Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media and Design (MA, MDes and MFA)


Program Description

Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media, and Design (MA, MDes, and MFA)

Drawing experienced artists and designers from around the world, encouraging them to investigate and produce works that combine art, design, writing, and interdisciplinary academic study to create new forms of visual and social research and creative production.

The Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media, and Design (IAMD) draws experienced artists and designers from around the world, encouraging them to investigate and produce works that combine art, design, writing, and interdisciplinary academic study to create new forms of visual and social research and creative production.

Each student’s primary discipline and chosen emphasis among art, design, or media practice and theoretical inquiry will determine whether the degree earned is an MFA, MDes, or MA.

Students thrive in a creative environment led by an accomplished faculty. Matchless opportunities for innovative learning are offered through visiting experts, internships, independent studies, and the Annual First-Year Graduate Student Exhibition.

Upon entering the IAMD program, students will already have strong disciplinary expertise in art, design, media, art history, visual culture, or a related discipline, plus an appropriate undergraduate degree and practical experience. They will be interested in augmenting their skills through a program that relies on research, collaboration, and practice models to reframe contemporary issues through hybrid and interdisciplinary forms. Importantly, participants will rise to the challenge of working in an experimental environment where the outcome of their interdisciplinary efforts is not crystal clear at the outset and where the path of discovery may take them to unexpected places. This will entail rigorous academic study and the creation of a significant body of studio-based work and critical/theoretical writing.

The IAMD program aims to achieve these objectives through a course of study that includes:

  • Intensive graduate-level directed study in the student’s studio practice
  • Seminars in critical theory and research methods
  • Elective courses that supplement the core curriculum by allowing each student to explore his or her individual interests in studio, theory or research
  • Either a major studio project supported by a written critical analysis (leading to the MFA or MDes degree) or an academic master’s thesis accompanied by a creative project (leading to the MA degree).

Key features

  • The opportunity for students to undertake coursework, directed studies, lectures and workshops with OCAD U faculty and with visiting faculty from other institutions and visiting experts in a wide range of disciplines
  • The option of an independent study, internship, elective and/or residency during the summer term between the first and second years of the program
  • Annual First-Year Graduate Student Exhibition
  • Graduate Thesis Exhibition

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  • Provide a flexibly structured, advanced studio-based learning environment that enables students to integrate art, media, and design production, in combination with other disciplines, through processes that remix theory, methodology, and practice.
  • Ensure that students acquire advanced research skills for visual and academic investigations in the areas of art, media and design practice, and critical theory.
  • Foster the development of individuals who can think, create, and practice in interdisciplinary ways.
  • Contribute to new knowledge in the areas of interdisciplinary art, media and design methods, discourses, and creative practices.
  • Promote the development of practices that facilitate sustainability, social responsibility, and diverse social and cultural perspectives.

Each cohort will be carefully selected to maximize opportunities for interaction among art, media, design, and non-studio subject areas. Students will work with an Advisory Committee that includes leading scholars/practitioners in each of their disciplines who will guide the students' individual studies and contribute to the development of their master's thesis work.

Admission Requirements

Applications for the 2020-2021 academic year are open! Apply now through the Graduate Application Portal. 

Due to study permit processing timelines, May 8th will be our application deadline for international applicants. Applications will remain open until all spaces are filled. Applicants are encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible, as our graduate programs fill quickly.

General application requirements

In addition to general graduate studies application requirements, found below, that are applicable to all programs, individual programs may have unique application requirements that you can consult.

  • Transcripts
  • Reference letters
  • Application fee
  • English language competency

Program-specific application requirements

Application for admission into the Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media & Design at OCAD U is a highly competitive process. Applicants must hold a BA, BFA, BDes, or comparable honors degree/certification with an average of 80 percent (A-) or better during the last two years of study, or must demonstrate exceptional experience/expertise as a practicing artist, designer or scholar.

All applicants must demonstrate creative and conceptual competence at a high level, as well as the clear potential for acquiring a sufficient level of expertise in a secondary discipline to create an integrated interdisciplinary thesis project at the Master’s level.

