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Study Art in Canada

Study Art in Canada – Courses, Universities, Career Prospects and Average Salaries

by Dushyant Patni

Study Art in Canada – Art can be defined as any activity that leads to the creation of a visual, auditory or performance artifact based on the imagination or ideas of the creator. It is one of the oldest forms of expression in human history and has evolved alongside us through the history of human civilization. From crude stick figures drawn on cave walls to Renaissance masters like Michelangelo and Botticelli, art in the modern era has  diversified into forms like animation, photography, video game design, interior design etc. In fact, art has now become one of the largest fields of study, with avenues open for any and all artists looking to enhance their skills and make a meaningful living through the pursuit of their creative talents. 

Europe has been considered the mecca of art, history and culture by students across the world, and rightly so. However, Canada too has a great reputation in nourishing the talents of those who are naturally creative and passionate about arts. The country is home to a variety of gifted artists like writer Micheal Ondaatje; painters Kenojuak Ashevak and  Eleanor Bond; jazz musician Diana Krall; sculptors Robert Harris and Prudence Heward; photographers A.Y. Jackson and Cornelius Krieghoff; and carver Bill Reid. This flourishing community of artists has ensured a multitude of cultural events in Canada like the Toronto Film Festival and Montreal Jazz Fest. The students also get to complement their studies by attending the local museums, galleries, plays, concerts and symphonies. While the Canadian undergraduate degrees in art-related subjects take 4 years to complete, the diploma and certificate courses are 2 to 3 years in length. 

This article seeks to shed some light on the popular courses, universities and career prospects for students who wish to study arts in Canada. 

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Study Art in Canada – Top Universities

University of Toronto

QS Global Ranking 2020 – #29 

The Department of Arts, Culture and Media or ACM at the University of Toronto Scarborough is dedicated to bringing together a diverse group of artistic students under one roof. The department also grants opportunities for students to either focus on a single discipline or pursue multiple avenues and disciplines of artistic expression through their multi-disciplinary and flexible programmes. The following are some of the popular courses available to interested students: 

  1. Art History Graduate Programme 
  2. Bachelors in Art History 
  3. Bachelors in Visual Studies 
  4. Master of Visual Studies 
  5. Visual and Performing Arts Studio Programme (Major and Minor)

Want to study in Canada? Read Admission in Canada without IELTS

University of British Columbia 

QS Global Ranking 2020 – #51 

The University of British Columbia or UBC is one of the top ranked universities in the world and has recently been recognized as ‘North America’s Most International University’. They currently host 17,225 international students from 160+ countries in their various schools of study. The Faculty of Arts at UBC combines offers programmes in social sciences, humanities along with creative and performing arts courses. UBC offers courses at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels and students have the chance to choose from 3000 courses taught by scholars who are leaders in their fields. The following are some of the popular art courses: 

  1. Bachelors in Art History
  2. Bachelors in Creative Writing 
  3. Bachelors and Masters in Digital Media 
  4. Bachelors and Masters in Film Production 
  5. Bachelors and Masters in Music Theory, Performance and Production 

Note: The courses listed above are a general guideline to the subjects of study available at the Faculty of Arts at UCB. Students are advised to be diligent in their research before applying. 

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University of Alberta

QS Global Ranking  2020 – #113

The University of Alberta is primarily an undergraduate university with approximately 70% of the students enrolled in an undergraduate degree program. The university is divided into 5 campuses, out of which 4 are located in the city of Edmonton, with the 5th campus located an hour away from the center of Edmonton. The Department of Art & Design at the university is focused on combining the avenues of design studies, fine arts, art history, design and visual culture to create a uniquely flexible and expansive learning experience for the students enrolled in the programmes. The following are some of the popular courses they have to offer:

  1. Bachelor of Design
  2. Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art & Design
  3. BA (Hons.) in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture 
  4. Master of Design in Communication or Industrial Design
  5. Master of Fine Arts in Painting, Sculpture or Printmaking
  6. Master of Arts in History of Art, Design and Visual Media 

