The Graduate Program in Visual Arts offers an experience that will engage you in a rich and stimulating dialogue about contemporary art practices—we propose an experience that will be intense, stimulating, and productive. Our programs offer numerous opportunities for studio visits and exchanges with guest artists, curators, and art historians reflecting a diverse range of interests to guide you as you develop your own research. We hope that the artists you meet will reinforce your motivation to become an artist and that you will make lasting friendships and personal and professional connections with your classmate to enrich your ongoing development and life as an artist.
At York, the MFA / Ph.D. programs are supported by a vibrant university culture that promotes a creative dialogue between the disciplines. This dialogue is sustained by an emphasis on a team-teaching approach, support amongst the faculty for divergent views, and is reflected in the diversity of the art practices of our students. Currently, our programs consist of a dynamic community of twenty-five students working in one or more of the following media: video, performance, painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and digital media.
MFA Master of Fine Arts – Visual Arts
The MFA in Visual Arts is a five-term studio-centered 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 inquiry 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.
Applicants to the Master of 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 an 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 first year of the program. On average, about 125 students qualify to compete for these positions each year.
The Schulich School of Business and the Graduate Program in Visual Arts offers a three-year combined program leading to both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Fine Arts degree.
The combined MFA/MBA degree program offers students a unique opportunity for study. Graduates of this highly challenging program will follow career paths in which knowledge of the arts and of management and business are required.
The MFA/MBA programs complement each other in focus and offer excellent preparation for those interested in management careers in the arts and cultural sector.
For acceptance into this combined program, students need to meet the application requirements for both the M.F.A. and the M.B.A. as outlined by the University.
Students must have a four-year undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in Fine Arts earning a minimum B+ average. Students must earn a score on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) that meets or exceeds the minimum score required for admission into the MBA program.
Students should have relevant work experience within the arts or cultural industries. (This will be assessed by the Admissions Committee which is made up of the Graduate Program Director in Visual Arts, the MBA Arts and Media Coordinator, the Admissions Officer from the Schulich School of Business, and a representative from the Faculty of Graduate Studies.)
Students may apply for admission after the successful completion of one year in either the MBA program or the Visual Arts Graduate Program.
The normal full–time load is 15.0 credit hours of courses per term. Students who enroll in the combined program should be able to complete it within a three year period.
In so doing, students will meet all of the core program requirements in each individual program. Cognate requirements in each program can be filled through course work in the parallel program.
Arts and Media Graduate Diploma
Students may add an Arts and Media Graduate Diploma to their combined MFA/MBA degrees.
The Arts and Media Graduate Diploma requirements can be found in the calendars of the Schulich School of Business and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
If students are doing a graduate diploma in Arts and Media Administration, as well as the two degrees, the summer semester, after their third year of study, would be an appropriate time to meet the internship requirement, although some students may be able to complete an internship at an earlier point in their studies.
A number of scholarships and bursaries are available for first year students in the MBA program. Students in the combined program who meet the requirements are eligible for this support for at least one year of study. In addition, the Programme in Arts and Media Administration offers support for internships particularly in the nonprofit sector for students who meet the criteria (which include meeting the Ontario Student Awards Program requirements.)
In their second and third years of study, students may be eligible for research assistantships and teaching assistantships.
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy – Visual Arts
The Ph.D. in Visual Arts 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 arts, as well as other areas of scholarly investigation that are defined by candidates as relevant to their studio interests.
Inaugurated in 2008, the Ph.D. in Visual Arts 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 course work, 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 artworld professionals. Students must demonstrate maturity in research as recognized by the academic sector as well as by their peers in the art community.
Application to the Ph.D. program requires an MFA with a minimum B average, or an MA with studio concentration, as well as a 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. program identify the specializations most pertinent to their work.
Proficiency in written and spoken English is required.
Submit the initial application (this portion will time out in 30 minutes) which includes the following:
Name & Identity
Goal of Study
Citizenship & Language
Address & Contact
Declaration & Consent
Pay the required application fee.
48 - 72 hours after the initial application process is completed, (the process will take longer if you apply over the weekend or during the holiday break) you will receive an e-mail from York containing a York reference number which is needed in order to track the progress of the application on MyFILE. Through MyFile applicants can upload all the documents that are required to complete the supplementary application.