ceramic arts

Ceramic Arts (MFA)

  • Certificate
  • Master's

About this Program

Hood’s MFA program prepares students to contribute original knowledge and creativity to the field of ceramics.

Program Overview

Become a visual communicator through art

Courses are designed to guide the artists far beyond the hobbyist stage to the role of visual communicator of ideas, concepts and passion through art. Students explore the subtle nuances and detail of aesthetic expression as they refine the practical application of science and technology in their work, conduct advanced thesis research and prepare for a solo gallery exhibition.

Fuel creative expression under the tutelage of renowned artists

Faculty members are accomplished ceramic artists and well-known specialists in areas such as East Asian coil techniques, structural strength, wheel techniques, large-scale stoneware and porcelain, ceramic engineering, wood firing, exhibition development and public art. Special course topics taught by distinguished guest artists add another dimension of experience and research. Small classes assure personal attention. Outstanding facilities include a kiln pavilion that has five atmospheric kilns: exploratory research, production soda, large-scale sculpture, hybrid gas/soda/wood, and Sanderson ECO wood train.Through study and studio work, and hands-on experience with these kilns, students produce a comprehensive body of work.

Study at your own pace 

A variety of class formats accommodates working adults and long-distance commuters: evenings; weekends; and four-day, one-week and two-week intensive courses. The program can be completed in two calendar years with full-time study, or longer on a part-time basis to allow time for other life commitments. Another option is to complete the requirements of a Hood M.A. in ceramic arts, and apply those courses to the longer-range goal of an MFA.

Workshops and events

The Hood College Graduate School also offers workshops, studio courses and events designed to allow ceramic artists, both experienced and aspiring, to gain specialized knowledge in the field. 

Program Contact

Chaz Martinsen

Program Director

Nick Masucci

Assistant Director of Graduate Admission


Degrees Offered

  • Certificate
  • MA
  • MFA
Lillian Ding, MFA

Graduate Alumna Focus | Lillian Ding

Lillian Ding, MFA Alumni Graduate School Graduate Student

Lillian Ding graduated from Hood College with an MFA in Ceramic Arts in September 2020. She received First Prize in 2018 and the President’s Choice Award in 2019 at Hood’s Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition Awards Ceremony.

  • Academics
  • Alumni Relations
Faith Ku

Graduate Student Spotlight | Faith Ku

Faith Ku, Ceramic Arts MFA Graduate School Graduate Student

"Hood College’s ceramics program is so unique as it offers a robust spectrum of classes that teach graduate students everything from the most basic to the more advanced aspects of ceramics."

  • Academics

For students applying to the MFA in ceramic arts program, please submit the following to the Graduate School:

  • One copy of official transcripts from each institution of higher education attended
  • An essay (500 words or less) discussing previous academic and personal experience with clay, current work and professional goals in relation to the MFA
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with recent work (letters can be emailed to gofurther@hood.edu)
  • A portfolio of high quality images in PDF format  to include:
    • 20 images of current work
    • A corresponding image list stating title of work, medium, size and dates of completion
    • An artist statement about the portfolio work addressing concept, objectives and process
    • Résumé.

Candidates for the MFA in Ceramic Arts program must have a baccalaureate degree or equivalent training in the ceramic arts. Students with an undergraduate degree in an area other than ceramics who provide evidence of life experience and skill in the ceramic arts may be accepted with permission of the program director.


Program Requirements

The Master of Fine Arts in Ceramic Arts requires candidates to complete a studio emphasis in ceramic arts with a G.P.A. of 3.0 or greater.

60 credits are required for graduation:

19 credits of core requirements

17 credits of required research

15 credits of general electives

9 credits of art history, aesthetics and criticism

Students studying full time will normally spend three years earning the degree. Successful completion of ARTS 570 and a 3.0 grade point average will serve as an interim evaluation for continuing studies. Strong candidate for the M.F.A. will have earned a grade of A- (3.67) or higher in ARTS 570. Students may transfer 9 credits earned from an accredited program to their course requirements for the M.F.A.

