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 make a significant contribution 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

Recent esteemed guest artists and examiners of Whitecliffe's MFA programme include Helen Johnson, Daniel Von Sturmer, Judy Millar, Mikala Dwyer, Eleanor Heartney, Grant Stevens, Laresa Kosloff, Matt Saunders, Juan Fernando Herran, Simon Morris and Anders Ruhwald. Supervisors on the MFA programme currently include critic and writer Anthony Byrt and artists Dane Mitchell, Yvonne Todd, Yolunda Hickman, Marie Shannon 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, Tanya Eccleston, Christina Read, Matt Ellwood, Julie Downie, Glen Snow, David Cowlard and Becky Nunes. 

Application and admission

Applications for admission close 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.

Please ensure the following documents are attached with your application:

  • Copy of Birth Certificate or Passport
  • Passport Photo
  • A statement of intent outlining the direction/emphasis of the work they wish to develop as part of the MFA programme.
  • Portfolio – a typical portfolio comprises 10-15 digital images of keys works or projects and one or two examples of contextual research in written form. (digital format only required for application)
  • Official transcripts of baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) and/or other academic qualifications
  • A current curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of reference
  • Evidence of academic writing ability which reflects the potential for successful study at postgraduate level (examples of previous academic writing may be submitted)
  • Evidence of language proficiency (for applicants for whom English is a second language) IELTS 6.5 or equivalent


The  Master of Fine Arts Programme Director is Noel Ivanoff

For all MFA Programme enquiries:


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 2019
Application deadline: 10 December 2018

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

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