The Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U) is Canada's best-known and largest art school and is located in Toronto. Since its inception in 1876, under the sponsorship of the Ontario Society of Artists, the college has had several names and locations. First called the Ontario School of Art, it was located at 14 King Street West in downtown Toronto. In 1882, it came under the Ontario Department of Education and moved to the city's Normal School, the present site of Ryerson Polytechnic University. The school relocated 5 years later to a building near Queen and Yonge Streets, where it existed precariously for a short time.

In 1890 the Ontario Society of Artists resumed its sponsorship and re-established the school as the Central Ontario School of Art and Design. At that time, the school occupied the upper floors of the Princess Theatre Building. When the theatre was demolished, the school changed location again, to the Upper Floor of Grange House, the home of the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario). While there, it became recognized as the Ontario College of Art, and in 1921 moved to its present site at 100 McCaul Street, next door to the AGO. This was the first building in Canada to be used solely for art education. In 1996 the College added "and Design" to its name.

In 1979 the main campus was supplemented by the newly renovated Stewart Building at 149 College Street, and in 1981 the main campus was considerably enlarged. The OCAD had grown steadily, with enrolment climbing from 100 in 1911 to more than 2800 full- and part-time students today. The OCAD's alumni and faculty include world-renowned artists and designers, among them Barbara Astman, Aba Bayefsky, J.W. Beatty, David Blackwood, David Bolduc, F.H. Brigden, Dennis Burton, Jack Bush, Ian Carr-Harris, Charles Fraser Comfort, Graham Coughtry, Greg Curnoe, Ken Danby, Allan Fleming, Richard Gorman, Frederick Haines, Robert Hedrick, James Hill, Robert Holmes, Yvonne McKague Housser, C. W. Jefferys, Burton Kramer, Nobuo Kubota, Isabel McLaughlin, Lucius O'Brien, George A. Reid, John Scott, Michael Snow, Lisa Steele, Harold Town, Colette Whiten, members of the Group of Seven (Franklin Carmichael, A.J. Casson, A.Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald and F.H. Varley). The OCAD's contemporary curriculum includes drawing and painting, integrated media, sculpture/installation, criticism and curatorial practice, photography, printmaking, communication and design, environmental design, industrial design, and material art and design. In 2002, OCAD received official status to confer the degrees of Bachelor of Fine Art and Bachelor of Design in addition to its four-year diploma in art and design.

See also Art Education.