Master's programs - additional information

Application Deadline

January 15

Admission requirements

Applicants to the program are required to have a Bachelor's degree in Visual Arts (either a B.F.A., or a B.A. with major or specialization in Visual Arts), with a minimum B+ (75%) average in the last two years of study and an overall B (70%) average. Candidates with an Honours Bachelor's degree in another field may be accepted if they submit an exceptional portfolio.

Program requirements

To be eligible, the candidate should have:

  • a digital portfolio of 20 images representing their artistic practice;
  • a solid background in the history and theory of art, with a particular emphasis on contemporary art and art discourse, as demonstrated by the student's having completed at least 12 credits (4 courses) of Art History and Theory courses at the undergraduate level, with at least  9 of those credits (3 courses) in contemporary art. Incoming students may be required to take specific undergraduate Art History and Theory courses, in addition to their graduate level courses, if judged necessary by the Graduate Selection Committee. Students will be advised of this requirement at the time of their acceptance into the program;
  • at least a basic technical grounding in the visual and multi-media disciplines in which they will be working during their time in the program, as shown by the admission portfolio and/or undergraduate studies;
  • proficiency in one of the two official languages and at least a basic knowledge of the other language, which could be acquired in the first year of the program. Basic knowledge implies the ability to follow courses in both official languages; and
  • proof, as demonstrated by their portfolio and exhibition records, that they have  maintained an artistic practice for at least two years since completing undergraduate studies. This regulation may be waived for older students with outstanding records of artistic accomplishment.

Note: In compliance with University of Ottawa policy, students may choose to complete written assignments, examinations, and studio critiques in either English or French.

Documentation required for admission

The following documents are required for admission:

  • a letter of intent of no more than two pages outlining why you want to pursue graduate studies at the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa, how you anticipate the development of your practice over the course of the program, information on your background in the history and theory of art and any other relevant information;
  • an artistic statement (this should be about your artistic practise);
  • a detailed, up to date curriculum vitae outlining professional accomplishments including exhibitions, screening, installations, reviews of your work, grants and teaching background, if any.  It should indicate a minimum of 2 years of professional experience after completion of your undergraduate degree;
  • two confidential letters of recommendation with one letter from a professor familiar with your undergraduate studies and one from a professional arts, curator, art writer or administrator familiar with your work
  • all official undergraduate transcripts

All documents listed above must be sent to the following address:
Office of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Arts, c/o Graduate Programs - Visual Arts
55 Laurier Avenue East, Room 8159
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1N 6N5

  • a digital portfolio of 20 images representing your artistic practice

**NEW!!Submission of documents and digital portfolio:


Use the Department of Visual Arts online portal, SlideRoom, to digitally submit your portfolio.   You must create a user profile by visiting https://ottawauvisualarts.slideroom.com/

In this portal along with your images, you will be asked to submit a digital copy of your:

  • letter of intent
  • artistic statement
  • curriculum vitae

Important: letter of intent, artistic statement, and CV are required by the Office of Graduate Studies (hard copies) AND must be submitted electronically via SlideRoom

Admission selection process

Based upon documentation submitted to this point, applicants will be short-listed by a Graduate Selection Committee composed of all regular members of the Department. Application to the graduate program is a highly competitive process.  Applications are chosen based on not only quality or artistic productions to date, but also on academic potential.  Applicants on the short list may be interviewed (in person or by telephone conference call). This interview should demonstrate the candidates' proficiency in one of the two official languages Following the interview, up to six candidates will be recommended for admission, and three or four may be placed on a waiting list. The decisions of the selection committee are final

Degree requirements

The program requires six semesters (two years) to complete; the student's time in the program culminates in the preparation of a professional-level Thesis Presentation.

A total of 42 course credits are required:

  • Studio Production Courses (18 credits)
  • Theory Courses (12 credits)
  • Preparation for Thesis Presentation (12 credits)

The minimum passing grade in all courses is C+. A student who receives two failing grades (equivalent to six credits), or who fails the same course twice, is required to withdraw.

The program is governed by the General Regulations of the Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Curriculum

Studio production courses

Studio Production courses, in which students will pursue the development of their own artistic practice, will form the core of the MFA program.

All students in the program will enroll in one Studio Production course per semester, for a total of 30 Studio credits (taking into account the preparation for thesis presentation) over six semesters. Each Studio Production course will be taught by a different professor, giving students access to the varied background and experience of our faculty members. A jury of all regular professors and invited jury members will critique students' Studio Production course work at the end of each semester and participate in assigning student marks for the course.

First- and second-year MFA students will be enrolled together in Studio Production courses. Therefore, after the initial year of the program, 12 students working in various media will be enrolled in each semester's Studio Production course, providing the "critical mass" necessary for dynamic and challenging student interaction. Within this context, students will work in their chosen medium, or across mediums, to develop and deepen their individual artistic practice.

