Apply for the Bachelor of Fine Arts

Applications for the 2019 and 2020 Academic years are being accepted.

As a guide, the preferred application deadline is 31 October of the year preceding proposed course of study.

Applications received after that date are welcome and all applicants to the BFA will be interviewed for a place on the programme.

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Minimum Requirements

- Be at least 17 years of age during the year of commencement. 18 years for International Students.

- 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.

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

BFA Application process

Online Application


Complete the Undergraduate Application Form, sign the declaration and attach relevant academic records, resumes or references, passport size photo and documentary proof of residency, age and citizenship.

Ensure that the  application form is completed in full (including the letter of intent) and either email or post to Sandy Johnson -

Upon receipt of an application form Whitecliffe will schedule an interview and will notify you by letter or email of the scheduled date. Bring your portfolio to your scheduled interview at 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.

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.

This can take the form of  

  • 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
  • Where the applicant is currently in New Zealand at the time of submitting the application. an English language test can be taken at Whitecliffe. Please contact the Admissions Office.



  • 5.5 IELTS  or equivalent


  • 6.0 IELTS  or equivalent


6.5 IELTS minimum

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 have 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 or 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 12-24 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.

Recognised Prior Learning (RPL)

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or advanced standing may be granted to students with experience of prior tertiary training or professional experience in arts and/or design. The Admissions Board may recommend transfer credit, credit waivers and/or eligibility to matriculate based on RPL. RPL must be requested at the time of application and/or no later than two weeks prior to the commencement of the course/s for which this is sought. Students may be required to enrol in other courses of equivalent credit value to maintain a full-time load (EFTS) when necessary. RPL can be based on verifiable, certified documentation, appropriate industry experience, an outstanding portfolio, demonstration of intellectual and academic development or other cause. Applicants wishing to be considered for advanced standing, Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), or cross-crediting of previous studies from other New Zealand or overseas tertiary institutions, must provide certified copies of academic transcripts. The Academic Registar, in consultation with the relevant faculty member, evaluates transfer credits. This may also be done through the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).Transfer credits are granted only if the applicant's portfolio or previous study or experience is equivalent to work produced at Whitecliffe at the same level. Whitecliffe participates in the NZQA programme for Recognition of Prior Learning and recognises units recorded in the Record of Learning.

The preferential application deadline for all years of the BFA is 31 October. Late applications will be considered until mid February however students may be placed on a waiting list.

Download an undergraduate application form from the Admissions page.

Read more information on the Bachelor of Fine Arts page.