Two students at a registration table

Visual Art

Visual Art students will find and create opportunities to showcase their talents and to participate in the wider art world of the university and the city of Vancouver. Students will learn to think critically about the practice and theory behind the creation of physical art forms and be able to articulate visual representations.

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) Major in Visual Art, offers students a well-rounded program of visual art practice, critical theory and Art History, within a stimulating and challenging academic environment. Students enjoy a program that combines a focus on visual art practice with a broad range of elective courses. The BA strikes a balance between the study and practice of visual art in various media and academic work while providing ample room for study in other areas of interest.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is an intensive program in the practice of art. It can lead to further studies in art practice such as a MFA; to other professional involving the making and understanding of art and visual culture; or to a career as a practicing artist.

Get experience at UBC

Building your career takes more than attending academic lectures. Get involved with research and complement your studies with relevant research and applied experiences. Whether you choose one of the experiences listed below or one of the many other great opportunities available, you’ll learn new things, make new friends, network, and set yourself apart. It all counts.

Visual Arts Students Association

The Visual Arts Students Association provides support and organizes activities for undergraduate VISA students and art lovers at UBC, including hosting exhibitions of student work.

The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery

Volunteer and work learn opportunities offered at this stand-alone art gallery on campus. The Belkin Art Gallery is a public facility contributing to the cultural life of the campus, the city, the province and beyond. The gallery attempts to expose the broadest possible spectrum of visual concerns to both the University community and the public at large.

Arts Co-op Program

Wondering how your analytical and writing skills might help you build a good career after graduation? Gaining paid, full-time, relevant experience through Arts Co-op will help you explore career options in fields such as non-profit (including social services), government, and the private sector across Canada and abroad. Graduate with at least 3, 4-month work terms, average cumulative earnings of $25,000, career skills and experience, and a network of professional contacts that will give you a competitive edge after graduation. 

Arts Internship Program

Build a career while you are studying through part-time, unpaid internships designed with Theatre students in mind. Exciting internships are being created at galleries, art festivals, theatre organizations, museums, and grass-roots organizations and non-profits. Find your passion, gain relevant experience, and unlease your creativity in a part-time internship this year. 

Community experience

Through community-based experiential learning (CBEL), you can participate in projects driven by community priorities. Get involved in short or long term projects, such as working with local artists to teach youth about literacy and creative expression during Reading Week.

Go Global

Let your creativity flourish and gain a new perspective on visual culture as you study at one of UBC’s 150 partner universities around the world. Explore the range of international learning opportunties offered through Go Global.

Student Directed Seminars

Student Directed Seminars allow senior undergraduate students to either participate in or initiate and coordinate small, collaborative, group learning experiences. In previous years, students in Visual Arts have facilitated such seminars as Contemporary Art in Vancouver.

Using your degree

The Visual Arts program equips students with the tools and skills necessary to work professionally in contemporary visual art fields, and to pursue further studies in related fields such as Masters of Fine Arts, Faculty of Education, or in the School of Architecture and Interior Design. Students also have the foundation to pursue other careers and studies requiring an arts degree, for example Law and Library + Archival studies.

Degree learning outcomes

Visual culture not only drives much of contemporary life, it provides a cornerstone upon which a vast array of potential careers can be built. Those who understand, manage and produce the visual are highly relevant in today’s world. Graduates will have developed their inventive and explorative research skills on a visual platform; creative outlooks, lateral-thinking and approaches to problem-solving are beneficial to a broad range of career development and advancement. Grounded in conceptual and emotive inquiry, and supported by an awareness of the materials and materiality (cultural, social and historical), graduates will be well positioned to produce compelling arguments on a wide variety of topical areas. This trans-disciplinary thinking and information management fosters adaptability in a changing world, and promotes awareness and understanding of complex issues.

Career possibilities

Visual Content Manager

Responsibilities would include creating and managing visual assets, such as video, graphics and photographs, which would support a business and its growth.

Gallery Manager

A Gallery Manager is responsible for all administrative functions at the art gallery, such as display preparation and organizing exhibitions.

Art Director

Art directors are responsible for the overall “look” of films, TV shows, stage shows, magazines, newspapers, ads, and multimedia products.

Other Potential Careers

Art / Recreational Therapist
Art Gallery Director
Costume Designer
Courtroom Sketch Artist
Exhibit Designer
Film and Video Editor
Medical Illustrator
Production Artist
Publication Designer
Recreational Therapist
Set Production
Special Effects Consultant
Visual Effects
Visual Merchandiser
Web Designer / Developer

Academic possibilities

This degree prepares students for further study in a variety of fields such as:

  • Architecture
  • Art Education
  • Art Therapy
  • Curatorial Studies
  • Education
  • Fine Arts
  • Law
  • Library and Archival Studies

Alumni profiles