The MFA Book Arts Program began in 1985, and emphasizes the art, craft, and history of the handmade book. We are located in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa; a verdant, traditional campus located on the banks of the Black Warrior River.

The MFA Book Arts Program is a 60-credit hour course of study in the Arts and Technologies of the Book. Individual artistic expression is emphasized through development of craft skills based in historical principles, practice, and technique. Courses in letterpress-printing and publishing, typography, hand bookbinding, hand papermaking, and the history of the book provide training and context for the role of the book as a medium for expression in art and society. Our emphasis is on the book as an integrated unit, although there is opportunity for a student who wishes to pursue a specific interest in one or more of these areas after the initial year of general study.

The MFA Book Arts Program emphasizes the development of original creative scholarship and creative practice by educating and preparing students to become technically proficient in book arts, cognizant of the historical background in which these various crafts evolved, and knowledgeable about the professional environments in which our graduates will work. Courses explore the reconciliation of modern sensibilities with historic craft. To reach this end, the program affirms the following goals and objectives:

To provide students with an education that inculcates craft skills required for proficiency in the book arts and develops a sound foundation for the aesthetics and methodology of these arts by:

  1. Providing each student with fundamental technical skills in each of the crafts comprised by the book arts.
  2. Providing advanced technical skills in each student’s area of professional specialization and instilling in each student a desire to acquire and upgrade skills beyond the formal program.
  3. Instilling students with the ability to think, write, and speak critically about their work and its place within contemporary art, book arts and book craft.
  4. Encouraging familiarity with critical texts and information resources in areas connected to the book arts and contemporary work in the professions.
  5. Preparing students to document and disseminate their work through artist statements, curriculum vitae, photo documentation, website development, social media, and participation in and presentations at conferences, workshops, and national book arts events.
  6. Preparing students to apply their creative skills and techniques in the marketplace.
  7. Providing and reinforcing an appreciation for the aesthetics of the crafts.

To enhance the professional status of artisans engaged in the book arts by:

  1. Promoting knowledge of the heritage, responsibilities, trends and standards of the book arts profession, including an understanding of the interrelationship of all aspects of the book arts and the importance of collaboration to the field.
  2. Enlisting faculty to support and advance the book arts fields by advocating for the profession, helping to establish discipline standards, advancing professional organizations, offering continuing educational opportunities, and serving as consultants and lecturers.
  3. Promoting a scholarly and creative research culture through a faculty that conducts research, publishes, and exhibits original work in regional, national, and international venues.
  4. Encouraging faculty to disseminate findings and provide professional resources to practitioners and teachers within and outside the book arts community.

Students enrolled in the MFA Book Arts Program are highly motivated, and come from various undergraduate backgrounds and work experiences. We seek students with diverse educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds. A maximum of eight new students are accepted each year into the MFA Book Arts Program. To be admitted into the program, applicants must submit for consideration a letter of application, resume, portfolio (in their area of experience), and three letters of reference. We have four graduate assistantships available annually, on a competitive basis, three Windgate Fellowships, and smaller scholarship opportunities. For detailed information about the application process please see the Graduate School website.

For financial aid, scholarship, and assistantship information please click this link.