Alberta University of the Arts

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Since 1926, Alberta University of the Arts, AUArts (formerly ACAD) has inspired thousands of students to pursue their dreams.

As Alberta's only dedicated art, craft and design university, we're proud to play an important role in nurturing creativity and driving innovation in our province and around the world. From our academic programs to grass-roots community partnerships, there's a lot going on at AUArts – we hope you'll join us.

Our degree programs are studio-based, which means hands-on. In our studios you’ll explore multiple media, applying new techniques and immersing yourself in the practice and culture of art and design. You’ll have access to a wide range of unique opportunities, including a strong international exchange program and a robust scholarship and awards offering for incoming students. Most importantly, with a 1:15 faculty-to-student ratio, our average studio class is kept to 15 students so you’ll receive individual, personal attention from a faculty made up of a diverse group of over 130 professional practicing artists, designers and scholars.

The university is located on Calgary's North Hill, overlooking the Bow River and the downtown skyline, in a building designed in 1973 specifically as an art college. The central mall is a thoroughfare, meeting place, and exhibition space for artwork. The college is the home for two galleries, the public Illingworth Kerr Gallery and the student-run Marion Nicoll Gallery. It also has an outstanding collection in the Luke Lindoe Library of books, slides, and periodicals on contemporary and historical art. Other on-site facilities include an art supply/bookstore and a cafeteria.

A connecting Light Rapid Transit station offers AUArts students easy, inexpensive access to the wide world of Calgary, including museums, galleries, theatres, the zoo, public libraries, and the University of Calgary. AUArts students may participate in a variety of public service projects and practicum placements throughout the city. In addition, the College offers a student exchange program, which permits students to pursue a year of study at other institutions in Canada, North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Want to know more? Visit for more info, or book a tour to come see it for yourself at 403.284.7617, Don’t miss any of the important deadlines, start your application process online today!

Areas of Expertise

AUArts faculty members are highly motivated, practicing professional artists and designers who bring commitment, enthusiasm, and a wealth of practical experience to the classrooms and studios. They emphasize studio instruction with a focus on individual growth and development through hands-on experience with a wide range of techniques and approaches. Students learn how to look at art and how to critique each other's work. Studios are spacious and the classes are small. The university's student/space and student/faculty ratios are among the best in the country.

The curriculum encompasses a wide range of majors in visual arts and design. Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) majors are offered in the following studio disciplines: Ceramics, Drawing, Fibre, Glass, Jewellery & Metals, Media Arts, Painting, Printmaking, and Sculpture. A Bachelor of Design (BDes) is offered in Photography and Visual Communications Design with streams in Graphic Design, Advertising, Illustration and Character Design. All students must complete First Year Studies before moving into an area of concentration. First Year Studies provides students with a variety of studio experiences, contemporary theory and practice, art history, and liberal studies to ensure that students gain broad exposure and a well-rounded education.

On Campus Housing

While AU Arts does not operate a residence, students may apply to live in residence on the SAIT Campus adjacent to AU Arts. Further information about the SAIT residence may be obtained from the SAIT Web site or

Off Campus Housing

The University of Calgary's Student Union maintains a housing registry on the Web site, which lists numerous accommodations available near the campus. Students are advised to begin to locate housing in May and June. Students should expect to pay at least $600.00 to $800.00 for a one-bedroom apartment. The Housing Registry Network is a project of Connect Calgary, one of Canada's 12 SMART Communities funded by Industry Canada. AU Arts students can access the housing list on the Web site. A printed copy is also posted outside of Student Services and updated weekly.

Incoming Students

At the beginning of each semester, Student Services provides a New Student Orientation to introduce new students to College staff and facilities. During Orientation, students have the opportunity to meet other new students and to tour the ACAD campus. Personal and career counselling, as well as study skills assistance, is available to all ACAD students.


AU Arts students can participate in a variety of competitive sports and physical activities at the SAIT Campus Centre. Connected to AU Arts by an enclosed walkway, the Campus Centre offers excellent athletic and physical recreation facilities. These include a 35 metre salt water swimming pool and diving area, a multi-purpose gymnasium, a hockey rink, handball and squash courts, a fully equipped weight training room, plus men's and women's locker and steam rooms. The Campus Centre coordinates intramural sports and open recreational activities, as well as a full range of activity classes and sports clubs. AU Arts athletes may also be eligible to compete on SAIT intercollegiate sports teams.


Through the AU Arts Students' Association, students have opportunities to form clubs in areas of interest. The SAIT Campus Centre also coordinates recreation and sports clubs.

Information Technology

Computing & Technical Services provides students, faculty, and staff with Computing, Digital, and Audiovisual support and services. Its staff of specialists develops, maintains, and operates purposed facilities and processes, both physical and virtual, in support of AU Artsemic programming and the global AU Arts community.
The IOLAB offers a variety of digital output options including film writing, and laser and wide format inkjet printing. Colour copier services are also available, as well as CD writing and self serve film scanning.
Audiovisual Services (AVS)
Audiovisual Services provides audiovisual equipment and assistance in support of curriculum delivery on campus. AVS operates a well-equipped photography studio specifically for the photography of artwork using both film and digital means. AVS also provides an equipment loan system, photography services, slide duplications services, off-campus photo lab services, technical support, and special services to College programs and departments.
AV Suite
The AV suite supports audio and video digital recording and capture from a variety of sources. The design supports effect workstations, sound recording, final rendering, and both analog and digital print to tape.
General Access to Computers
General access to computing is available to the global AU Arts community. A variety of computer stations and devices are available including flatbed scanning and network laser printing as well as access to IOLAB output services. All stations have a word processor and browser and most have recent version software applications.


The AU Arts campus features two art galleries. The Illingworth Kerr Gallery is a highly recognized public gallery, which hosts exhibits of national and international acclaim. The student-run Marion Nicoll Gallery provides opportunities for students to exhibit throughout the AU Artsemic year.

Special Services

Students with Disabilities
Students who have special needs should identify those needs when applying. Appointments will be arranged to discuss the accommodation of their needs. AU Arts Student Services provides personal and AU Artsemic counselling and can provide assistance for students with learning disabilities. The University is wheelchair accessible.

Affiliated Institutions

Bow Valley College and Alberta University of the Arts jointly offer the Artstream Program.

International Involvement

The University has an active student exchange program and is a member of the international Student Mobility Program. Both offer students an opportunity to spend their third year studying at other art colleges and institutions in North America, England, Finland, France, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, and Australia.

Campus Tour

Open House & Portfolio Days
The best time to see the University at work is during Open House & Portfolio Days. In conjunction with our Open House, we will conduct portfolio reviews. Prospective First Year Studies applicants are invited to bring their portfolios. Faculty members will be available to discuss portfolio development. Reviews will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Guided tours are offered during Open House & Portfolio Days. Call (403) 284-7617 for information or to book a group tour.
Information Sessions
Information Sessions are held throughout the year. These sessions provide prospective students with information regarding AU Arts programs, the application and admission process, and career opportunities in arts and design.
Information sessions are held in the AU Arts Stanford Perrott Lecture Theatre. No appointment is necessary.
University Tours
University tours are provided for prospective students and are available throughout the year. Tours visit all studio areas, and provide admission and program information. Guided tours are offered during Open House or by appointment.
To inquire about Information Sessions or to book a University tour, contact the Admissions Office at (403) 284-7617, TTY (403) 284 7643, or call toll free in North America at (800) 251-8290.

Modified on July 18, 2023