Study Masters in Fine Arts in Canada: Complete Guide for International Students

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    Bhavya Rawal

    Study Abroad Expert

    Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) in Canada usually take 2-2.5 years to complete. The cost of pursuing master's in fine arts in Canada ranges between 5,000 to 31,000 USD for completion of the program. For Indian students, this estimates to 22.65 lakhs INR. A number of top colleges in Canada offer thesis-based MFA programs along with a final exhibition. The MFA curriculum in Canada is mostly multi-disciplinary so that students can experiment with a range of media and methods best suited to their interests.

    Look for Scholarships for Master in Canada!

    Master of Fine Arts can help graduates with bachelors in arts or fine arts in refining their skill set. The admissions in top colleges in Canada for the MFA program are highly based on portfolios and previous works. Post completion of the program you can be hired in professions such as art professor, graphic designer, gallery curator, concept artist, art director, animator, etc.

    Top Universities offering Masters in Fine Arts in Canada

    International students who wish to study in Masters in Fine Arts in Canada can apply for the following top universities. The table below also describes the program fees and the specializations offered by the universities.

    Country Ranking (THE) University Programs and Specialization Program fee (USD) approx.
    2 University of British Columbia Masters of Fine Arts- Visual Arts, Creative Writing, Interdisciplinary Arts 13,465
    6 University of Alberta Master of Fine Arts- Printmaking 14,480
    8 University of Waterloo Masters of Fine Arts-Studio Arts 27,000
    11 Simon Fraser University Masters of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts 8,700
    15 University of Manitoba Masters of Fine Arts 9,300
    16 University of Victoria Masters of Fine Arts- Studio Arts 16,700
    16 University of Saskatchewan Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art 10,300
    16 University of Guelph Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art 20,000
    22 Concordia University  Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts/Print Media/Sculpture and Ceramics/Painting and Drawing/Intermedia/ Fibres and Material Practices
    22 University of Regina Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies / Media Production /Visual Arts 5,000
    -- Emily Carr University of Art and Design  Master of Fine Arts- Full-residency (2 years)/Low residency (3 years) 23,300

    Masters in Fine Arts in Canada: Course Details

    The course duration for masters in fine arts or MFA courses in Canada is mostly 2 to 2.5 years. The program is generally a full-time residential (on-campus) course. The MFA programs mostly are flexible and practice-based in nature that offer students to work across multiple mediums.

    Students may have their specialization in drawing/intermedia, painting/printmaking/sculpting, three-dimensional and installation work, digital art, photography, video, sound, performance, or in any interdisciplinary form, etc.

    Specializations by Top Universities in Canada

    Some of the specializations available in popular universities offering Masters of Fine Arts in Canada are as follows:

    University Specialization
    University of Alberta MFA Printmaking
    University of Guelph MFA Studio Arts
    Concordia University MFA in Studio Arts, Print Media, Sculpture, & Ceramics
    University of Regina MFA in Media Production, Studio Arts etc
    University of Saskatchewan  MFA in Studio Arts
    Ryerson University MFA in Documentary Media

    Curriculum: Most of the universities offering MFA generally follow this type of curricula- any area of contemporary art production, knowledge in contemporary art, visual culture, and cultural theory. Academic coursework, oral presentation, organized exhibition, Open Studios, interdepartmental critiques to showcase students' art production and broaden their exposure to the local art scene and beyond.

    Admission Process for Masters in Fine Arts in Canada

    The admission process for masters in Fine Arts in Canada varies from university to university. The admissions are, however, offered mostly for winter and fall sessions. International applicants are required to have completed 16 years of education for applying to masters of fine arts in Canada.

    Where to Apply: Applicants can apply through the official websites of the universities offering the program.

    Masters in Fine Arts in Canada: Eligibility Criteria

    • Four-years Bachelor’s degree from a recognized institute in Design, Fine Arts, Media Arts, Architecture or other related fields.
      • A three-year bachelor’s degree equivalent to a Canadian four-year Bachelor’s degree is also accepted by some of the institutions.
    • Portfolio: Artwork should be submitted along with the applications as it plays an important role in admission decisions.
    University Minimum Eligibility Number of Portfolios Required ELP Test Scores 
    University of British Columbia BFA (bachelors in fine arts) with a grade of B+ (76%) 15-20 for visual arts 30 pages for creative writing TOEFL: 90
    IELTS: 6.5
    University of Alberta 4-year Bachelor’s Degree (preferably BFA) with strong academic record and evidence of work related to the field of interest. 12-15 TOEFL: 95 IELTS: 7.0
    University of Waterloo BA/BFA with an average of 75%  20 TOEFL iBT: 100
    IELTS: 7.5
    Simon Fraser University BFA degree or a relevant degree with an artistic statement -- TOEFL: 93 IELTS: 7.0
    University of Manitoba BA with a GPA of 3.0 (grade equivalent B) 20 TOEFL: 86 IELTS: 6.5
    University of Victoria BFA with a minimum grade of B 20 TOEFL: 90 IELTS: 6.5
    University of Saskatchewan BFA or it's equivalent 20 TOEFL: 86
    IELTS: 6.5
    University of Guelph BFA/BA Honours or equivalent in visual or fine arts. 20 TOEFL: 89 IELTS: 6.5
    Concordia University  a minimum B average in the major area 10-20 TOEFL: 90 IELTS: 6.5
    University of Regina Must hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts and strong academic records. 20 TOEFL: 23 (each band) IELTS: 7.0
    Emily Carr University of Art and Design  GPA- 3.0 (B) or higher on a scale of 4.0 18-20 TOEFL: 90
    IELTS: 7.0
    OCAD University BA/ BFA/BDes or equivalent honors degree/certification with a minimum average of 75% (B+) or 3.3 GPA during the last two years of study Or, demonstration of exceptional experience/expertise as an artist, designer, critic or curator.  5-15 TOEFL: 90
    IELTS: 7.0

