BFA First Year, Preparatory

Certificate of Arts and Design (Preparatory)
National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level: 5
NQF Credits: 120
EFTs: 1.0
Exit qualification: Certificate of Arts and Design (Preparatory)
Qualification Code: PC1880
Duration: 1 year, Full Time
Next Intake: February
Preferential Applications by: 31 October , late applications considered.
Maximum Places Available: 20
Campus: Main campus, 24 Balfour Road, Parnell, Auckland

Programme Summary

The Certificate of Arts and Design (Preparatory) runs parallel to the Certificate of Arts and Design. This qualification provides the support and tuition required to staircase students with English as a second language and other students having difficulty with English, into the second year of the Bachelor of Fine Arts Programme. The only variation from the Certificate of Arts and Design programme is that students have one less elective and one less contextual paper which are replaced with an English and Academics paper.

Programme Outcomes

A preparatory pathway is available for students who have talent in the arts but have difficulty with English as an academic language. Students who successfully complete the Certificate of Arts and Design (Preparatory) may then enter into the Diploma of Arts and Design, which is the second year of the Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Admission Requirements

Whitecliffe's admission criteria is designed so students who demonstrate creative ability and a commitment to study can explore their potential as artists and designers. Portfolio reviews, interviews and references are an essential part of the application process. Maturity and life experience are considered an asset and therefore mature students are encouraged to apply. Applicants can enter any level of the degree programme if they meet the prerequisites. Transcripts of prior study will be required. Programmes are designed to serve a range of students from all age groups and social and cultural backgrounds providing a solid fundamental grounding in the principles of art and design. Careful consideration is given to background influences and experiences that applicants can bring to their studies.

Minimum Requirements

Applicants must be at least 17 years of age during the year of commencement. International students must be at least 18 years of age during the year of commencement and hold an IELTS of 5.0

NCEA University Entrance or equivalent CIE/IB award (preferably including practical art and/or design and English). Discretionary Entrance is available to students who have gained exceptional marks in NCEA Level 2/Year 12 and wish to embark on higher level study. These students must display a high level of motivation and maturity. Students who do not meet these requirements are advised to undertake the Foundation Certificate in preparation for application to the BFA programme.

Students who have successfully completed the 6-month or 12-month Certificate of Arts and Design (Foundation) programmes will be considered for entry into the first year of the BFA.

For students 20 years or older, the above qualification requirements may be waived by the Admissions Board if the applicant demonstrates suitable equivalent experience. Portfolio required.

BFA Application process

Bachelor of Fine Arts degree applicants must:

  1. Complete the Whitecliffe Application Form (including statistical information), checking all sections and signing the declaration.
  2. Attach relevant academic records, resumes or references, passport size photo and documentary proof of residency, age and citizenship.
  3. Forward the application, with application fee payment, as soon as possible (although late applications may be accepted if there are places available). Upon receipt of an application form and application fee payment, Whitecliffe will schedule an interview.
  4. Bring your portfolio to your scheduled interview at the Whitecliffe.

Admissions Board Selection meetings occur regularly, so applicants should receive notification within three weeks. After interviews, applicants will be contacted regarding the decision of the Admissions Board.

The preferential application deadline for all years of the BFA is 31 October. Applications received after this date will be considered for entry subject to places being available.

BFA Portfolio

Creative potential is a very important entry criteria for the Bachelor of Fine Arts programme which is why all applicants must submit a portfolio, whether they've had formal training in art and design or not. A good portfolio should contain a variety of work that can be in the form of sketches, drawings, painting, mixed media, photography and sculpture. Workbooks and journals are helpful to show students' methodology and thinking. Whitecliffe does not set a rigid format for presentation or a set number of works, but students can expect to provide up to at least 15 pieces of work. Submitted work may be completed independently, in secondary schools or other tertiary institutions, in the workplace, or as part of our Foundation Certificate programme which is structured to assist students in developing portfolios. The work doesn't need to be mounted on 'high school' boards. Whitecliffe's main objective is to see each applicant's creative abilities.

International Students

English Language Entry Requirements

Whitecliffe expects all students to be proficient in English to an academic level. All applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide satisfactory evidence of their proficiency in English in the form of a recent IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score from an accredited organisation/ institution. Both IELTS and TOEFL are standard. For a list of testing stations near you, visit, or contact the Admissions Office.

The Certificate of Arts and Design (Preparatory) requires the equivalent of a minimum IELTS score of 5.0, and the Certificate of Art and Design requires the equivalent of a minimum IELTS score of 6.5. At postgraduate level a minimum IELTS score of 7.5 is required for entry.

English Language Support

For undergraduate students whose first language is not English and their IELTS score is between 5.0 and 6.5, are required to enrol in the year one BFA English and Academics course (12 credits) that teaches the use of academic English and introduces the language of arts and design. Writing for Academic Purposes and Advanced Writing for Academics Purposes are electives that are offered for any student in year one that requires additional academic writing support. English for Academic Purposes (EAP) is required for students in years two to four who are identified as requiring ongoing one-to-one academic writing support. Whitecliffe, however, does not take responsibility for anyone who fails a course as a result of their lack of competence in English.

Portfolio Requirements

Prospective students applying from their home country may send a portfolio via courier post along with an application form, IELTS results and school records. It may be easier and faster to send a portfolio via email. Simply send it as an attachment in digital image format to the admissions office. Applicants already in New Zealand, will be invited to present and discuss their portfolio in a personal interview with a faculty member. For further information about the interview process refer to Admission Requirements or please contact us

Interview Options

Most applicants are invited to an interview that generally takes place in New Zealand. However, sometimes exceptions are made and a decision can be made based on submission of an acceptable folio of artwork and the necessary academic transcripts and evidence of language proficiency (IELTS).

Study Requirements

International students must attend a minimum of 80% of their classes in accordance with their visa requirements. Students are expected to spend 20 to 25 hours contact time (in class) per week plus another 15 hours per week studying and doing assignments.

Click here to view work by BFA Year One students.