L'École Marchutz

Master of Fine Arts | Program Details

Chronology of Studies

The Study Outline

Upon acceptance and in consultation with an advisor, candidates present a two-year study outline accentuating their focus including a studio plan, criticism research, thesis development, and proposed locations for independent study.  

Faculty Advisors

Each MFA Candidate is assigned one studio faculty member and one liberal arts faculty member to oversee and guide the student through the two-year study proposal. Advisor meetings are scheduled three times each semester to present studio work, critical studies portfolio, liberal arts portfolio and journals for review. 

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 advisors at the end of each semester.  

Drawing Painting & Sculpture

One of the most important aspects of the program is the accentuation of the three disciplines of drawing, painting and sculpture and their inter-relationship. Although students declare a single concentration, it is imperative that they experiment with all three. Drawing I and II are prerequisites for all MFA Thesis work.

The painting and sculpture 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. 14 contact credit-hours of intensive painting or sculpture are required depending on the candidate’s concentration.

Critical Studies

The Critical Studies courses are seminars in which students and faculty read and discuss criticism essays, artists' writings on art, and philosophical texts. They include field studies to 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, which will culminate in a final 15-page critical analysis paper. 6 credit-hours of critical and aesthetic analysis of multiple cultural and time period artistic achievements, 3 credit-hours of Independent research and analysis.

Thesis Practice and Thesis Project

In year two, candidates, in concert with their faculty advisors, propose and execute a body of work in a purposeful manner which culminates in a final, public exhibition to be determined and approved by the final exhibition committee. The Thesis Project also includes a 15-page process paper, a critical analysis of the candidate's MFA Process and final Thesis Project.


A journal documenting all aspects of the Critical Studies Component, Thesis Practice and Thesis Project is a requirement for all students. Part of the Final Exhibition presentation consists of a collation and presentation of the journal work covering the entire two-year process. The journal presented at the Final exhibition takes a form that is consistent with the underlying theme of the Thesis Project presentation. 

Art History

A range of art history thesis inquiry courses are offered to the MFA student at IAU College. Students choose inquiry courses that coincide with their study outline and future Thesis Practice and Project. The requisite six credit hours of Art History Inquiry include a research paper assigned at the graduate level. Inquiry courses include the following:

ARC 509: Inquiry: Ancient European Art and Archaeology - Development of European Mediterranean societies and civilizations from the arrival of the first humans up to the Roman conquest of the continent. Includes field studies to sites in Provence.

ART 520: Inquiry: Picasso, Matisse, and the Mediterranean - Understanding early 20th century art through an investigation of its sources in Mediterranean myth and reality.

ART 540: Inquiry: Medieval Art and Architecture - A search for the medieval mind as it is expressed in Christian art and architecture from its earliest beginnings in the Catacombs of Rome, through the rich mosaics and domes of byzantine culture to the raising of the great Gothic Cathedrals in northern Europe.  Includes field studies to regional sites.

ART 541: Inquiry: Islamic Art and Architecture - This course surveys the arts and architecture of the Islamic World from the rise of the Umayyads in the 7th century CE until modern times. It will examine the social, historical and cultural contexts within which Islamic art and architecture developed. The aim of this course is to provide a basic understanding and a broad awareness of the major themes of Islamic art and architecture, of their main achievements and of their regional diversity.

ART 581: Inquiry: The XIXth Century and French Impressionism - Historical and critical analysis of painting in the 19th century with emphasis on the history of Impressionism. Includes fields study to sites in Paris.

Art 582: Inquiry: Cézanne and Van Gogh - An In-depth study of the lives and works of Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh. 


Although most studio work is be in conjunction with the students' concentration, students must choose two art electives from the list below that are not in their major field of study.  Required 6 contact credit hours of studio electives at the graduate level: 

 Art 580 Arts Management TBD

Art 595 Architecture Design Studio Students collaborate and learn through hands on designing and creating at the Marchutz School of Fine Arts. Includes active investigations of the architectural traditions of Aix en Provence and the Marchutz campus, conceptual design and on-site, full scale modeling of design solutions. 

Art 551 Contemporary Art and Studio Practice Using a variety of media - drawing, painting, digital imagery, 3D and installation students explore the notions of the sacred and the taboo in art. The studio course includes an historical and theoretical study of these notions throughout the history of art with a primary focus on the 20th and 21st century.

Art 560 Creative Writing The course focuses on an intensive writing practice and will deconstruct and explicate various elements of the essay, beginning with Montaigne through more modern iterations of the essay (particularly those oriented toward exploring a “new” culture and “self” within an intercultural context).  Furthermore, it will look at how our beliefs and perspectives inform our thinking and writing, and how living within another culture challenges those viewpoints and processes as writers.

Art 550 Painting and Drawing (for students with concentration in sculpture) Disciplined study inlandscape, portraiture and live model. 90 contact hours.

Art 560 Photography A specific analysis of the photographic image in reference to the world history of photography to develop students aesthetic judgments concerning their own production.  Digital production around various themes required.

Art 585 Sculpture (for students with concentration in painting) In collaboration with Professor Greg Wyatt, Sculptor- in-Residence, The Cathedral Church of St. John the Devine, New York, NY. A studio course conceived to familiarize students with the full range of materials and procedures needed in the process of bronze lost–wax casting as it relates to site-specific monumental scale bronze sculptures. Students will work with plaster, plastilina, clay and wax resulting in a final small model bronze casting at the Fonderie de Coubertin, renowned for its casts of among others, Auguste Rodin’s “Gates of Hell.” 

