Alberta University of the Arts

The Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts) is a public university of art and design located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The university’s beginnings date back to the founding of the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA) in 1916. Beginning with evening and Saturday classes, day classes were offered starting in 1926 with Lars Haukaness appointed as the first Head of the Art Department. In 1960, PITA was renamed the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and the Art Department was renamed the Alberta College of Art (ACA).

In 1973, after eight years of planning and construction, the Alberta College of Art moved into a brand new purpose-built building designed by architectural firm Cohos, Delesalle and Evamy, on the edge of Calgary’s North Hill, next to the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

The Alberta College of Art gained autonomy from SAIT in 1985, and in 1995 amended its name to become the Alberta College of Art and Design.

On February 1, 2019, ACAD officially became the Alberta University of the Arts.


As a college, the institution had the authority to grant certificates and diplomas. In 1995 the Alberta Government authorized granting the degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts and in 2000 gave authority to grant the Bachelor of Design degree. The Master of Fine Arts in Craft Media was launched in 2015 with the inaugural class receiving their degrees in May 2017.

In March 2018, ACAD was named a university by the Minister of Advanced Education. It is the only institution in the province to offer and confer university-level undergraduate and now, graduate degree programs in art, craft, and design. On January 17, 2019, the Government of Alberta announced that ACAD was to become the Alberta University of the Arts (abbreviated as AUArts). The transition began on the same day while the name and university status became effective formally on February 1, 2019.

AUArts’ degree programs are housed within four administrative schools:

  • The School of Craft + Emerging Media (ceramics, fibre, glass, jewellery + metals, and media arts)
  • The School of Visual Arts (drawing, painting, print media, photography, and sculpture)
  • The School of Communication Design
  • The School of Critical + Creative Studies (non-studio academic courses)