Art - Fine Art

What to Expect
The MFA Fine Art programme is aimed at artists and recent graduates who want to advance their art practices, engage with the relationships between contemporary art and theory and consider what art might be in relation to today's social, cultural and political situations. The MFA programme recognises that contemporary art is transdisciplinary in spirit, contributing to the diversity of life today. It supports a range of practice-based inquiry across the fields of contemporary art including public art, performance, moving image, digital media, painting, print, sculpture, expanded and emergent practices. Themes addressed by MFA students include bodies, objects, spaces, images, gender, sexuality, language and immaterial labour.

Students are encouraged to develop their individual research pathway in finding new ways of making, modelling and situating their projects in relation to the spectrum of contemporary art discourse and practice and wider audiences. The spine of this programme is centred upon an experiential art practice engagement with structured components that explore research methods and lectures in contemporary art practices. The advanced study required at masters level is delivered by leading practitioners in the field, including artists, curators, writers and other relevant professionals.

The core components of the course are the studios and technical facilities, project spaces, written elements and critical seminars where students present and test work and reflect on their approach to materials and the theoretical and historical frameworks informing their practices. In their final year of study MFA students produce a major practice project for public exhibition, and also choose between working on a collaborative exhibition project or an extended writing project.

Opportunities to Engage
These programmes have their foundations in a consistent commitment to the 'publication' of practice through exhibition. These moments of public exhibition are visible in interim opportunities to test work within and outside the academy, and in the public exhibition of the student's major research project at the end of their studies with invited responses from curators. MFA exhibitions and events have been developed in a variety of locations and venues such as Rua Red, the Hugh Lane Gallery, the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Solstice Art Centre, the Lighthouse Cinema and the Point Depot and are a significant feature of the Dublin and Irish cultural landscape.

The programme is developed around a pathways model that affords specialism in relation to known and expanded conceptions of contemporary art. You choose engagement with a range of discursive seminars and lectures across areas of socially engaged practices, digital world perspectives, theoretical coordinates and interdisciplinary components - some drawing upon our close relationship with University College Dublin.

Regular field trips to major international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, Liverpool Biennial and Glasgow International and alternative art venues are a core part of the programme experience in addition to a programme of visiting lectures and masterclasses with international artists and art professionals. Recent contributors include Alan Phelan, Jaki Irvine, Michael Hill, Lívia Páldi and Georgina Jackson.

The School of Fine Art also offers:
MFA Art in the Contemporary World (with the School of Visual Culture): Students who successfully complete taught elements of the MA Art in the Contemporary World can proceed on the basis of a suitable portfolio to a second year of studio based study towards an MFA degree.

Subjects taught

1st year
The programme is structured across specialist pathways in painting, fine print, media, sculpture and expanded practices, textiles, ceramics and glass with workshops, resources and technical support provided in these areas.

Every student has his or her own studio space working alongside each other in a supportive group environment. Specific research strands can emerge out of the 'studio–lab' and lead to productive collaborative projects, exhibitions and events.

Each MFA student has a personal tutor or supervisor who oversees their progress on the course and also has access to the team of MFA course tutors within the School of Fine Art. The MFA teaching team represent a wide range of practices and research within the field of contemporary art. Where possible visiting lecturers to the programme also work with students.

In addition to the core practice and theory modules, students may also choose from elective modules offered by the Schools of Visual Culture, Design and partner courses in UCD.

In the first year, second semester, of the MFA, students can travel to a partner college of NCAD under the Erasmus scheme. During the first year students are responsible for developing an interim public outcome which may take the form of a public exhibition or other event. In previous years students have worked with external curators and writers on these events and have exhibited work in different locations and venues.

2nd Year
In the second year, first semester of the MFA, students submit a written submission which represents an aspect of their research interests.

In the second semester of this year, a Professional Development module is designed to assist students to mediate their work from writing a press release to giving a performative lecture. The course finishes with a major practice project and a public exhibition of the graduating MFA Fine Art. These graduate exhibitions are accompanied by a publication and have taken place in a variety of significant cultural venues in Dublin city centre over the years as well as on the NCAD campus itself: the RHA gallery, the Hugh Lane gallery, the Douglas Hyde gallery and Frawleys former department store. The current external examiner is the artist Adam Chodzko

Entry requirements

Educational Standard
All applicants are expected to present an approved Bachelor degree at minimum level of 2nd class honours (2.2)

Applicants who do not meet the minimum academic entry requirements may be considered on the basis of prior work or learning experience (RPEL). Candidates may be required to pass a qualifying examination set by the relevant department before being accepted to a Masters degree programme. Attendance at selected undergraduate lecture courses at NCAD, together with related written work may be prescribed.

You may apply for the programme if you are currently completing your Undergraduate Degree. NCAD will review the rest of your application If necessary, we can make you a Conditional Offer. When your degree is completed and you send us final transcripts we will upgrade this to a Full Offer.

Essential Supporting Documents
- A Statement of Interest - 500 words framing your reasons for applying to the programme. Please indicate a subject/discipline area that you believe can best advance your practice.

- A recent CV

- Certified transcripts of previous programmes followed

- Certified copies of degree/ certificates and/or other appropriate third level qualifications bearing the official stamp of the institution.

- Reference 1 (Academic - Head of School/Department preferred)
*Some referees prefer to submit the reference directly to the college. If this is the case, please instruct your referee to email a standard reference to

*Please make sure all references contain the letterhead and the institution contact email address for the referee.

- Reference 2 (Tutor or Current/Recent Employer)

- Applications for Fine Art programmes must be supported by visual or other documentation that best represents your practice.

- Applicants are requested to upload a document via the online application which contains a link to an online portfolio or to a portfolio* folder on Google Drive. The portfolio / folder should contain 10-15 images maximum.

- Weblinks to Vimeo or YouTube should be submitted for viewing video clips. Clips should be no longer than 10 minutes. Clear titles, sizes, dates, media, dimensions and contextualisation of the imagery must accompany your submission on an Image Description Sheet.

- Links to artists' websites, online galleries, or other online art sites will not be accepted as a portfolio. Failure to submit a 10 to 15 piece portfolio will render your application incomplete.

Document Description
When uploading documents please make sure you clearly label them using the Description Box.

English Language Requirements
All programmes in NCAD are taught through English. International Applicants are asked to provide proof of their English Language Proficiency.

Full details of acceptable tests and the standard required can be found at the following link:

Application dates

Step 1: Click on "Application Weblink" below.

Step 2: Fill in your details

Step 3: Upload your Supporting Documents
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Step 4: Pay the application fee & submit your application to NCAD
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120 ECTS credits / Taught masters


A two-year taught studio programme with pathways in Fine Print, Digital Art, Painting, Sculpture and Expanded Practice, Ceramics / Glass, and Textile Art & Artefact.

Enrolment dates

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After Your Degree
An MFA qualification is generally accepted as a prerequisite for further professional development in art and related fields. The alumni of the MFA at NCAD have gone on to pursue a variety of careers as artists, curators, academics, doctoral researchers and entrepreneurial arts professionals in expanded fields. Ireland has a vibrant visual arts sector that embraces contemporary art museums, formal gallery spaces, private galleries, artist initiated/artist run spaces.

Dublin is home to a smart, dynamic, curious, friendly and youthful population that contributes to its reputation as an active, engaging and outward-looking European city. Irish culture has an international profile across the arts in literature, music, film, theatre, visual art and architecture that combines rich traditions with youthful risk taking innovation.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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    Course provider