NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.


MFA (Cultural Leadership)

Home Study Postgraduate MFA (Cultural Leadership)


30 months part-time, online and on campus

Fees 2025

$37,440 AUD (domestic)

Semester Dates 2025

Semester 1: 3 February – 20 June
Semester 2: 21 July – 21 November

Applications for 2025 intake

Open Monday 3 June 2024
Close Wednesday 16 October 2024

Contact Admissions

+61 (02) 9697 7686

MFA (Cultural Leadership)

Course Overview

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 wide range of knowledge domains, research, case studies and leadership practices.

Through a combination of part-time, online learning and face-to-face intensives at NIDA’s Sydney campus, 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, as well as evaluative and practice-based research methods.

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

Read more about the course in an interview with Course Leader, Amanda McDonald Crowley or email Amanda directly:

  • Implement resilient, future-focused creative leadership models and practices. 
  • Facilitate leadership through collaborative, co-designed, ambitious, enterprising and entrepreneurial strategies
  • Evidence a deep understanding of culturally diverse and intersectional leadership values and protocols in an Australian context.
  • Critically analyse and articulate national and global issues including environmental, social, and economic (eco)systems that inform the role and purpose of cultural practice in society.  
  • Navigate appropriate and respectful engagement with Australian First Nations and global Indigenous cultural knowledge systems, and leadership practices.
  • Understand the value of practice-based research and apply research and evaluation methodologies to their practice.   
  • Advocate for transformational change in professional leadership practices.

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

The course is structured to enable students to participate on-campus through four intensives each year (which last four or five days each and include weekends), as well as 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, Microsoft Teams and Canvas.

2024 Semester and Intensive Dates

Semester 1

7 February – 21 June 2024

Intensive dates S1

7 – 12 February and 5-9 April 2024

Semester Break

24 June – 19 July 2024

Semester 2

22 July – 29 November 2024

Intensive dates S2

26  – 30 July and 25 – 29 October 2024


Term dates exclude public holidays. View 2024 NSW public holiday dates.

Key subjects

  • Leadership and Governance
  • Communications and Advocacy
  • Cultural Policy and Practice
  • Practice-based Research Project
  • Cultural Transformation and Sustainability
  • Evaluation Methodologies for Cultural Leaders
  • International Case Study
  • Cultural Futures Lab

Download 2025 Course Overview

Our graduates are actively engaged in a variety of fields 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.

Joel McGuinness, NIDA Cultural Leadership alumnus and Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director at Geelong Arts Centre features in recent interview with ArtsHub.

Meet the team

Admissions Criteria

Domestic students with overseas qualifications must supply certified translations of their qualifications.
International students with academic qualifications that are not in English will need to attach a certified, official translation in English in application portal.

For more information, read our Admissions Transparency Statement.

All applicants applying for the MFA Cultural Leadership 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

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.

Recognition of Prior Learning is an assessment process that involves assessment of an individual’s relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit outcomes of an individual application for credit.

NIDA may grant credit for:

  • Formal study undertaken in recognised education institutions in Australia, including universities, colleges, TAFE and other post-secondary education institutions and for study at recognised overseas institutions.
  • Credentialed courses provided by recognised professional bodies, employers and other authorities, where appropriate certification is available; and
  • Prior learning, where such learning can be sufficiently evidenced.

The principles underlying the assessment of credit transfer/Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) applications are that the policy and procedures are:

  • Aligned to the Higher Education Standards Framework and the Vocational Standards for RTOs.
  • Designed to maintain the integrity and reputation of NIDA’s accredited courses for which credit or RPL is applied and support the collaborative nature of NIDA’s conservatoire training model.
  • Consistent, equitable, transparent, and accountable.
  • Based on processes of comparable standard and integrity to those used to assess the relevant subject.
  • That students are not disadvantaged in achieving the expected learning outcomes for the course of study or qualification.

NIDA Recognition of Prior Learning Policy

Apply for RPL/Credit Transfer

Domestic students with overseas qualifications must supply certified translations of their qualifications.

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

  • Working with innovation and a future focus
  • Collaborating through inclusive practice
  • Demonstrating a range of relevant skills and strategic abilities
  • Providing evidence of intellectual interrogation and reflection within their work
  • 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

Applicants MUST apply online via the NIDA website.

