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Our Visual Art Graduate Program offers a vibrant community of artists and art historians engaged in research, theory and contemporary art practices—providing graduate students with an educational experience that will be intense, rewarding and productive. Both the MFA and PhD programs have an established history of contributing to the contemporary Canadian art scene. Our students are recipients of numerous awards, and a significant number of our alumni continue achieving national and international success as artists, curators and educators.

The MFA in Visual Art 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 across these media. Students independently pursue research that is relevant to their art studio work.

Set within a university context, the MFA in Visual Art 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 Art faculty, other York University faculty members, guest artists, curators and critics also support the development of students’ projects.

Applicants to the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program should hold an Honours degree in Visual Art, 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.

The Schulich School of Business and the Graduate Programme in Visual Art offer a three-year combined programme leading to both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Fine Arts degree.

The combined MFA/MBA degree programme offers students a unique opportunity to study. Graduates of this highly challenging programme will follow career paths in which knowledge of the arts and of management and business are required.

The MFA/MBA programmes complement each other in focus and offer excellent preparation for those interested in management careers in the arts and cultural sector.

The PhD in Visual Art is a practice-based program of study in which individually defined conceptual foci are materialized and disseminated through the integration of artworks, research and writing. Research questions in this context are focused on visual art, as well as other areas of scholarly investigation that are defined by candidates as relevant to their studio interests.

Inaugurated in 2008, the PhD in Visual Art is a four year full–time advanced degree that will prepare mature artist–researchers with the highest qualifications to teach studio and theory courses, supervise graduate students within a university context, and have significant professional careers as artists. These objectives are achieved through a combination of coursework, independent studio practice, and writing.

Courses are completed in the first two years, taken in the program and in the university at large, Students complete a comprehensive exam that is based on a self–curated exhibition in the second year and write a dissertation proposal by the end of the second summer (term 6) of the program. They must defend a dissertation in the form of a significant solo exhibition, accompanied by a substantial dissertation research support paper that amplifies and contextualizes the theme(s) in their studio work. Students’ scholarly/creative research is supported by a committee composed of faculty and art world professionals. Students must demonstrate maturity in research as recognized by the academic sector as well as by their peers in the art community.



VAAH ARTSPACES is our online gallery for showcasing the work of graduate and undergraduate students in the Visual Art & Art History Program.

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Image from Gales Gallery


Gales Gallery and the Special Project Gallery on our campus offer students the opportunity to gain installation experience, experiment with presentation techniques, and share their work with a broader audience.

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Photo of Waymark: 2020 MFA Visual Art Digital Publication

Waymark: 2020 MFA Visual Art Digital Publication

An anthology which brings together the creative and critical Visual Art thesis work of our 2020 MFAs.

Digital Publication (.pdf) (.PDF

Experience us 24/7, 365 from anywhere around the world.

Peek inside our galleries and art studios, including the largest university sculpture studio in Canada.

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The Graduate Program in Visual Art at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Graduate Program Assistant to learn more.