    Masters in Fine Arts in Canada: Admission Requirements

    For admission in masters programs in Canada, applicants are required to provide the following documents:

    • Transcripts: Applicants are required to submit official/unofficial transcripts from every post-secondary institution. Some institutes may request certified copies of the documents.
    • Letter of Reference: LORs may be required for admissions in some universities. Applicants are required to submit around 2-3 LORs in most universities for masters in fine arts.
    • Statement of Purpose/Statement of Intent: Some universities may ask applicants to submit a statement of purpose along with the applications.
    • Resume/CV: Applicants may be asked to submit a resume or CV with detailed academic and work experiences along with the application.
    • Proof of English Language Proficiency: Proof for English language proficiency must be submitted by international students, who belong to non-native English speaking countries. Applicants can submit test scores from TOEFL, IELTS, and other standardized English language test scores. The minimum test score requirements for the universities are mentioned above.

    Admission Decisions for Masters in Fine Arts in Canada

    It may take around 4-8 weeks for your admission decision letter to be issued by the university. The applicants for masters in fine arts in Canada are reviewed on professional references, experience, portfolio, and related information available in the CV. The decisions may be delayed in certain cases.

    Cost of Masters in Fine Arts in Canada

    For an international applicant planning to study in Canada, the costs can be widely distributed into three categories- pre-arrival costs, cost of study, and cost of living. The cost of studying or the tuition fee for MFA in Canada varies from around 5,000-20,000 USD.

    Pre-arrival Costs

    Given below is a table indicating the one-time major costs involved for an international student planning to study abroad. Some of these 

    Type of Expense Cost (USD)
    Program Application Fees 76-125 approx.*
    Visa Application Fees 235**
    Health Insurance 10,000
    IELTS Fee 185-190
    TOEFL Fee 160-250
    Airfare 450-1400

    *Depends on the university

    **150 USD for a Canadian Study Permit and 85 USD is Biometric fee

    Tuition Fees Masters in Fine Arts in Canada

    As a part of post-arrival costs, tuition fees are one of the major expenses experienced by international students. The tuition fees comparison for some of the top Canadian universities is compared below:

    Tuition fee V/s university

    Cost of Living in Canada

    While studying in Canada, international students have to spend a large sum of money on expenses other than the tuition fees. The expenses include the cost of living, books & material, transportation, etc. You may experience an expense of around 750-1510 USD on books and material. Food and beverages may cost you around 3000-4000 USD.

    Accommodation costs may vary depending on the type of logging. A basic comparison of the costs of accommodation in Canada for students is given below:

    Minimum and Maximum cost

    Masters in Fine Arts in Canada: Scholarships for International Students

    There are various scholarships available for international students pursuing masters in Canada. Some of the popular scholarships available to students pursuing MFA in Canada are as follows:

    Scholarship Amount Offered (USD) University
    University Graduate Fellowship 2300-18,300/year University of British Columbia
    The UAlberta Thesis-Based Master's Recruitment Scholarship Over 16,900/year University of Alberta
    Ontario Graduate Scholarship 3781/semester University of Waterloo
    James Barclay Hartman Scholarship in Fine Arts 4500/year University of Manitoba
    Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships 37,800 for up to three years Simon Fraser University 

    There are various other scholarships available to international students pursuing arts in Canada. Please ensure that you search for the other fundings available at a university through their official websites.

    Minimum and Maximum Annual Salary

    Careers after Masters in Fine Arts in Canada

    A master’s degree in Fine arts opens up a range of career opportunities- animation and illustration, sculpting, painting, teaching, commercial design, sales and advertising, gallery curators and so many. Graduates in fine arts get an average starting salary of around 30,000 USD per year. For client-based work, for example-graphic design or animation, hourly wages could become as high as 50 USD per hour or more.

    Fine Artist Qualifications

    Apart from education and training, a student who wants to be a fine artist should also possess the following skills:

    • Artistic ability: Fine artists create visually appealing artwork and other objects that are also thought-provoking. For this, they require significant artistic skill and knowledge in one or more art forms.
    • Creativity: Artists must have creative imaginations to develop new and original ideas for their work.
    • Business skills: Promotion of artistic work and the artist itself is necessary to build a reputation and to sell the art. For this reason, they should study the market to increase their understanding of the type of demands by potential customers. Also, the website is a great platform to sell artworks, so developing an online presence is an important part of their art sales.
    • Dexterity: A skilled artist must be capable of manipulating tools and materials to create their work.
    • Interpersonal skills: Artists often need to interact with many people, including gallery owners, co-workers, and the public.

    Some of the popular jobs for which an international student can apply for post-completion of their masters in fine arts in Canada are as follows:

    Job Designation Average Annual Salary (USD)
    3-D Artist 107,000
    Illustrator 96,000
    Designer 141,000
    Production Artist 108,000
    3-D Designer 104,000

    Masters in Fine Arts from Canada is a rewarding program of study for graduates of fine arts and similar programs. With an abundance of job prospects in the field, a master’s degree in Fine Arts in Canada will not only help students secure high-paying jobs but also broaden their creative understanding and imagination.

    Most of the MFA programs in Canada provide students with creative exploration, innovative experimentation as well as the development of sustainable artistic practice. The faculty in different universities also have established national and international reputations with regular exhibitions, performances, and screening films in Canada and abroad. The faculty members work on a range of funded projects in multimedia, architecture art and biotechnology, ecology, documentary film, and urban culture.