• Cultural Leadership student Jo Thomas in a community group
  • Cultural Leadership Cohort with tutor during an intensive in 2017

MFA (Cultural Leadership)

For further information on the course, please contact Karilyn Brown, Course Leader:
E: karilyn.brown@nida.edu.au
T: 02.9697 7645

Our Cultural Leadership Course is currently in review-
There will be no intake for 2023, to read more about the course review click here:

Course Review

Not ready to apply? Sign up to our Higher Education list to receive updates about information sessions, how to complete your application and more.

NIDA encourages applications from candidates from diverse backgrounds, with different types of experiences across the various art forms, film, television or other areas, as well as in cultural development, policy and management.

NIDA welcomes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants.

About the course

This course challenges you to question and debate the role of the cultural sector in our society and your own place within it.

It is designed specifically for those who already have active roles in the cultural sector who aspire to facilitate resilient, new leadership models. Our cohorts reflect the diversity and intersectionality of lived experience in Australia and course content draws on a diversity of knowledges, research, case studies and leadership practices.

Through part-time online learning and face-to-face intensives at NIDA in Sydney, you will be encouraged to exchange and collaborate in innovative approaches to creative and professional practice. Topics covered include governance, cultural policy, entrepreneurial thought leadership, communication, advocacy, cultural transformation, sustainability, and research generated through practice.

Throughout the course you will develop into a future-focused arts leader. You will be taught by experienced cultural leaders in the arts industry and supported by senior NIDA academics.

A highlight of your course is a tailored placement with a prestigious international cultural organisation to enhance your networks and put your knowledge into practice.

Course structure

The MFA (Cultural Leadership) is currently only offered in part-time mode only, over a 30-month period.

In the first 12 months of the course, students undertake the following subjects:

  • Leadership and Governance (20 credit points)
  • Cultural Policy and Practice (20 credit points)
  • Communications and Persuasive Presentation (10 credit points)
  • Generating Research through Practice A (20 credit points)

In the next 18 months students undertake:

  • Cultural Transformation and Sustainability (50 credit points)
  • Generating Research through Practice B (10 credit points)
  • Communications and Advocacy (5 credit points)
  • Evaluation Methodologies for Cultural Leaders (10 credit points)
  • International Case Study (35 credit points)

The course is structured to enable students to participate on-campus through four intensives (which last four or five days each and include weekends) each year and via supported online learning throughout the year. Travel and accommodation to attend intensives is at the expense of the student.

Online learning and teaching will take place between the intensives. Students need to be available to engage on a regular basis and will be required to equip themselves with the necessary technology to participate in online forums such as Zoom.

Course dates

2023 course intensive dates

First Year (2023 Cohort)

1-6 February
Orientation, Introduction to the course and the subjects Leadership and Governance, Communications and Persuasive Presentation

28 April-2 May
Leadership and Governance, Communications and Persuasive Presentation

29 July-1 August
Generating Research through Practice A, Cultural Policy and Practice

20-24 October
Generating Research through Practice A, Cultural Policy and Practice

Second Year (2022 Cohort)

2-6 March
Generating Research through Practice B, Cultural Transformation and Sustainability.

28 April - 1 May
Cultural Transformation and Sustainability

28 July - 1 August
Cultural Transformation and Sustainability, Evaluation Methodologies for Cultural Leaders.

20-23 October
Evaluation Methodologies for Cultural Leaders

Course overview

Leadership and Governance (20 credit points)

CUL9104 Leadership and Governance examines models of governance within the context of the cultural sector, and how Board and executive leadership intersects with sound governance to realise organisational and creative goals.

CUL9104 Leadership and Governance provides a comprehensive examination of the legal, organisational and operational frameworks of cultural organisations will be investigated through perspectives of power, values and ethics. This subject assesses and analyses the styles of leadership of cultural organisations, and how cultural organisations are governed, including the roles and responsibilities of the Board of Directors and their relationship to the Senior Executive Team and the organisation as a whole.

Placing the arts and cultural sector in context, the subject delivers a comprehensive review of the components and attributes of leadership within a range of social and institutional structures. Further, it examines major leadership theories and leadership styles, key competencies and outcomes and applies critical analysis and judgement to review individual leadership preferences and behaviours of the participating student cohort.

The cohort will assess and determine the essential characteristics of leadership necessary to build resilience and maintain a priority focus through times of uncertainty and challenge.

