The American College of the Mediterranean is proud to offer a two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Painting. The 60-credit program is conducted in English and accepts artists of diverse interests and backgrounds. The program combines daily studio work in Aix-en-Provence, seminars, museum studies, field studies throughout Europe, and professional internship opportunities. Depending on the students' interest, the first-year MFA program could be modeled either after the full-year Marchutz Core Art Program (visible world, perceptual) or after the full-year Mediterranean Core Art Program (contemporary, conceptual) or after both (a different program each semester).


The mission of the MFA program at ACM is to link contemporary artist concerns to a study of the visible world and to give students a cross-cultural viewpoint through extended study in the museums and galleries of Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.

About Leo Marchutz

Anthony Marschutz shares with ACM MFA master students the story of his father, Léo Marchutz, a painter and lithographer (1903-1976).  He talked about the life, art, and studio of his father as our MFA students take their Drawing and Painting classes in Léo Marchutz’s Studio; l'Atelier Marchutz.

Focus of the MFA Program

  • Emphasizes the combination of studio art process with liberal arts learning
  • A comparative discipline of observation, perceptual analysis, and extensive museum and art historical study
  • Accentuates cross-cultural viewpoints through extended study in the cities, museums, and galleries of Europe and the Mediterranean Basin
  • Students form a coherent critical platform and an arts management process by which to present their work
  • Integrated apprenticeship courses in studio art education models

MFA Program Overview

ACM's School of Art offers a two-year MFA degree program with a concentration in Painting. The curriculum combines studio practice with liberal arts investigation, critical analysis, museum study, and field study. The 60-credit program, conducted in English, in Aix-en-Provence, France, culminates in a Thesis Project/MFA Show which includes a public presentation of an original body of artwork.  

Students work on campus in Aix-en-Provence, France, maintaining a daily open studio practice in their chosen discipline, while concurrently developing independent critical, aesthetic, and art historical research with core faculty advisors.  Students are expected to participate in weekly seminars, multi-city field studies, critiques, museum studies, and liberal arts inquiry.

Throughout the program MFA candidates' work is evaluated in peer and faculty critiques as well as by visiting artists. Final evaluation and approval are conducted by the MFA Faculty Committee.

Faculty Advisors

ACM faculty is comprised of experts in their fields. Both academics and professionals in their field, ACM faculty provide the MFA the academic depth and the real-life experience necessary for a well-rounded Fine Arts education.

Each MFA student is assigned one studio faculty member and one liberal arts faculty member during the second year of the program to oversee and guide the student. Advisor meetings are scheduled several times each semester to present studio work, critical studies portfolio, and liberal arts portfolio.

Midterm and final grades from professors of content courses will also be reviewed. Continuation in the program is contingent on a positive review from both faculty and advisors at the end of each semester. 

Program Outline and Curriculum

MFA students have some flexibility in how they structure their schedules across the two years of study. The required credits are as follows:

  • Painting - 13 credits (four studio courses)
  • Drawing - 6 credits (two studio courses)
  • Critical Studies - 9 credits (three seminar courses)
  • Thesis Project - 5 credits 
  • Art History - 6 credits (two courses)
  • The Masters Forum - 3 credits
  • Electives - 6 credits (two courses)
  • Language and Culture - 6 credits (two French courses)
  • Arts Administration - 3 credits 
  • January Term Traveling Seminar - 3 credits (one traveling seminar course)
Total = 60 credits


Course Descriptions

The Masters Forum (3 credits)

All first-year MFA students are required to take The Masters Forum (ART 515) in their first semester.  This graduate course aims to inspire the students through exposure. Exposure to other points of view, different types of art practice, and a more diverse range of mediums and expression, as a means of supplementing the experience of intense oil painting practice already at the core of the first-year curriculum.  This course is the site where art history and fine arts meet, and it is built around discussion and practice/workshops led by several local artists.

Drawing and Painting (19 credits)

One of the most important aspects of the program is the accentuation of the two disciplines of drawing and painting and their inter-relationship. Although students' concentration is on painting, it is imperative that they experiment with both. Drawing I and II are prerequisites for all MFA thesis work. The MFA curriculum is based upon the principle that drawing is the basis of all good painting. In the first year, all students are required to enroll in Drawing I and II.

The painting contact courses take place at the Atelier Marchutz, a light-filled space conceived by French architect Fernand Pouillon. Students work together in this common space with painting instructors and are also expected to work independently during the week. Thirteen credits of intensive painting (6 credits during the first year and 7 credits during the second year) are required.

