Led by an experienced staff of dedicated artists and designers, NCAT Folio Preparation is widely respected across the creative industries as a quality contributor to art and design education


NCAT Folio Preparation is a unique 12-month Government-funded course providing pathways for students seeking entry into the visual arts and or design fields. From its inception in 1989, this course has assisted in the launch of hundreds of art and design related careers. 

NCAT's Folio Preparation course offers mature aged and post year 12 applicants an opportunity to develop skills, discover their talents in specialised areas, and put together a comprehensive portfolio for entry into folio-based tertiary courses. 

The course entails three days of face to face learning a week, with optional extension classes at other times.

Whether you are planning a career in the visual arts or design fields, considering further study or exploring options for a more creative lifestyle, we bring ideas and practical skills together to help you realise your creative direction.


Folio Preparation at work
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Graduation artworks: 
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The NCAT Folio Preparation course is designed to:

  • Improve practical and conceptual creative skills
  • Provide students with a substantial body of practical art and design work for tertiary interview and entrance
  • Enable mature aged students seeking a career change to build their practical and conceptual skills and a to create a folio
  • Provide students with a tailor-made program that suits their individual needs and requirements
  • Build creative confidence  
  • Cater for a range of skills and interests, from beginners to advanced creatives.
  • Provide detailed careers research and counseling to enable informed choices regarding the multitude of art and design courses and careers on offer


Courses are available in Design and Visual Arts
Photo-imaging and Illustration can be studied as either a design or a Visual Arts based course.

*The certificate undertaken as part of the Folio preparation program will not affect your eligibility for further government funded VET studies


  • Visual Arts
  • Design - Graphic and Interactive
  • Design - Spatial
  • Illustration - Hand & Digital
  • Concept Art
  • Photoimaging
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture and 3D Objects
  • Life Drawing
  • Studio Drawing

NCAT Create

Click here for information on NCAT Create


Industry Testimonials:

Gene Bawden, Deputy Head, Design (Communication Design)
Monash University, Faculty of Art Design & Architecture

Monash has a long and successful relationship with NCAT, based on a mutual regard for creative enquiry, conceptual strength and the value of good design. They produce adventurous creative thinkers whose abilities we gratefully inherit. The union of NCAT and Monash has resulted in a group of industry-ready professionals, working in studios across Melbourne and internationally. A number have also gone on to postgraduate study, completing Honours and Masters degrees, and some have established their own studios
Monash has recently established an Art Design & Architecture scholarship program with NCAT; only one of two in existence for this type of program in the faculty. Our decision to establish this award speaks volumes of our regard for NCAT; its exceedingly talented staff; and its creative, independent and enquiring body of students.

Ex Student Testimonials:

We know the best people to ask about Folio Preparation are our ex students. Here is what some of them thought about their time with us, and the impact it has had on their pathway into Art & design. * For simplicity, the title "NCAT Folio Preparation" and "NCAT" have been added where ex students have referred to us using our past incarnations (NDS/Design Studies). 

Caroline Meathrel
Freelance Graphic Designer | Illustrator | Copy Writer

“I came to NCAT after returning from a year in Japan. I was a qualified teacher who was sick of teaching. I'd always wanted a creative career, but growing up I had been discouraged from pursuing it at every turn. I couldn't afford to go back to uni to re-skill, & the NCAT Folio Preparation course was perfect - it fit my budget, I would come out with a qualification at the end & best of all, I would learn how to use the Adobe Creative Suite! (I had NO IDEA then). It was a fantastic year. I was really driven to succeed, & I definitely found my "voice" as an illustrator, as well as learning how to be a better designer. I would never have had the confidence or skill to go on to produce work for clients such as a Triple J unearthed winner, Made In The Now T-shirts, or ABC2 if I hadn't done the course! Knowing that those opportunities came about because I had acquired both the skills AND the confidence that I could pull it off is so priceless for me. I would definitely recommend this course to people & actually, I heard about it through a friend who highly recommended it to me!”

Jacquie Moon
Owner, Plump Design | Freelance Textile & Graphic Designer 

“Having a year of amazing support & mentoring from a team of teachers that really love what they do made a huge difference in gaining work in the industry. I always recommend NCAT to people to do prior Uni or a creative business venture because its the kind of experience that you will rarely find as a student anywhere else!”
Reiko Ellis 2006
Freelance Illustrator

