Visual Studies


The Department of Visual Studies offers five programs that will challenge those with a creative spirit to reach their highest potential.

Programs and specializations

  • Art & Art History: Offered as a Major and as a Specialist
  • Art History: Offered as Major, Minor & Specialist
  • Cinema Studies: Offered as a Minor.
  • Visual Culture: Offered as a Minor.
  • Visual Culture & Communication (VCC): Offered as a Specialist. 

As a joint program with Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Art & Art History emphasizes the hands-on creativity of studio art and the research perspective of art history. Students explore contemporary ideas, practices, and materials in art studios at Sheridan, while history and theory courses taken at U of T Mississauga examine the art and architecture of a range of past and current cultures and traditions. Art & Art History provides a unique opportunity for students to create, analyze and interpret visual imagery. At the same time, the program’s rigorous university standards ensure that students gain skills in reading, writing and verbal expression.

The Art History program provides a key to understanding human cultures. Works of architecture, sculpture, painting, and other arts eloquently testify to the values and priorities of the societies that created them. Students learn how historical processes created and demanded works of art, and in turn, how those works of art define a period of time and culture. Courses taught by internationally renowned, award-winning faculty span the history of art from the ancient to the contemporary world, and investigate art from Europe, North America, and Asia. The program offers a balance of traditional methods of analysis and interpretation with newer approaches rooted in critical theory.

The Cinema Studies program is devoted to the stylistic, historical, and theoretical analysis of film. Students learn about film as a unique mode of communication in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, while also investigating what it is that film can be said to share with allied art forms. In addition to surveys of major world cinemas, students in the program will also be concerned with many questions about the relation between aesthetics and politics as well as how moving images have an impact on personal and cultural identities and on society in general.
The Visual Culture program responds to the fact that in today’s world, global cultures are visual cultures. Social relations, political events, entertainment, and entire new fields of individual and collective creativity and expression all take distinctly visual forms and rely upon the production, circulation, and reception of images. A Minor in Visual Culture trains students in current approaches to a range of visual materials and issues, covers the history of the discipline, and gives students a grounding in the wide range of areas of visual cultural study (including different media, genres, cultures, historical periods, and theories).
Visual Culture & Communication (VCC) is an interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum that provides students with a foundation in both visual cultural and communication studies (history, theory, and criticism) and digital communication practices. Students take courses from the Department of Visual Studies, the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology, and Sheridan Institute. The Specialist Program prepares students to take an active and informed role in shaping twenty-first-century visual culture by bringing historical and theoretical study from mutidisciplinary perspectives to bear on contemporary practice and debate.. 

Why choose U of T Mississauga for Art & Art History?

Students take advantage of the latest technology at our state-of-the-art CCT building.

Art & Art History graduates receive two prestigious and practical credentials that reflect the program’s dual focus:

  • Honours Bachelor of Arts from U of  T 
  • Diploma in Art & Art History from Sheridan

Students benefit from studying with high calibre, creative and active U of T Mississauga professors who have received training from some of the most prestigious universities in the world.

The Blackwood Gallery, our on-campus art gallery, is an award-winning, internationally-recognized gallery that showcases some of the most advanced and interesting contemporary artists from around the world. Each year, the gallery features the work of graduating students from the Art & Art History program.

Students in Art & Art History take advantage of the drawing and painting studios at Sheridan’s Annie Smith Arts Centre, where they have their own studio cubicles, gain hands-on experience, and develop close friendships with their peers.

Our programs emphasize the importance of both traditional and digital photography in the study of art. This commitment is supported by full-time faculty dedicated to photography.

Students can take full advantage of public art galleries (e.g. Art Gallery of Ontario), museums (e.g. Royal Ontario Museum), artist-run centres (e.g. Toronto Photographers Workshop), small press and artist production facilities (e.g. Open Studio), as well as the many private galleries in Toronto.

Students use the Federated Academic Digital Imaging Systems, a growing online database of images used in class. The system allows students to study and complete independent quizzes, both on and off campus.

Hands-on experience

Intensive studio art courses and regular access to modern studio facilities allow students to develop and refine practical skills while additional work experiences and opportunities are also available. These include:

  • The Blackwood Gallery work-study opportunities
  • U of T Visual Resource Library work study
  • Professors hire students to conduct research

Affiliated student club

  • DVSSS — Department of Visual Studies Student Society

What high school preparation do I need?

For both Art & Art History and Humanities: Grade 12 English (ENG4U) plus five other Grade 12 credits (Ontario U or M courses).*

No portfolio is required for Art & Art History.  Students with strong academic records and little studio background have flourished in the program, as have students with studio experience, so a portfolio and high school art experience are not required.

*This refers to courses from the Ontario Curriculum.
We will accept equivalent courses from other academic systems. For details, visit

After graduation

Art & Art History students choose many paths, including:

  • Teaching at the primary, secondary and post-secondary level.
  • Graduate studies in studio art, art history, curatorial studies, conservation, information science, or related fields in the humanities, leading to an MFA, MA or PhD. Others combine their love of art with science, and enter programs such as UTM’s Masters of Biomedical Communications.
  • Graduates have flourished in commercial art, including graphic design, advertising, illustration, web design and art direction.

For more information

Steph Sullivan