The Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory offers the following four graduate programs:

Enriched by access to the full complement of university offerings, students in the MA in Art History Program and the PhD in Art History Program are encouraged to situate art in its historical context, to analyze its impact on the world around us, and to develop theoretical frameworks that contribute to critical thinking and engage with debates in the field. The programs encourage high scholastic achievement, original research, and a firm methodological grounding. The two-year MA program provides excellent preparation for a wide range of art-related careers, in addition to further study at the PhD level. The PhD program fosters art historical research and scholarship at the highest level and promises exacting study and deepening experience of the field.

The Critical and Curatorial Studies Program leads to an MA in Art History. The program includes a practicum exhibition or curatorial project. Recognized as one of the best in the world, the graduate curatorial studies program benefits from being embedded in the Department of Art History, Visual Arts and Theory and by having a relationship with the Museum of Anthropology and the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery.

The MFA in Visual Art Program equips artists with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge to make critical and engaging artwork and to participate in an ever-changing art world. The emphasis in the Visual Art program is to develop the creative potential of the individual student in his/her milieu, enhanced by research into critical art discourse on advanced contemporary art through direct access to the university’s extensive facilities and diverse disciplines. Students in the program may work in any area of contemporary art production including painting, drawing, printmaking, three-dimensional and installation work, photography, digital art, intermedia, video, performance, sound, or in any interdisciplinary form.

Though distinct, these programs are interconnected and complementary, fostering a community of critically engaged and artistically aware graduate students with diverse backgrounds and interests who contribute to arts and cultural discourse on local, national, and global levels.

On-going departmental and student-led initiatives enrich the graduate student experience in AHVA including a number of lectures by international and Canadian artists, critics, curators and scholars as part of the Joan Carlisle-Irving Lecture Series and the BC Binning Endowment. The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery hosts and curates nationally and internationally significant exhibitions and programs. Each year, the gallery presents lectures on contemporary curatorial and artistic practice. The Art History, Visual Art and Theory Graduate Symposium has been occurring for over 35 years, making it one of the longest running events of its kind in a North American university. The symposium includes a concurrent exhibition curated by graduate students in the department and features artworks by MFA students from around the globe. There is also a lively exhibition program associated with the MFA students both on campus and in various downtown locations, in addition to Open Studios events and interdepartmental critiques several times a year. The Department provides advice and assistance, as well as an introductory workshop in September, to students making applications to the SSHRC and Affiliated Fellowship major funding panels. The Department also allocates funds for Art History research travel in response to an annual round of applications, and often provides special funding for projects proposed by seminars and student groups.