Bachelor of Fine Art

As Australia’s leading independent fine art school, the National Art School attracts exceptional students from across the country to compete for a place in the Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA).

The degree is designed to impart the skills, knowledge and creative independence required to sustain a career as an artist. As a student of NAS, you will join a vibrant community of artists and art professionals, students and faculty, who are devoted to the pursuing the highest aspirations for contemporary art practice.

This individual development requires a holistic approach to art education – one that we have always believed is best accommodated by students learning the skills and knowledge of the studio under the guidance of teachers who are also successful established artists. . Students at NAS have a choice of key disciplines – ceramics, drawing, painting, photomedia, printmaking and sculpture – and also the opportunities for cross-disciplinary work. All BFA students study drawing as a core skill throughout the degree, and gain an important theoretical and historic understanding of art practice from the Art History & Theory faculty.

Intensive, practical, hands-on learning and teaching environment

NAS is a forward-thinking, progressive art school with a continually evolving curriculum in step with new art developments. We teach students to think creatively across disciplines and provide the instruction and resources to fulfil their artistic potential.

Our focus on small class sizes ensures every student receives individual guidance. Their independent exploration of art making is informed by a comprehensive knowledge of the historical underpinnings of that practice, as well as the dynamic range of contemporary possibilities for art practice today.

You will be taught by a diverse team of over 100 leading art practitioners, visiting artists and scholars, creating a rich dynamic learning environment. With the benefit of this extensive professional experience and insight, our teachers facilitate an immersive learning environment designed to foster the individual talents of every student.

NAS Campus

The National Art School is a special place, which for the past 100 years has occupied the site of the historic Darlinghurst Gaol. With its original sandstone buildings, the campus is a haven of artistic creativity and a cultural hub in the heart of the city, ten minutes from the CBD. Public transport and purpose-built cycle paths make the School easily accessible from neighbouring suburbs and beyond. In 2021, a significant program of works has been undertaken to restore and upgrade the School and its heritage-listed buildings. Find out more about the campus and studios.

NAS Alumni

NAS has always retained a strong relationship with its graduates. More than 10,000 artists have trained at the School since its beginnings in 1843, and many of Australia’s leading practitioners have studied here including John Olsen, Margaret Olley, Guy Warren, Reg Mombassa, Fiona Foley, Tim Storrier, Cressida Campbell, Karla Dickens, Fiona Hall and many more. Find out more about our renowned alumni.

At any one time there are hundreds of group and solo exhibitions in commercial and public galleries around Australia and the world featuring the NAS community, and alumni, staff and students are frequently successful in major art prizes as finalists and winners, including the Archibald Prize. See the listings of current alumni, staff and student exhibitions below.

BFA Webinar 

View our BFA webinar below delivered by Lorraine Kypiotis, Head of Undergraduate Studies about studying at NAS.

Our Bachelor of Fine Art degree (three years full-time) is designed to impart the skills, knowledge and creative independence required to sustain a professional career as an artist.

NAS has long been recognised for our rigorous studio-based model of learning taught by established practicing artists, as well as our outstanding Art History & Theory faculty.

The BFA comprises three interrelated areas of study: Studio, Drawing and Art History & Theory. Study and practice in these key subject areas continues throughout the degree.

Course Schema


In the first year of the degree, students are introduced to the foundational skills and concepts of art making in a comprehensive exploration of studio practice across all disciplines including Ceramics, Painting, Photography and Digital Media, Printmaking and Sculpture. One of these will be the basis for ongoing studio specialisation in following years of study.

Study in Drawing at this level introduces students to the foundational principles of visual observation, analysis and experimental drawing, and the Art History & Theory program examines the historical precedents and contemporary contexts of visual art practice.


In second year, students commence study in a studio specialisation nominated from studio areas studied in the previous semester. The year is project-based and supports the development of individual work practices in preparation for the final year of the degree.

Students continue to study Drawing, with the skills attained in Year 1 extended to include contemporary and traditional drawing practices. The Art History & Theory core program examines the history and cultural conditions of modernity, and an Art History & Theory elective program offers students the opportunity to engage more deeply with a broad range of specialised topics.