Communications and Persuasive Presentation (10 credit points)

Recognising the importance of cultural leaders as front-line advocates for the sector, you will learn to articulate complex ideas with clarity, confidence and credibility across multiple media - written, live, and recorded. Storytelling structures and principles will be taught by practising professionals to assist you to create engaging presentations. You will also learn to lead and facilitate groups in creative dialogue, employing techniques for fuelling and directing conversations.

Workshops will support you to assess and develop individual communication styles and competencies through practicing interactive scenarios, presenting to camera, exploring techniques to develop vocal and physical presence, networking and engaging in techniques of persuasion. Practical work will be underpinned by examination and critical analysis of major communication theories and evaluation of case studies of successful communicators and advocates. You will assess and determine those elements that will enhance your own abilities as leaders to articulate ideas, to advocate for the arts and cultural sectors, and to influence outcomes.

Generating Research through Practice (30 credit points)

This subject introduces you to a diversity of research frameworks that directly support and inform your practice within the arts and cultural sectors, underpinned by academic research protocols including ethics. A variety of research strategies will support you in a multimodal approach to your investigations around practice, with a focus on methods inherent in practice-based research. In this subject, you identify a research topic and design to support your chosen research project, applying the methods and processes you have explored in order to generate new findings. The key concept behind Generating Research Through Practice is praxis: the interdependency of theory and practice with one mutually informing the other. The subject culminates in a research output related to your practice.

Cultural Policy and Practice (20 credit points)

Cultural Policy and Practice covers both the practice of cultural policy and planning, and its relationship to arts and cultural practice. It reviews public policy theory and analyses cultural policy from international and national levels to local community planning. It takes into account the contributors to the cultural policy and planning cycle: policy makers, planners, university researchers, independent think tanks, industry leaders, arts and cultural organisations and individual artists.

This comprehensive approach provides a diverse panoply of experiences and perspectives. including exploring whose voice is included and whose is excluded.  It enables the identification and analysis of policy characteristics and offers a hands on approach to developing and implementing policies and plans. It compares and contrasts the key attributes of the Australian model with approaches from the international arena, with particular reference to contemporary developments in the Asia Pacific region.

Cultural Transformation and Sustainability (50 credit points)

The conditions and drivers of contemporary society are in a state of rapid transformation. It is not only important that arts and cultural leaders stay abreast of these challenges, we have the opportunity to lead the transformation of this dynamic global environment.

There are several areas of transformation that this subject will focus on; who is leading organisations and the necessity to have diversity in positions of power; the imperative of the arts to provide access to cultural activity to a broad range of society; and how the arts intersect with environmental substantiality.

CUL9101 Cultural Transformation and Sustainability will give students a theoretical and practical scaffold that can be applied to their own leadership. Students will investigate change implementation, entrepreneurship and sustainability. The subject requires students to draw on case studies from the sector and personal experiences, in order to review current practices and make recommendations for change. The subject culminates in the articulation of a nuanced argument detailing the students own professional recommendations on an area of the arts and cultural sector requiring transformation.

Communications and Advocacy (5 credit points)

CUL9106 Communications and Advocacy recognises the importance of cultural leaders as front-line advocates for the sector.  You will develop the skills and strategies to promote effective arts advocacy arguments and campaigns. You will learn how to analyse and evaluate advocacy arguments and campaigns; analyse case studies drawn from a range of media contexts; and develop effective campaign practice and strategical skills.

Evaluation Methodologies for Cultural Leaders (15 credit points)

CUL9107 Evaluation Methodologies for Cultural Leaders will build on the research methodologies that you will have engaged with in other course subjects (including practice-based research, social impact studies and systems analysis).

You will engage in applied research with a particular focus on social research techniques and theory, including the efficacy of measurement metrics.  It will foster evaluative thinking and offer opportunities for you to work with others in the cohort on co-designed research approaches.

International Case Study (30 credit points)

The International Case Study is a unique opportunity for you to deepen your knowledge and frame of experience through an immersive period of work experience overseas. You are encouraged to undertake a placement in an area of the arts and cultural industry that will challenge you beyond your immediate practice.  The key objective of the placement will be to undertake a defined case study of an aspect of leadership within the host organisation. The case study will be framed by bespoke learning objectives and outcomes defined to enhance leadership capacity. The experience will include the delivery of a case study report as the outcome of action research. The case study, its core research question/s and the methods to be used will be negotiated in advance, in consultation with you and your nominated host organisation.

