Critique Policy

Program Guide

Critique Police quick links:  Concept Summary | Crit Schedules | Work Presented | Artist Statement | Critique Procedure | Passing | Guests | Crit Appeals


Each student in the IMA Program must pass two formal critique sessions by presenting work to a panel comprised of three faculty members.

Members of the faculty panel will offer verbal evaluations of work presented. Students are encouraged to take notes of their feedback.  The purpose of these sessions is to offer supportive comments that will help students to effectively realize their creative and conceptual goals.  Students are encouraged to ask questions of the critique panel during the session.

The “First Crit” (formerly called Mid-Program Crit) comes after the completion of five production classes, and the “Second Crit” (formerly called End- of-Program Crit) comes after the completion of production classes. Upon completing the requisite number of production classes (five or ten), students may immediately participate in a critique session or choose to wait a semester before presenting their work at the relevant critique session.

A passing grade is required for a production class to count towards the relevant total needed for the First and Second Crits (and towards the MFA degree).  Any grade below a B- is considered a failing grade in the IMA Program.  Students are permitted to re-take a class in which they have received a failing grade.

Thesis Concept Summary

In order to participate in the Second Crit, students must first submit a Thesis Concept Summary (1-page) to the IMA Program Assistant at least a week before their scheduled crit.  The Second Crit Panel can provide feedback on the Thesis Concept, but the panel’s decision about whether the student passes the Second Crit is based solely on the work the student presents and not on the student’s Thesis Concept Summary.

See Thesis Guidelines for more information.

Crit Schedules

Each semester, Crits are held during the end of the semester.

Once a student decides to participate in the crits during a particular semester, the program schedules the session.  Students are intentionally assigned at random to a panel, compelling them to present and make a case for their work precisely to those who may be unfamiliar with them and their work – as is often the case outside the confines of an MFA program.

Work Presented

Students will select work to be presented to the crit panel. The student will present visual, sound and/or interactive media work at the crit session.  Written work over two pages must be submitted to the IMA Program Assistant at least one week before the crit session is scheduled, and will be considered, along with other work, during the session.

Students must present:

  • Work created since enrolling in the program;
  • A minimum of two pieces of work created in conjunction with an IMA class; and

Student may present:

  • Written work created as part of an IMA class; and
  • Additional work created while IMA students but not as part of a class.

With respect to collaborative work presented at a crit session, students must address the precise nature of their creative contribution to the project.

Artist Statement

At both Crits, students are required to provide the panel with a one-page written artist’s statement describing the work they are presenting, along with their social and aesthetic goals. The Artist Statement must be submitted to the IMA Program Assistant at least one week prior to their crit and in pdf form.

Critique Procedure

Students have twenty minutes to present work.  Students should begin with a brief summary of their artist’s statement and an overview of the work they will show.  When introducing each piece, students should indicate what course the work was completed for, what role the student had in its creation, along with the status of the piece (finished, work-in-progress, excerpt, etc.).

After the 20min of work is presented, the Crit Panel then has approx. twenty minutes to ask the student questions and to provide feedback.

Next, the student and all other guests in attendance (including IMA faculty not on the panel), leaves the room so that Crit Panel can deliberate.

Once the Crit Panel reaches a decision, the student is brought back into the room.  The panel Convener conveys the panel’s decision to the student, including specific feedback on the work presented and the presentation itself.

Each panelist will evaluate in writing the student’s presentation according to the following criteria:

  • Idea or ideas being presented: originality, poignancy, specificity, research.
  • Technical competency. Capacity to use tools in order to achieve creative objectives. (visual composition; sound design; writing; graphic elements, typography, etc., as applicable)
  • To what extent does this piece have a clear, identifiable voice? Is it consistent throughout? (as applicable)
  • Public relevance. Does the work speak effectively to an intended audience?
  • Ability to talk about and contextualize the work presented and its aims.

Overall Evaluation (Pass or Re-Present next semester):
The Convener collects the panelists written evaluations from the and writes a summary of them.  This written crit feedback is provided to the student by the beginning of the semester following the crit session, with a copy retained by the IMA Program office.


Passing the two crit sessions is a requirement of the program and, should the Crit Panel judge the student’s work to be unsatisfactory or incomplete, the panel will request that the student resubmit work during crit week the following semester.  Students who do not attend their scheduled critique session are counted as failing that session.

Students who have not passed the Second Crit but have finished with ten cluster workshops are encouraged to take additional workshops in order to refine and develop the quality of their work.  However, successful passage of the Second Crit is necessary in order to be approved to move forward with the Thesis Project.

Students may repeat the First and Second Crits up to two times each (for a maximum of three times in each category).  Students who fail to pass either critique session after three attempts will not be able to continue in the IMA Program.


Guests may attend crit presentations, but may not participate.  Students are encouraged to observe critique sessions.

Crit Appeals

Crit Panel decisions are only appealable when a student believes the panel made a procedural error, without which the student would have passed.  A procedural appeal must be submitted in writing to the IMA Director within two weeks of the Crit.  If the IMA Director, in consultation with the Graduate Committee, determines that the Crit Panel based its decision in part on a procedural mistake, the Director may either convene a new panel or retroactively pass the student for the Crit in question.  Examples of procedural errors include panelist confusion about the material a student is required to present, the panel not giving a student the prescribed time to present material, or a technical problem beyond the student’s control compromising the student’s presentation.

Students may not appeal Crit decisions based on their assertion that the panelists made errors of judgment.  In other words, matters of opinion are not appealable.