For consideration by the admissions committee, and in addition to the basic application requirements outlined below, applicants need to complete and submit the following through the Graduate Application Portal:

  • Research Proposal: Applicants should clearly outline their background in at least two areas of expertise and describe their interdisciplinary research interests or theme for their graduate work in the program. One of these areas of expertise must be in studio art, media, or design. The proposal must be typed and should be a maximum of 500 words (not including bibliography or other appendices). A bibliography must be included. Other appendices and examples of visual work may also be included. It is strongly suggested that applicants identify at least one graduate faculty member they would like to work with during their studies.
  • Portfolio: Applicants must submit a minimum of 5, maximum of 15 media items representing no more than five bodies of work. Quicktime movies or other time-based image files should not exceed three minutes in length. Applicants are expected to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of their primary area of concentration and are encouraged to submit any examples of interdisciplinary work. The portfolio should represent the applicant’s best work (formally, conceptually, and contextually resolved). A significant number of media items should represent work produced within the last 12 months.
  • Artist/Designer Statement: The portfolio must be accompanied by an artist/designer statement of no more than 250 words. The statement should speak to recent work and explain its relevance to the research proposal. It is suggested you discuss the discursive vectors of your practice, your existing expertise, and how you would like to grow your practice during your graduate studies.
  • CV: Applicants should include an updated copy of their curriculum vitae.

What You’ll Do in the Program

First Year

  • Contemporary Research Methods
  • Critical Theory Seminar
  • Directed Interdisciplinary Studio/Academic Study I 
  • Directed Interdisciplinary Studio/Academic Study II 
  • Issues in Critical Theory OR
  • MFA/MDes Individual Studio I
  • MA Individual Academic Study
  • Thesis Proposal 

Choose from among the following options (1.0 credit)

  • Residency
  • Independent Study
  • Placement
  • Elective

Second Year

  • Thesis Seminar I 
  • Research-Creation and Colloquia
  • Advanced Interdisciplinary Studio/Research 
  • Thesis Seminar II OR
  • Thesis: MFA/MDes
  • Thesis: MA 

How to Apply

Graduate applications for the 2020 academic year are still open for domestic applicants.

Step 1: Review application requirements and program-specific eligibility

This information can be found on the Application Requirements page.

Step 2: Apply online using the Graduate Application Portal

All applicants to Graduate Studies at OCAD University must first complete a graduate application through the Graduate Application Portal. If you are applying to more than one graduate program, you must submit a separate application for each program for which you wish to be considered. 

Application Fee: The application fee is $110 CAD, payable through the Graduate Application Portal. Application fees are non-refundable and charged for each program for which you apply. 

Step 3: Finalize and submit your application

The Graduate Application Portal will allow you to log in and start a graduate application which you can edit as often as required. However, once your application has been submitted, no further changes will be allowed.

Once your application has been successfully submitted through the Graduate Application Portal and your application fee paid, you will receive official emails acknowledging receipt of your application. Any further required steps or actions will be outlined at this time.

Our online application portal is the only method to submit your application. We do not accept paper applications or physical application materials. If you encounter issues while applying, please contact us at

Step 4: Application review process

Only complete applications will be reviewed by our Admissions Committees. Once the program-specific Admissions Committee has reviewed your submitted application, you may be contacted by the Office of Graduate Studies and invited to an interview (where applicable). If you are invited to an interview, it may take place in-person or remotely (e.g. teleconference or Skype). The application review process, including interviews, normally takes up to twelve weeks after the application deadline.

Step 5: Notification of admissions decisions

Once a decision is made regarding your application, you will receive a notification via email asking you to log in to the Graduate Application Portal and check the status of your application. 

Offer of Admission: If you are offered admission to a graduate program, you will have a limited time (normally two weeks) to accept the offer of admission through the Graduate Application Portal. Your offer of admission may be subject to conditions, which must be cleared before you can be permitted to register.

Waiting Lists: If you are placed on a waiting list for admission into a graduate program, you will receive a notification via email when your application status changes. If you are on a waiting list and decide not to attend OCAD University, please contact us to let us know of your decision.

Not Admitted: If you are not selected for admission, you may fall into one of three general categories:

  • Although you meet the minimum program requirements, due to a combination of a highly competitive process and a limited number of spaces, we were unable to admit you.
  • You have not met the minimum program requirements (e.g., GPA, English language requirements, etc.).
  • You were deemed ineligible (e.g., non-relevant degree, lack of academic qualifications).

Please note that applicants meeting the minimum requirements for admission are not guaranteed admission into a graduate program. Furthermore, program admission may be limited to students whose interests are compatible with the specific program mandate, available resources, and faculty expertise.

Last updated Jun 2020

About the School

Founded in 1876, OCAD U is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD U continuously builds on its traditional ... Read More

Founded in 1876, OCAD U is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD U continuously builds on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, members of the OCAD U community are uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology, and quality of life for all Canadians. Read less