MFA Annual Review

To support your growth as a student, creative maker, community member, and future arts expert, the School provides MFA students with Annual Reviews at the end of their first and second year. These reviews provide both formative and summative feedback that is designed to guide your development in the areas of making, writing, and speaking about your work. In addition, these reviews are intended to prepare you to enter your thesis year with a strong foundation upon which to build your thesis body of work and write your thesis document.

As an MFA student you will receive a formal evaluation at the end of the first and second years in the program. A committee of at least three faculty members of your choice, including at least one faculty member from your area of concentration, evaluates your creative work, grades, research, use and knowledge of appropriate tools, materials and technology, writing, and verbal skills. A portfolio review, oral presentation, and a written research paper are evaluated by the committee to provide formative and summative feedback on your progress and allow you to ask questions and seek guidance that will help you focus on your eventual thesis.

Portfolio Review

The review of your creative activity is most significant because it is the focus of your future MFA thesis exhibition. Toward the end of the spring semester you are responsible for scheduling your Portfolio Review with your committee. You must contact the committee members and schedule the review in an appropriate space. You are responsible for asking area faculty what they expect to see during the review. During the review you will discuss the content of your work in relation to its materiality, process, context, and intentions.

Oral Presentation

Your skill and ability in presenting your work verbally is evaluated annually through the presentation of a body of work at ECU’s Research and Creative Activity Week (RCAW) during the spring semester. The specific means should be made clear to the candidate well in advance of the evaluation.

If you begin your MFA studies during fall semester you are required to present at ECU’s Research and Creative Achievement Week, which happens each spring semester. Students that start during the spring semester are evaluated at the end of the fall semester and are also required to participate in the next Research and Creative Achievement Week next spring.

Because faculty cannot control the presentation RCAW schedule at the, your committee may require you to repeat your presentation at another time to assure that the whole committee is present. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Graduate Committee and requires the approval of your area faculty, and a specific alternative presentation with the same evaluation process.

Your presentation will be evaluated on:

  • Presents information in a logical manner
  • Speaks clearly and articulately
  • Understands and effectively communicates the historical and contemporary context of their personal work in terms of formal issues, content and technique.
  • Answers questions in a logical and concise manner
  • Is confident and persuasive in verbal responses to questions
  • Is professional in appearance and attitude


To evaluate your art and design writing skills, you will complete and submit a minimum five page research paper that follows the MLA or Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Thesis and Dissertations styles. The research paper must include a bibliography and be a submitted to the review committee prior to your Research and Creative Achievement Week presentation.

Your paper will be evaluated on:

  • Presents information in a logical manner
  • Uses proper grammar and punctuation.
  • Uses proper writing style and citation system.
  • Effectively communicates the historical and contemporary context of their research topic or personal work in terms of formal issues, content and technique.
  • Effectively communicates the means in which their research builds on the generalized knowledge of their research area
  • Has a bibliography that is appropriate to the topic
  • Presents paper in a timely manner and appropriate format for reviewers

Upon completion of the evaluation, your committee and/or a committee representative will meet with you to discuss the evaluation, provide feedback, and discuss next steps, including any required additional work or justification for termination.

Copies of all materials submitted for review including visual documentation of creative work, must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies within two weeks of the review. These will be placed in the student’s file.

Upon successful completion of the second review, you will submit the signed and approved Thesis Research Approval Form to the Graduate Programs Director and begin work on your thesis exhibition and written thesis, if you have not already done so by this point.

After your Second Year Review, your next step is the Thesis!