University of Montreal 

QS Global Ranking 2020 – #137 

Along with its sister schools of Polytechnique Montreal and HEC Montreal, the University of Montreal holds the distinction of being the largest university complex in North America. They boast a strength of over 66,500 students out of which 10,000 are international students from 120+ countries. The following are some of the popular art courses available at the University of Montreal: 

  1. Masters in Art History 
  2. Doctorate in Art History 
  3. Masters in Museum Studies 
  4. Masters in Music Composition and Sound Design 
  5. Doctorate in Film Studies  

McMaster University 

QS Global Ranking  2020 – #140  

The McMaster University is located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. It is home to a student population of above 33,000 , with students from 120 countries enrolled in various programmes in the university. The School of Arts at McMaster University aims to offer programmes in art, art history, music, theatre and film to students in a flexible and inter-disciplinary environment. They aim to nurture the creative talents of their students by providing them with a wide avenue for their creative expression and promote excellence through focused teaching methods. Some of the popular courses they offer are: 

  1. BA (Honors) in Art History 
  2. BA (Honors) in Art & Science
  3. B.Mus.(Honors) in Music Theory 
  4. Bachelors in Theatre Production 
  5. Bachelors in Film History and Study  

Want to get jobs after studies in Canada? Read the blog on Post study work permit Canada

Study Art in Canada – Popular Undergraduate Courses 

Bachelor of Arts in Studio (Honours) – Scarborough 

Full Course Fee – CAD 213,160  (price may vary at the time of application)

Offered by – University of Toronto Scarborough

This programme offered at the University of Toronto at Scarborough is designed for students who wish to study in a comprehensive art programme. Some of the fields of study offered through the studio programme are:

  1. Drawing
  2. Painting
  3. Sculpture
  4. Photography
  5. Performance Art
  6. Video and Media 
  7. Animation

A studio-based course provides students with the chance to expand their horizons in terms of how art is created and allows them to develop the ability to understand the challenges faced in creating contemporary art. The programme has a major and minor element as well. While the major programme focuses on providing intense exposure on the process of creating art as well as developments in art criticism and theory, the minor programme is designed for those who wish to focus on other academic fields but are also interested in art. 

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio  (Honours)

Full Course Fee – CAD 123,097 (fees may vary at the time of application)

Offered by – McMaster University 

This course offered by McMaster University aims to prepare students for a career as a professional artist by building their skills in critical thinking, visual literacy and innovation in the entrepreneurial aspects of art. They offer a wide variety of avenues of study like: 

  1. Sculpture
  2. Printmaking
  3. Painting
  4. Drawing
  5. Ceramics
  6. Installation
  7. Digital Technologies
  8. Hybrid Art Techniques 

Combined with the topics given above, they also offer courses in art history, contemporary art, studio research and professional practice. In the first 2 years of the programmes, students are guided towards recognizing their personal interests and goals with the 3rd and 4th year focused on individual plans of study for each student. The university provides a great learning environment with access to resources like the McMaster Museum of Art, anatomy lab, library archives and the Royal Botanical Gardens. 

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design 

Full Course Fee – CAD 86,674

Offered by – University of Alberta 

This course offered by the University of Alberta prepares students for a career in art and design by providing them with the tools they need to develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills along with enhancing their research abilities and presentation skills. Students in the course can focus on:

  1. Drawing/Intermedia
  2. Painting
  3. Printmaking
  4. Sculpture

The courses are designed to increase your technical, formal and critical skills which you can then apply to explore contemporary issues through art. The programme is flexible with the students being granted the option of concentrating on just one studio area or combining them all. In fact, if you are so inclined, you can replace two of the arts/science options in your programme with courses from other faculties. For example, students who wish to study fashion design can also opt for human ecology courses and students who are interested in creating medical illustrations for study material can opt for an anatomy course. 

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting 

Full Course Fee – CAD 216,965

Offered by – University of Ottawa 

The Department of Theatre at the University of Ottawa, where this course is offered, explores all avenues of a theatrical event. It teaches you how to prepare for a life of creative expression and intellectual stimulation in the realm of theatre. Some of the subject options available to students are: 

  1. Acting
  2. Directing
  3. Playwriting
  4. Arts Administration
  5. Dramaturgy
  6. Theatre History
  7. Production
  8. Theatre Design 

Students are provided first-hand experience with access to the 2 major theatre companies run by the department and 3 student companies who put up 30 original productions in a season! 

