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Master of Fine Arts

Key facts

  • Available at Wellington
  • Application due date - 30 November 2019 for February 2020 (Semester One) start.
  • Two years full-time, or three to four years part-time
  • Available for international students studying in NZ

Transform your creative practice

Embed yourself in a rich dialogue about your creative practice in Massey’s transdisciplinary MFA programme for artists and designers. The College of Creative Arts is NASAD approved as Substantially Equivalent.

What is it like?

Find out more about entry requirements, fees and courses in the planning section.

“The MFA has completely changed my creative practice. Critical thinking is huge. The interdisciplinary aspect is really important to me - I love Wellington. I also love the collaborative ethos at Massey. We all work fabulously together”
(MFA student, 2014, from a fashion design and business background)

The Massey MFA has a strong collective philosophy. By bringing together a small cohort of postgraduate students from design and fine arts, the MFA fosters intense transdisciplinary conversations and exploration. It is well suited to artists working from a hybrid or expanded practice and designers who want to develop adventurous work that challenges convention. The Low Residency mode offers the same intensive transdisciplinary engagement while fitting in with work or family commitments, and is flexible enough to be completed while teaching.

For designers as well as artists

The Massey MFA is a transdisciplinary qualification. As you go through your degree, you can choose whether you want to graduate with an MFA “in Design”, an MFA “in Fine Arts”, or an MFA without endorsement if you believe your work cannot be framed in terms of either discipline. To date, we have had students whose undergraduate training is in fashion design, photography, textile design, industrial design, graphic design, and fine arts.

International recognition

The Massey MFA has been awarded ‘substantial equivalency’ status by the US National Association of Schools of Art and Design, putting it on a par with similar degrees from many leading US universities.

Massey’s College of Creative Arts is ranked in the top 100 by QS University rankings, and the Wellington School of Design is ranked Number 1 in Asia–Pacific for design concept by Red Dot.

We have the most top-ranked researchers in design, visual arts and craft in New Zealand, based on the 2018 Performance Based Research Funding round.

If you are an international student, please contact Massey’s International Office for essential advice on visas and other requirements, and check out how to apply.

Unique in New Zealand

Although the norm in the United States, an advanced two year MFA is rare in Australasia. The Massey MFA is an intensive commitment, which we believe is required to develop a fully realised body of creative work. The first year (full-time) offers students the freedom to ‘travel’, creatively-speaking. Students dig deep, interrogating the fundamentals of their practice. There is no pressure at this point to produce fully resolved work; students are expected to push their work in new directions and explore the possibilities in their ‘failures’ as well as their ‘successes’. By the second year (full-time), most students are demonstrating a much deeper, critically informed sense of who they are as creative practitioners and carry that into their final thesis project.

The programme is based around seminars and masterclasses led by visiting lecturers and academic staff at the College of Creative Arts, along with regular group critiques and one-on-one meetings with mentors and supervisors.

The MFA also includes:

  • Creative retreats with international thinkers-in-residence
  • Critical Forum: responding to provocations from New Zealand and overseas artists, designers and thinkers
  • international study tours, extensive exhibition/presentation opportunities
  • Postgrad studio space and other state-of-the-art facilities
  • Warm, friendly cohort environment

Some of the things we value: lively debate, criticality, technical virtuosity; social engagement, challenge, metamorphosis, and great food.

A good fit if you:

  • Crave depth, stretch, disruption and transformation in your creative work
  • Thrive in a transdisciplinary environment, relishing the cross-fertilisation of ideas and approaches
  • Want to contribute to contemporary issues and debates
  • Value both the conceptual and the material in your creative practice
  • Want to participate in a creative community where we support and challenge each other to explore and experiment
  • Love the vibrant creativity and human scale of Wellington city
Shannon Te Ao (Ngati Tuwharetoa)
Artist, writer, curator

Shannon Te Ao completed his MFA in 2015. His artistic output saw him investigating and responding to material drawn from Māori paradigms, testing the implications of alternative creative, social and linguistic models in relation to contemporary video art and other performative practices. Shannon’s work was shown extensively during his MFA, including at the Biennale of Sydney in 2014. Work he created for the biennale, Two shoots that stretch far out, won the Walters Prize in Contemporary Art, 2016.

“If someone were to say that there are still parts of their practice that they want to critically analyse or unpack, and they want to open up a dialogue with people operating at a higher level, I would suggest they take a look, see if Massey is a good fit for them.

“I was talking to other schools, too, but getting to know the faculty here, they all have aspects of their creative practice that intersect with mine. They’ve got an interesting bag of tricks visible in current trends around the world at the moment.”


MFA graduates go on to diverse careers in the private and public sectors, including design, technology, business, fine art, writing and education. A rigorous two-year MFA in design or fine arts is widely respected not only in North America but in countries in Asia, South and Central America and parts of Europe that look to the US model.

Inspiring supervisors

The College of Creative Arts has the largest number of internationally ranked researchers in visual art and design of any New Zealand university. All academic staff teaching into postgraduate programmes have significant research profiles. Their areas of expertise include (but are not limited to) memory and memorialisation, photography, zero waste fashion, visual communication, interactive design, curation, interactive music, art criticism, mobile filmmaking, digital and electronic media, Māori visual arts, contemporary sculpture, site-responsive art, experience design and performance. For more information, visit the

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