Visual and Critical Studies
Study art history in the place art and design is made at Canada’s biggest art and design university. Our program is unique, in that you also get to take studio courses and make art and design yourself.
The program emphasizes the expanded field of modern and contemporary art history, which includes design, photography, architecture, performance and new media, as well as painting and sculpture.
You can choose from 90 visual culture courses and 80 courses in English, humanities, social sciences and science/technology. You’ll have an opportunity to choose from a range of minors, such as Indigenous Visual Culture and Digital Futures, as well as minors in English, Creative Writing and Social Science.
You will be taught by internationally recognized scholars in the fields of art, design and new media who are active in the fields of curating and publishing. And, you’ll have the opportunity to participate and publish in the Visual and Critical Studies student-driven publication, the Journal of Visual and Critical Studies.
At the end of this four-year program, you will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
- For Ontario high school students, a minimum overall average of 70%
- Writing sample
- Statement of Intent
- Official transcripts
- Other requirements
Studio-Based Degree Program Admission Requirements
- All offers of admission to OCAD U's studio-based degree programs, the Bachelor of Design (BDes) and the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) are based on the strength of the applicant’s portfolio and are conditional upon meeting the minimum academic requirements and supplying all required documentation as outlined below.
- After you apply, you will be notified by email of the details for submitting your portfolio for assessment. Information on portfolio preparation and tips for your submission can be found at Preparing a Portfolio.
Non-Studio Degree Program Admission Requirements
Admission to the Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies is based on a combination of a review of the written assignment and your academic records. Applicants to the BA in Visual and Critical Studies are required to submit the following to be considered for admission:
- Statement of Intent
- Original writing sample responding to an assigned topic provided by OCAD U
- Official transcripts
After you apply you will be notified by email of the exact dates and deadlines for you to submit your supplemental application materials, the topic for the writing sample and when you will need to meet the academic entrance requirements.
Academic Entrance Requirements
Official transcripts (unless collected and submitted through the OUAC), English language proficiency test results (if required) and supporting documents should be mailed directly from the institution attended or the testing center to the Admissions & Recruitment office at OCAD U's main address. The following academic requirements must be met to complete the admission process.
For Ontario Secondary School applicants:
- Successful completion of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD)
- Grade 12 U English (ENG4U or EAE4U) with a minimum final grade of 70%
- A total of at least six Grade 12 U or M level courses (including ENG4U or EAE4U) with a minimum overall academic average of 70%
Please note: if your first language is not English and you have not completed at least four consecutive years of high school in an English-medium school system you are also required to submit successful English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) results in addition to ENG4U.
For Canadian high school applicants from outside Ontario:
- Graduated high school
- Equivalent of 70% minimum average in university preparatory courses
- Senior level academic English course minimum final grade of 70% and/or equivalent test
Please note: if your first language is not English and you have not completed at least four consecutive years of high school in an English-medium school system you are required to submit successful English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) results in addition to Grade 12 English (or equivalent).
For International high school applicants: Secondary School Graduation equivalent to Grade 12 in Ontario with an overall average of B or 70% numeric equivalent in the final year and:
- If you are applying from a country or school system with English as the official language of instruction, a minimum grade of B or 70% numeric equivalent in English 12 or equivalent course is required.
- If you are applying from a country or school system with a language other than English as the official language of instruction, OR if your first language is not English and you have not completed at least four consecutive years of high school in an English-medium school system, you are required to present the successful results of an English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT).
All international students must have a valid Study Permit/Student Visa before registering at OCAD U. We strongly recommend that you apply for your study permit as soon as the offer of admission is received.
- International Baccalaureate (IB): The admission average for an IB Diploma applicant is generally calculated on 3 Higher Level and 3 Standard Level subjects. A minimum final score of 24 points is required. IB English must be included as one of these courses with a final grade of 4 or higher. Transfer credit may be awarded to students who achieve a grade of at least 5 in Higher Level IB courses that are approved as equivalent to OCAD U courses.
- Please Note: Applicants not completing the full IB Diploma must provide official transcripts and proof of Secondary School Graduation equivalent to Grade 12 in Ontario with an overall average of B or 70% numeric equivalent in the final year and satisfy English entrance requirements.
- Advanced Placement (AP) Courses: OCAD U recognizes the value of AP courses and will take successful completion of these courses into consideration when assessing academic requirements. Transfer credit may be awarded to students who achieve a grade of 4 or higher in courses that are approved as equivalent to OCAD U courses.
- British Pattern Curriculum: Applicants must provide proof of completion of the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE/IGCSE) with five O-Level subjects with a minimum C grade or better as well as General Certificate of Education Advanced or Advanced Supplementary Levels (GCE-A or GCE-AS) with at least two A-Levels or four AS-Levels. A minimum grade of C in each A/AS-Level is required. English at the A-Level or AS-Level is recommended but must at least be completed at the O-Level.
- Non-traditional Applicants: To be considered as a Mature Applicant, you must be at least 20 years of age by September 1 of the year of intended enrolment and not engaged in formal education for at least two years. Satisfactory proof of proficiency in English (a course or a test) is required of all applicants.
