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Graduate Program in Visual Arts

MFA Master of Fine Arts - Visual Arts

The MFA in Visual Arts is a five term studio-centred program in which students independently develop an art practice, guided by faculty advisors who share their practice/theory interests. Seminars, guest lectures and critiques provide an environment of critical and theoretical enquiry that reflects contemporary debates in art and culture. No emphasis is placed on any one medium. Drawing, painting, performance, photography, print media, sculpture and time-based art (performance, video, audio, time-based installation, interactive media) are represented and often students’ practices cross these media. Students independently pursue research that is relevant to their art studio work.

Set within a university context, the MFA in Visual Arts seeks to provide students with the ability to think rigorously about their art practice and its relation to society as a whole. Along with Visual Arts faculty, other York University faculty members, guest artists, curators and critics also support the development of students’ projects.

Degree Requirements:


Students complete their degree by exhibition and thesis support paper.



All first year students must successfully complete three half courses in contemporary theory and criticism: Visual Arts 5600 3.0: Contemporary Theory in the Visual Arts in term one (fall), Visual Arts 5610 3.0: Theoretical Issues in Contemporary Art in term two (winter), and Visual Arts 6020 3.0: Contemporary Visual Arts Summer Institute in term three (summer).


All first and second year students must complete: a combined PhD/MFA Graduate Seminar: Visual Arts 5620/5640 3.0 (the seminar is taken twice, as 5620 in term one and 5640 in term four); and Visual Arts 5650 3.0 Methods in Practice-Based Research in term two.

In the second year of the program, MFA students in Visual Arts engage in independent studio research and work with a supervisory committee composed of two faculty members from the program who are most able to address the students’ research needs, concerns and goals, as well as an outside member. This second year supervisory committee supervises the preparation of the thesis exhibition and thesis support paper and acts as part of the committee for the final oral examination.


Students are given a private studio at York during the five terms of the degree.


Thesis Exhibition and Support Paper:

To graduate, each student must present a final solo thesis exhibition and a support paper 20 to 50 pages in length. At the final oral examination, both the art works and the written paper are defended.


Minimum Time to Completion:

Fall intake only - Five full-time terms

Year 1: fall, winter and summer

Year 2: fall and winter


For more information about admission, and faculty of graduate studies regulations, click here.

The deadline to apply is: Jan. 11, 2019. Apply now

Requests for further information should be addressed to