MFA program allows students to earn three degrees and study in London

Being surrounded by beautiful art museums, ancient buildings steeped in history and iconic landmarks known around the world may sound like a vacation, but it’s actually part of Liberty’s newest graduate program in partnership with Richmond American University London. With the first-of-its-kind London Experience graduate program, Liberty offers students the chance to expand their education in an unparalleled way — all the way across the pond. 

Through the London Experience, set to begin in the fall of 2023, students will have the opportunity to earn graduate degrees in either graphic design or studio art. They will graduate the program with a master of fine arts degree from Liberty and two master of arts degrees — one accredited in the U.S. and one accredited in the U.K. 

The program starts with one year of study at Liberty before moving to the second year of study in London at Richmond American University London. The following summer will be used for the student’s thesis and internship, and he or she will wrap up in the fall with one more semester at Liberty. Additionally, students will still be eligible for work in the U.K. through their visas for two years after their year of study in London. 

The year in London will essentially be substitution for the art history course normally involved in a graduate program for the arts. According to Professor David Meyer, faculty program advisor for the London Experience, the wide array of opportunities in London to be immersed in history and culture is one of the biggest benefits of the program. 

“Learning about something in the textbook is one thing, but going and seeing these pieces of art and experiencing the museums and hearing the context really brings it to life in a way that just being in the classroom and being told about it doesn’t do,” Meyer said. 

Meyer has been working with Dom Alessio, professor of history and vice president of international programmes at Richmond American University London, since 2018 to coordinate studying abroad programs between the two universities. The first trip was supposed to be a hybrid study abroad trip over the summer of 2020, but COVID brought those plans to a halt for two years. During that time, the idea of the London Experience was born. 

“I am passionate about networking and the opportunities it can open up and create for students,” Meyer said. 

The goal of this program, according to Meyer, is to give students experiences that will deepen their understanding of the industry, but also expand their perspectives of life. 

“I hope it opens up their eyes to a deeper need that the world has. … I want to give students the most opportunities within our field and set Liberty graduates apart from other candidates, but also create a program that enriches their lives and hopefully other peoples’ lives through it,” Meyer said. 

For students on the fence about whether the program might be right for them, Meyer asserts that this is one of the best options as far as study abroad programs go. There is no language barrier, and London is a well-connected city with lots of resources for learning. Plus, college is one of the most opportune times to travel without many of the commitments that can hold people back in later stages of life. 

“Generally, you’re not married, you don’t have kids, you don’t have a full-time job, so it’s a lot easier to go and do something like this,” Meyer said. 

To apply for the program, students can apply to the graphic design or studio arts MFA programs and then reach out to Meyer for more information. He encourages students to step out and pursue this experience that could be life-changing. 

“That’s something that can kind of propel you your whole life. Your experience from (going abroad) can help you earn confidence and just a different perspective to travel through life with,” Meyer said.

Campbell is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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