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts 

Full Course Fee – CAD 216, 965 

Offered by – University of Ottawa 

This programme, also offered by the University of Ottawa is designed to help students explore the field of visual art, with a special emphasis on creating visual art in a contemporary setting. The coursework has both practical and theoretical elements to encourage students to create and reflect. Some of the avenues available for students in this course are: 

  1. Photography
  2. Painting
  3. Sculpture
  4. Digital Art
  5. Media design
  6. Art History 

Students also get a chance to train under a number of internationally recognized artists, curators and art historians. Even though the foundation of the programme is rooted in traditional disciplines like painting and sculpture, students are encouraged to discover the use of new technology and how it can be applied to the visual arts. 

Note: The fees given above are representative of the cost for the entire duration of the course. Prices will differ at the time of application and students are advised to keep that in mind. 

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Study Art in Canada – Popular Postgraduate Courses

Master of Fine Arts 

Full Course Fee – CAD 30,416

Offered by – Emily Carr University of Art & Design 

The Master of Fine Arts programme as offered by Emily Carr University of Art & Design is designed to promote a learning environment for students that is based on creative research and a studio-based model with a focus on practice and critical thinking. The MFA or Master of Fine Arts degree provides a unique approach to art production in contemporary times and is recommended for students who wish to either specialize in a single field or aim to achieve a broad range of interdisciplinary knowledge.  

Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art, Sculpture and Ceramics

Full Course Fee – CAD 56,753

Offered by – Concordia University 

This degree offered by Concordia University is a full-time course that is designed for artists who wish to refine their own personal capabilities and polish their talent to its absolute limits. The course is interdisciplinary in nature and is based on an intensive, studio-oriented approach towards learning and research. Some of the avenues of study included in the programme are: 

  1. Installation
  2. Performance
  3. Autonomous Objects
  4. New Media
  5. Kinetics

The programme puts a significant emphasis on critical reasoning and intellectual exchange between the students and the faculty. Classrooms are generally filled with debate about art, culture and history, while theory and studio seminars are held regularly to provide a forum where students can clarify their doubts and interact with scholars and professionals who are leaders in their chosen fields. 

Master of Fine Arts in Media Production 

Full Course Fee- CAD 21,560 

Offered by – University of Regina 

This programme offered by the University of Regina is designed for students who wish to enhance their graduate degree experience with advanced studies in media arts production. Students are encouraged to explore a range of artistic, aesthetic, technical and theoretical approaches towards the following topics: 

  1. Dramatic media
  2. Documentary film making
  3. Animation
  4. Experimental Cinema

The key focus of this programme is an intensive study of issues in media arts theory which allows students to develop a high-level of cultural and artistic discourse. 

Master of Fine Arts in Criticism and Curatorial Practice

Full Course Fee – CAD 41,016

Offered by – OCAD University 

The main goal of the MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practices programme is to make sure that students are equipped with advanced research skills to visually and academically investigate the following areas: 

  1. Art
  2. Media
  3. Design Practices
  4. Critical Theory 

Students who enroll in the programme are provided with a unique opportunity to explore and experiment with contemporary art, modern media and design practices through the lenses of history, theory and criticism. The main components of the programme are critical theory, research methods, and issues in exhibitions, critical writing and curatorial studies. 

Master of Fine Arts in Drawing and Intermedia 

Full Course Fee – CAD 21,000

Offered by – University of Alberta 

This MFA programme offered by the University of Alberta is a flexible programme that is based on providing opportunities for students to come up with a media-based studio practice and work through multiple forms of media as well. Students are placed under highly-trained faculty members who have a wealth of knowledge in artistic research methodologies. The course starts off with the basics of classical drawing, and students are then quickly transitioned into advanced levels of multiple-media creation. Some of the avenues of study are: 

  1. Photography
  2. Installation
  3. Digital Media
  4. Performance Art

This area of study is recommended for students who wish to develop refined technical, formal and conceptual skills. 

Note: The fees given above are representative of the cost for the entire duration of the course. Prices will differ at the time of application and students are advised to keep that in mind. 