- NEW: OCAD University has established a partnership with the Academic Bridging Program at the University of Toronto's Woodsworth College. OCAD U will now accept successful completion of the Academic Bridging Program as equivalent to meeting the requirements for entry and will grant Liberal Arts & Science transfer credits to students entering via that pathway.
- For Transfer Applicants (students coming from another university or college): Please visit our Transfer Pathways section.
- Statement on Offers of Admission: Admission to an undergraduate degree program at OCAD University is based primarily on the review of an applicant’s portfolio/supplemental application materials which indicates an applicant’s suitability for and ability to be successful within the program applied to. Admission to OCAD University is competitive; meeting minimum academic entrance requirements does not guarantee admission. Final decisions on matters of admission rest within the Undergraduate Admissions Office. All admission decisions are final and are not subject to appeal.
- Statement on Application Fraud: It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that application information and all supporting documentation is truthful, complete and correct. OCAD University reserves the right to verify any information provided as part of the application. It is an act of serious academic misconduct to provide any false or misleading information (either by omission or commission) in an application. If it is proven, or if the University has reasonable grounds to conclude, that any information in the application, or in any of the material submitted in support of the application, is determined to be false or misleading, or written by a third party, the application may be invalidated at the absolute and sole discretion of OCAD University. This could result in immediate rejection of the application, or, in the revocation of an offer of admission, or, in the termination of registration at OCAD University. Any such information may be shared by OCAD University with other universities and colleges across Canada.
OCAD University reserves the right to be the sole arbiter of what it will accept on an academic and equivalency basis. Admission and academic entrance requirements are subject to change.
Jobs You Can Get
Graduates of the program work in:
- Art curation and management
- Arts journalism and criticism
- Graduate studies in art history, education, cultural and museum studies
OCAD U offers so much more than co-ops because creative careers take many forms. Our approach is specialized and individual to every student’s needs and goals. You will be able to take advantage of:
- Short experiential learning placements from among hundreds of organizations
- Creative in-class projects with real-world industry partners
- Exclusive summer internships
- Gallery exhibitions of your work
- Freelance creative opportunities
- Jobs after graduation
OCAD University’s dedicated support services will help you build a professional community, valuable experience and skills necessary for a meaningful career.
What You’ll Do in the Program
In the first year, in addition to studio art and design classes, you’ll take intro classes in topics such as:
- Global visual and material culture
- First-year studio
- Critical frameworks art history
In the second year, you will choose from various electives and will study topics such as:
- Art and globalization 1250-1800
- History of modern art
- Art history and visual culture
- The third year will feature courses in art critical studies, as well as a selection of electives in areas including art history, studio or liberal arts and sciences.
- In your fourth year, you will have an opportunity to research and produce a major research paper.
- You’ll showcase your work at GradEx OCAD U’s Graduate Exhibition, the biggest free art and design exhibition in Toronto with more than 40,000 visitors.
Guide to Admissions
The following programs for the Fall 2019 entry term are still accepting applications until further notice:
- Visual and Critical Studies
- Creative Writing
- Digital Futures
- Indigenous Visual Culture
- Choose your area of study: OCAD University offers three undergraduate degrees — a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Design (BDes) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) — in a wide array of different programs. All undergraduate programs can be completed in four years of full-time study. If you need help deciding which of our programs best suit you, come to one of our many events throughout the year, peruse our viewbook and course calendar or do some homework by talking to people who are active in these fields.
- Learn about our admission and academic entrance requirements: Admission to the Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies is based on a combination of a review of a written assignment, a statement of intent and your academic records. Admission to our Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program is based primarily on a writing portfolio. Admission to all other studio programs (Bachelor Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts) is based primarily on an assessment of your portfolio of work. All applicants must submit a Statement of Intent as part of the portfolio submission and must meet minimum academic requirements. International applicants are welcome and should familiarize themselves with special requirements. OCAD U offers many transfer pathways for students with previous post-secondary experience.
- Submit your application online: All applicants apply through the Ontario Universities' Application Center (OUAC). The application will be made available in October 2018. The recommended deadline to apply for the 2019/2020 academic year is February 1, 2019. Applications received after February 1, 2019, will be considered as space permits and some programs may not accept applications after the February 1, 2019 deadline.
- Submit your portfolio (for admission to BFA, BDes programs): All applicants are required to submit a digital portfolio online through SlideRoom. Most portfolio submissions are reviewed in February each year. You will be notified of all dates and deadlines and will be provided with instructions for submitting your portfolio by email after you apply.
- Submit your writing sample (for admission to the BA in Visual and Critical Studies): You will be emailed the topic for the writing sample after your application has been processed.
- Await your conditional offer of admission: All offers are conditional upon the completion of the admission process (meeting academic requirements and submitting necessary documents).
- Respond to your offer of admission: After you respond to your offer of admission via OUAC, OCAD U will be notified electronically that you have accepted your offer of admission. OCAD U will send you correspondence (via email) that will include important dates, deadlines, and information about online registration. You will need to pay a $500 non-refundable deposit in order to secure your spot at OCAD U.
- Plan your year: Ensure you have the necessary financial resources for tuition, fees, supplies and living expenses. Arrange housing if required. Attend our summer orientation programs and register for your classes online.
- See you in September!