Admission criteria

Essential requirements for admission

Admission criteria

Applicants must have:

  • All applicants applying for a graduate course at NIDA must have completed an undergraduate degree (in any area) OR at least five years’ documented professional experience in the arts, cultural, creative or other relevant sector/s, including evidence of sector leadership experience.
  • Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0.  Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at http://www.ielts.org/

NB: The Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) is only available to study part time.  As such we are not able to enrol international students at this time.

The scheduling and delivery of this course each year is subject to minimum enrolment numbers.

Essential requirements

Cultural Leadership - Selection of students

We select applicants who demonstrate commitment, capacity and willingness to advance their practice by:

  1. Working with innovation and a future focus
  2. Collaborating through inclusive practice
  3. Demonstrating a range of relevant skills and strategic abilities
  4. Providing evidence of intellectual interrogation and reflection within their work
  5. Communicating clearly

    NIDA encourages applications from students from diverse backgrounds, with different levels of experience in performing arts, visual arts, museums, libraries, local government, independent practice, festivals or other areas.

    Due to the volume of recruitment interviews undertaken, we are unable to provide you with individual feedback. The decision of the interview panel is final.

    It is not possible to defer an offer of a place at NIDA.

How to apply

Application process

Application to NIDA is by direct entry. Applicants apply online via the NIDA website.

Entry to the MFA (Cultural Leadership) is by interview.

View the 2023 MFA (Cultural Leadership) Application Guide.

Fees

Tuition fees (2023)

Domestic and international students are required to pay tuition fees by the due date each semester.

The tuition fees are reviewed each year and if you enrol you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolments.

Domestic Students

Domestic students are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.

Prospective students: Download the Domestic Graduate Student Fee Schedule 2023

International Students

Fees and financial assistance vary for international students see International Students for full details.

Domestic tuition fees overview

DegreeCourse duration2023 Annual tuition fee $AUD*Estimated total course tuition fee*
Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) 27 months N/A $33,840

Domestic tuition fee details

Year 1, 2023
Subject codeSubject Credit pointsEFTSL**Tuition fee*
CUL9105 Communication & Persuasive Presentation 10 0.069$1,880.00
CUL9104 Leadership and Governance 20 0.139 $3,760.00
COM9103 Cultural Policy and Practice 20 0.139 $3,760.00
COM9102A Generating Research Through Practice A20 0.139$3,760.00
Total for Year 1 700.486$13,160.00
Year 2, 2023
Subject codeSubject Credit pointsEFTSL**Tuition fee*
CUL9101 Cultural Transformation and Sustainability50 0.347$9,400.00
COM9102B Generating Research through Practice B10 0.069$1,880.00
CUL9106Communications and Advocacy50.034$940.00
COM9107Evaluation Methodologies for Cultural Leaders10 0.069$1,880.00
CUL9108International Case Study350.243$6,580.00
Total for Year 2 1100.762$20,680.00
Total Estimated Tuition Fees*   180 1.25$33,840.00


*The tuition fees are reviewed each year and you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolment.

** EFTSL – Effective Full-Time Study Load: indicates the relative study load of a subject against a full-time study load of 1.0 for an academic year. For consistency the EFTSL** have been rounded to 3 decimal places. This is not indicative of the full value of the EFTSL but represents an accurate load for fee calculations.

Tuition fees (2022)

Domestic and international students are required to pay tuition fees by the due date each semester.

The tuition fees are reviewed each year and if you enrol you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolments.

Domestic Students

Domestic students are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.

Current students: Download the Domestic Graduate Student Fee Schedule 2022.

International Students

Fees and financial assistance vary for international students see International Students for full details.

Domestic tuition fees overview

DegreeCourse duration2022 Annual tuition fee $AUD*Estimated total course tuition fee*
Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) 30 months $16,075.00 $32,220.00

Domestic tuition fee details

Year 1, 2022
Subject codeSubject Credit pointsEFTSL**Tuition fee*
CUL9105 Communication & Persuasive Presentation 10 0.069$1,790.00
CUL9104 Leadership and Governance 20 0.139 $3,580.00
COM9103 Cultural Policy and Practice 20 0.139 $3,580.00
COM9102A Generating Research Through Practice A20 0.139$3,580.00
Total for Year 1 700.486$12,530.00
Year 2, 2022
Subject codeSubject Credit pointsEFTSL**Tuition fee*
CUL9101 Cultural Transformation and Sustainability50 0.347 $8,950.00
COM9102B Generating Research through Practice B10 0.069$1,790.00
CUL9106Communications and Advocacy50.034$895.00
COM9107Research Methodologies for Cultural Leaders10 0.069$1,790.00
CUL9108International Case Study350.243$6,265.00
Total for Year 2 1100.762$19,690.00
Total Estimated Tuition Fees*   180 1.25$32,220.00


*The tuition fees are reviewed each year and you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolment.