Language and Culture

All candidates are required to take at least 6 credits of language and culture courses from the Language Department at IAU College – French, Spanish, or Arabic. When feasible, students are encouraged however to participate in 12 credits of language and culture. 

Critiques and Visiting Artist Seminars 

In addition to two critiques per semester by faculty members, candidates 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 candidate work. All students participate in at least one seminar.  

J-Term Field Study Seminar

All MFA Candidates are required to attend one January field study with a study proposal indicating why and how the field study relates to their thesis proposal. Five different J-terms include traveling seminars to Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece, England and France. 

Europe and the Islamic World France • Morocco • Gibraltar • Spain • Turkey Traveling Seminar is designed for students interested in an academic and cultural experience in France, Morocco, Gibraltar, Spain and Turkey. The academic component consists of a series of briefings from leading academic, literary and political personalities and experts on the European relationship with the Islamic World. Participants will spend 20 nights in 12 cities and will attend daily lectures and meetings with distinguished scholars from IAU in addition to local guides and experts in the field of politics, art history, history and culture. Special emphasis will be placed on the importance of immigration to Europe and its current socio-cultural implications.

Great Cities Rome • Marseille • Paris • Prague • London Traveling to some of the major European cities, this seminar will explore the rise and the establishment of the urban setting as the nexus of contemporary European culture and civilization. The course will focus primarily on the artistic conception of the city in the late nineteenth-century up to the contemporary setting, observing and studying sites that have inspired artists from Petronius to Alexandre Dumas to Franz Kafka. Through literature, cinema, music and painting, students will take advantage of the physical settings in order to better understand the aesthetic, demographic and historical importance of these cities in their European context. Students will have the opportunity to learn from and exchange their observations with experts from IAU College as well as distinguished on-site scholars and local guides in order to frame their own perception of the cities and these cities’ representation through the arts. At the end of this three-week traveling seminar, students will better appreciate the interplay between the historical realities and fictional and/or imaginary perspectives of European cities.

 Mediterranean Basin France • Italy • Greece • Turkey Traveling Seminar promotes visual literacy in the history of art and archaeology as well as philosophical literature from the Mediterranean Basin: from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. It cultivates strong research and critical thinking skills and develops students’ abilities to synthesize culture, historical, political and social information as it bears upon the visual arts. The academic component consists of a series of on-site studies made by academic experts from IAU in addition to local guides and experts in the field of history, art history and archaeology.

Shakespeare and the Theatre London • Stratford • Oxford There is no better place to study Shakespeare than on the banks of the Thames, the alleys of Eastcheap, and amidst the architecture and vistas that he knew. Although Shakespeare’s texts provide us with some of our richest literary experiences, the playwright hardly thought about publication. The theater was a living, money-making scheme, shaped by its location in the slums, by immediate political situations, and by the actors and patrons who entered the gates of the playhouse. This course will teach Shakespeare as one of history’s great artists – whose greatness was forged within the contingencies and pressures of the real world. Much of that world is still there to be studied and experienced.

Low-Residency Off-Campus Course Work

Although students may complete the entire program at the Aix campus, they may choose to take up to 27 credit hours off campus. They may reside at IAU partner sites (Giverny, Barcelona, Paris, New York, Marrakesh) or return to their home sites in the U.S.  The appointed faculty advisors from the Aix campus will coordinate oversight of their independent studies with selected artist-teachers from the specific area.  

Arts Education and Teaching Assistantships

The Marchutz School of Fine Arts unique MFA degree program has embedded within it an apprenticeship component. Through direct observation and assistantship in undergraduate studio courses, candidates may choose to embellish the direction of their independent work. As all studio art faculty know, the process of passing on knowledge is one of the most enriching experiences for their own work. Students who may eventually be interested in teaching can, upon approval, take advantage of this component within their two-year study proposal. 

Students interested in teaching assistantships may replace 3 credit hours of art history and a 3-credit elective with a 6-credit teaching assistantship. 

Internship Opportunities

Internships at various museums and galleries are available for qualified students interested in professional experience opportunities.

Final Exhibition Committee

Each student presents the Final Thesis Project and Critical Studies paper to a committee comprised of the two faculty advisors and two faculty members from the major concentration. Final Exhibition contingent on committee approval. 


Students have 24 hour access to the Atelier Marchutz situated on the renowned route de Tholonet in Aix en Provence. Second-year students will have independent studio space.  Library facilities, lecture halls, classrooms, a student lounge, audio-visual equipment, and computer access are available in one of the three main buildings of IAU College situated in the 17th and 18th century center of Aix-en-Provence. 


Home Stay

Living in a French home is considered the best form of housing because it provides an immediate introduction to life in Aix-en-Provence.  It is an incomparable opportunity for those who seek knowledge that is neither superficial nor second hand.  It provides an introduction into the community and is a great incentive to learning the language.  Host families come from a cross section of society; they belong to no particular professional or social milieu, but are all carefully chosen and many have hosted American students for several years.


When living in French homes, students are on a demi-pension plan.  This includes daily breakfast and six dinners per week.  Linen, pillow, and blankets are provided and the room is cleaned weekly.  Each host will generally provide one machine load of wash per week.

Independent Living

IAU College has some independent housing options available for MFA Candidates offered on a first-come, first-served basis.  Students may choose to arrange for and rent an apartment on their own. Apartments can be difficult to find in Aix, so students will need to make arrangements prior to arrival in France.  Students should plan on roughly $3,200 per semester for housing.






For details regarding Housing and Tuition costs please visit the IAU website. Information on Financial Aid and Scholarships is also available here

Please direct MFA Program related inquiries to Degree@IAUFrance.org.

For questions about Passports, Visas, life in France, and more, please visit:  www.IAUFrance.org.