Established in 1909 as the school of the Portland Art Museum, the College has its roots in fine arts. The College evolved from nascent modernism, emergence of design, and postmodern strategies to the current effects of technology on methodology, culture, and global discourse. Through many iterations, Pacific Northwest College of Art’s current mission is “to prepare students for a life of creative practice.” We use practice as both a verb and a noun recognizing that creativity extends beyond the arts. Everything that is distinctive about humans— technology, arts, science, philosophy, cognition, and commerce—flows from our ability to imagine and create in the face of an unpredictable and challenging future. To support this goal, the College remains small by choice with its distinctive one-on-one mentoring program, which offers individual support to students in realizing their voice and personal pathways. PNCA empowers future generations of artists, designers, and scholars with the strategies and knowledge needed to become culture makers and entrepreneurs addressing local, regional, and global concerns.
Located on the Pacific Rim in Portland between Seattle and San Francisco, PNCA is strategically situated in a nexus for art, design, creative industries, and global commerce. The College embodies Portland's iconoclastic spirit and values diversity, innovation, and global engagement in the creative marketplace. Global Studios, our short-term programs abroad, expands the campus for both students and faculty to many regions of the world, including Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. While abroad, our participants engage in internationally renown events and festivals, such as DesignTide Tokyo, Venice and Berlin Biennales, Documenta, Melbourne Festival, and International Print Symposia.
The Global Learning Network is our robust semester exchange system. This program enhances and expands individual student pathways and research beyond the limits of the home institution and hosts similar opportunities for our exchange partner students. This fosters curricular diversity and critical discourse and provides opportunities for focused research, experimentation, and cultural inquiry through an international lens. Recently this Network expanded to include staff and professors engaged in pedagogical exchange, innovative collaboration, and shared research. PNCA is registered with the European Commission as collaborating member for Research and Innovation with its own Participant Identification Code.
Our Global Learning Network includes: Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design (Stockholm, Sweden), Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland), Design Academy Eindhoven (Netherlands), Universiti Sains Malaysia (Penang, Malaysia), York St. John University-Faculty of Art, Design and Computer Science (York, United Kingdom), The Basel School of Design (Switzerland), Arts University Bournemouth (Poole, United Kingdom), University of Bergen-Faculty of Art, Design and Music (Norway), Icelandic Academy of the Arts (Reykjavik, Iceland), LUCA School of the Arts-Brussels and Ghent Campuses (Belgium), Design School Kolding (Denmark), Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Jerusalem, Israel), University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia), National Art School (Sydney, Australia), Massey University-College of Creative Arts (Wellington, New Zealand).
As the third oldest independent college of art on the west coast of North America, PNCA has been influential in the development of arts and design in the region. With its long history of studio-based education in the fine arts at its foundation, the College constantly evolves, responding to changing modes of cultural production. Through the medium of art and design, PNCA engages with local, national, and international partners across public and private sectors to develop a variety of opportunities that benefit our students and deepen our relationships with our surrounding communities. Our Community Education program welcomes 1400 participants annually from varying age groups and populations.
In 1991, PNCA joined 24 other College presidents to found the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) to mutually develop their schools and programs. AICAD now has over 40 members of the leading art and design schools in the U.S. and Canada, offering the highest quality of art and design education. Its robust exchange program amongst member schools supports mobility for research, networking, and professional practice.
In 2016, PNCA established a unique program that blurs the lines between art, design, and technology. Make+Think+Code is a technology-focused lab, which brings together members of Portland's vibrant creative, tech, civic, and educational communities to explore the powerful role that creativity and technology play in the search for imaginative and impactful solutions to complex and urgent problems.
PNCA incorporates its four core themes into the classroom and throughout the institution with a strong traditional foundation and studio practices which meld theory and application. Studio practice, critical inquiry, world-view, and professional practice provide students with expandable platforms of knowledge, skills, and methodologies organized around modes of making, thinking, and inquiry. These platforms also cultivate a comprehensive grasp of the knowledge needed beyond the classroom and studios. We teach art and design as a strategy rather than a product. As our students transition into our colleagues, they employ professional practices and life skills including respect, resilience, self-reliance, cultural awareness, and sustained curiosity ingrained in the PNCA philosophy. We explore these four tenets through the lenses of Media Arts, Design Arts and Studio Arts.
