Frequently Asked Questions


1. Why choose the Ottawa School of Art?

The Ottawa School of Art is the largest alternative art school in Canada. Credit courses offered at the OSA provide pre-professional fine arts training in strong, well-designed programs. With small class sizes in one of our twelve studios, students pursue an intensive course of study marked by a high degree of interaction with working professional artists in a studio setting. Students are given the freedom necessary to develop their skills and to follow their creative impulses. Students have the advantage of the school’s excellent location in the heart of Ottawa’s cultural district. Situated in the lively bustle of the ByWard Market, the OSA is just steps away from the National Gallery of Canada, the National Arts Center, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and a wide selection of private art galleries.

2.What will a Diploma give me?

The Ottawa School of Art offers diploma students a unique program of intensive, hands-on, well-structured training in the fine art tradition of drawing, painting and sculpture. OSA students have the potential to gain a deeper understanding of their own ideas and to gain greater awareness of how to develop skills in the pursuit of a career in the visual arts.
Over three-years of full time study, students learn a visual expression based on their own concerns and experiences. Starting with a challenging well-structured foundation year, through to the advanced studios, apprenticeships and exhibition experiences of their final year, students find and develop their capacity for creative thinking. Developing an ability to think through and act on their creativity, OSA students stay ahead of the wave.

3. What does the OSA look for in an applicant?

Students at OSA are creative, passionate spirits. We want to make sure that every student has a good chance of being successful so we look at ways that, as a prospective student, you might be a good match with our program.

4. Will I need a portfolio for entry into one of your programs?

Fine Arts Diploma Program: Yes, presenting your portfolio is required as part of your interview for entry into the program.
The Portfolio Certificate Program: No portfolio is required. This unique program is designed to help you develop your portfolio for entry into an institution or program of your choice. If you already have a portfolio, presenting it in the context of your OSA interview will help us find the courses that can best serve your needs.

5. What should I include in my portfolio?

Your entry portfolio should consist of ten to fifteen images, of your best and most recent craft/art work. The work can be derived from course assignments, personal projects, or work experience. Your portfolio should include a variety of tools, media, styles, and approaches. If possible, we prefer that the majority of drawings submitted in the portfolio be derived from direct observation rather than other sources (such as photographs). For more information, visit the Making a Formal Application section here.

6. What kind of financial aid is available?

OSA is a member-based, not-for-profit registered charitable organization and an alternative art school. As such, we have no funding from outside sources. At this time, we cannot offer bursaries or financial aid to our students. Scholarships and awards are available to students already enrolled in an OSA program. Information on these scholarship awards is available here.
The OSA offers a financial payment plan, the details of which will be explained as part of the interview process.

7. What is the OSA studio access policy?

If the school is open, you have studio access. For each three hours of studio class time, you are guaranteed three hours of free studio time. So, for example, full time studios have 15 hours of studio time per week. After the beginning of term, students in any of the credit programs have exclusive access to all studios on Friday nights after the school closes.
During the busy times of year, studio space may be available for students determined on a priority basis as follows: third year Diploma students (full-time), third year Diploma students (part-time), second year Diploma students and Portfolio Certificate students.

8. Do students have exhibition opportunities?

Yes, students have opportunities to show their works, in the OSA Boutiques and the annual Holiday Art Sales at both the Main Campus (35 George St.) and Orleans Campus (245 Centrum Blvd., Shenkman Arts Centre) and in off-site venues. In addition, all third year students, as part of the requirement for fulfilling their apprenticeship credits, are allotted two solo exhibitions in the Lee Matasi Gallery. Students graduating from the Diploma Program participate in a graduating exhibition in the Main Campus Gallery at 35 George St. The OSA Alumni Association (for all graduates of the 90 credit Diploma Program) is planning future exhibition opportunities for its members.

9. How does OSA compare with other schools?

Students who do well at the Ottawa School of Art are ones who enjoy a challenging studio environment. We suggest that you visit us in person and compare for yourself.

10. What are the academic requirements for admission?

Entrance into the Diploma Program is based on the student’s entry portfolio. Although official transcripts are required, academic transcripts are not a deciding factor for admission. However, advanced standing or transfer credits might be obtained from an outstanding portfolio or from successfully completed course work at a university or another institution.
No specific high school classes are required. However, you must present proof of high school graduation. Mature entry is no longer valid.
No specific training is required. Your life experience counts when it has been expressed as part of your portfolio work. The OSA may waive students from certain studio requirements based on the strength of the portfolio.

11. Can I study part-time?

Yes, it is considered part-time when a student takes three courses per term. A student may take less than three courses only with special permission. To be full time, students must take five courses per term for two terms a year.

12. Does OSA supply materials?

Each student is responsible for obtaining the required materials for each class. The OSA does not supply the materials, however, a variety of supplies can be purchased through the OSA store located on the ground floor. Store hours vary with the hours of the front desk. Course supply lists from each instructor are available at the front desk.

13. What are the smoking regulations?

Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the Ottawa School of Art by order of City of Ottawa Bylaw 144-79.

14. Does OSA supply storage?

Lockers are available and can be rented through the front office. All unregistered lockers will have contents removed after one week posted notice. Due to the extreme shortage of available storage space all student work must be removed from the School at the end of each term. Work remaining in the studios or other areas of the School after the end of the term will be disposed of. The OSA cannot be responsible for any loss or theft of student property.

15. How can I ask other questions that I may have?

Please contact us at 613.241.7471 or email: diploma@artottawa.ca
Check out the News & Events and Galleries sections of the OSA website regularly for information about current events at the school. Mark important dates in your agenda, for example: portfolio reviews, scholarship information days and vernissage dates.

Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr @ArtOttawa

Back to Top

Right Menu Icon