Art is the expression of creative skill and imagination that gives form to ideas in a tangible manner, such as through paintings and sculptures. Artworks are prized for their beauty and relevance, and there is a lucrative market populated by elite collectors who pay top dollar for art objects. In order to become a part of the art scene, one must be talented, or else excellently educated about art. So if you are interested in breaking into it, your best chances would be to start by studying it formally, and here are the best art schools in Canada for that.

Top Art Schools in Canada

1. Ontario College of Art and Design University

Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) has the most programs available for international art students to choose from, and the selection ranges from the more traditional practices such as painting to more forward-looking disciplines such as digital futures for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Founded in 1876, OCADU is the oldest and largest art and design university in Canada and is noted as a worldwide hub for art, design, and innovation in the creative fields. Notable alumni include Relational Aesthetics pioneer Rirkit Tiravanija, landscape painter Franklin Carmichael, and installation artist Barbara Astman.

2-3-year programs for international students cost approximately $34,000 for graduate programs and about $40,000 for undergraduate programs, which are significantly less than European counterparts. Should the amount prove challenging for you, scholarships from government and private entities are available to offset the cost.

2. University of Toronto

The next leading Canadian university offering top-notch art programs is the University of Toronto. It was founded in 1827 and is noted for its long history of positive social transformation through the resolve of its faculty and students, and the strength of its programs.

Some of the most sought-after programs in the UoT are art history, art management, and studio art which includes many creative disciplines such as painting, sculpture, and digital media. The university offers a variety of degrees from undergraduate to postgraduate and continuing studies. Programs cost an average of $60,000 per term, with many scholarships and financial aid options available for international students.

Famous alumni of the University of Toronto include Hunger Games star Donald Sutherland, renowned filmmakers Atom Egoyan, Betty Xie, and Norman Jewison, as well as literary luminary Margaret Atwood.

3. Alberta University of the Arts

AU Arts is one of Canada’s most prestigious art universities known all over the world for the superior quality of its programs, world-class facilities, and brilliant and multi-awarded faculty, offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in many fields of the arts to international students, from the traditional ceramics, illustration, and sculpture to more modern disciplines such as digital art.

Since its foundation in 1926, the university has been a pioneering force in shaping the visual culture of Canada and the world. Its alumni include some of the most distinguished contemporary artists and creators such as comic book artists Fiona Staples and John Byrne (who has worked with Marvel and DC to incarnate their most iconic superheroes), sculptors Katie Ohe and Elaine Cameron-Weir, illustrator Thomas Kerr, and Canadian Aboriginal contemporary artist Alex Janvier.

Tuition fees at AUArts cost approximately $21,000 per year for undergraduate programs and in excess of $31,000 for graduate programs, with scholarship and financial aid options to help defray the cost.

4. Concordia University

Concordia University prides itself on promoting an environment of learning by doing. Its arts programs are considered some of the best in Canada and are distinguished by a holistic approach that aims to push the boundaries of scholarly thought, supported by arts-based research centers focused on human creativity and development, as well as media and technology.

The university offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs for international students, which average $22,000-27,000 per year. Its most popular program in the field of the arts is the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, which paves the road for students to become art educators themselves. Famous alumni include filmmaker Karen Cho, visual artist Renée Condo, interdisciplinary artists Anahita Norouzi and Marigold Santos, and artistic duo Laura Acosta and Santiago Tavera.

Scholarships are available for international students who need assistance.

5. Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University

NSCADU is one of Canada’s oldest and most exceptional art and design educational institutions. Founded in 1887, it is instrumental in shaping the art, design, and craft landscape of Canada for more than a hundred years.

The university offers a rigorous interdisciplinary learning experience for discerning international students who wish to experience what it means to belong to a vibrant creative community of talented students and award-winning faculty globally recognized for its impact on art and design. NSCADU offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in various disciplines such as Fine Art, Film, Art History, and Fashion.

Tuition at NSCADU ranges from $1,500-$13,500 per semester for undergraduate programs and $1,000-$14,000 for postgraduate programs, and this can further be reduced through many available scholarships and financial assistance programs.

FAQS About Studying Arts in Canada

Why Study Art in Canada?

Canada is one of the most desirable destinations for international art students as it is very rich and culturally diverse. The country has some of the world’s most renowned universities that teach top-rated art programs that are hailed as innovative and impactful.

The environment is very supportive, encouraging, and intellectually stimulating. The best resources are available for students — prestigious museums and galleries are readily accessible, and so are art materials. And if that is not quite enough, Canada has very low tuition rates and art scholarships for international students are within reach, and living conditions are exemplary.

According to contemporary artist and curator Riel Hilario, art is not just a means to express ideas, but a veritable generator of wealth for everyone involved in the art scene. To become a part of that society, one must become equipped with knowledge about how the art system works, and the best way to do that is a combination of excellent education and a robust personal artistic practice.


We hope that this article about the best art schools in Canada will help you in your journey toward becoming a part of the art world! For more information about Canadian universities and scholarship opportunities, be sure to visit our Canada Scholarships Page!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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