Master's Programme in Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA)

Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) educates contemporary art and visual culture
professionals and researchers, to achieve understanding of the best Nordic practices and traditions in art education and visual communication. NoVA builds on Nordic competences and
expertise, which are related to current discussions in the field of international art education.
Teaching is provided by faculty from three Nordic universities, in English, and the program
welcomes international students.
NoVA studies / Photo: Eija Mäkivuoti
Photo: Eija Mäkivouti


This cross-cultural study offers work opportunities internationally in different art, educational, and visual communicational areas, institutions, organisations, communities, and art and culture contexts. In addition to Aalto University, Department of Art (Finland), collaborating universities and departments are: Department of Visual Arts and Sloyd Education at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design (Sweden) and Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University - Copenhagen, (Denmark). Teaching is provided by three Nordic universities, and each student will study in person at two universities. Each student stays one or two semester at a NoVA partner University. The choice of the exchange university guides the contents of studies. Depending on the combination, students may, for example, choose to emphasize media communication or contemporary artistic studies.

Focus areas of the studies

Between and among the NoVA partners, a broad range of study areas include:

  • Critical pedagogy with social and cultural awareness
    This stems from aspects of the highly valued Nordic education systems, emphasising democratic societies, egalitarianism, socially just pedagogical skills and practices, human rights and social and cultural sustainability.
  • Nordic digital technologies, digital media, new technologies, and communication
    Social and cultural competences in ICT & online communication are included to the programme as content and as pedagogical methods.
  • Contemporary art didactics
    This includes project and problem oriented teaching, and collaborative and participatory based learning based on contemporary methods, and theories of art, pedagogy, and mediation.
  • Visual culture developed in the Nordic region
    This incorporates exploring creative and critical approaches to design and art making, coupled with a deep responsibility for openness, caring, and equality.
  • NoVA courses are mapped around three concepts: sights, sites, cites
    Throughout the NoVA programme, students focus on the significance of “sight” in relation to theories, practices, and networks of visual studies. With the concept of ”site,” students investigate the geo-political and pedagogical dimensions of space, place, the public sphere, and private realms. And, students are provided with opportunities to critically reflect upon and synthesize previous experiences and knowledge as well as generate new knowledge through “citational” practices that draw upon existing social and cultural texts, theories, artworks, and research.

More information in the study guide for the academic years 2018-2020.

Career opportunities

Students that graduate from NoVA will have strong intercultural understanding and experiences, and knowledge of teaching practices and theories in different Nordic countries. Students may direct themselves toward teaching, producing, designing, guidance, and consultant tasks on different levels of schooling, or in the fields of art and visual and media culture, social sectors and corporate life. The degree alone does not qualify as teacher competency. Through NoVA, students are prepared for doctoral studies and for the possibility to continue their research profession.

It is never easy to move to a new country, but Korean born Solip Park did it twice. Moving first to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon and then – after hearing about Aalto’s vibrant remix of arts and business – she moved again to Finland to be part of the Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) program.


Our students' stories

Anni Rupponen, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student & NoVA Student Assistant from Finland

I have a strong identity of art educator and NoVA studies challenge me continuously critically evaluate my professional practice. The studies include a lot of independent work and online learning and some contact lessons like intensive symposium weeks. I completed my BA from Crafts and Recreation in 2015 and worked almost 4 years on the fields social services and education before applying to NoVA master program. First, I was scared about studying the whole program in English but quickly English become natural language to work with. Beside of NoVA studies I work as NoVA program’s student assistant. I am responsible for coordinating NoVA’s communications, and I also help with event management.
Anni Rupponen, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student &
NoVA Student Assistant from Finland

Ji Youn Lee, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student from South-Korea

If you want to feel ‘the democracy of experience’, you should be a member of NoVA. I feel really fortunate to have met peers from all over the world. What is even better is to exchange ideas with them, who are willing to express and share diversity with an open mind. I have been experiencing various culture as if I was a child and learning new things constantly. Many conflicts and new feelings have awakened in a positive way. I can still remember the day of the admission interview, sitting in a circle with five female professors from Finland, Denmark and Sweden. My question to them was what is Nordic value and now I am getting a grasp of it. Here I am, in the very safe NoVA community.
Ji Youn Lee, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student from South-Korea

Gintarė Rukšėnaitė, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student from Lithuania

Being a part of NoVA international community is not only about studying and hanging out with people from all over the globe. For me, it is being involved in various discussions on art, visual cultures, education and politics in the broader global context. I was able to meet other stories, point of views as well as other realities in order to escape from my own safe bubble. NoVA is all about critical approach towards the things we often take for granted. I have a BA in Nordic Studies and Languages but decided to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone and follow my interest in visual studies. I don't regret a bit.
Gintarė Rukšėnaitė, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student from Lithuania

NoVA community online

Get to know our professors, teachers and see what our students think about studying in the Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) Programme.

NoVA Aalto University webpage you can find Aalto University specific info of NoVA programme. More information about the Nordic collaboration and partnering universities you can find on NoVA community website & blog and through our social media channels.


How to apply?

Applicants for the Master’s Programme in Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) Programme apply in the Master’s level admissions in the field of Art and Design.

The degree awarded is Master of Arts. The admissions to Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) are organised every other year.

The Next application period is in late 2019. The students are selected through a two-part examination, of which portfolios form stage 1, and interviews stage 2. The admission criteria is based on the applicants’ educational backgrounds, other studies and orientation in the field, as assessed through: 1) a letter of intent and a study plan, including a section of proposed area of research, 2) portfolio, 3) curriculum vitae and 4) evaluation consultation (interview) for the applicants selected to the second phase. Consideration is given to pedagogical intentions, interaction and communication abilities, and multiply literacies and competences.

Our staff

Mira Kallio-Tavin

Mira Kallio-Tavin

Department of Art
Professor (Associate Professor)
Tiina Pusa

Tiina Pusa

Department of Art
University Lecturer
Kevin Tavin

Kevin Tavin

Department of Art
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