The University of New Mexico's photography program was one of the first MFA programs in photography in the country, awarding its first degrees in 1968.
Under the direction of Clinton Adams, who served as the Dean of the College of Fine Arts from 1961-1976, the photography studio art and history of photography programs began to take shape at both the undergraduate and graduate level during the 1960s. The University Art Museum's collection of photographs grew substantially under the leadership of Van Deren Coke, who was hired to be the chair of the Art department and the first director of the museum in 1962; the museum now maintains one of the most significant collections of photographs housed at a public university in this country.
Beaumont Newhall, photo historian and author of the seminal textbook The History of Photography, was hired in 1971, and contributed significantly to the development of the graduate program in the history of photography. The studio faculty during the 1970s expanded to include Wayne "Rod" Lazorik, Tom Barrow, and Betty Hahn. Patrick Nagatani was hired in 1986 and taught until his retirement in 2001. See Emeritus Faculty page. The curriculum was rewritten in the late 1990s to include color and digital photography. Recent and current faculty include Adrienne Salinger (1997- present), Jim Stone (1998-present), Joyce Neimanas (2004-2010), Jocelyn Nevel (2001-2005), Patrick Craig Manning (2006-present), and Meggan Gould (2012-present). See Current Faculty page.
The structure of the MFA program has changed substantially since the program began. Until 1996, a thesis body of work constituted the MA; an MFA was awarded after a student had completed a 100-page dissertation of original research. These requirements were changed in 1996, and the MFA is awarded on the basis of a solo exhibition, a catalogue, and a public talk (see MFA degree requirements).