Minnesota New Institute for Ceramic Education

Now entering its fourth year, MN NICE is an advanced certificate program that provides rigorous, personalized instruction for artists who are serious about taking the next step in their ceramic education. The program is designed to respond to the changing needs of students and give non-traditional students high-level training in ceramic materials, history and theory, and professional practice. Through instruction and individual mentorship, students build skills, knowledge, and insight necessary to create a personal and cohesive body of work.

MN NICE extends 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. The program strives to prepare students both artistically and professionally whether they are seeking gallery representation, applying for graduate school, or selling work to the public.

The program consists of three 8-week blocks of instruction, beginning in September and ending in May. During each block, the group meets for weekly seminars and field trips to museums, galleries, artist studios, and lectures. Throughout the year, participants have individual critiques with leading professionals in the field, helping them to focus their research and development of work. The program culminates with the submission of a graduation portfolio and a group exhibition in NCC’s Emily Galusha Gallery.

If you have questions about the history of MN NICE or joining next year's class, please make Manager of Education and Studio Artist Programs Kyle Rudy-Kohlhepp your first point of contact at kylerudyk@northernclaycenter.org or call him directly at 612.339.8007 x314.

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

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 a weekend orientation session to introduce methods, concepts, and conversations that the group will pursue throughout the year.

The MN NICE program is comprised of three, 8-week cycles:

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

Intersessions (December, March, summer months) are times for concentrated studio work. Graduation certificates are awarded in September, and the group’s final exhibition is held in NCC’s Emily Galusha Gallery in the fall, following the completion of the program.

During each 8-week block, participants convene on Mondays at NCC for a 5-hour seminar consisting of lecture and discussion. (Note: the annual schedule is always discussed with participants before being confirmed). The seminar includes ceramic science, history and theory, professional practice, and studio courses. 

Additionally, the group meets weekly to attend enrichment activities such as artist lectures, gallery tours, and studio visits with established artists. MN NICE students have 10 individual studio visits with Affiliated Artists throughout the program year (three visits in each of Blocks 1 and 2, and four visits in Block 3). Through meetings with experienced professionals, who are both teachers and artists, students learn to articulate their individual choices, the relevance of their processes, and the content of their work. In addition to 7+ hours of direct weekly instruction, students are expected to work in the studio approximately 15+ additional hours per week. Students are also asked to complete weekly readings and assignments.

To receive a certificate, individuals participate in a final group exhibition and submit a portfolio consisting of 20 images, artist statement, artist biography, resume, and professional goals. In the final months, participants have two additional consultation hours with professionals in the field, intended to help guide their transition from the program. Upon graduation, NICE participants are invited to attend American Pottery 
Festival as our guest, including the opening night party, 
weekend workshops, and artist talks. 

Affiliated Artists
MN NICE Fees & Payments

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. This deposit is non-refundable. Otherwise, payments of $550 are due monthly for nine months. Separate fees apply to participants who are renting studio space and/or firing at NCC.


MN NICE is for intermediate to advanced makers a minimum of 2 to 3 years of clay experience, and it is open to clay artists of all ages from around the world. Participants do not need a prior degree in ceramics, but since this program is not demonstration-based, students should feel confident and independent in their studio skills. Participants should be at a point in their studio practice where they can work independently, conceive of and execute a project to completion, and are open to critique and development of their work. Students need the time to commit to 7+ hours of weekly instruction and an additional 15+ hours outside of class. Participants are required to have access to a studio space and kiln (either at NCC or off-site) for the duration of the program

Application Deadline

There is no fee to apply to MN NICE. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. The following materials must be submitted online:

  • A completed application form
  • 10–20 images of work made within the last 3 years
  • An image list that includes artist’s name, date of work, dimensions of work, and medium
  • A current resume
  • An artist statement
  • An essay (500 words) answering the question, “How is this program valuable to you at this stage of your ceramic career?”

The priority deadline for MN NICE applications is June 1. We will continue to review applications after the deadline and encourage applicants to submit at any time. All application forms and materials must be submitted through northernclaycenter.org. Application materials submitted by June 1 will be reviewed and applicants will be notified by early July. Deposits for the September start date are due by August 1.

For all questions and inquiries, please contact Kyle Rudy-Kohlhepp at 612.339.8007 x314 or kylerudyk@northernclaycenter.org

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 Kyle Rudy-Kohlhepp at kylerudyk@northernclaycenter.org or call 612-339-8007 x314.