Entry to the MFA (Cultural Leadership) is by interview. Applicants will need to prepare a CV and a personal statement as part of their application

The application process for the Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) consists of two rounds:

  • Round One – online application, CV and personal statement
  • Round Two – interview

Only applicants who are successful in Round One will be invited to Round Two.

Download 2025 Application Guide



You should upload a detailed CV highlighting your training, professional work, and other relevant information. If you do not hold an undergraduate degree, your CV must show evidence of at least 5+ years of relevant experience in an area relating to Cultural Leadership.

It must be clearly titled with your name as follows: fullname_cv_MFACUL_2024


You must submit a personal statement of no more than 600 words, outlining your interest in the course, new knowledge you hope to acquire, and how you see the course intersecting with your current work/projects.

It must be clearly titled with your name as follows: fullname_statement_MFACUL_2024

You will upload both your CV and Personal Statement in the ‘Course Specific Application Requirements’ attachment section of your online application.

You will be advised by email if you are successful in Round One. If you are successful, you will receive an invitation for an interview in Round Two. This will include confirmation of an interview date.

Each applicant will be interviewed for approximately 30 minutes. All interviews will take place via Microsoft Teams, link to be provided prior to interview.

During the interview, we will discuss your ideas about current issues related to the arts and cultural sector, and why you want to be a Cultural Leadership student at NIDA. There will also be an
opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the course, or about NIDA.

Some tips:

We know that interviews can be stressful, but we will do our best to make your experience as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. The interview process is friendly, informal, and open, and is designed to give you the best opportunity to show us your potential and readiness to study at NIDA.

Remember, the more time and effort you put into your statement, the better prepared you will be, and the more you will enjoy the interview.

Fees and Scholarships

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

Domestic Students

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

Domestic tuition fees overview

Degree Course duration Estimated total course tuition fee*
Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) 30 months $37,440.00

2025 Domestic Graduate Student Fee Schedule

2024 Domestic Graduate Student Fee Schedule

International Students

Please note the Master of Fine Arts Cultural Leadership is not currently open to international applicants. Please contact for more information.

*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.

** 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.

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.

What is FEE-HELP?

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 2024, the FEE-HELP loan limit is $121,844 for most students.

A loan fee of 20% applies to FEE-HELP loans for undergraduate courses of study. The FEE-HELP limit does not include the loan fee.

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

For more information go to

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

Those NOT eligible for FEE-HELP are:

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

Financial Assistance

Eligible students, who are Australian residents, can apply to Centrelink for financial assistance through Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY. Visit Centrelink or call 132 490 for more information.

NIDA is committed to making its education and learning more accessible to the most creative and talented individuals across Australia with a range of scholarships aimed to remove financial barriers, providing students with the opportunity to study at NIDA while being relieved of some of the cost of living, relocating and study expenses.

NIDA scholarships are made available by the generous support of donors, sponsors, corporate partners, trusts and bequests, through the NIDA Foundation Trust, and enable a significant increase in financial assistance to ongoing and students commencing study in 2024.


Further Information

The table below gives an indication of the educational backgrounds of the 2024 commencing postgraduate MFA cohort.

It should be noted that as selection and admission to courses at NIDA is based on merit the statistics below may not be indicative of the educational backgrounds of commencing cohorts on a year-to-year basis.

L/N – Low numbers: the number of students is less than 5.

Applicant Background Number of students Percentage of all students
(A) Past higher education study 25 78%
(B) Past Vocational Education and Training study Ν/Α Ν/Α
(C) Recent secondary education
Admitted on basis of other criteria and ATAR was not a factor
(D) Work and life experience Ν/Α Ν/Α
International students LN N/A
All students 32 100%

NIDA'S Registration Status

Registered as a Higher Education Provider by TEQSA

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 Name



Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership)

Self-Accredited by NIDA under TEQSA's determination of Self-Accrediting Authority for NIDA.


Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for more info about NIDA courses, admissions and facilities? Check our FAQ page for answers to commonly-asked questions from future students.

This qualification is recognised in the Australian Qualifications Framework

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training. 

Read more information about the AQF.

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