** EFTSL - Effective Fulltime Study Load: indicates the relative study load of a subject against a full time study load of 1.0 for academic year.

Additional costs

The Cultural Leadership course is structured to enable students to participate through in-person intensives and online learning. All students will also undertake an international case study during the final six months of the course. NIDA will make a financial contribution towards international engagement opportunities when travel, accommodation and related costs are to be incurred.

Online Component

Online learning and teaching will take place between the intensives. Students need to be available to engage on a regular basis and will be required to equip themselves with the necessary technology to participate. Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) students may participate in online sessions via video-conferencing or in person at the Kensington campus. (One intensive per year may be delivered interstate.)

Internet Speed

Use a broadband connection (256 Kbit/sec or faster—this will ensure that you can view videos and online presentations) through USB wireless modem, ADSL, T1/T2, fibre optic or cable.

Internet Browsers

Compatible browsers include:

  • Google Chrome 32 bit version 38 or later (recommended for optimal compatibility, this has been thoroughly tested on Windows)
  • Safari 8 or later (recommended for optimal compatibility, this has been thoroughly tested on Mac)
  • Mozilla Firefox 35.0 or later

Note that add-ons and toolbars can affect any browser's performance. MS Internet Explorer is not recommended.

Collaborative Online Platforms

Please note that students may need to utilise enterprise collaborative tools from within the Google+ suite. Students will be issued user accounts for use in these instances.

Intensives

Intensives are arranged as four four– and five–day periods each year and all students must be available to participate for the full period (including evenings as required).

Travel and accommodation to attend intensives is at the expense of the student.

During on campus intensives students will have access to the graduate school and all facilities that are provided to all NIDA graduate students.

Information Technology Recommendations

Students are required to have access to a Laptop (Windows 10 and later), MacBook (Mac OS 10.15 Catalina or later) or a Tablet (less than three years old with wireless facility). All the devices should comply with 5ghz (dual band). All notebooks should be secured with a Kensington lock to help prevent theft.

For file transfers and data backup, it is advised to use the Microsoft OneDrive storage provided by your NIDA Account, for optimum video processing (if required by your subject) on your computer (Laptop/MacBook/Desktop etc.) a 1GB dedicated graphics card is recommended but not compulsory.

Fellowships and Awards

Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship in Cultural Leadership

NIDA is pleased that through the generosity of the Luminis Foundation, we can offer the Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship in Cultural Leadership for each annual intake. This Fellowship will support the successful applicant by funding 50% of their MFA course fee.

Lynne Williams Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Leadership

Lynne Williams was CEO/Director of NIDA between 2008 and 2016 after an already successful career in education and theatre. In 2019, Lynne was recognised for her work in the performing arts with an appointment as a Member to the Order of Australia.

The NIDA Foundation Trust recognises Lynne’s contribution through an annual award for a graduating MFA (Cultural Leadership) student who has achieved at a consistently high level across all subjects, presenting work that was insightful, considered, well-researched and highly articulate.   The award money of $5,000 is to be used by the recipient towards further professional development and/or further international opportunities.

FEE-HELP

Australian citizens and holders of permanent humanitarian visas are eligible for an Australian Government FEE-HELP loan for all or part of their tuition fees. For more information about FEE-HELP please read the information below and visit Study Assist.

FEE-HELP is the Australian Government loan scheme that assists eligible students to pay their tuition fees, so that students do not have to pay tuition fees up-front. FEE-HELP can cover all or part of a student's tuition fees. In 2019, the FEE-HELP limit was $104,440 for most students.

The government pays the amount of the loan directly to NIDA. Students repay their loan through the tax system once their incomes rises above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.

For more information go to studyassist.gov.au

Who is eligible for FEE-HELP?

You are eligible for a FEE-HELP loan if you are either:

  • an Australian Citizen; or
  • hold a permanent humanitarian visa.