Study Art in Canada – Scholarships

There are a number of scholarships and awards that are granted to students pursuing a fine arts degree in Canada. These awards are usually sponsored by either an alumni, a private organization or by the university itself. Students are advised to research the scholarship options available to them before applying. Given below is a list of some of the scholarship options: 

British Columbia Arts Council Scholarship Programme 

This scholarship aims to support the development of artists studying to become professionals in Canada. This is the oldest scholarship programme offered by the council and it provides funding of up to CAD 6,000 per year to exceptional students at the post-secondary level of study. The deadline for applications is around April 30 every year and the assessment criteria is based on the candidates’ portfolio along with the rest of the application. Students of the following disciplines are eligible to apply: 

  1. Arts Administration
  2. Museology
  3. Conservation
  4. Dance
  5. Media Arts
  6. Theatre
  7. Music
  8. Curatorial Practice
  9. Visual Art

 Craig Hall Memorial  Visual Arts Scholarship (Printmaking)

 Named in honor of James and Phyllis Craig, who were staunch supporters of the study of visual arts and printmaking, this scholarship is offered to students through the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia. The award grants students CAD 1500 at the undergraduate level. There is no date available for application as the award is made on the recommendation of the faculty. Students who are entering their 3rd or 4th year and specializing in printmaking within the visual arts programme are eligible for this award. 

Constance McFarland Memorial Art Award 

Named after Constance McFarland, a school teacher who played a pivotal role in the foundation of the Art Class and Art Club in Vulcan, Alberta, this award is available to students enrolled in the visual arts programme at the University of Alberta.  The award ranges from CAD 300 to CAD 600 per student. There is no deadline for application as this is an instructor nominated award. Students are judged for their eligibility based on:

  1. Creativity
  2. Skill and Craftsmanship
  3. Effort
  4. Community Involvement 

IODE Fine Arts Foundation Scholarship 

This scholarship is available to students at the University of British Columbia. A total of 4 awards, each worth CAD 850 are awarded to students based on the joint recommendations of the following departments of the university:

  1. Department of Art History
  2. Visual Art & Theory
  3. Department of Theatre and Film
  4. Creative Writing Programme
  5. School of Music

The candidates are selected based on their track record in the above mentioned fields of study and excellence in your chosen field is the primary requirement for eligibility. This award is available to students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. There is no deadline for application since it’s a recommendation-based award. 

P3 Architecture Scholarship in Visual Arts 

This scholarship is available to students at the University of Regina and is offered by its Faculty of Fine Arts. The scholarship is worth CAD 2000 and is open to students enrolled in the following fields of study:

  1. Printmaking
  2. Sculpture
  3. Drawing
  4. Ceramics
  5. Painting 

As it is a recommendation-based scholarship, students do not have to apply for it. However, there are still some requirements that you have to fulfil in order to be recommended by your department for the scholarship: 

  1. Complete a minimum of 60 credit hours
  2. Minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 75%

Study Art in Canada – Post-study Career Opportunities and Average Salaries

 The following are some of the avenues that you can explore after completing your arts degree: 

  1. Illustrator – Illustrators work in a variety of different fields like magazines, novels, advertising etc. It’s their job to come up with new images or ideas to visually represent whatever the client or company requires. A few possibilities for illustrators are: 
    1. Fashion Illustrator
    2. Children’s Books Illustrator 
    3. Medical Illustrator 
    4. Comic Book Illustrator
    5. Storyboard Illustrator 

The average salary of an illustrator in Canada is $65,813 per year or $33.75 per hour. Entry level positions start at $52,163 per year. Most experienced people in the field can earn to $111,881 per year. Illustrators in Vancouver, British Columbia are reported to earn the most, while illustrators in Ottawa are reported to earn the least. 

2. Designer – The term designer encompasses a lot of cool avenues for creative people to explore their talents while expanding their professional career. You need to be able to solve problems creatively and work as a part of a team to achieve your target. Some of the career options available for designers are: 

  • Graphic Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Video Game Designer
  • UX/UI Designer 

The average salary of a graphic designer in Canada is $51,558 per year or $26.44 per hour. Entry level positions start at $31,200 per year and experienced workers can make up to $79,939 per year. Graphic designers in Alberta earn an average of 15.5% more than the national average salary. 

