Our programs take you on an exploration of the visual arts, with a special emphasis on contemporary creation. Both programs include compulsory practical and theoretical courses designed to encourage creation and reflection. The department provides photography and media art labs (CoFab), as well as spacious painting, drawing and sculpture studios. Based in the heart of Ottawa, you will also have access to a wealth of artistic venues such as the National Gallery of Canada and the Ottawa Art Gallery. In addition, you will train under nationally and internationally recognized artists, curators, art historians and theorists. While maintaining its focus on traditional disciplines (drawing, painting, sculpture and photography), the department also encourages and helps you to discover new media and technologies in the visual arts.
Bachelor of Fine Arts
The four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is geared to original forms of expression associated with artistic production in the new millennium. While maintaining the traditional disciplines (drawing, painting, sculpture and photography), the Department also extends its teaching to new technologies (media arts). This program is composed of practical (studio) and theoretical courses (in the History and Theory of Art) that encourage both creation and reflection on the Visual Arts. This is a fundamental program that prepares you for a career as a visual artist or within other cultural industries, such as museums, galleries as well as governmental, provincial and municipal agencies.
Major in Visual Arts
The Major in Visual Arts allows you to have the same range of course experiences as the BFA– including compulsory practical and theoretical courses but offers a greater number of electives, so that you might pursue a broader range of interests. Majors can combine their degree with either a Minor or a second Major. It is an excellent preparation if you wish to pursue careers in such fields as Fine arts education, project or communications officer in artistic organizations, artist agent, conservator, or curator.
How to Apply
Students applying for the Bachelor of Fine Arts program must submit a portfolio, as well as meet the general admission requirements of the Faculty of Arts (Major in Visual Arts program does not require the submission of a portfolio). To learn more about the portfolio submission process please see the information below. For more information about the application process to the Faculty of Arts please visit the links below:
When is the application deadline for admission to Visual Arts?
The yearly application deadline is April 1st for the Fall session of that year. There are no January admissions in Visual Arts.
Submission of Digital Portfolio
- Since the selection process for the Visual Arts programs is very competitive all applicants must submit this portfolio.
- A portfolio is a collection of artwork, ideas, sketches, and artistic research material. A portfolio can be as individual as the person who created it, there is no single formula for the perfect portfolio. We want to see what you think about, how you solve problems, what your abilities are, and how you communicate your ideas. You should submit your best and most recent works that reflect your personal interests, your intellectual capacities, and your creative passions.
- Use the Department of Visual Arts online portal, , to digitally submit your portfolio. You must create a user profile by visiting .
Submit 15 digital images of completed artwork, of which 7 show self-initiated projects. Please consider creating your self-initiated artwork in response to the themes or concepts listed below. Self-directed projects or artwork should not be generated from a school assignment. They should be conceived of and executed by you with no outside influence.
Possible subjects/concepts for self-initiated projects:
- Space Movement
- Urban environment
- Social/political issues
- Circulatory systems
- Life’s dilemmas
- Files must be in JPEG, GIF or PNG format
- Individual image files must not exceed 5MB
- Video, performance videos and sound works must not exceed 3 minutes
- Video files must be in WMV, FLV, or MOV format
- Video files must not exceed 60MB
- Audio files must be in MP3 format
- Audio files must not exceed 10MB.
In addition the 15 images discussed in section 3.1, submit 5 digital images of recent sketches, ideas, experiments, or other explorations from your sketchbooks. You may present multiple pages or sketches in a single image. Digital images of artwork must meet the above criteria.
- The University of Ottawa’s Department of Visual Arts uses as an online digital portfolio submission portal.
- You must visit and create a user profile by providing a current e-mail address, street address and phone number.
- We strongly recommended that you start building your online portfolio as early as possible and access your account often to add and replace images review the order in which your works appear, your image quality and other considerations.
- Once you are logged in, you may view a brief video tutorial on how to use the portal
- You may upload images and videos at any time.
- will allow you to edit and modify your portfolio until the deadline. After that date, SlideRoom will automatically suspend submission. You can visit and build your portfolio in SlideRoom as often as you like leading up to the deadline. Once you click on the submit button, you will no longer be able to make changes. REMEMBER: You must click the submit button if you want us to review your portfolio. Incomplete portfolios will not be reviewed.
- There is a US $30 administration fee for digital portfolio submission, payable upon completion by major credit or debit card through ’s secure website.