In the third and final year, students work on independent projects under the guidance of studio lecturers. This final year emphasises self-directed learning and individual development, with all students building a major body of work for assessment and exhibition for graduation at the end of the year.

The Drawing program is driven by individual student projects at this level while the Art History & Theory core program examines the major concepts, terminology and debates that shape contemporary art and culture today.

Admissions Criteria

Admission to the NAS Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) is dependent on meeting one of the following entry criteria and both additional criteria.


Entry Criteria

  • Completion of a secondary education qualification such as the NSW Higher School Certificate (including national and international equivalents), or approved higher education study, including approved preparation courses.


  • Completion of higher education studies.


  • Completion of TAFE CERT IV in Fine Art or equivalent. Applicants with a Diploma or Advanced Diploma may apply for advanced standing into the 2nd year of the Bachelor of Fine Art.

Note: NAS does not use ATAR in its admissions processes.


Additional Criteria

  • All applicants are required to participate in the portfolio assessment and interview with academic staff.
  • English language requirements, where these are not demonstrated by sufficient qualifications taught in English. See the International Applications guide for a full equivalency scale.

Applicants who do not meet the required educational qualifications listed for acceptance into the BFA are encouraged to complete the UAC STAT test or a TAFE Diploma in Fine Art or TAFE matriculation program prior to applying to NAS the following year.

Application Process

All applications to the BFA must be lodged with the University Admission Centre (UAC) at

Upon submitting your application to UAC and provided you meet the stated educational requirements for admission, you will be contacted by NAS Student Services at a later date with an invitation to participate in the BFA selection process, comprising of an interview and portfolio presentation. Portfolios are not required for the initial UAC application process, and should instead be presented in hard copy format for discussion at your interview.

Note: International applicants are not required to participate in the interview stage for selection.


International Students

Please refer to the International Student course page for more information on how to apply.


Offers of Admission

First Offers: Schools Recommendation Scheme

NAS participates in the Schools Recommendation Scheme (SRS) which allows current Year 12 students to receive early offers of admission to the BFA.

SRS offers are processed through UAC, head to their website for more information.


Acceptance of Offer

To accept the offer, applicants must complete the online acceptance with UAC by the deadline specified in their offer notification.



Deferral is only granted in exceptional circumstances. Applicants should apply for the year in which they intend to study.


Alternative Admission Pathways

NAS participates in the Schools Recommendation Schemes (SRS), which is processed through UAC. SRS allows current Year 12 students to receive early offers of admission. Please visit the UAC website for more information.

Admission into the NAS BFA is competitive, with selection based on an interview process and portfolio assessment.

Interviews and portfolio evaluations are held on campus in the first week of December.

Upon submitting your completed application to UAC and provided you meet the educational requirements for admission, you will be contacted and notified of the time and date of your interview by NAS Student Services via email and/or post.

Students unable to attend an interview (e.g. interstate or overseas applicants) may apply using PowerPoint, digital files, transcripts of previous training results and photographic documentation. Please discuss this with Student Services as soon as possible.

How it works

The interview panel consists of two members of NAS academic staff. They will ask you a range of questions relating to your interest in the arts, your portfolio, and your reasons for applying to study at NAS. You can also ask the panel any course-related questions you might have.

What to bring

A typed personal statement: (500-1000 words in length) addressing the following points:

  • Why you are interested in studying at NAS
  • What you hope to achieve from studying at NAS
  • Exhibitions you have seen or participated in during the past 12 months
  • Your other cultural interests e.g. films, theatre, music, literature
  • An outline of your current art practice and interests

Your portfolio consisting of:

  • Minimum of 12 recently completed works
  • Relevant support material such as drawings, maquettes, sketchbooks and visual diaries.


How to prepare your portfolio

Putting together a strong portfolio is one of the most important parts of your application, so it’s worth spending time on it to best showcase your work and your interests. We have lots of helpful suggestions you can follow.

Download our portfolio advice guidelines here.

Have a look at the National Art School’s new video to guide your portfolio preparation and answer your questions. It offers specific guidance about which artworks to include, how many, how to present them, and much more, plus useful tips for making your portfolio stand out.

