Alberta University of the Arts

Alberta College of Art + Design | Calgary, Alta. | Founded 1926

Alberta University of the Arts student wearing goggles in art class

(A Nichols/AUARTS)

The Alberta University of the Arts offers a range of degree, diploma and certificate programs and is profiled in both the Maclean’s Universities Guidebook and the Maclean’s Colleges Guide. To learn more about the school’s diploma programs, see the Colleges Guide profile.

With its focus on the studio experience, Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts)is particularly well-known for its complement of design and craft programs, including illustration, character design, jewellery and metals, sculpture and ceramics. It is also one of the few Canadian institutions to offer glass programs and the only one to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree and an M.F.A. in glass.

Responding to calls from students, the institution, formerly known as Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD), separated from SAIT Polytechnic in 1985. Last year, it achieved full university status, reflected in its new name. “This is a historic and exciting moment for our 93-year-old post-secondary institution,” says president Daniel Doz. “We have offered professional degrees in art, craft and design for decades and our graduating students will now convocate from Alberta University of the Arts.”

Classes are small and there is an emphasis on one-on-one instruction. The liberal arts are also well integrated, and first-year programs include courses on critical and creative practices and art history. The single campus building houses a professional art gallery, fibre, glass and photography studios, as well as a metal shop and foundry.

Perched on top of the city’s North Hill, adjacent to Calgary’s happening Kensington neighbourhood, the campus overlooks the winding path of the Bow River and Calgary’s welcoming urban skyline. Downtown Calgary, with its galleries, museums and cultural events, is easily accessible via the C-Train, and the Rocky Mountains are only an hour away by car.

READ: An insider’s guide to the best hangover breakfast, place to study and more on campus

Standout Programs
• Jewellery and Metals: Students balance creative problem solving, technical proficiency and entrepreneurship skills with context and history; faculty are practising artists.
• Glass: Students learn from visiting glass artists and make ties with the broader glass community while refining their craft using a full range of equipment. Third- and fourth-year students have access to individual studio spaces.
• Visual Communications Design: Trains students to join the professional worlds of advertising, graphic design, illustration, animation and character design; offers a growing number of minors, including comics.

Cool Courses
• 3D Object Design: The Conceptual Use Object: Explores the creation of objects through technological processes, such as rapid prototyping, computer-controlled laser and milling machines, and digital modelling.
• Character Design: Children’s Books: An advanced course for character development and design in children’s narrative illustration. Students are encouraged to create original content using both traditional and new media.

Minimum Entering Grades
Arts: 60%, plus portfolio
Student Body
Undergraduates: Full-time: 1,142
Graduates: Full-time: 8
International Students: First-year: 6.5%
Male-Female Ratio: 28 to 72
Residence Spaces
No residence on campus, but students can apply for residence at nearby SAIT Polytechnic

More Schools: Southern Alberta Institute of TechnologyBow Valley CollegeMount Royal UniversityEmily Carr University of Art + DesignUniversity of Calgary