Core Courses - 19 Credits Required

ARTS 501Glaze Application


ARTS 502East Asian Wedged Coil Technique


ARTS 505Ceramic Wheel: Masters' Throwing Concepts


ARTS 508Ceramic Sculpture


ARTS 523Ceramic Materials


ARTS 525Electric Kilns


ARTS 530Kiln Technology & Firing Theory


ARTS 540Clay/Glaze Chemistry Theory & Practice


ARTS 574Advanced Studies in Ceramic Arts


 Total Credit Hours:19.0

Art History and Criticism Courses - 9 Credits Required

ARTS 543History of Ceramic Arts


ARTS 564Aesthetics and Criticism


 Three credits Art History (ART) at 500 level


Additional graduate level humanities courses may serve as elective credit with approval of the program director.

Research Courses - 17 Credits Required

ARTS 569Survival Skills for Visual Artists


ARTS 570Seminar in Personal Studio Research


ARTS 576MFA Thesis Preparation


ARTS 580MFA Thesis Research


ARTS 595MFA Thesis Exhibition


 Total Credit Hours:17.0

Elective Courses – 15 Credits Required


ARTS 504Ceramic Decoration


ARTS 506Ceramic Wheel: Masters' Throwing II


ARTS 507Plates and Platters


ARTS 509Throwing Large Forms


ARTS 512Eastern & Western Tech in Trimming


ARTS 517Dynamic and Asymmetrical Wheel


Handbuilding and Sculpture

ARTS 542Modeling the Figure


ARTS 545Large Scale and Composite Sculpture


Kiln Technology

ARTS 531Wood Firing Theory


ARTS 532Firing Large Scale Wood Kiln


ARTS 533Soda Firing Theory and Practice


Special Topics Courses

ARTS 520Photographing Ceramics


ARTS 547Creating with Porcelain


ARTS 590Teaching Assistant in Ceramic Arts

1.0 - 4.0

ARTS 599Special Topics in Ceramic Arts

1.0 - 3.0

Independent Study

ARTS 575Independent Study

1.0 - 3.0

Spring 2019 Workshops

January 10-13 ARTS 505 Ceramic Wheel: Masters' Throwing Concepts

2 Credits, TA 1, Joyce Michaud, Workshop Cost: $400.00  

An in-depth study of advanced throwing concepts designed to assist the student to cognitively understand the essence of clay, the broadcast potential of the medium and learn to respond to the forces affecting the movement of clay during the throwing process in a synthesis of skill, knowledge and artistic expression.


January 17-May 9, Thursdays 5-9PM ARTS 554: Modeling the Figure 

3Credits, TA 1, Kevin Rohde, Workshop Cost: $750.00

The study of structure, proportion and movement as seen in the human figure is key to the understanding and appreciation of balance, design and the interaction of objects within nature. An in-depth study of the figure in clay, including anatomy and articulation using the life and costumed model, and considerations for finishing and firing figurative work.


January 18,19 February 8,9 March 1,2,29,30 April 26,27 ARTS 543 History of Ceramic Arts   

3Credits, Joyce Michaud w/ Guest Lecturers, Workshop Cost: $750.00

A survey of the history of ceramic arts from its beginning through the present time in the context of the history of the people who made and used the wares The ways that these examples were made and their place in the history of ceramic technology will also be examined.


January 20, February 20, March 31, April 28ARTS 524 Clay Calculation, Theory and Practice

3Credits, TA 1, Matt Katz, Workshop Cost: $750.00

This course will explore the composition, properties and application of materials used in ceramics to aid in the development of clay bodies for pottery and sculpture.


January 25-27 ARTS 525 Electric Kilns

1Credit, TA 2, Taylor Pasquale, Workshop Cost:$225.00

An in-depth study of all aspects of modern electric kilns used for ceramics, including design, construction and materials, related supplies and equipment, loading procedures, operation, unloading, routine maintenance, diagnosis of common problems and repair, safety and selection criteria for choosing the appropriate kiln for different applications.


February 15-17 ARTS 520 Photographing Ceramics

1Credit, Carson Cottage, Tim Jacobsen, Workshop Cost: $225.00

The study of aesthetic considerations in photographing ceramic art and composition of the object as it relates to the camera frame. Students will develop a portfolio and slide library of personal works and images.


March 23-24ARTS 507 Plates and Platters

1 Credit, TA 1, Kristin Muller, Workshop Cost: $225.00

An in-depth study of the throwing and finishing plates and large platters, including structural strength concepts for low open forms, methods for centering, a variety of throwing techniques, information on finishing, firing and composition.


