Headlands Center for the Arts

Graduate Fellowships

Headlands Center for the Arts’ Graduate Fellowships provide meaningful support to recent, promising studio art MFA graduates, in partnership with esteemed Bay Area academic institutions. The program is unique in the country for addressing this critical juncture in an emerging artist’s career, giving aspiring post-grads opportunities for professional development and a chance to define their practice outside of the academic context.

Graduate Fellows receive private studio space; chef-prepared meals; public presentation opportunities, including participation in a culminating curated exhibition; and discounts on Headlands’ public events. Graduate Fellows are active participants in Headlands peer-to-peer-driven creative community and benefit from engagement with local, national, and international artists participating in Headlands artists’ programs.

These benefits and resources promote the program’s goals of: 

  • supporting recent MFA graduates as they transition from art school into professional life
  • helping to ensure that the Bay Area remains a supportive and vital creative home for emerging artists
  • creating a thriving cultural center for Bay Area artists to participate in a national and international creative community

Application and Award Period

The 2021-2022 program runs from August 1, 2021–July 18, 2022. Graduating students from participating MFA programs will receive application instructions in the spring semester of 2021. 

Headlands Center for the Arts is an equal opportunity institution that believes a diverse artist cohort is essential to our community. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds. 

Please make sure to review the following information about the program’s offerings, location, eligibility requirements, and selection process before applying.

Program Details

  • Award period: from August 1, 2021–July 18, 2022
  • 100–to 150-sq.-foot studio
  • Participation in Headlands Graduate Fellow exhibition
  • Facilities access:
    • Basic woodshop
    • Artists’ library with computers, scanner, and printer
    • Communal kitchen access and gathering space as COVID-19 restrictions allow
  • Up to seven artists in the program at a time
  • Engagement with Headlands Artist community
  • Chef-prepared meals
  • Participation in “Show and Tell” nights
  • Participation in seasonal Open Houses
  • Host one meeting with a representative or group from the Fellow’s graduating institution
  • Discounts on Headlands Public Events
  • Become part of Headlands Alumni Network


  • Applications are by nomination only
  • Nominations are limited to graduating MFA students from eight co-sponsoring institutions: California College of the Arts; Mills College; The San Francisco Art Institute; San Francisco State University; San José State University; Stanford University; UC Berkeley; and UC Davis

Selection Criteria

  • Quality of work
  • Applicant’s innovation, experimentation, and willingness to push disciplinary boundaries; readiness to develop practice further through participation in the program
  • Value applicant brings to the artist community at Headlands
  • Capacity of applicant to be an active participant in the program, including regular studio practice and artist community engagements
  • Practical fit between applicant’s practice and the technological and physical realities of Headlands’ historic facilities and campus set within a National Park:
    • A basic woodshop, letterpress, and limited tech and A/V equipment are the only technical resources on-site. There are no metal, ceramics, or other specialized facilities available
    • Wi-Fi in the studios is limited to email and basic browsing; internet-based practices are not feasible at this time
    • The studios are in close quarters, and as such artists are asked to be conscientious of chemical use and dust, and amplified sound is restricted
    • Alterations to the buildings and landscape, gathering of natural materials, or other artworks using Headlands’ campus or its surroundings might require special permits from the National Park Service, and may be prohibited due to impact on cultural and natural resources

Selection Process

  • Candidates are nominated by their department or school (consult your advisor or chair for each schools’ nomination process)
  • Nominees submit application materials to Headlands via SlideRoom
  • Submissions are reviewed by a jury of knowledgeable and esteemed artists and arts professionals
  • The jury evaluates each artist’s materials and selects finalists
  • Finalists are invited to present their work in a 20-minute, in-person interview to determine the final award selection