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.

More About the Visual and Critical Studies Program

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. Get more details about the program.

  • For Ontario high school students, a minimum overall average of 70%
  • Writing sample
  • Statement of Intent
  • Official transcripts
  • Other requirements

Graduates of the program work in:

  • Art curation and management
  • Arts journalism and criticism
  • Publishing
  • 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.



In 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 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

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.