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.

Choose your program

4 years120 units
paints and palette

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.

To apply for the Bachelor of Fine Arts program you must submit a portfolio, as well as meet the general admission requirements. There are 2 steps to the application process for the Bachelor of Fine Arts Program. You must complete both steps to be eligible. You must apply to the university via the OUAC website (click the red How to Apply button above) AND you must submit a portfolio.

The application deadline is April 1st for the Fall session of that year. This is the deadline for both your application in OUAC and your portfolio submission in SlideRoom. There are no January admissions. We encourage applicants to apply early. You can begin creating your portfolio in SlideRoom as early as October 1st.

Course sequence

Program structure

42 units
students visual arts

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.

The yearly application deadline is June 1st for the Fall session of that year. There are no January admissions.

Course sequence

Program structure

Grad Show

The Bachelor of Fine Arts graduation exhibition or "Grad Show" is an annual tradition where BFA students take their first steps toward a professional career as practicing artists. At the end of each academic year, Bachelor of Fine Arts students who are completing their programs organize and host a week-long exhibition in the Department of Visual Arts building located at 100 Laurier Avenue East. 

The exhibition showcases works in all mediums created by graduating students that best reflect not only the rigour of each artist’s distinct practice, but also the warm relationship they share as collaborators and colleagues.

Please note that the graduation exhibition is exclusive to students who have pursued their studies in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. Students who are enrolled in the Major in Visual Arts program are not eligible to participate in the graduation exhibition and if they wish to do so it is recommended that they consider switching programs, from the Major in Visual Arts to the Bachelor of Fine Arts. For more information please contact [email protected] .

grad show

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Scholarships and Bursaries

Our scholarship program is one of the most generous in the country. It rewards not only your pre-university academic achievements, but also your achievements every term of full-time study at University. A scholarship is awarded for academic achievements while a bursary is awarded based on financial need.
Discover our Schorlarships and Bursaries and learn how to apply.
Patrons in the art gallery

The Department of Visual Arts

The Department of Visual Arts offers four undergraduate and two graduate programs that respond to your various interests and needs: a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), a Major in Visual Arts, a Major and a Minor in History and Theory of Art, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) as well as a Master of Contemporary Art Theory.
Learn more about the department.
Students walking on campus

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