The most common areas of research of faculty and students reflect the contemporary landscape: sustainability, interactive communication, social practice, cultural and critical inquiry, ecologies (systems), and expanding the scope of creative practice.
PNCA offers four-year BFA degrees in: Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Intermedia, Photography, Video and Sound, Animated Arts, Communication Design, Creative Writing, and Illustration. At the graduate level, PNCA provides two-year MFA degrees in Visual Studies, Print Media, Collaboration Design, Applied Craft and Design, a three-year MFA Low Residency Program in Visual Culture, as well as two-year MA programs in Critical Studies and Design Systems.
faculties and departments
PNCA offers BFA degrees in ten majors, as well as an Art and Ecology minor. Through its Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies, five MFA degrees programs are offered and two MA programs. PNCA also offers non-degree programs through Post-Baccalaureate studio coursework and Community Education.
The ten undergraduate majors foster individual pathways through inter and cross disciplinary studio electives and liberal arts courses. Within your major, There is freedom, within a major, to focus course choices around specific areas of interest and research at:http://pnca.edu/programs/areas/c/areas_of_study . These are organized through themes: Art and Technology, Craft and Materials, Critical Studies, Digital Fabrication, Entrepreneurial Studies, Interactive Media, Gender Studies, Media Production, Narrative Forms and Media Studies.
bachelor level programs
All BFA degree programs are four years of study and organized through four departments of Design Arts, Media Arts, Studio Arts and Liberal Arts. Degree Majors are: Communication Design, Illustration, Painting, Intermedia, Photography, Sculpture, Animated Arts, Video & Sound, Printmaking, Intermedia, and Creative Writing.
master level programs
The Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies offers MFA and MA programs, which are two years of study unless noted. MFA program areas are Visual Studies, Print Media, Collaboration Design, and Applied Craft and Design. MA programs are Critical Studies and Systems Design. A three year Low Residency MFA in Visual Culture is designed for those that need a more flexible studio based program.
research activity and main areas
The most common areas of research of faculty and students reflect the gamut of contemporary concerns: sustainability, interactive communication, social practice, media literacy, cultural and critical inquiry, ecologies (systems), and expanding the scope of creative practice. These areas are inquiry are supported by coursework:http://pnca.edu/programs/areas/c/areas_of_study , research labs, internships and off campus studies, industry collaboration and strategic partnerships. Some examples are:
Watershed Center for Fine Art Publishing and Research is the professional fine art publishing program at PNCA. A research and education extension of the printmaking lab, Watershed is staffed and supported through the Print Media program. http://www.pnca.edu/programs/watershed/c/sum
The Center for Contemporary Art & Culture is a platform for cultural production including exhibition, lecture, performance, publication and symposia on contemporary issues.. Housed within PNCA, the Center engages the greater community to foster discourse and community activism. http://ccac.pnca.edu/
Make+Think+Code emphasizes research and collaboration, preparing a diverse community to actively engage as citizens and to succeed in our growing local, regional and national creative technology industries. We emphasize a 21st Century model of education that supports life-long learning, and fosters a culture of inclusion and equity, emphasizing collaborations and partnerships between and across industry, government, and academic and cultural institutions to create a supportive ecosystem of individuals and organisations. http://pnca.edu/makethinkcode/about
subject areas for exchange students
Only students who attend schools that are our exchange partners can apply for undergraduate study at PNCA. A list of our exchange partners can be found on our website. The development of our Global Learning Network is active and partner
Students who are not attending one of our exchange partner schools may apply to our Visiting International Student program on a space available basis, provided they have completed at least one year of college credit at a three-year degree institution or two years at a four-year degree institution. For more specific details please inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadlines to apply for semester exchange or Visiting International Student program are November 1 for the spring semester and March 15 for the fall semester.
Fall term - last week in August through mid-December. Spring Term - third week in January through mid-May.
cost of living per month (studying and living)
Exchange students pay tuition to their home school and go tuition free to PNCA. Living expenses in Portland Oregon can vary depending primarily on accomodation but the average is $10,035 per semester. Undergraduate students can expect to spend approximately $2,010/month on a five-month basis. Living costs include health insurance, room and board, books and supplies, city/local transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.
Tuition Fee costs for Visiting International Students is $19,125 per semester.