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

Bhavya Rawal Bhavya Rawal
Study Abroad Expert

Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) in Canada usually take 2-2.5 years to complete. 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.

Master of Fine Arts can help graduates from bachelor’s 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:

Country Ranking (THE)World Ranking (THE)UniversityPrograms and SpecializationProgram fee (USD) approx.
234University of British ColumbiaMasters of Fine Arts- Visual Arts, Creative Writing, Interdisciplinary Arts13,465
6136University of AlbertaMaster of Fine Arts- Printmaking14,480
8201-250University of WaterlooMasters of Fine Arts-Studio Arts27,000
11251-300Simon Fraser UniversityMasters of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts8,700
15351-400University of ManitobaMasters of Fine Arts9,300
16401-500University of VictoriaMasters of Fine Arts- Studio Arts16,700
16401-500University of SaskatchewanMaster of Fine Arts in Studio Art10,300
16501-600University of GuelphMaster of Fine Arts in Studio Art20,000
22601-800Concordia University Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts/Print Media/Sculpture and Ceramics/Painting and Drawing/Intermedia/ Fibres and Material Practices
22601-800University of ReginaMaster of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies / Media Production /Visual Arts5000
----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 offered by Top Universities

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

University of AlbertaMFA Printmaking
University of GuelphMFA Studio Arts
Concordia UniversityMFA in Studio Arts, Print Media, Sculpture, & Ceramics
University of ReginaMFA in Media Production, Studio Arts etc
University of Saskatechwan MFA in Studio Arts
Ryerson UniversityMFA 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.
UniversityMinimum EligibilityNumber of Portfolios RequiredELP Test Scores 
University of British ColumbiaBFA (bachelors in fine arts) with a grade of B+ (76%)15-20 for visual arts 30 pages for creative writingTOEFL: 90
IELTS: 6.5
University of Alberta4-year Bachelor’s Degree (preferably BFA) with strong academic record and evidence of work related to the field of interest.12-15TOEFL: 95 IELTS: 7.0
University of WaterlooBA/BFA with an average of 75% 20TOEFL: 100
IELTS: 7.5
Simon Fraser UniversityBFA degree or a relevant degree with an artistic statement--TOEFL: 93 IELTS: 7.0
University of ManitobaBA with a GPA of 3.0 (grade equivalent B)20TOEFL: 86 IELTS: 6.5
University of VictoriaBFA with a minimum grade of B20TOEFL: 90 IELTS: 6.5
University of SaskatchewanBFA or its equivalent20TOEFL: 86
IELTS: 6.5
University of GuelphBFA/BA Honours or equivalent in visual or fine arts.20TOEFL: 89 IELTS: 6.5
Concordia University a minimum B average in the major area10-20TOEFL: 90 IELTS: 6.5
University of ReginaMust hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts and strong academic records.20TOEFL: 23 (each band) IELTS: 7.0
Emily Carr University of Art and Design GPA- 3.0 (B) or higher on a scale of 4.018-20TOEFL: 90
IELTS: 7.0
OCAD UniversityBA/ 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. 5-15TOEFL: 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 Studying 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.

Type of ExpenseCost (USD)
Program Application Fees76-125 approx.*
Visa Application Fees235**
Health Insurance10,000
IELTS Fee185-190
TOEFL Fee160-250

*Depends on the university

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

Application Fees for Top Canadian Universities offering MFA

Given below is a comparison graph for the application fees for some of the top Canadian universities:

Application feesV/s University

Masters in Fine Arts in Canada: Tuition Fees

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:

ScholarshipAmount Offered (USD)University
University Graduate Fellowship2300-18,300/yearUniversity of British Columbia
The UAlberta Thesis-Based Master's Recruitment ScholarshipOver 16,900/yearUniversity of Alberta
Ontario Graduate Scholarship3781/semesterUniversity of Waterloo
James Barclay Hartman Scholarship in Fine Arts4500/yearUniversity of Manitoba
Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships37,800 for up to three yearsSimon 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

Masters in Fine Arts in Canada: Careers

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.

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, performance, 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.

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