“NCAT has helped me shape my future. Not only did I gain such an incredible amount of practical knowledge, but they also really cared and wanted to help as best they could. It was an unforgettable year: Great Results, Personable people, Creative.”
Maryam Al-Abid-Ali 2011
Studying Communication Design
"An awesome course with so much to give. Learned so much in such a short amount of time thanks to the friendly staff. It will definitely you get a pathway to university as well as a short cut to a life filled with success. Thanks a bunch guys! Couldn't have done it without you".
Giosuè Prochilo 1999
Communication Design Lecturer, Monash University
“NCAT is a solid foundation which paves the way into various leading Art & Design tertiary education institutions in Melbourne. The staff and program were excellent and overall the year long program allowed me to enter the Bachelor of Visual Communication at Monash University already with a firm understanding of introductory Art & Design studies, a carefully crafted student folio and a hungry passion for developing myself as a creative person. As a lecturer now teaching at Monash University, I highly recommend NCAT as an outstanding beginning for anyone considering a career in art and design related professions.” 
Laura Ferronato  2009
Graphic/Web Designer
“NCAT was the perfect stepping stone. The teachers were very approachable, extremely knowledgeable and super in-tune with what information anyone pursuing a creative career needed to set them on the path to their desired career. Great Results, High Integrity, Creative"
Wendy Hughes 2015
Studying Industrial Design at Monash University

"Folio Preparation was a brilliant course - good fun and I learned heaps. Very helpful when it came to applying to university! Don't think I would've gotten in without the staff help, or have even found the university course I ended up applying to. I would absolutely recommend it and would like to thank you all for all of your help and encouragement!" 

Lizzie Rose Archer 2004
"NCAT Folio Preparation was the best move I ever made. The experience was invaluable. I went from applying straight out of year 12 to 8 design courses resulting in 1 interview & no acceptances, to 8 interviews, and 3 acceptances into various Uni & TAFE courses in my field. Cannot recommend NCAT enough! Couldn't have done it without the amazing teachers who are genuinely interested in your desired career path and goals."
Tarryn Eleese McGregor 2007
Fine Artist
"It was the best year I have had, and one of the best decisions I have made. I met the most amazing people, and it developed my skills and prepared me for the creative industries. I am forever grateful xx"  
Joe Carbone 2000
Design Studio Manager Evoco Design
"I am a past student and recommend this course to anyone who is serious about developing their creative skills. I now head up a design studio in South Yarra!". 
Jess Tupper
Graphic Designer

"I have completed my communication design at Monash uni Caulfield and it's all thanks to NCAT inspiring me the whole way through folio prep. The teachers helped me believe in myself and helped me find and further develop my own style through my artwork. 
I will be forever grateful for the skills I gained from the amazing team of teachers! Being treated as a peer by the teachers helped with the transition into uni life. 
There are many aspects of folio development that I wish were implemented into my degree, life drawing and photography in particular! I learnt much more technical skills through the thorough teachings at NCAT. I'm missing some of the amazing design briefs too! 
Thanks again guys!"

Cameron Schwab 2015
Studying Fine Art Drawing at (VCA) Melbourne University

"It all started one evening when I googled the word 'folio' for no other reason than all the major art schools required one and I knew my dodgy sketchbooks which had travelled the past 20 years with me wouldn't cut it. This search led me to NCAT.
The next day I got on a tram with a couple of my sketches, arrived in Preston, explained my situation and ambition as best I could and was introduced to Tracy Paterson. Somehow Tracy made sense of my vagueness, something I'd been unable to do, and within an hour I’d signed on for the Folio Prep course, commencing the following week. I rang my wife on the way home in the tram, and her first response was it was the most excited and positive I'd sounded in years.
This momentum continued as I gained confidence and built on my learnings, which were many. Challenged and encouraged by talented, knowledgeable, and unbelievably patient people, prepared to call it as they see it, thereby establishing trusting relationships with their students, many of whom are in transition.
Twelve months later, I am preparing to go to the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) to study fine art. Clearly this would not have been possible without NCAT. I was able to present to the university with a body of work and confidence that I would not have thought possible just a few months earlier, and I have the NCAT team to thank.
If you like the idea of 'doing' art, and you don't know what to 'do', then 'do' this course. You will have no regrets.
[I will be] forever grateful."
Sharni Brear 2011
Freelance Illustrator
"NCAT is an awesome program to do before making any big decisions about committing to a long design course (and paying for it too!) If you're up for a year of working hard but making more pieces of art than you would have in your life, with help from the most genuinely caring staff, then that is what you will get! The difference in your work from February to the end of the year is just mind blowing, it is well worth it! There is no way I would be where I am at this point without NCAT: The most enjoyable year of my education yet. Thank-you to all the staff for guiding us this year, I hope when I leave I will be one of those ex students who keep coming back!"   
Paul Tippett 2006
Freelance Animator/Illustrator
"Fantastic creative atmosphere, fantastic helpful/supportive teachers and just a fantastic course. NCAT  exposes you to all areas of design and art and lets you experiment in other areas that you may never have had a chance to otherwise. This played a huge role in my career, I went in thinking Graphics may be what I want to do and left KNOWING that animation/character design is where I want to be and I never would've known that without NCAT guiding me there. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without NCAT and I would highly recommend to anyone".
Nina Read 2007  
Graphic Designer / Fragmented Magazine 
"I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for NCAT Folio Preparation. It's a fantastic pathway and it goes to show an amazing ENTER/ATAR isn't everything".