April 13, May 8-12, May 19 ARTS 532 Firing Large Scale Wood Kiln

3Credits, Instructor’s Residence, Kevin Crowe, Workshop Cost: $750.00

An in depth study in the history, theory, techniques and aesthetics of the long wood firing in a large single chamber or multi-chambered kiln, including in depth information covering all aspects of firing these large historic kilns and practical experience at each stage of the process.


Please contact Shauwney Anderson at andersonc@hood.edu or call 301-696-3621 to register for workshops.

Summer Term 1 2019

May 31-June 2ARTS 502 East Asian Wedged Coil Technique

1 Credit, TA 2, Joyce Michaud, Workshop Cost: $225.00

One of the most valuable methods for the construction of asymmetrical work, East Asian Wedged Coil Technique provides the greatest wet structural strength for clay sculpture. Learn coil making and building, and the advanced techniques of coil riveting, ribbing, bridging, boating and bracing for large and/or sculptural forms in clay.


June 7-9ARTS 599 Special Topics in Ceramic Arts

1 Credit, TA 1, Shiro Otani, Workshop Cost: $225.00

Selected topics courses, 1-3 credits, offer an opportunity for students to study specific ceramic art topics not included in the regular course offerings. Usually taught by guest artists, the selected topics courses provide a variety of directions and voices beyond the basic curriculum.


June 24-29ARTS 509 Throwing Large Forms

3 Credits, TA 1, Kevin Crowe, Workshop Cost: $750.00

The workshop will focus on the techniques and aesthetic perspective employed to produce large-scale pots. Participants will develop alternate methods to throw and center large pots. Throwing large allows a more elastic understanding of the relationship between object and the space it occupies.


Summer Term 2 2019

July 10-14ARTS 531 Wood Firing Theory

3Credits, Hodson Annex, Joe Delphia, Workshop Cost: $750.00

A study in wood firing with information on stoking patterns, heat rise and firing theory, wadding composition and placement, loading and stacking procedures, types of woods, stoking patterns; the effects of oxidation/reduction cycles and more will be covered. Full participation in all aspects of preparation and firing is required.


July 15-19, July 22-26 ARTS 508 Ceramic Sculpture

3 Credits, TA 2, Kevin Rohde, Workshop Cost: $750.00

Applied three-dimensional ceramic design and construction covering a variety of methods of hand-forming with clay to take a sculptural direction. Techniques include tile relief, eastern coil, slab construction, modeling the figure, the portrait bust, structural strength concepts for sculpture and firing considerations for sculptural forms.


August 1-4ARTS 505 Ceramic Wheel: Masters' Throwing Concepts 

2 Credits, TA 1, Kristin Muller, Workshop Cost: $400.00

An in-depth study of advanced throwing concepts designed to assist the student to cognitively understand the essence of clay, the broadcast potential of the medium and learn to respond to the forces affecting the movement of clay during the throwing process in a synthesis of skill, knowledge and artistic expression.


August 7-11ARTS 533 Soda Firing Theory                                                  

2Credits, Hodson Annex, Jenna Gianni, Workshop Cost: $400.00

A study in soda firing, presenting information on clay, slip and glaze for the soda firing, loading and stacking procedures, wadding, composition and placement, heat rise, the effects of oxidation/reduction firing cycles, and firing theory will be covered. Information on the history of soda firing, types of soda kilns and basic kiln construction, kiln maintenance, kiln furniture, heat measuring devices, and safety issues will also be covered.


Please contact Shauwney Anderson at andersonc@hood.edu or call 301-696-3621 to register for workshops.

Fall 2019 

September 11-15ARTS 530 Kiln Technology & Firing Theory 

2Credits, Hodson Annex, Matthew Gaddie, Workshop Cost: $400.00

A study in kiln stacking and firing procedures with concentration on atmospheric firings, types of kilns, fuels and basic kiln construction, firing, kiln maintenance and repair, kiln furniture, heat measuring devices and safety equipment.

Please contact Shauwney Anderson at andersonc@hood.edu or call 301-696-3621 to register for workshops.

Our advisory board...

provides support and assistance in the development of new programs, serves as ambassadors for our program and identifies best practice standards.

All Faculty

Chaz Martinsen

  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Ceramic Arts
  • Interim Director, Ceramic Arts