3. Photographer – Although photography seems like a clichéd career option in the modern era of smartphones and social media, it is still a highly diverse field. You need good observational skills along with the foundational skills of what makes a picture truly unique to stand out amongst the crowd. Given below are a few career options available to photographers: 

  1. Portrait Photographer
  2. Wedding Photographer
  3. Fashion Photographer
  4. Photojournalist
  5. Travel Photographer
  6. Wildlife Photographer 

The average salary of a photographer in Canada is $39,000 per year or $20 per hour. Entry level positions start at $21,000 per year while most experienced workers make up to $66,300 per year. Quebec has the highest salary average out of all the regions with Manitoba paying the least. 

4. Artist – This may seem like an over generalization of a very vast area of study, but as an artist you can find yourself working on many different disciplines over the course of your career. Since a lot of the options available to you are open ended, you can be free in choosing how you would like to proceed in your career. Note that in other professional fields, you can get by with just your degree. As an artist, your value is decided on how well you can promote yourself and your work. Given below are some of the disciplines that artists choose to work in: 

  1. Ceramic Artist
  2. Sculptor
  3. Makeup Artist
  4. Digital Artist
  5. Painter
  6. Textile Artist

The average salary of an artist in Canada is $32,500 per year or $16.67 per hour. Entry level positions start at $21,938 per year while most experienced workers make up to $55,250 per year. British Columbia is the highest paying region with an average annual  salary of $66,020, while Newfoundland is the lowest paying with $23,400. 

5. Fashion Designer – If you like to express your creative tendencies through clothing and fabric, a career as a fashion designer is the perfect choice for you. A fine art degree in fashion will allow you to learn about concepts like fashion history, fashion trends, color theory and design elements. Also, if you’re interested, you can choose to become a fashion stylist instead. You will be able to use your visual creativity to come up with ideas for photo shoots and choose clothing and accessories for clients in advertising and events.

The average salary of fashion designers in Canada is $45,000 per year or $23.08 per hour. Entry level positions start at $32,175 per year while most experienced workers make up to $76,500 per year. Ontario is the highest paying region in terms of annual average salary for fashion designers at $45,000. 

 6. Interior Designer – Interior designers work on making spaces more functional, aesthetically pleasing and safe. An art degree prepares you for a career in interior design by providing you with the skills required through courses in design theory. In addition, you can use your creative skills to come up with design plans for clients which include drawings, mock-ups and presentations. 

The average interior designer salary in Canada is $58,500 per year or $30 per hour. Entry level positions start at $32,663 per year, while most experienced workers make up to $99,450 per year.  Once again, Ontario is the highest paying region with an average annual salary of $75,000.

7. Musician – Students who are passionate about music can consider a career as a musician. You don’t need to be a world famous pop-star to follow your passion as the music industry is vast and filled with a multitude of career options. Many universities offer art degrees that are focused on music. The coursework provides you with the information you need about:

  1. Music Theory
  2. Score Reading
  3. Composition
  4. Audio Production

The average salary for musicians in Canada is $58,500 per year or $30 per hour. Entry level positions start at $28,958 per year while most experienced workers make up to $99,450 per year

Other than the avenues listed above, students also have the following options available to them if they wish to pursue a professional career after completing a fine arts degree: 

  1. Art Teacher
  2. Architectural Critic
  3. Curator
  4. Antique Specialist 
  5. Design Consultant 
  6. Graphic Arts Technician 
  7. Museum Coordinator 
  8. Lighting Designer
  9. Automobile Designer 
  10. Film Editor 

Study Art in Canada – FAQs

Q. Is an art degree a viable choice?

A. Yes, contrary to popular belief, an art degree is very different from what people perceive it to be. Due to the rise of the internet, it’s easier than ever for artists to showcase their talent and find companies who are looking for creative individuals to be a part of their organization. An average salary after a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from a good Canadian university is between C$35,273 to C$93,325.

Q. How do I choose an art programme?

A. Your decision should be based on what you are passionate about. If you are a visually creative person, you should be focused on a visual arts degree that is based upon subjects like painting, drawing, graphic design etc.

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