Student holding a big canvas

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Master of Fine Arts

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. 

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.

Partnership with the Ottawa Art Gallery


The Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa has an ongoing partnership with the Ottawa Art Gallery. Each year, the MFA candidates who successfully complete the requirements of their program work on a collaborative exhibition with OAG's curators and staff, where curators and artists work together to build an experience that best reflects not only the rigour of each artist’s distinct practice, but also the warm relationship they share. Through this partnership, the works of the MFA graduates meet with the audiences in a professional museum setting.

MFA Candidates and Alumni

How to Apply

1) OUAC Application

Submit an admission application to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) and pay the application fees to OUAC. Important: the supporting documents cannot be uploaded via that platform.

2) Upload of Documents in uoZone

Once the University of Ottawa receives your admission application from OUAC, you will be given access to uoZone, a portal into which you will be able to upload your CV, letter of intent (see the information below) and transcripts (post-secondary education).

3) Additional Upload of Documents via SlideRoom

 Sign up for an account in SlideRoom (some fees apply). Of note, this portal will be available from early-mid December to February 1st inclusive. Once your account has been created, you will be asked to upload your:

  • Digital portfolio (20 images).
  • Artistic resume (should show evidence of professional, peer-adjudicated exhibition history)
  • Letter of intent In a document of 500-750 words, outline 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, provide information on your background in the history and theory of art, and any other relevant information.
  • Artist Statement, in a concise statement of 500-750 words, describe your artistic practice. You may wish to describe your conceptual or material interests, refer to related pictorial traditions or theoretical frameworks, explain the nature of artistic inquiries or expressions, etc.
  • And to provide the contact information of two references in SlideRoom.

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

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Graduate programs and opportunities

Distinguish your professional or academic profile at one of Canada’s top 10 research institutes. The University of Ottawa’s diverse range of programs allows you to choose a formula that improves your employment prospects and fits your lifestyle.
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Contact us

Department of Visual Arts

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

Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext.: 3735
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.)