The following students are NOT eligible for FEE-HELP:

  • New Zealand citizens - refer to the Study Assist website
  • Australian permanent residents
  • Overseas students.

Testimonals

Cultural Leadership Testimonials

The MFA (Cultural Leadership) at NIDA has allowed me to connect to an incredible network of peers and mentors working across the arts in Australia. The intensive nature of this course – enabling the participation of a national cohort – also allows for the flexibility essential for continuing to pursue career opportunities whilst studying.

Yasmin Masri
Arts and Cultural Development Coordinator at City of Ryde
Recipient of Lynne Williams Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Leadership

2018 Graduate

It is an absolute privilege to undertake a course that provides learning experiences that add to and enhance my years in the cultural sector. What is extraordinary about NIDA's Cultural Leadership's course material is that it can be adapted to your field, making everything you learn relevant. The information exchanged by peers from all over Australia in a variety of practices, is just the cherry on top.

Mel George
Manager, Ernabella Arts, Central Australia
Recipient of Luminis Foundation, Indigenous Cultural Leadership Fellowship
2019 Graduate

I very much wanted an opportunity to look at the bigger questions in our world and how arts and culture could contribute to creative solutions, and discuss these ideas and strategies with colleagues. The MFA has delivered this to me. The teaching staff are well networked, insightful and of the highest calibre. The debate and research have been enlightening and exciting and inspiring. And I've made some wonderful new friends too.

Jo Thomas
Creative Director, Metro Arts, Brisbane
2018 Graduate

NIDA graduate school staff has taken great care to design a course which not only engenders many practical "real world" leadership skills, but also content that enriches the person.

Viviana Sacchero
Audience Engagement Manager, The Australian Ballet, Melbourne
2019 Graduate

Nowhere else have I been given an opportunity to speak with honesty, rigour, and passion about my experiences in working in the realm of arts and culture. Sharing thoughts, fears and speculations with others have stretched and expanded my vision in ways impossible to imagine previously.

Olivia Allen
Community Arts Officer at Yarra City Council, Melbourne
2020 Graduate

The course has empowered me to think broadly about leadership in an arts context and discover where I fit into the conversation. This is a rich and vital course for those who wish to take their practice to the next level.

Samuel Moynihan
Live Programs Officer, Belconnen Arts Centre
Recipient of Lynne Williams Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Leadership 
2019 Graduate

The Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) encourages students to access a deeper understanding of their own context within a broader landscape. Through associations with creative, progressive and sometimes fearless academic staff and students, current and future leaders are enabled to reach beyond their own sector for ideas, information and personal catalyst for change. During the course, comprehensive instruction guides students towards peer respected qualitative and quantitative data that broadens curiosity, creativity and ambition for further learning, self-reflection and service evaluation.

Ben Greaves
Co-Director, Collusion Music and Dance Ensemble, Brisbane
Head of Strings, Melbourne Grammar School
2019 Graduate

The MFA (Cultural Leadership) course has empowered and emboldened me to think more broadly about leadership and the bigger questions and creative solutions around and arts, culture and community development. The impact on me both personally and professionally, as a Cultural Engagement Consultant and newly elected City Councillor, is inspirational and significant. As a regionally based practitioner the course provided a national and global perspective that has expanded my thinking and vision, and gifted me with an incredible network of peers, mentors and wonderful new friends.

Helen Healy
Cultural Engagement Consultant, Mildura
2019 Graduate

Thank you so much for providing the MFA (Cultural Leadership). I spent many years looking for the right course that suited my needs and allowed me to continue working full-time. The course opened my eyes to new concepts, amazing guests from across the industry and outstanding lecturers who are leaders in the arts. I am very thankful for this opportunity.

Craig Rogers
Manager Arts and Culture at Moreland City Council
Recipient of Lynne Williams Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Leadership
2020 Graduate

This course encouraged me to think critically about our sector, our future and our roles within it. The access to leaders within the industry was exceptional, and lecturers and staff were supportive of students managing our full-time jobs with study. Master’s degrees are often seen as an essential to build the next stage in your career, and if you are wondering what’s next for you, I feel this course combines the essentials of an MBA with an active network of cultural industry professionals.

Cara Becker
Senior Communications Officer, Fundraising
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
2020 Graduate

Videos

2021 Online Info Sessions

Course Leader of Cultural Leadership, Karilyn Brown, and recent graduates offer insights into the uniqueness of the Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) and what you can expect as a student on the course. The second half of the session includes a Q & A about the course.

