Student holding a big canvas

Visual arts - Graduate Studies

The University's Department of Visual Arts is located in Ottawa's downtown core, home to many of Canada's most influential and dynamic art institutions.

The Department is within walking distance of the National Gallery of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank Gallery, the Ottawa Art Gallery, SAW Video and the Karsh-Masson Gallery, as well as the Canadian Museum of Nature. Located close by are the Canadian Museum of History, and Library and Archives Canada, and across the river in Gatineau, Québec, AxeNéo7 Gallery and Daïmôn media arts center. These and other National Capital Region art venues feature outstanding collections, high-profile exhibitions, stimulating artists’ presentations and lecture series, and first-class research facilities.  

The Department’s adjunct professors include directors and curators of these important museums, galleries, and archives, as well as some of Canada's most outstanding art practitioners, critics, and historians

Master of Fine Arts

Application Deadline: February 1st

The University of Ottawa's Department of Visual Arts offers a Master's in Fine Arts (MFA).

In this bilingual two-year program students work within a variety of artistic practices, from photography and media arts to sculpture, painting and drawing, video and installation art. They take an in-depth look at theories informing contemporary art and image culture, and choose between an interdisciplinary studio approach or specializing in a single medium.

In order to ensure our students high-quality instruction, the program has limited enrolment: only six candidates are admitted per year and twelve candidates are in the program at any given time.

The program is for students wishing to study full-time only.

Generous bursaries and teaching assistantships are provided for students with appropriate academic and professional achievements.

Studio Practice and Theoretical Investigation

At the core of the MFA program is the student’s engagement in intensive Studio practice, supported by the technical and conceptual expertise and critical feedback of faculty members, who are practicing professional artists in both traditional disciplines and in art practices that have developed in response to new imaging technologies. Each Studio Production course is taught by a different professor of the Department, giving students access to the varied backgrounds and experience of our faculty.

Each MFA student is provided with their own individual artist’s studio, and enjoys access to the Department’s state-of-the-art technical facilities, including painting and sculpture studios, darkrooms, digital and 3-D printing laboratories.

Theory courses provide exposure to contemporary artistic and cultural discourse, and the basis for students’ contextualization of their personal studio work within current art practice and theoretical investigation. Students enrol in two Theory courses per academic year; the Professional Internship course, in which students have the opportunity to work at one of the many art institutions in the region, or with a professional artist, is a distinctive feature of our program.  Art History and Theory faculty members and adjunct professors of the Department are actively involved in research and publishing as well as in curatorial projects, in the areas of art and gender, transnational and post-colonial studies in art, critical questions in museology, the archive in contemporary art practice, among others. 

To see Final Thesis Exhibitions and other works by past graduates and current candidates visit our web page here:   and our Instagram: @visualartsuo

Interested candidates are invited to contact Professor Penny Cousineau-Levine, Graduate Program Director for more information: [email protected] , 613-562-5800 ext. 8745.

Extended Application Deadline: February 1st

Master of Contemporary Art Theory (MA)

  • Coursework (12 months)
  • Coursework + research paper (12 months) 
  • Full-time enrolment
  • In-person courses
  • September start 

This one-year master’s program connects contemporary visual arts to urgent issues, such as decolonization, environmental crises, gender and representation, as well as capitalist disparity viewed through critical theory, feminism, materialism, and formalism. The program emphasizes the role of art institutions in the dissemination of art and culture, and provides links to the contemporary art world. Graduates of the program move on to work as curators, researchers, community liaison officers, archivists, writers, or design specialists.

The Department will assist you in setting up a 12-week, part-time internship with a renowned art institution in the nation’s capital, such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Ottawa Art Gallery, or the City of Ottawa Public Art Program, during which you will acquire behind-the-scenes experience in the heritage and culture industry. Through shared classes with MFA students, you will gain experience working with practicing artists and exploring their perspectives.

The Ottawa-Gatineau region boasts seven major national museums, several smaller museums, and dozens of galleries. The relationships between the Department and these art institutions will foster your interactions with curators and collections, and help you build your network.

Contact us

Department of Visual Arts

100 Laurier Avenue E.
Room 110
Ottawa ON Canada K1N 6N5

Tel.: 613-562-5868
Fax: 613-562-5137
[email protected]

Office hours

Monday to Friday
From 8:15 a.m. to 12 p.m.
From 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
(June to August: closed at 3:30 p.m.)