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Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories (MA)

Offering students a compelling array of perspectives to investigate and assess the ever-shifting worlds of contemporary art, design and new media art.

Student work from Xtension, 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.

Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories (MA)

The Masters of Arts in Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories explores today’s creative practices and works produced since 1970. OCAD University is one of only a few universities in North America that concentrates on current artists and issues. It’s the first program in Ontario to offer a graduate specialization in design history.

In this program you’ll be shaping contemporary art, design and new media scholarship. OCAD University is a unique place to study this exciting field – the program is small, so you’ll get personal attention, have access to top-notch faculty and be studying at Canada’s largest art, design and new media university. You’ll work with the producers of cutting-edge art, design and new media in your studies.

This program is normally completed in two years. Students in this program can take advantage of being located in the heart of Toronto’s cultural district – you’ll have access to the archives of major institutions only a few blocks away such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto International Film Festival and the Design Exchange.

You should have an honours, four-year bachelor’s degree in art history, visual culture, communications or a similar program to apply.

What will you learn?

The program comprises the following:

You’ll learn to understand the zeitgeist, current movements and practices in today’s art, design and new media world. You’ll use established conventions of art history, theory and terminology in seminars and engage in independent study.

You can take courses from any of three specializations. You will choose one as your focus:

  • Contemporary Art History
  • Design History
  • New Media Art History

Drawing on the long established discipline of art history and sharing analytical techniques, theory and terminology, these three areas of study are complementary. However, these areas of investigation and specialization bear and retain their own distinctiveness, which is emphasized in field-specific seminars and independent study. While students may take courses in any one of the three specializations, one field will be selected as the focus for the degree.

The MA in Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories is a full-time, 7.5 credit program normally completed within two years (five semesters).

  • Two core graduate courses
  • Field-specific graduate seminars
  • Two electives
  • Individual reading and research
  • Major Research Paper (MRP) / Thesis writing workshop
  • MRP or Thesis
Students are required to complete a major research project or thesis. Here are a few recent examples:
  • Lady Gaga and the Other: Persona, Art and Monstrosity
  • The Comic’s Heartbeat: Framing Affective Structures in Comics History
  • Hip Hop as a Tool of Decolonization
  • New Media as a Platform for Indigenous Self-Representation and Social-Political Activism

You’ll be at the centre of contemporary art scholarship by planning and hosting the CADN Graduate Students’ Conference which is a major conference that attracts students and art historians from across the country.

What will I be able to do with my degree?

After graduating, you’ll be positioned to continue your research in a PhD program in cultural studies or contemporary art.

More and more contemporary art galleries and institutions are opening every day. These spaces want to hire people with their finger on the pulse of contemporary art and how it relates to history. Graduating with this highly prized skill set will give you a leg-up on students coming from traditional art programs.

Graduates from this program work as magazine and journal editors, researchers and curators.


Key features

2016/2017 Program Overview

MA Overview - Thesis Stream

MA Overview - MRP Stream

Program Course Offerings

For a complete list of courses for this program,
please see the applicable program guides:

View Program Guides