MFA also stands for Master of Fine Arts. With a few exceptions, such as the Doctor of Music degree, the MFA is the highest available degree in the field of fine arts (which include music, dance, drama, creative writing, art, and the like). MFA programs focus on the creation of art rather than on its analysis, so they often require the completion of a portfolio, performance, or composition in lieu of a thesis. Some programs even involve apprenticeship to a skilled artisan; for example, creative-writing programs might hire well-established writers (such as Orson Scott Card and Kurt Vonnegut) to teach some of their classes.

Job prospects for MFAs vary tremendously and largely depend on the skill of the student rather than the quality of the program. This fact leads some students to wonder why they should bother with the degree at all. In reality, though, MFA programs aren't intended to teach neophytes how to write or act or dance or paint; rather, they provide a forum in which good students can devote time to their craft and receive feedback from other experienced artists.