OCAD University

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The Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) is Canada's largest university of art and design with a specialization in creativity and innovation. Established in 1876 by the Ontario Society of Artists, the College was originally known as the Ontario School of Art and was incorporated as the Ontario College of Art in 1912. The College was the first of its kind in Canada to be dedicated exclusively to the education of professional artists in fine and commercial art. In 1996, it was renamed the Ontario College of Art & Design. Today, OCAD is the third largest of the approximately 40 professional art and design universities in North America.

Throughout its distinguished history, OCAD has been shaped by many of Canada's leading figures in art and design. One of its earlier principals, celebrated painter George A. Reid, designed its first purpose built home on Grange Park, a beautiful Georgian building, which remains to this day part of the College campus. Arthur Lismer and J.E.H. MacDonald, of the Group of Seven, were once Vice Principal and Principal, respectively. Many other famous Canadian artists have taught or studied at OCAD, including Fred Hagan, Jock Macdonald, Michael Snow, Graham Coughtry, Gordon Rainer, and, more recently, Colette Whiten, Joanne Tod, and Barbara Astman, and designers such as Clair Stewart, Carl Dair, Allan Fleming, Theo Dimson, Ken Rodmell, and, more recently, Debbie Adams, Helen Kerr, and Scot Laughton.

Areas of Expertise

In 2002, OCAD received official status to confer the degrees of Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Design via the new Ontario College of Art & Design Act passed by the Government of Ontario. Its university status has led to a number of significant changes such as a renewed curriculum, a new professorial structure for faculty, a research mandate, a new system of governance, and preliminary groundwork for future graduate programs.

The changes now make OCAD even more distinct in Ontario's educational sector. Students acquire critical thinking and writing skills, as they do in a liberal arts program at a traditional university. Unique to OCAD, however, this liberal studies education is integrated with a studio program that is more comprehensive than any other fine arts program in Canada. As well, the largest faculty of its kind in Canada is comprised of many leading art or design practitioners and scholars. The result of OCAD's educational experience is that students gain an in depth knowledge of the history and theory of visual culture, as well as the analytical skills to execute powerful ideas within the studio context.

On Campus Housing

OCAD University does not offer a housing service and does not have residence facilities. There are excellent housing resources and referrals available online to help students with their search, including information about independent and student residences nearby. OCAD U cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information provided by third-party websites.

Off Campus Housing

OCAD University does not offer a housing service and does not have residence facilities. There are excellent housing resources and referrals available online to help students with their search, including information about independent and student residences nearby. OCAD U cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information provided by third-party websites.

Incoming Students

Throughout the year, OCAD University hosts a number of events which would be a great introduction to life at the University. Please check our events calendar for upcoming events on our website.

Career Planning

The Career Development office at OCAD University is committed to working with all students and new graduates to provide direction, resources and opportunities that will help you to develop the skills and knowledge base required to be successful creative professionals, in any number of contexts and sectors.


The Centre for Advising, First Year, and Campus Life promotes recreational opportunities for OCAD students. We host weekly drop in recreation programs twice a week at the University Settlement House (“Grange” community centre right around the corner) Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11:00 a.m. We also provide and support programming based on student interest such as bowling nights, hockey games, and more.

Information Technology

Studio based computing is provided via six computer studios located throughout the campus. Some of these facilities function both as a resource for students for digital technology and as venues for studio based curriculum delivery. Industry standard applications, commonly used by artists and designers, are available on both the Mac and Windows operating systems. High speed Internet and wireless technology are available throughout campus. In addition, for OCAD's laptop program, we negotiate with Apple and Toshiba in order to provide students with the best pricing and the latest hardware.


XPACE is a non-profit, student run gallery that aims to promote the works of emerging artists of all disciplines in a professional setting. All OCAD students are members of XPACE Cultural Centre, which is a membership driven organization governed by the OCAD Student Union Board of Directors.

Special Services

The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities provides academic support and accommodations to individuals who are living with the following disabilities and conditions, which may impinge on their academic performance including mobility, visual and hearing impairments, medical conditions, and learning disabilities. OCAD will provide a wide range of accommodations including note taking, extended time on tests and exams (to be negotiated with your instructor), and alternative test format (i.e. oral testing, scribe). Workshops are also provided to faculty and staff in order to increase their awareness of specific disabilities, their impact on learning, and corresponding teaching strategies to accommodate students with disabilities in the classroom.

International Involvement

OCAD has a study abroad program at our campus in Florence, Italy as well as a self designed international study program. The Florentine campus offers a facilitated, directed study approach to learning and is open each year to a limited number of students from all areas who have completed at least two years of study. While in Florence, students develop a body of work in a communal studio setting and study art history amidst a backdrop of architectural and artistic treasures from the Italian Renaissance. Alternatively, OCAD students may spend a semester at another art and design institution by participating in the Mobility/Exchange program.

Campus Tour

Tours of OCAD University's facilities are available on designated days at specified times throughout year. More information about campus visits can be found online under the Prospective Students section of the OCAD University website. Please email admissions@ocadu.ca if you have any questions about the tour.


An education in art and design is a special learning experience. National Portfolio Day is your opportunity to meet professionals from some of the finest design and visual arts schools in North America. It’s not a competition and no offers of admission will be made. Bring your best work and have it critiqued for potential admission to the art or design school of your choice. OCAD hosts a National Portfolio Day event annually in November. Visit the Prospective Students section of the OCAD University website in September for exact dates and a list of participating institutions.

Modified on January 25, 2024

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