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Graduate Program in Visual Arts

How to Apply


MFA Admission Requirements:

Applicants to the Master or Fine Arts (MFA) program should hold an Honours degree in Visual Arts, or equivalent, from a recognized university with a minimum of B standing to be considered for admission. Artists lacking formal academic qualifications, but showing exceptional promise and accomplishment through their portfolios, may be recommended for admission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

In addition to meeting the regular requirements for admission to the University, an applicant must successfully pass an evaluation based on a portfolio.

The MFA program is designed to assist students in developing individualized art practice. Candidates are selected on the strength of their work as artists: their maturity, creative achievement, and indication of an ability to deal with critical and creative challenges with insight and clarity. The applicant's work and other documents are examined by two faculty in the graduate program and one graduate student representing the studio area of the applicant's primary choice. On the advice of this committee, recommendations for admission are forwarded to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Total MFA program enrolment is limited to 18 students, with only 8-10 candidates admitted into the the first year of the program (fall intake only). On average, about 125 students qualify to compete for these positions each year.


PhD Admission Requirements:

Application to the PhD program requires an MFA with a minimum B average, or an MA with studio concentration, as well as presentation of a portfolio of works and a writing sample (MFA thesis paper or comparable peer-reviewed article). Selection committees to adjudicate the submissions are composed of graduate faculty.

The PhD in Visual Arts is a program for advancing artists who already have a significant body of work. These terms refer to their level of interest in and commitment to the development of research methods for exploring questions related to their practice. We treat the visual arts as a broad field of study and practice that has various specializations within it. Applicants to the PhD program identify the specializations most pertinent to their work.

Proficiency in written and spoken English is required.


Application Procedures:


An application to the MFA and PhD Visual Arts program at York University includes several components:

  • 20 images of recent work on CD/DVD, identified with the applicant’s name and accompanied by an information sheet corresponding to the works presented which gives the title, medium, size and date of each work. This sheet should also clarify whether/how the works are kinetic, installation, performative, computational, etc.. Video, film and electronic media may require a written synopsis for long works, and the role of the applicant in the production should be clear. CD/DVD material is mailed (see below).
  • PhD applicants submit a writing sample.
  • A self-addressed stamped envelope for the return of materials.    


The following are part of the on-line application process (see below):

  • A written statement of intent (200 to 500 words) which includes a final paragraph on the applicant’s proposed studio research if admitted to the program. This statement is a significant aspect of the application since applicants need to be able to express themselves in a coherent written form, and demonstrate an interest in contextualizing their personal research within contemporary critical debates on art.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Two academic letters of recommendation.
  • Academic transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended.


Note: The program cannot accept responsibility for materials lost or damaged.


The portfolio submission must be post-marked no later than the application deadline specified in the application provided by the Graduate Admissions Office.

Application Package

Application is on-line. See Faculty of Graduate Studies website

Supplementary documents (e.g. CD/DVDs, writing sample) should be mailed to:

Graduate Admissions Office, P.O. Box GA2300, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3.

Requests for further information should be addressed to

Applications for 2015 admission are no longer being accepted.  Applications for fall 2016 are available online at

The deadline for applications to the MFA and PhD program is: January 13, 2016.

Guidelines for Submitting Digital Support Material


Submit PC-compatible files only

Submit jpg files only

Submit files at a resolution of 72 dpi only

Submit files of a maximum of 1024 x 768 pixels (height must not exceed 768 pixels)

Submit files of 1MB maximum

Submit RGB, sRGB or grayscale colour mode files only (no CMYK)

Title each file (image) with a number, your initials , the year and title of your work

Save images directly on the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM without creating folders

Mark each CD-ROM or DVD with your name

For Video Files:

Submit file that can be accessed with one of the following plug-ins: QuickTime, RealPlayer, Shockwave, Windows Media Player or Flash



Do not submit slides

Do not submit MAC files that are not fully PC compatible

Do not submit any type of presentation (such as PowerPoint)

Do not submit compressed files

Do not include hyperlinks to Internet sites with your images

Do not submit material that requires software, plug-ins, extensions, or other executables that need to be    downloaded or installed

Do not submit any files by email

Test your material before submission to ensure that it is formatted correctly.  It is your responsibility to ensure that all material reaches the Admissions office intact and in a readable format.


Click here to apply online


Check your application status in MyFile.