Master of Fine Arts

Study a Master of Fine Arts in Auckland at Whitecliffe, New Zealand's leading arts and design school.

Whitecliffe Master of Fine Arts students are enrolled in Auckland's only low residency postgraduate visual arts programme. They experience intelligent debate, rigorous critique, and high quality encounters with exceptional artists from New Zealand and overseas, graduating with the skills to become leaders in their chosen field.

The Master of Fine Arts degree programme at Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design is a full time, two-year low-residency programme, structured around four week-long seminars per year. Studio-based supervisors support individual students to engage critically with their practice and to successfully negotiate the requirements of the MFA research degree. 


The Master of Fine Arts programme prepares artists for a professional career working within a diverse field of contemporary art practices across both local and international contexts. The MFA is interdisciplinary and assists students to develop their individual approach to practice and research through the provision of regular critique, supervisory guidance, seminar participation and a focus on exhibition and publication practice. The MFA programme's interdisciplinary structure and philosophy supports artists to form a greater understanding of how art and artworks operate in the world and assists students to deepen their knowledge of the contexts that shape the breadth and specificities of contemporary art practice.

Low-residency structure

The low-residency structure of the MFA programme facilitates the ability of artists enrolled in the programme to live and work anywhere within New Zealand. Each MFA student selects and/or is assigned two supervisors who directly support individuals to develop both the studio and contextual dimensions of their individual art and/or research practice. Supervisors regularly visit students' studios and/or exhibition spaces - wherever they may be - and attend each of the seminars where appropriate. The low-residency structure of the MFA also enables students to balance study with the demands of paid employment.

Seminars and supervision

Seminars are held on campus, but supervision is maintained off-campus through online contact between students and their supervisors and regular studio visits. The quarterly scheduled seminar structure of Whitecliffe's MFA programme accommodates enrolled artists to regularly meet and work with internationally respected artists, critics and educators, enabling input that may otherwise be difficult to access. The intensive format of the seminars is structured around themed discussions, guest artist presentations, exhibition visits and studio critique. 

Recent esteemed guests of Whitecliffe's MFA programme include Courtney Johnston, Luke Willis Thompson, Lisa Reihana, Tessa Laird, Judy Millar, Mikala Dwyer, Eleanor Heartney, Grant Stevens, Laresa Kosloff, Matt Saunders and Anders Ruhwald. Supervisors on the MFA programme currently include critic and writer Anthony Byrt and artists Dane Mitchell, Yvonne Todd, Glen Snow, Yolunda Hickman and Imogen Taylor. Whitecliffe faculty also work to support the MFA programme through seminar delivery and student supervision roles and include highly respected artists and educators Noel Ivanoff, Matt Ellwood, David Cowlard, Julie Downie, Steve Carr, Christina Read, Tanya Eccleston and Becky Nunes. 

Application and admission

Applications for admission closes in early December each year, before the first seminar of the MFA's academic year in January. Limited places are available; we encourage an early application where feasible. Applicants are selected through a portfolio-based application process, based on their level of academic and artistic achievement and may be asked to attend a selection interview. Applicants must have successfully completed a Level 7 (Bachelor of Fine Arts/Bachelor of Visual Arts), or its equivalent at B or above, for consideration. 

The Master of Fine Arts has been approved and accredited by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) under the provisions of the Education Act 1989.


The  Master of Fine Arts Programme Director is Noel Ivanoff

For all MFA Programme enquiries:

Click here to download a list of  International External Assessors and Visiting Scholars


Click on the image below to view or download the prospectus


National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level: 9
NQF Credits: 240
EFTS: 2.0
Exit qualification: Master of Fine Arts
Qualification Code: PC2275
Duration: 2 years low-residency
Next Intake: January 2018
Application deadline: 10 December 2017

Places Available: Maximum of twelve per intake
Campus: Main Campus, 24 Balfour Road, Parnell, Auckland 1010, NZ