Fill out this form to get started. 
The more details you provide, the better we can help!)

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Please note that Across the Pond can only help students apply to West Dean's MFA degree.

The MFA (Master of Fine Artat West Dean College of Arts and Conservation offers you the advantages of a Masters degree from an arts college with a reputation for excellence, and the assurance of a university qualification. Because West Dean's fees are the same for international as for UK students, US students are getting a premium quality MFA experience at a rate that is very competitive internationally. The College is a full partner of the University of Sussex. 

Students can expect a creative environment with a forward thinking approach, professional connections and a rich heritage of creativity. Small classes, extended studio access, talented tutors and exceptional facilities offer a rich study experience.

About the College

Our arts alumni exhibit internationally and 94% of all students studying a higher education programme at the College (in a 2019 survey) felt the programme had enhanced their skills and abilities. 

As a Fine Art student you will have the opportunity to realise ambitious projects, and to thrive in a creative environment where the ethos is to nurture arts and craft skills. You benefit from a high tutor: student ratio and a longer-than-usual academic year that spans 36 weeks. 

The College is a very special place. It has a unique character and environment set in the historic West Dean estate and has excellent learning resources, including an important art collection and archive in addition to well-equipped studios and workshops. The College’s small size means we can support the individuality of our students, enabling them to develop their passions and reach their potential within a community of like-minded people.” 

- Francine Norris, BA (Hons) MA FRSA, Director of Education 


As an MFA student you will have a large personal studio space, significantly bigger than that offered by many universities, with access 7 days a week, 8.30am-10pm. 

Superb specialist facilities and technical support includes: photographic darkroom, exhibition and research spaces and IT suite with digital editing software. The Print Room offers facilities for etching, aquatint, mono-printing, woodblock and linocut. You also have access to the Dye Laboratory which is part of our internationally high profile professional Tapestry Studio, and the Sculpture Courtyard for you to create large scale projects. You will have use of generous exhibition spaces and a specialist Art Library. 

Visiting artists and our Artist-in-Residence programmes enrich your learning with a series of professional artists living and working on-site who offer tutorial sessions with you.

The College’s programme of 800 creative short courses are available to you as an MFA student. These are taught by experts from across the UK and internationally to advanced level.

Recreational facilities include an outdoor swimming pool (May-Sept), 100 acres of award-winning gardens and parkland, tennis court and croquet. You can watch and take part in a variety of concerts, talks, film nights and exhibitions. Through the Student Association you and fellow students organise your own clubs and events.    

Specialty Areas 

You will find inspiration in the College’s connections to art history through the legacy of founder Edward James, poet and patron of the surrealists. The College has an internationally significant Collection and Archive, includingworks of art by: Salvador DalÍ, Rene Magritte, Leonora Carrington, Pavel Tchelitchew, and Leonor Fini. There are opportunities to develop work in response to the Collection and in the past this has included student installations in the historic house that is home to the College.

You can follow a single discipline or interdisciplinary practice, typically: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, Drawing, Tapestry and Textiles.  

If Tapestry/Textilesis a discipline you choose, you will be taught by one of the UK’s foremost Master Weavers who leads our Tapestry Studio. The professional Studio has created tapestries for artists including Tracey Emin, Martin Creed and Eva Rothschild, with work now in The Tate and the UK’s Houses of Parliament.

Students have the opportunity to exhibit publicly, typically a Summer Show at West Dean and in another venue, often in London. 


Student accommodation includes beautiful 19thcentury houses, steeped in history but with modernised interiors, as well as modern two story accommodation. All rooms are en-suite and students share well-equipped kitchen and laundry facilities and have common rooms for relaxation. Accommodation is on campus or in the village within a 5 minute walk of the College. 

All of the heating and hot water needs of the College and student accommodation are met entirely by our innovative biomass heating system which uses fuel sustainably sourced within four miles. All rooms are en-suite, which means you have your own bathroom.

Many students are full-board as the College Dining Room offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with hot and cold and vegan and vegetarian options at every meal. If you opt for accommodation-only, shared student kitchens are fully equipped and there is a village shop and supermarket in nearby Chichester for provisions.   


The College is in a safe semi-rural village location in the beautiful South Downs National Park in West Sussex. Within walking distance are historic country pubs, village shop, a nationally-acclaimed Open Air Museum and breath-taking countryside.  

The College is a 10 minute drive from the city of Chichester, a Roman city with 18th century architecture and pedestrianised high street shopping, cafes, restaurants, bars, a museum and nationally acclaimed theatre and world-class modern art gallery (Pallant House Gallery). Buses connect the College with Chichester hourly and the city has rail links to London and along the coast.

The College is also a 20 minute drive to sandy beaches and the pretty waterfront of Chichester harbour.

West Dean is only 65 miles from London.


The College was founded in 1971 by Edward James whose vision was a college to support emerging artists and craftspeople. Today it is a thriving and highly respected arts college with a reputation for quality education.

Edward James’ innovations in art, design and architecture mark him out as an unrecognised visionary of the twentieth century. Through his patronage and creative partnerships with prominent Surrealists such as Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, and his support of artists including Pavel Tchelitchew and Leonora Carrington, James was involved in the creation of some of the most enduring representations of the avant-garde, including the iconic Mae West Lips Sofa and Lobster Telephone

Historic West Dean House, home to the College, was greatly extended in the early 19th century,  creating one of the largest flint-faced buildings in the country. It sits within an expansive site that includes The Edward James Studios, home to the Fine Art studios just a 5 minute walk from the historic house. 

If you would like to find out more about the MFA at West Dean College, please contact one of our Across the Pond Advisors.

Number of Students: 120 degree and diploma students

Number of International Students: 30%

Tuition Fees: from £11,080 per year (2021/22)

Accommodation costs: from £157 per week

Scholarships available for international students: The Edward James Foundation Bursary Fund (awarded by the College) and external funding opportunities include: The Elizabeth Greenshields Award and The Derek Hill Foundation. Ask your Across the Pond advisor for details. 

Accommodation Fees: from £153.33 per week

Location of University: near Chichester, West Sussex  - 65 miles from London

Established: 1971

Number of Inhabitants in Chichester: 27,000 

Closest Airport: London Gatwick - 46 miles (approx. 1 hour 20 minutes) 

Changed my life

Name: Agata Bogacka - Course: MFA

West Dean College has changed my life and with the experience I have gained and the connections I have created, I feel comfortable to be able to continue to make art and be a practicing artist.

Read in full...


Name: Nicole - Course: MFA

Thanks to the support of the Edward James Foundation, I have been able to fully immerse myself in my art and creativity. I know that having an MFA qualification is going to be life-changing.

Read in full...

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation - Across the Pond

Click a photo to enlarge.