27 July 2021


6 August 2021

Careers

Our graduates are actively engaged in a wide range of contexts including arts festivals, performing arts companies, local government and arts funding bodies, libraries, performing arts venues, independent artists and producers, museums and galleries, creative industries and cultural service organisations.

See NIDA's list of Alumni.

Our team

KBJOImage of leadership and governance lecturer Neil Pharoah, linked to bio

Image of Kim Spinks, cultural policy and practice lecturerlinked to bioShane AnthonyRachel Betram

Thomas De Angelis

NIDA FAQs

Entry requirements FAQs

Entry requirements for each course are available under the ‘Interviews and how to apply’ tab on individual course pages.

Is there a maximum age restriction for students?

There is no maximum age restriction for any NIDA undergraduate or graduate course.

Application FAQs

How do I apply for a full-time course at NIDA?

The first step is to fill in an application form, available online from June 2021. You must then prepare for your audition or interview, the details of which can be found on the course pages.

Can I apply for more than one course?

Yes, however a separate online application form will be required for each course you would like to apply for.

My application form isn’t working/loading!

Online applications are open from June annually.

If you are having difficulty using the online application form, check your internet browser: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari are the recommended browsers. You should also turn off any security that blocks pop-ups, as this may prevent the application screen from opening.

What do I do if I haven’t received details of my interview?

Once you have submitted your application and paid your application fee you will be emailed a receipt as well as further details regarding preparation for your audition/ interview. If you do not receive any emails from NIDA please check your junk/ spam filter or promotions filter (Gmail). If you are still experiencing difficulties please contact us at: applications@nida.edu.au

Interview FAQs

What do I need to prepare for my interview?

All the details for interview requirements can be found on the individual course pages under the ‘Interviews and how to apply’ tab.

Does NIDA give audition/ interview feedback?

Due to the large number of people being auditioned/ interviewed, it is not possible for NIDA to provide individual feedback, either orally or in writing. However, the audition/ interview are learning experiences, particularly through the opportunity in the auditions to observe the presentation of audition pieces by other applicants and any redirection suggestions provided to you or other applicants by members of the audition panel.

Where will my interview take place?

Interview conditions will depend on your course. They may be in-person or over Zoom, in which case a Zoom link will be provided to you prior to your interview.

What happens after my interview?

Final selections are made for each course by mid-December when study offers will be distributed to successful applicants via email.

Please note applicants who do not make it through to the recall stage for Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) and Master of Fine Arts (Directing) courses have not been successful for the 2022 intake.

Studying at NIDA FAQs

How are NIDA’s courses structured?

NIDA offers a conservatoire based method of education and training based around intensive practice-based learning.

There is formal class work, practical instruction, lectures and, for some courses, periods of placements in the arts industry. Each course has dedicated time to discipline-specific immersion, as well as common subjects undertaken by students of all disciplines.

NIDA Play Productions and screen work provides practical learning experiences, giving students the opportunity to apply learnt technical skills. Play productions are an important part of NIDA’s higher education courses with usually five productions being produced each semester.

More detailed information about course structure can be found on the individual course pages. 

What facilities does NIDA offer?

NIDA’s award winning campus includes a range of facilities available to students:

  • the Parade Theatre, seating over 700 people, is equipped with advanced technology in sound, lighting and scenery
  • performance spaces of varying sizes. The Parade Studio, Parade Playhouse, Parade Space and Atrium are also utilised for productions
  • the state-of-the-art Reg Grundy Studio is used for film and television recording
  • the Rodney Seaborn Library, specialising in the performing arts
  • computer-aided design (CAD) and multimedia studios
  • rehearsal rooms, teaching spaces and music practice rooms
  • and workshops for the manufacture of scenery, properties and costumes.

Does NIDA offer credit transfer for study undertaken elsewhere?

Yes, NIDA grants credit for formal study undertaken in recognised higher institutions in Australia, including universities, colleges, TAFE and other post-secondary education institutions and for study at recognised overseas institutions, where the applicant has met the learning outcomes, attained the knowledge and/or developed the skills relevant to a specific subject. An application for credit must be submitted and approved prior to commencement of the course. For further information see NIDA’s credit transfer policy.

