Studio Fine Art
Practice & Theory


Studio Fine Art Practice & Theory is a 3-year diploma program dedicated to the study and practice of contemporary art within a multidisciplinary environment. You’ll have the opportunity to develop your visual art studio practice to a high level while focusing on the uniqueness of your desired interests and concerns.

The wide-ranging curriculum includes studio work in two and three-dimensional studies, film/video and performance – each in a variety of media and processes. It also incorporates elements such as marketing for artists, grant writing, financial management, project planning, exhibition curation and more.

This program is designed to provide the necessary skills and knowledge you’ll require to move forward and take advantage of your creativity as a professional artist or in a position related to the visual arts industry.

Offered as an innovative alternative to conventional art education, the curriculum is flexible and based on the individual needs of each student. Unlike larger institutions, at DVSA we’re able to offer small class sizes and provide intimate one-on-one instruction in a focused environment where you can grow and be challenged.

Successful graduates will receive a Diploma in Fine Art and Theory. (An option is also available to complete the program without the accreditation component).

Who is it for?

The program is open to students of all ages who have successfully completed Grade 12 and demonstrate evidence they may well succeed in the program. If you would like to pursue a career as a professional artist and/or work in the visual arts industry, this is an ideal program to begin your journey. We welcome you to submit an application with encouragement for individuals from equity-seeking communities. How To Apply

DVSA is committed to a creative culture where we can be our best selves, supporting one another and making a difference to the individuals and communities we serve. We are respectful in our interactions with others. We are inclusive, creating space in the visual arts for voices that have been marginalized. We are innovative, inspiring creative ideas and solutions. We are collaborative, knowing we are stronger together.

Have questions? Want the inside scoop on this program?

Program Format

The Studio Fine Art Practice & Theory program integrates studio practice and theoretical studies with an emphasis on supported, student-centred learning.

Three courses in Year One provide foundations in 2D, 3D and time-based art; drawing and observation; and contextual studies introducing key themes in art history, theory and criticism. Classes may be scheduled between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.

In Years Two and Three, the program becomes more independent. The curriculum includes a studio course with assignments and independent projects, and a theory course including lectures, seminars and individualized research support. Workshops will be scheduled with guest instructors who bring expertise in relevant areas of professional practice such as grant writing, gallery contracts and proposals, social media for artists and more.

Goals and expectations are agreed upon for each student and are set for each stage of the program. There are four stages in each year – two for each semester. A tutorial assessment occurs at the mid-point of each stage and a recorded grade is given at the end of each stage.*

Through ongoing dialogue among students and faculty, this program is designed to encourage you to discover your identity as an artist and to reflect upon what is important to you – to find the freedom to experiment, to be inspired by the historical developments of the past and explore the key issues in art making today.

View the full program curriculum here.

*program can also be taken without the accreditation option.

Why study at DVSA?

  • Established in 1964, DVSA is one of Canada’s largest independent art schools, offering a unique learning experience and a vibrant and creative environment. It has provided the springboard for numerous visual artists who have gone on to achieve national and international success.
  • We offer small class sizes and intimate one-on-one instruction in a focused environment where you can grow and be challenged.
  • The school’s part-time classes in drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, photography and more are available as elective options.
  • Artist Talks and opportunities for one-on-one critiques of your work with guest artists are a regular part of the program.
  • Also provided are opportunities to exhibit in the school’s Gallery. This includes training in hanging and lighting exhibitions, writing an artist’s statement and pricing your work.
  • Your artwork will have exposure to a wide-ranging and well-educated audience of DVSA students, faculty and members of the community. 


Diploma in Fine Art Practice & Theory: Tuition for the 2024-2025 academic year is set at $4,800.

Independent Studies: An option is also available to complete the program as an independent study, without the accreditation component (no diploma upon completion). For rates, eligibility and information on how to apply, please contact the Visual Arts Director, full-time@dvsa.ca.

We also require a $500 one-time non-refundable registration fee for all students in their first year, due upon enrollment.

Students will be responsible for purchasing their own art supplies.

Tuition can be paid in advance or paid on semi-annual or monthly plans over the course of the term. For details on pro-rated payments please contact our Executive Director, Kathron Hann at kathronh@dvsa.ca.

For information on our 3-Year Bursary, please click here.

For all other financial assistance inquiries, please contact our Executive Director, Kathron Hann at kathronh@dvsa.ca.

How to apply

We are looking for enthusiastic students ready to make a serious commitment to learning and growing as a creative visual artist.

If you require adjustments to the process outlined below for accessibility purposes, please contact us at full-time@dvsa.ca and we will provide accommodation.


Step 1: Letter of Intent   

Write a one to two-page letter of intent. Please include the following information:

  • Your reasons for wanting to attend the full-time studies in the 3-year Studio Fine Art Practice & Theory program.
  • Whether you are applying to the accredited Diploma program or the non-accredited independent study program.
  • Your contact information including address, email and phone number.
  • Details on your current art practice. What media do you use? What subject matter are you exploring?
  • What skills and information do you wish to gain from the program?
  • Where do you want your learning to lead you in the future?
  • What else would you like us know about you?
  • What else would you like us to know about your art?

Please save your letter as Word or PDF document and send it as an email attachment to our Visual Arts Director, Sally McKay at full-time@dvsa.ca. Please put “Program Application” in the subject line. 

Step 2: In-Person Interview /Portfolio Review  

Based on the letter of intent, shortlisted candidates will be invited to an in-person portfolio review and in-person conversation with the Visual Arts Director. These interviews will take place in late January – early February. Applicants who make it to this stage will be contacted to arrange a specific time and date. (If you are not able to attend a meeting in person, let us know and we will make alternate arrangements.)

Your portfolio should have 12-15 pieces of work. These may include drawings, paintings, sculptures, sketchbooks, photography, digital art, art video, digital documentation of any work that is too big to transport, and any other work you think of as part of your artistic or creative practice. Please bring pieces that show the full range of media you have used (even if some of them might not be your strongest works). You may bring artworks made for school assignments, but please also bring pieces made on your own. If you have been making art for a long time, please be sure to include works that reflect your current practice.


Required: OSSD or Equivalent Requirement

Applicants must have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent* recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities. Please bring a hard copy of your official transcript (or equivalent) to your in-person interview/portfolio review.  

*The following are OSSD equivalents recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities: 

  • A secondary school graduation diploma from another Canadian province or territory or from the United States.
  • A General Education Development (GED) certificate issued by a Canadian province or territory or from the United States.
  • A transcript, diploma or certificate from another country, assessed at an Ontario OSSD level by a recognized assessment service.
  • A Canadian or U.S. post-secondary diploma or degree.
  • A non-Canadian post-secondary diploma or degree that has been assessed as equivalent to a Canadian postsecondary diploma or degree by a recognized assessment service.
  • A certificate of completion for an academic upgrading program from any Canadian jurisdiction that is accepted by an Ontario College of Applied Arts and Technology for entry into an Ontario postsecondary program (for example, the Ontario Basic Skills Level IV, Basic Training and Skills Development Level IV, or the Academic Career Entrance Certificate).
  • A Certificate of Apprenticeship or Certificate of Qualification in any trade from any Canadian jurisdiction.



We’re here to help! 

or Email Sally McKay, Visual Arts Director: full-time@dvsa.ca