Sam Whelan 2015
Studying Communication Design at Monash Uni

"After coming out of year 12 with an ATAR and folio that wouldn't get me very far, I managed to come across NCAT Folio Prep as a suggestion at an interview for my dream course. Folio Prep helped me develop my design skills and exposed me to so many different forms of image making. Now I'm in my 'dream course' doing Bachelor of Communication Design at Monash! It is amazing how much my skills improved in just one year."
Ka-Yin Kwok 2001
Datacine Technician - Media Production
“A great course for someone interested in a career in art or design: Talented and supportive teaching staff. The course was very enjoyable.” 

Alysha Parkinson
Diploma of Graphic Design

After finishing high school with a passion for design but not sure exactly what direction I wanted to take it, I found NCAT, which was an amazing course with great teachers that inspired me and encouraged me to create a folio of work that I was really proud of that, led me to be accepted into my first preference to continue my studies in a Diploma of Graphic Design.
Kalindy Williams 2015
Studying Fine Art at Monash University

NCAT folio prep is a great way to get back into studying. After being out of school for so long I couldn't imagine applying for uni, let alone getting in but my year at NCAT really pushed me to try new things with art, illustration and design. I learnt so many practical skills I never would have got my head around without the helpful staff and students and I created a portfolio I'm really proud of, which scored me a place at Monash. Thanks NCAT!
Aaron Hinds
Games Designer

"Basically [Folio Prep] got me into the Uni and course that was my first preference. Before I went to NCAT I had no folio, by the end of the year I had so much work to show interviewers. Now I get to get a tertiary education doing something I love. Thanks NCAT!"
Melike Yucel 2015
Studying Communication Design at Monash University

"By far the best option transitioning from year 12 to uni! I have met some of my best friends at NCAT! It has amazing mentors that have current industry knowledge, and a flexible teaching style with a focus on your skills as an individual. Highly recommend!"
Hannah Carney
Interior Architecture Monash University

"Best thing I've ever done. Learnt so much in such a short amount of time. Supportive and lovely staff who keep challenging you! Definitely something I'd recommend" 
Robert Galdamez
Interior Designer

I would just like to give a big shout out to all of the teachers who helped me out throughout this amazing course. Within a year of studying at NCAT I learnt so much and I was able to express myself in ways that I thought were not even possible. It helped me develop myself not only as an individual but as a young emerging artist & designer as well. All the skills that I learnt and gained from NCAT I still use until this day. If it wasn't for you guys, I wouldn't be where I am now, so once again, thank you to the guys at NCAT Folio Preparation. I would do it all over again if I could!
Anybody thinking about doing it, I say go for it!!