Accommodation

NIDA does not have on-campus accommodation for students. NIDA has a close relationship with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) which is located opposite NIDA. UNSW offers a range of housing options which NIDA students can access. For more details see UNSW Residential Communities

New and returning students can also access the NIDA student noticeboards and webpages to advertise or seek accommodation and many liaise via email and Facebook to arrange housing together.

Students are responsible for arranging their own accommodation.

Cost of living 

Students relocating to Sydney should consider evening transportation when choosing accommodation. Students working on productions are often required to stay as late as 11pm or 12pm and need to consider safe ways to get home in the evenings. For this reason many students choose accommodation options close to NIDA.

Consider that the costs of living in Sydney may be different to your home location. 

We estimate that you need approximately AUD$20,000 to cover living expenses in Sydney for each year of study. In addition, we recommend that you have at least AUD$2000 when you arrive to cover the initial costs of books, rental bond, and furniture.

These figures do not include large household items (such as a refrigerator) or a car. We recommend that you use public transport, as owning a car can be expensive and there is very limited parking near NIDA.

NIDA Student policies FAQs

Can I defer my studies at NIDA?

Due to the highly competitive nature of NIDA’s admissions process, you must enrol for the year for which you have been offered a place. You cannot defer acceptance of a place. If you want to enrol in a subsequent year, you will need to apply again the following year and go through the interview process again. There is no guarantee that you will be offered a place next time.

Application for leave of absence by continuing students must be made in writing with reasons to the Head of Course for consideration and recommendation to the Director/CEO. Approval for leave of absence can only be granted by the Director/CEO and only under exceptional circumstances.

Can students be suspended from NIDA?

In addition to cancellation of enrolment for non-payment of tuition fees, a student’s enrolment at NIDA can be suspended or cancelled on the grounds of misconduct.

See NIDA student policies for more information. 

Fees FAQs

What are the tuition fees for accredited courses?

Full information about tuition fees and FEE-HELP is available under the ‘Fees’ tab on individual course pages. 

Financial assistance FAQs

Are there scholarships available for studying at NIDA?

NIDA is pleased that through the generosity of the Luminis Foundation, we are able to offer the Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship in Cultural Leadership at annual intake. This Fellowship will support the successful applicant by funding 50% of their Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership only) course fee.

NIDA does not offer other scholarships that cover the cost of tuition fees.

NIDA students, who are Australian citizens, are able to access FEE-HELP loans for assistance with their tuition fees. For more information on FEE-HELP loans see www.studyassist.gov.au or the ‘Fees’ tab on individual course pages.

Is financial assistance available for Master of Fine Arts students?

The Master of Fine Arts courses are not approved courses for students to receive Austudy, Youth Allowance (student) and Pensioner Education Supplement through Centrelink. Master of Fine Arts students enrolled in a full-time course are eligible to apply for a NIDA scholarship.

NIDA offers full-time students the opportunity to apply for financial assistance (scholarships) at the beginning of each year to assist with living costs. The bursaries are made available through the generosity of donors to NIDA and from bequests. Bursaries are paid on a fortnightly basis during the NIDA year, with the value of individual bursaries in 2019 ranging from $1,600 annually to $4,000 annually, depending on need and the year and course of study. Bursaries are only available to students currently enrolled at NIDA in full-time courses.

NZ and international students FAQs

Is there a limit on the number of international students accepted each year?

NIDA welcomes applications from international students. While there is no quota for international students, there are limited numbers of students in each course.

What are the English language requirements for international students?

Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0 for Acting, Directing and Writing for Performance, or IELTS 7.0 for other higher education courses. Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at www.ielts.org.

International applicants who are short-listed for the Acting course after the recall audition must provide evidence of their English language capability by the end of the first week in December in order to be considered in the final selection process. International applications for other courses should bring evidence of their English language capability to their interview.

Where can I find more information about international students at NIDA?

More information about studying as an international student at NIDA can be found at International students

Course accreditation

NIDA’S Registration Status

Registered as a Higher Education Provider by TEQSA
https://www.teqsa.gov.au/national-register/provider/national-institute-dramatic-art

Registration Renewal Date

25 June 2025

CRICOS Registration

Code: 00756M

This allows NIDA to enrol international students on student visas into CRICOS approved courses.

Self Accrediting Authority*

Yes – partial self accrediting

Registered Higher Education providers may be authorised by TEQSA to self-accredit courses of study.

Course nameStatusCRICOS Code

Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership)

TEQSA Accredited until 01/12/2021

086128F

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