Responding to the increasing popular demand for quality education in creative arts and design in Pakistan, the Board of Governors of the NCA proposed the formation of a second campus in Rawalpindi city in 2005. Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Ministry of Education provided the funds and Federal Ministry of Information and Broadcasting provided logistic support for acquiring land for the development of the NCA Rawalpindi Campus. The faculty and staff of the NCA Lahore helped their counterparts in Rawalpindi to lay the foundation of the new Campus by providing support in infrastructure and curriculum development.
The Campus offers introductory and advanced classes in Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Design, Drafting, Digital Art, Ceramics, Photography, Printmaking and Architecture, among many other areas of specialization. To complement studio practice, students are given a solid base in Art History, Cultural Studies and Liberal Arts. The faculty comprises of permanent members, visiting, contract and guest faculty members, drawn from within and without Pakistan. Students graduate from the NCA with a variety of skills necessary for a career as a creative artist in today's dynamic and constantly shifting art world.
The NCA, Rawalpindi Campus, is a multi-level building comprising of more than 50 rooms and the historic Liaquat Memorial Hall with a seating capacity of 850, which furnishes a long history of thriving performing arts.
History and Heritage
The Mayo School of Art was established along with Lahore Museum in 1875, with the intention to have a centre that served the requirements of the museum by preserving and patronizing the craft of Punjab. This was twenty four years after the ‘Great Exhibition’ of 1851 in London The world at that point in time was busy in arguing about how to tame designers in response to machine rigidity. John Lockwood Kipling was made curator of the Lahore Museum and principal of the Mayo School of Arts. His vision and his genuine regard for indigenous art, allowed the craft of the region to sustain at a time when it was under siege in industrialized Britain. The London School of Design, now Royal College of Arts, was already there since 1835, functioning and debating the curriculum for industrial design. It was perhaps due to this dialogue that the thinker and artist Lockwood Kipling took up the task of teaching the artists and designers the critical function of craft and traditions.
The industrial change had to be accepted; and in 1958 the Mayo School was restructured by the Government of Pakistan as the National College of Arts. Professor Mark Ritter Sponenburg (1916-2012), a guru in art and design education, and a great agent of change was given the charge of Principal. He, too, established the links of craft with modern art and design. The exhibition ‘Folk Arts of Swat’ based on research in Swat area by him and the students of National College of Arts, still stands in a remote corner of the Lahore Museum. Primarily three departments were established: Fine Art, Design and Architecture.
The new breed of artists, designers and architects filled the professional gaps in the society. In 1963, the government recognized the College as the premier art institution in Pakistan. It was consequently taken away from the Department of Industries and placed under the Education Department with its own Board of Governors. The new policy in 1972 recognized the achievements of the College and planned its development into a centre of excellence in the visual arts. A unique measure of autonomy, under the Federal Government, was ensured from this point on. In 1985 the College was granted a  degree ;awarding status. This also empowered the NCA to institute graduate programmes in the field of visual arts.
M.A. in Visual Arts and an M. Phil leading to Ph.D. in Communication and Cultural Studies were initiated in 1999. In the same year, a Research and Publication Centre was established that has produced a number of books on history, art and various other disciplines within the social sciences and humanities. A project for the restoration and conservation of the archival records of Mayo School of Arts was also initiated, which has broadened in scope to include the archives of the NCA.
In 1999 the College started a two years Master’s degree program in Interior Design. Acknowledging the importance of information technology in the creative fields, the NCA initiated a graduate programme in Multimedia Arts in September 2001. The College has established departments of Musicology, Film & Television in the first decade of the 21st century. It has also established the Centre for Conservation and Cultural Heritage Management.
In June 2011, the NCA was granted a University status by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.