Portfolio Development Opportunities

NAS offers Portfolio Development days, where students are invited to bring along their portfolio and receive personalised feedback. You can also bring it along to the portfolio booth at our annual Open Day event in September. See our events page for dates.

NAS also hosts a number of programs to assist students in developing their art practice during their final years of high school including the HSC Intensive Program, Dobell Drawing School and Art Club.

See our Education Outreach pages for the next course dates.

Applicants can apply for admission into the NAS BFA with Advanced Standing in recognition of prior study at a university or TAFE. Students admitted with Advanced Standing are given credit towards the degree for all appropriate subjects completed at another institution up to a maximum of two thirds of the total credit points required for the degree.

Specified credit will be given for subjects closely related to a subject offered within the BFA program. Advanced standing is only given for study completed in the last 10 years.

The educational qualifications required for admission with Advanced Standing into the BFA for second year are:

  • Successful completion of the first year of a Degree in Fine Art at an equivalent institution, or
  • Successful completion of a two year Diploma in Fine Art at TAFE or an equivalent institution, or
  • Successful completion of a three year Advanced Diploma in Fine Art at TAFE or an equivalent institution.

The educational qualification required for admission with Advanced Standing into the NAS BFA for third year requires successful completion of the first and second years of a degree in Fine Art at an equivalent institution.

The National Art School First People’s Undergraduate Scholarship

Generously supported by a philanthropic donor in partnership with NAS, the NAS First People’s Scholarship covers full tuition fees for eligible undergraduate students of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage entering the BFA program.

Find out more.



NAS awards over $150,000 in prizes, international residencies and bursaries each year to high-achieving students across a range of disciplines. Find out more.

Over 100 NSW high schools participated in our education outreach programs in the last year, designed to assist students in developing their art practice and portfolio during their final years of high school. Opportunities include the HSC Intensive program, the Dobell Drawing School, Art Club and Portfolio Development days. See the Education Outreach page for upcoming dates.

NAS also has a longstanding and popular public art program of short courses across diverse artistic disciplines, welcoming artists of all abilities, ages and backgrounds into the school. The courses are offered year-round on campus and online, with students attending from around Australia and overseas. Short course students often move into the NAS degree program.

See our Short Courses page to learn more about our upcoming high school development days.

Sign up to our newsletter and receive updates and invitations to our upcoming high school development days.

The transition from student to professional artist can be challenging. The BFA degree at NAS provides students with an understanding of the contemporary professional arts industry, creative industries and cultural sectors they will work across after graduation.

Our Launchpad professional development program, offered to all students, is designed to help graduates to improve their written and oral communication skills, including writing for artist statements, biographies and professional websites.

NAS has strong strategic partnerships that assist our students as they transition into professional creative practitioners through a range of professional development avenues including exhibition opportunities, showing at art fairs, and professional networking through introductions to artists, curators, galleries and arts agencies.

On the NAS Student Opportunities page we share employment opportunities with students from the professional arts sector and assist in facilitating internships, paid work and volunteer work experience. We support and promote the success of our students and graduates via the NAS website and social media.

Our annual Open Day is the perfect opportunity for the public to visit and see what life is like studying at our beautiful, heritage-listed sandstone campus. NAS is a special place in the heart of Sydney dedicated to making art and developing artists, and in 2022 we celebrate 100 years on this site.

Visitors can explore our studios and working spaces on Open Day, meet our faculty and students, find out about study options and the application process, attend mini-lectures, book a one-on-one advice session, drop in on classes, watch hands-on demonstrations and see exhibitions in our various public gallery spaces.

Studying at NAS is pretty magical. Returning to campus after the lockdown last year, my work opened up completely. I think being part of a community of artists, at the heart of a cultural community that surrounds it with some of Australia’s best galleries, you can see it and feel it on the campus every day.

— Sophie Horne, BFA Student

Start Date

Semester 1 2024: Monday 4th March, 2024

Applications for 2024 entry are now being accepted via UAC

Visit to apply


Please fill in our online enquiry form below or call us on

+61 2 9339 8741 to speak with our Future Student Advisor.

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