Table of Contents » Chapter 2 : Post Graduation » Chapter 2: Post Bac / Special Student Programs

Chapter 2: Post Bac / Special Student Programs

There are many different structures of Post-Bac programs offered by colleges and universities. Generally these types of programs are one year long and are for non-degree seeking student who have already been through an undergraduate program. A Post-Bac program can be a great way to transition back into an academic setting before applying for graduate school. It is also a great way to develop your portfolio for an MFA application under the guidance of someone who has already been through that process. It can also be a good option for someone transitioning out of graduate school.

There are two types of programs, an official “Post – Baccalaureate Certificate Program”, that has a unit requirement and a “Special Student Program”, which varies as much as the schools that offer it.

Information about a school’s Post-Bac program is best obtained from faculty at that institution. Ask specific questions about the structure and requirements of the program before applying.

Find some personal experiences with Post-Bac programs at the end of this page.

Post-Baccalaureate Programs with a Certificate:

University of Colorado, Boulder

University of Florida, Gainesville

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (note: Students can apply to both the MFA program and the Post-Bac. at the same time. If they don’t get accepted into the MFA their application is automatically bounced to the Post-Bac. review.)

Indiana University Southeast

Iowa State University

UMass Dartmouth, Program in Artisanry

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Oregon College of Art & Design

Nova Scotia College of Art and Design

Special Student / Post-Bac Situations by State:

















North Dakota



South Carolina






West Virginia


authors note: it has been my experience that the undergraduate programs in Canada are exceptionally strong: Alberta College of Art & Design, Emily Carr, Sheridan College by Toronto, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design to name a few, have absolutely superb curriculum and extremely intelligent students and high quality education.

Alberta, Canada

Nova Scotia, Canada

Personal Experiences:

Courtney Murphy

“After graduating college with a degree in Sociology, I moved to New York and took a Ceramics class at a local Ceramics center. There was a sign on the bulletin board about a young production potter looking for an assistant; she couldn’t pay anything, but in exchange for work I could have access to the studio.Read more...

Rob Geibel

“A post baccalaureate program is a wonderful opportunity for those looking to further develop their portfolio prior to graduate school while gaining some “real life,” experience. Read more...

Chandra DeBuse

“I completed a year of “special student status” at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I came to clay outside of academia and pursued it as a hobby for a number of years before seeking growth within an academic setting.Read more...

Matt Causey

“I did a post bac at Oregon College of Art and Craft. I went there because I wanted to learn how to soda fire and letter press. I had been applying to graduate schools for years and wasn’t getting in, so this was my alternate option. Read more...

Matthew McGovern

“I did post bac work, we liked the term “Special Student,” at UNL. It was a great year and if I were younger and not hell bent on going to Grad school I would have traveled the country doing it everywhere I could.Read more...