Stuart Ford 2001
Graphic Designer - Stuart Ford Creative
"Ten years ago, when I graduated from high school, it was near-impossible to enter straight into a design-related course. VCE barely allowed the level of specialisation necessary to undertake such tertiary education. NCAT are experts at filling that gap and helping students enter their dream course. Ten years on, I still consider NCAT to be the year where I grew the most as a creative. I look back at my time there with fond memories, am still in touch with the teachers and am always looking forward to the next time I can visit. I highly recommend studying with NCAT."
Caroline Meathrel 2010
Freelance Designer/Illustrator
"I wish I had known about NCAT coming out of high school - it would have been a great bridge for getting me into a design course. As it is, I'm so glad i did finally find the course [as a mature aged student]. It's put me on the right career path thanks to friendly, supportive staff and a great hands-on curriculum. I learned so much in such a short time! NCAT is an excellent place to learn about the different aspects of design. The staff are passionate, and implement creative projects to help students learn basic design principles and new skills. I personally enjoyed the course and would recommend it to students looking to build up their folio before pursuing a freelance career or entering a University/TAFE course. It will help you find your creative "voice"; define your style and interests, and improve your illustration skills."
Helen Tran 2011
Studying Photography RMIT
"For those who are interested in any art form, GO TO NCAT FOLIO PREPARATION before going to tafe or uni! It really helps you clarify and expand your knowledge in your strengths and love of art. I am honestly so grateful for doing this course. I now look forward to going to RMIT to study photography. I didn't have that opportunity before. THANK YEWWWWWW!!!"
Daniel Paulino 2009
Graphic Artist
"Truly an amazing experience. I learnt so much, in only a year. Thank you NCAT for giving me the stepping stone I needed".
Naomi Braid (Wilson) 2000
Freelance Graphic Designer / Make up Artist
"Great course with supportive teachers and lifelong friends made. One of the most creative and enjoyable years of my life!"
Luke Bongailas 2011
Studying Communication Design Monash University
"It was a great year for me, I learnt so much and discovered my true passion for graphic design. The teachers at NCAT really take the time to get to know you and what your career direction is to help u build up the right folio for that particular area of study. If you aren't ready for tertiary or didn't get the right VCE results and want to learn a lot in a supportive and nurturing environment apply for this course. When i finished year 12 i had received no offers for Uni then remembered my Vis Com teacher talking about NCAT and now a year later I've just been accepted into Monash Uni for Bachelor of Design and it wouldn't have been possible with out the NCAT Folio Preparation team. Thanks guys :)"
Sundos Solange Muna 
Industrial Designer UK
“NCAT Folio Preparation is a great stepping stone for people wishing to pursue a career in design and preparing for a confident entry to a university degree.”
Tanya Dsouza 2006
Textile Designer / GM Holden
"Hello from the Colour 'n trim department at GM Holden! Just a word or two (maybe more) from an exie  If you're unsure about NCAT ... DONT BE!  I owe my introduction into the textile design world to Folio Preparation! The course laid the foundations to what I hope will be a a long and successful career in this wonderful industry. The staff at NCAT Folio Preparation, make the place a pleasure to come to everyday of the week!!!"
Ange Chirico 2011
Studying Photoimaging RMIT
"Loads of encouragement and support from a group of awesome teachers who bring you that one step closer to achieving your goals! Gotta love NCAT Folio Preparation! Thanks for everything guys :) A place you actually want to get up and go to in the morning!! Great environment, great teachers and great friends too :)"
Kim Elliott 2005
"Loved NCAT Folio Preparation: great experience and great friends!"
Tegan Connelly 2005
Graphic Designer
"NCAT Folio Preparation: The place for art & design!"
Sabrina Qureshi 2010
Studying Graphic Design VU
"I went to NCAT Folio Preparation last year. It was the only real option for me and I decided to take the chance. I'm so glad I did because it turned out to be the best year. The teachers were amazing; so genuine, kind and helpful. I've also made such great friends. From NCAT I learned so much, they were extremely cooperative with my folio work and getting me into Uni. Now here I am doing graphic design at Uni, and I just want to go back to good old FOLIO PREP! Thank you so much to all my teachers Neil, Tracy, Bei, Amanda, Sue and Ian... I will never forget you! :D"  
Leash Toki 2006
Graphic Designer Yamaha Music
"One of the best years of my education... Shhh... dont tell Eric!"
Harley Jackman 2010
Studying Graphic Design VU
"I remember hearing about NCAT back in high school. But I never even bothered to find out what it was about…  Skip forward a year or two, and I was about to attend my one and only interview at Victoria University… my one and only interview of anywhere. I wish I realised what an absolutely stupid move that was back then. I remember rocking up to the interview with what I thought was a pretty 'cool' folio, containing all my 'awesome' Photoshop work from Year 11 & 12! Boy, was I wrong. I distinctly remember seeing the disappointment on the two Interviewer's faces when they were flicking through my 'awesome' folio. I was promptly recommended to check out NCAT Folio Preparation. Come two weeks later, I found out I wasn't accepted into the course at VU. My heart sank. I had no idea what I was going to do for the rest of that year. So I decided to look up NCAT Folio Preparation on Google and find out what it was.
I was happy to learn that it offered exactly what I wanted and needed to get into a design course at VU, RMIT or Swinburne. So I arranged an interview time and was welcomed with open arms into the course. 2010 will be a year I will never forget. I learnt more than I could have ever thought possible. It's amazing the amount of skills I gained within that year: Everything ranging from drawing, photography, design principles and how to use the Adobe Creative Suite. I enjoyed 2010 more than any other school year previous to it. I actually enjoyed coming to school for the first time in my life!
The teachers at NCAT are by far the greatest teachers I have ever had. I feel wrong even calling them teachers! They were more like a second family. Don't let me forget about my classmates. I met some of the friendliest, most talented people at NDS. People whom I believe will go a long way in the near future.
After I completed the course, I had more than a great folio completed. It was a 'weapon'. This 'weapon' allowed me to get into pretty much any design course I applied for. It was so effective that Swinburne offered me a spot in their course on the same day as the interview! NCAT Folio Preparation has not only given me the opportunity to get into my desired design course - VU, but it has put me one giant leap ahead of my current classmates in terms of skill level and design understanding.
If you're considering going to NCAT Folio Preparation, then stop considering and #!!*#* Listen to me! Go to NCAT. It's the bloody best year you'll ever have. You'll meet some of the best people in your life. You'll learn the most you have ever learnt within a single year. I don't know what or where I'd be without NCAT. It is unlike any other TAFE course available. Do yourself a favour and simply go!"