The students' work in the sixth semester of the program will consist of 12 credits of Studio practice, dedicated to preparing their Thesis Presentation, which is described below.

Theory courses

The theory courses of the proposed program will provide the basis for the contextualization of the student's personal studio work within contemporary art practice and discourse.

Students will enroll in two theory courses per academic year, for a total of 12 credits. These courses include a mandatory three-credit Professional Internship Theory course.

Theory courses will require research and written papers; the Internship course will require a written report of students' professional experience.

The thesis presentation

In order to graduate, students must fulfill all course requirements and prepare and present a professional-level thesis artistic project and written Support Paper.

In the sixth semester of the program, the student will work toward the Thesis Presentation under the guidance of his or her Thesis Presentation Supervisor, while registered in the activity entitled Preparation of the Thesis Presentation. Except under exceptional circumstances, thesis presentations must take place by the end of the semester during which the student is registered in this course. The student will present a written project proposal to the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee before being accepted into this activity, and will choose a Thesis Presentation Supervisor in consultation with the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee at the end of the student's second semester.

The Support Paper of approximately 25 pages will situate the student's artistic production within the context of historical and contemporary art practice and theory. Research for, and a preliminary draft of this paper will be undertaken in the fifth-semester theory course The Work of Art in Context. Refinements to the paper will be made as the thesis artistic project evolves, in consultation with the Thesis Supervisor. The Support Paper will also function as preparation for the oral defense given to the Thesis Presentation Jury.

The Thesis Presentation may take the form, for example, of an exhibition of paintings, photographs, or other works; a video production and public screening; the creation and diffusion of a web-based art work; or the production and presentation of a sound piece or multi-media installation. The public presentation of this art project will be followed by an oral defense before the Thesis Presentation Jury; the oral defense will outline the particulars and history of the student's research and demonstrate an awareness of current artistic activity within their discipline or sphere of activity.

Courses

S = Studio Courses, T = Theory Courses

1st year / Fall Session

ART 5961   INTEGRATED STUDIO I (3 cr.) S
Studio practice under the guidance of a professor. Participation in regular critiques, group discussions based on readings and presentations by visiting lecturers and visits to exhibitions, in order to develop a wide-ranging understanding of contemporary artistic practice and of issues arising within individual student work.

ART 5971   ART AND CULTURAL THEORY (3 cr.) T
Study of the principal modes of contemporary thought including structuralism, poststructuralism, postmodernism, post colonialism, feminism etc., and examination of their impact on artistic production and theory.

Winter Session

ART 5962   INTEGRATED STUDIO II (3 cr.) S
Studio practice under the guidance of a professor. Participation in critiques, group discussions based on readings and presentations by visiting lecturers and visits to exhibitions, in order to develop a wide-ranging understanding of contemporary artistic practice and of issues arising within individual work.

ART 5900  PROFESSIONAL INTERNSHIP (3 cr.) T
Internship at a museum, gallery, research council, archives site or other approved location. Evaluated by a professor based on the student's final written report, situating their professional internship experience within a theoretical framework. Graded S/NS. Duration: 150 hours. Prerequisite: A strong theoretical foundation in contemporary art and exhibition practice and written approval from the program.

Spring Session

ART 5063   INDEPENDENT STUDIO (6 cr.) S
Self-directed studio practice under the guidance of a professor. Students must have their project proposal approved at the beginning of the session and, at the end of the session, they must present their completed project to a jury of regular professors.

2nd year / Fall Session

ART 6964   ADVANCED STUDIO I (3 cr.) S
Studio practice with individual presentations and critiques, independent readings and research. Development of student artistic practice as well as of knowledge of the contemporary context within which the student's own artistic work is situated.

ART 6972   ART AND ITS MEDIATION (3 cr.) T
The mechanisms and processes for the distribution of works of art and their impact on viewer reception and interpretation: exhibitions, archives, documentation; the diffusion of art through print, visual and electronic media.

Winter Session

ART 6965   ADVANCED STUDIO II (3 cr.) S
Studio practice with individual presentations and critiques, independent readings and research.  Development of student artistic practice as well as of knowledge of the contemporary context within which the student's own artistic work is situated.

ART 6973 THE WORK OF ART IN CONTEXT (3 cr.) T
Examination of students' artistic production within the context of contemporary artistic practice and theory. Each student will work on the Support Paper to accompany their Thesis Presentation.

Spring Session

ART 7999   THESIS PRESENTATION (12 cr.) S
Under the direction of their Thesis Supervisor, students will complete their Thesis Presentation, and finalize preparations for its oral defense. The Thesis Presentation must take place by the end of the final session of registration in ART 7999. Details on the thesis presentation are provided on the program website.

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