will enroll students.

Information in Support of Recommendation


New York
Studio School

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Program in Painting or Sculpture


Academic Review


A. Institutional Information.  New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture, 8 West 8th Street, Manhattan, a not-for-profit art school, seeks to offer a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) program entitled Painting or Sculpture.  Founded in 1964 to train young artists in their development as professionals, it enrolls some 300 students in a variety of different noncredit programs throughout the year.  If the Board grants a provisional charter and an order of consolidation, the name of the surviving institution would be New York Studio School.


This would be New York Studio School’s first degree program.  A peer review team found it “a well-run institution with dedicated and knowledgeable administrators working in close collaboration with faculty, alumni, students, and a committed board of trustees, in carrying out the institution’s mission.”


B. Curriculum.  The M.F.A. program would require 60 semester hours, including a thesis, over two years of full-time study in an academic calendar of two 15-week semesters.  It is structured to reflect “the developmental sequence of an artist building an independent professional practice.  Initially, the program is heavily instructed and follows an atelier model.”  The peer review team found that “NYSS has operated de facto as a graduate school for many years.  The level of artistic endeavor in the noncredit certificate program is higher than that offered at many well-respected graduate programs.”


C. Students.  Admission to the M.F.A. program would require a baccalaureate degree and evidence of artistic talent in portfolios of artwork demonstrating an active and productive studio practice; recommendations verifying artistic aptitude, academic preparedness, motivation, independence, and presence of mind; and a professional practice statement outlining the applicant’s areas of studio investigation, research interests, and reasons for pursuing graduate study.  New York Studio School uses similar requirements for admission to its noncredit certificate program.  The review process involves both faculty and administrators; the peer review team found that “it seems to be an effective mechanism for identifying people who will flourish” in its environment.


On the basis of its historical enrollments and reputation, New York Studio School projects enrolling 24 students in the proposed program the first year, growing to 35 by the fifth.  All students would be full time.  The School expects some of its noncredit students to seek to transfer into the degree program.  It projects that 60 percent of the M.F.A. program’s students will come from the United States and 40 percent from abroad and that 50 percent of the U.S. students will be from New York State, with the balance from elsewhere in the country.


D. Faculty.  New York Studio School has 21 faculty members, of whom 7 are full-time, 5 are long-term part-time faculty, and 9 are adjuncts.  Faculty members are scholars and practicing artists with M.F.A. or similar terminal degrees or equivalent certificates and ongoing creative careers.  They play a major role in the School’s governance.  The peer review team found that they “appear competent in their fields and meet the requirements for teaching graduate-level courses by virtue of their formal credentials, training, and/or experience.”  The School also has student services, registrar, financial aid, and career placement personnel.


E. Resources. New York Studio School occupies landmark row houses and carriage houses in Greenwich Village that provide large studios, with skylights, serving as ateliers for drawing, painting, and sculpture.  They were the home and studio of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and the original home of the Whitney Museum of Art.  Equipment includes appropriate computers, printers, and other technology.  The peer review team found classrooms and studios adequate to meet the proposed program’s needs.  The John McEnroe Library houses the School’s collection of books, exhibition catalogs, art journals, slide and picture files, and databases.  The team found that it functions well as a graduate research library.  Its holdings and services are augmented by an agreement with New York University for students to use its libraries.


For 2005-06, the School had $4.6 million in assets and $1.1 million in liabilities, for an excess of assets over liabilities of $3.5 million.  Its principal assets are long-term investments and land, buildings, and equipment.  Its principal liability was long-term debt.  Nearly 44 percent of the School’s net assets are a permanently restricted endowment.  The School has an annual budget of approximately $2.7 million that is not expected to change dramatically with the addition of the M.F.A. program.  About 58 percent of its annual income is derived from gifts and grants, about 32 percent from tuition (net of scholarships and work-study grants), and the balance from all other sources.


F. Program Registration.  The Department has conducted an extensive review of the School, including two peer review visits, and has determined that the School and its program would meet the academic quality standards for program registration as set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education if the Board of Regents grants this master plan amendment. 


Planning Review


              G. Need.  New York Studio School actively assists its students and graduates in growth of their artistic careers.  However, its program of study is designed to enable its students to master technique and process.  It conceives itself as a traditional school of art that teaches art for art’s sake, not with commercial expectations.


              The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 edition, estimates that there are about 30,000 practicing fine artists, nationwide.  It says that about 62 percent of artists and related workers are self-employed and that:



Only the most successful fine artists are able to support themselves solely through the sale of their works.  Many fine artists have at least one other job to support their art careers.  Some work in museums or art galleries as fine-arts directors or as curators, planning and setting up art exhibits.  A few artists work as art critics for newspapers or magazines or as consultants to foundations or institutional collectors.  Other artists teach art classes or conduct workshops in schools or in their own studios.  


On the other hand, the New York State Department of Labor projects favorable employment opportunities for fine artists through 2016, with an average of 90 job openings per year.


The M.F.A. is the terminal degree in studio art, so graduates of New York Studio School’s program would be qualified to pursue faculty positions at higher education institutions.  However, the job market in higher education for faculty in studio art programs is a national and international one.  Across all disciplines and types of postsecondary institutions, the Occupational Outlook Handbook projects employment of postsecondary teachers to grow by 23 percent, between 2006 and 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations.  However, a significant portion of the new jobs will be non-tenure-track or part-time.  It estimates that there were 88,000 postsecondary teaching jobs in art, drama, and music in 2006, nationwide.  Across the U.S., 255 higher education institutions are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the nationally recognized accrediting agency for schools of art and schools of design.    


              H. Effect on the Institution.  New York Studio School expects beneficial effects as a result of becoming a degree-granting institution.  Degree powers will enhance its ability to recruit students and to assist graduates in their careers.  Degree powers also will enable the School to participate in State and federal student aid programs.  The School believes that it also will assist it in fundraising.  As noted above, its financial resources are adequate to support initiation of the proposed degree program.


              I. Effect on Other Institutions.  Statewide, 17 colleges and universities offer M.F.A. programs in the field of Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture.  Nine of the institutions are in New York City: CUNY Brooklyn College, City College, Hunter College, Lehman College, and Queens College; Columbia University; the New York Academy of Art; New York University; and The New School.


              Five institutions responded to a canvass of all higher education institutions in New York City.  Two institutions wrote in support, one of which said, “I am very familiar with the NY Studio School and applaud their work.”  The other three respondents had no concerns or objections.