Degree Requirements

Students complete their degree by exhibition and thesis support paper.


All first year students must successfully complete two half courses in contemporary theory and criticism: Visual Arts 5600 3.0: Contemporary Theory in the Visual Arts in term one and Visual Arts 5610 3.0: Theoretical Issues in Contemporary Art in term two.

All first and second year students must complete the MFA seminar, Visual Arts 5620 6.0. This course is taken in both years of the program.

In the second year of the program, MFA students in Visual Arts engage in independent studio research and work with a supervisory committee composed of two faculty members from the program who are most able to address the students’ research needs, concerns and goals, as well as an outside member. This second year supervisory committee supervises the preparation of the thesis exhibition and thesis support paper and acts as part of the committee for the final oral examination.

Students are given a private studio at York during the five terms of the degree.

Thesis Exhibition and Support Paper

To graduate, each student must present a final solo thesis exhibition and a support paper 20 to 50 pages in length. At the final oral examination, both the art works and the written paper are defended.

Minimum Time to Completion

Fall intake only – Five full-time terms
Year 1: fall, winter and summer
Year 2: fall and winter

Candidates for the PhD degree must successfully complete the following requirements:
A total of 3.5 graduate courses (21 credits); comprehensive examination exhibition and paper; dissertation proposal; dissertation exhibition and paper.

For details on all of these components of the program, please see the Program Requirements pdf for the PhD in Visual Arts at