Painting I ART 630 Fall 3
Painting II ART 632 Spring 3
Painting III ART 633 Fall 3
Painting IV ART 634 Spring 4

Drawing I ART 501 Fall 3
Drawing II ART 502 Spring 3

Critical Studies (9 credits)

The Critical Studies courses are seminars in which students and faculty read and discuss criticism essays, artists' writing on art, and philosophical texts. They include field studies in museums, artist studios, and galleries. Critical Studies I and II accentuate an overview of critical thought from past generations which will be used as a springboard for Critical Studies III in which a contemporary analysis will culminate in a final 15-page paper to accompany the studio work.

Critical Studies I ART 509 Fall 3
Critical Studies II ART 510 Spring 3
Critical Studies III ART 511 Fall 3

Thesis Project (5 credits)

In year two students will, in concert with their faculty advisors, propose and execute a body of work in a purposeful manner which will culminate in a final, public exhibition.

Art History (6 credits)

A range of art history courses is offered to the MFA students. Students choose two art history courses that coincide with their study outline and future thesis project. Six credits (two courses) of Art History are required, with each course including a research paper assigned at the graduate level. Course options include:

  • ART/ARH 401: Art History: Prehistory to Modern Times
  • ARC/ARH 512: European & Mediterranean Prehistoric Art and Archaeology
  • ARC/ARH 513: Powers and Identities in the Ancient Mediterranean
  • ART/ARH 520: Picasso, Matisse, and the Mediterranean
  • ARC/ARH 531: Archaeology, Art, and Architecture of Ancient Provence (in French)
  • ART/ARH 540: The Mediterranean and Beyond: Cross-Cultural Studies in Medieval Art and Architecture
  • ART/ARH 541: Islamic Art and Architecture in Europe
  • ART/ARH 542: Artistic Encounters in the Mediterranean: Cross-Cultural Perspectives in European Art
  • ART/ARH 563: Baroque Art and Architecture
    ART/ARH 564: Contemporary Art: Visual Representation of the Mediterranean
  • ART/ARH 573: Renaissance Art and Architecture
  • ART/ARH 581: The XIXth Century and French Impressionism
  • ART/ARH 582: Cézanne and Van Gogh

Museum Studies

  • MSM/ARH 537: History of Museums: From Prehistoric Caves to Louvre Abu Dhabi
  • MSM/ARH 558: Curating Arts in the 21st Century: Challenges and Practices
  • MSM/ARH 591: Museums Today: Mission and Challenges 

Electives (6 credits)

In the second year of the MFA program, students choose two 3-credit elective courses.  Elective course options include the following:

  • Studio-art courses 
  • Photography class
  • Art-history courses
  • Museum-studies courses
  • French language and French culture courses
  • Courses from the Humanities and Social Sciences School
  • Courses from the School of Global Affairs
  • Independent Study

Language and Culture (6 credits)

All candidates are required to take at least six credits of French language and culture courses from the French and Language Department at ACM.

Arts Administration (3 credits)

All second-year MFA students are required to take the following Arts Administration course in their third semester.

Arts Administration: Cultural management and Leadership (ART 527)

Careers in the creative industries are exploding—from entrepreneurial artists, cultural innovators, to leaders of arts organizations—job opportunities in the cultural economy are dynamic and growing. This course will introduce key concepts of arts management to students and help prepare them for a successful career in the arts. Through examinations of significant recent issues and trends within arts businesses, this course will focus on how organizational planning and structure, policy, fundraising, and stakeholder/audience engagement intersect to foster sustainable arts organizations.

January Term Field Study Seminar (3 credits)

All MFA candidates are required to attend one January Term Seminar within the first academic year.

Critiques and Visiting Artist Seminars 

In addition to two critiques per semester by faculty members, students participate in Visiting Artist Seminars including local and international visiting artists who are invited to campus to participate in sessions including lectures and critiques of MFA student work. All students participate in at least one seminar.  


Students have access (with a pre-posted schedule) to the Atelier Marchutz situated on the renowned route de Tholonet in Aix-en-Provence.  In year two, ACM provides independent studio space to all MFA students. Facilities, lecture halls, classrooms, a student lounge, audio-visual equipment, and computer access are available in one of the three main buildings of ACM situated in the center of Aix-en-Provence.

2023 MFA Exhibition

Click through the 2023 MFA Exhibition booklet to see the 2023 graduates' work:

2024 MFA Exhibition

Click through the 2024 MFA Exhibition booklet to see the 2024 graduates' work:

For program-related questions, please contact Dr. Yumna Masarwa, Dean of the ACM School of Art.