The College of Arts offers a wide variety of academic programs ranging from undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees to diploma and certificate programs. We also offer courses for those seeking to upgrade their skills or develop their interests.
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The College of Arts emerged as a separate academic unit at the University in 1970. Its creation followed the University’s decision to disband Wellington College (1964-1970), originally conceived as the umbrella administrative organization for all the University’s arts, science, and social science academic departments.
The new College of Arts was the designated home for the humanities programs and it was also given a mandate to carry out the University’s cultural programs including Music, Fine Art, and Drama.
The College of Arts has played a key role in the University of Guelph by continuously offering a varied and effective liberal education while giving new and innovative academic programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. It began the University’s study abroad programs with the London Semester program in 1974 and the Nice exchange program in France starting in 1985. At the graduate level, for some time the doctoral programs in History and Philosophy were the only non-science doctoral programs offered at the University. The doctoral program in Philosophy, begun in 1972, became a joint doctoral program with McMaster University, the first joint doctoral program in Ontario. In 1994, the History Department joined with the History Departments at Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University to form a Tri-University Doctoral Program in History, also the first of its type in the province.
Education on the Guelph campus has a long tradition, beginning over one hundred years ago when the Ontario government purchased a five hundred-acre farm from Frederick William Stone for its new School of Agriculture. In this promising location, the Ontario School of Agriculture opened its doors on May 1, 1874.
In 1880, the name of the institution was changed to the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and Experimental Farm.
In 1903, OAC was joined on campus by the Macdonald Institute which provided instruction in nature study, manual training, domestic science and domestic art.
In 1922, the Ontario Veterinary College became the third college to join the campus. Actually the oldest of the founding colleges and the oldest college of its kind in North America, it was originally established in Toronto in 1862.
On May 8, 1964 the University of Guelph Act was passed by the Ontario legislature, bringing these three full fledged colleges together as a single institution. The new university was to be governed by two senior bodies – the Board of Governors and the Senate, the former having responsibility for administrative and budgetary matters, the latter for academic concerns. Together, they possess the decision-making power of the university.
In October 1964, the Senate of the University of Guelph created Wellington College which offered degree programs in arts and sciences. Five years later, the college’s three departments were divided into three new colleges: the College of Arts, the College of Physical Sciences and the College Social Sciences. The Macdonald Institute formally became the College of Family and Consumer Studies at this time as well.
In 1971, the College of Biological Science was constituted from the School of Physical Education, OAC’s Department of Nutrition and parts of OAC’s departments of Botany, Microbiology and Zoology.
In 1989 OAC’s school of Engineering was amalgamated with the College of Physical Sciences to become the College of Physical and Engineering Sciences.
In 1998 the College of Family and Consumer Studies was amalgamated with the College of Social Science to become the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences.