Minnesota New Institute for Ceramic Education

Northern Clay Center presents an advanced ceramics studio program in collaboration with ceramic artist and educator, Ursula Hargens. The New Institute for Ceramic Education provides up to 8 months of advanced, personalized instruction for artists who are serious about taking the next step in their ceramic education.

This pilot program is designed to respond to the changing needs of students and gives non-traditional students the same quality of information and critique found in a university program.  Designed for potters and sculptors alike, the Institute will support the development of studio work and provide high-level training in ceramic materials, history and theory, and professional practices.

Participants will earn a certificate of completion through a combination of instruction and individual mentoring. The program will extend beyond the classroom to include artist lectures, gallery tours, and studio visits with established artists to take advantage of the rich ceramic resources throughout the Twin Cities, including those from academic and non-traditional routes of study, artists of other media, and arts administrators.

Get updates about MN NICE classes, visiting artists, and events on the NCC blog. 

What can you hope to achieve from this program?

By the end of the 8-month program, students will earn a certificate and will possess the technical skills, artistic context, and personal insight to build a strong and cohesive body of work. They will learn how to present and promote their work, whether they are seeking gallery representation, applying to graduate school, or selling work to the public.

MN NICE combines the best aspects of a residency, university program, and apprenticeship. Certificate recipients will establish new connections with peers and established artists in the field, build professional credentials, and create a strong body of work based on individualized instruction. The program will culminate in a final exhibition at Northern Clay Center.

"It is not without trepidation that I look toward the future, but I am eager to stretch my wings using the tools, resources, and courage I have discovered through MN NICE. 
I feel honored and proud to have been a part of this program." -- MN NICE participant, 2015-16

Is MN NICE right for you?

Now in its second year, MN NICE is designed to respond to the changing needs of students and to give non-traditional students the same quality of information and critique found in a university program. Designed for potters and sculptors alike, MN NICE will support the development of studio work and provide high-level training in ceramic materials, history and theory, and professional practices. Participants will earn a certificate of completion through a combination of instruction and individual mentoring, led by ceramic artist and educator Ursula Hargens.

Hargens states, “Many individuals are eager to further their ceramic education and seek a professional credential, but family, employment, financial, and time constraints limit their ability to do so within a traditional academic structure. This certificate program is designed to fill this gap, providing a flexible, yet challenging environment that responds to the needs of non-traditional students, giving them quality information, academic rigor, critical dialogue, and critique as they develop their artistic practice and strengthen their work.”

Click here to access the application form.

Listen to a conversation between course leader, Ursula Hargens and a couple members of the first group of MN NICE students on Ben Carter's Tales of a Red Clay Rambler Podcast.


The Schedule

MN NICE begins with the HUSTLE orientation session—an energizing weekend in September designed to provide details and schedules about the program, as well as hands-on activities and discussions, which introduce you to the concepts and conversations that NICE will pursue throughout the year.

Courses will be held in three, 8-week cycles:

  • Late September through late-November, ending before Thanksgiving
  • January – February
  • April – May, ending before Memorial Day

Other Important Dates:

  • In June through September, students receive additional "advising" hours with affiliated artists and professionals
  • A final exhibition of student work will be presented in NCC's gallery, opening late-September.
  • December and March will be intersessions for individual studio work and/or meetings with Affiliated Artists

NICE typically meets on Mondays from 9 am to 2 pm, although the annual schedule is always discussed with participants before being confirmed. Weekly lecture or field trips are usually scheduled in the evenings on Tuesday or Thursday, and occasionally on a weekend afternoon.

For artists wishing to rent studio space at NCC, access begins September 1. All NICE participants are invited to attend American Pottery Festival as our guest, including the opening night party, weekend workshops, and artist talks.

Beginning in 2016, artists who have completed the NICE program may choose to enroll in NICE2, a “second year” follow-on program to continue the conversations, feedback, and format of the program. NICE2 is structured with two parts: an Introduction to Glaze Formulation course offered online as a special collaboration between NCC and Matt Katz, long-time instructor of ceramic material courses at The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University; and “The Suite”—a package of continuing mentor visits, special events with visiting artists or local collectors, guided group critiques, and discounts on NCC programs. The NICE2 program will run annually, beginning September 1, 2016 and ending August 31, 2017 and students may enroll as many times as desired. NICE2 is only available to students who have finished MN NICE. For more information, contact Jill Foote-Hutton.

Affiliated Artists
MN NICE Fees & Payments

For the October 2016 – May 2017 session, the fee for each of the three, 8-week sessions is $1650. There is a registration fee of $200, which will be applied to the first bill. Otherwise, payments of $550 are due monthly. All payments are nonrefundable. We are offering two partial scholarships for those demonstrating financial need. See the application page for details. Separate fees apply to participants who are renting studio space and/or firing at NCC. Please note: fees for future years of programming are subject to change.


MN NICE is for intermediate to advanced students with a minimum of 2 to 3 years of clay experience. The program is open to clay artists of all ages from around the world:

  • Who have completed a BFA or BA in ceramics, who are self taught, who are clay educators, or who have other significant experience with clay.
  • Who are seeking to further develop their work, participate in critical dialogue, gain technical and professional knowledge, and achieve professional recognition in the field.
  • Who thrive working both independently and collaboratively.
  • Who are able to commit to 5 – 8 hours of weekly instruction and an additional 15 – 20 hours of studio time.
  • Who currently have access to a studio or kiln offsite, or through NCC's Studio Program.

*Applicants for our other residency programs are eligible to apply for the MN NICE program in the same calendar year.

Application Deadline

Applications for MN NICE are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis, meaning there is no absolute deadline to be considered for the program. Our preferred deadline to begin the program in the fall is June 1; to begin in January, we would prefer applications before October 1. All application forms and materials must be submitted through northernclaycenter.org. No hard copy, faxed, or e-mailed, will be accepted. For all questions and inquiries, please contact Jill Foote-Hutton at 612.339.8007 x314 or jillfootehutton@northernclaycenter.org.

Application materials will be reviewed by NCC, and applicants will be notified of the outcome according to the dates below:

Session Start

Applications Expected


Deposit Due


June 1

Early July 

August 1


October 1

Early November

December 1

Click here to access the application form.

Questions? For more information, contact Jill Foote-Hutton at jillfootehutton@northernclaycenter.org or 612.339.8007 x314.

Request More Information

Request a complete information packet, which includes further details regarding:

  • Schedule and Course Descriptions
  • Studio & Facility Information
  • Complete Application & Fee Information

email Jill Foote-Hutton at jillfootehutton@northernclaycenter.org or call 612-339-8007 x314.