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Painting Classes in New York with Program Descriptions

Research painting classes in New York, which currently has more than 10 colleges and universities offering related programs. Read an overview of courses, tuition info and program options for 10 of these schools, and decide which one is right for you.

Essential Information

New York State has a number of public and private colleges and universities that offer programs in the studio and visual arts, which include courses in painting. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report gave many of the schools below high rankings for their graduate fine arts, drawing and painting programs.

Painting classes typically cover how to prepare surfaces, mix colors and create original works of art using a variety of painting mediums, like oil, watercolor or acrylic. The programs available include associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs in fine art or studio art. Most schools provide exhibition opportunities at local or on-campus art galleries, and some programs offer related study-abroad opportunities. At the graduate level, some schools offer part-time studies and have limited admissions.


Bard College

Bard College is a non-sectarian liberal arts and science college located in Annandale-On-Hudson. At the Division of the Arts, the core studio art faculty is currently composed of 16 members, and relevant facilities include studio and exhibition space at the Fisher Studio Arts Building and the Bard College Exhibition Center.

The Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts requires 128 credits of coursework and includes two courses in art history and three painting studios. In addition to instruction on how to mix colors and handle materials, students also learn how to paint from life and explore alternative formats and techniques.

Through the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, students can also pursue a 60-credit self-directed graduate program in painting that incorporates other art forms like drawing, multimedia and printing. According to U.S. News & World Report in 2012, Bard College's painting and drawing graduate program was ranked number 14 in the country.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts,
    Master of Fine Arts
  • Tuition and Fees (2012-2013): $44,798*
  • School Type and Setting: 4-year; private, not-for-profit; fringe town

Columbia University

Columbia University in Manhattan was founded in 1754, which makes it the oldest postsecondary school in New York. In 2012, Columbia ranked 4th in the nation for its graduate program in drawing and painting (U.S. News & World Report). Faculty members in the visual arts program presently include over 2-dozen full-time professors, graduate adjuncts and lecturers, as well as a number of visiting critics.

In addition to a liberal studies foundation, the Bachelor of Arts program includes 47 credits of art history, drawing and sculpture. The 124-credit curriculum allows for six upper-level electives, and students can choose courses in beginning, intermediate and advanced painting, figure painting and plein air (in the open air) painting.

At the graduate level, students can pursue a 2-year visual arts program in, among other disciplines, drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. A New York summer painting intensive is scheduled for 2013.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts,
    Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts
  • Tuition and Fees (2012-2013): $47,246*
  • School Type and Setting: 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city

Cornell University

New York State's only federal land-grant college is located in Ithaca, and was 36th on the U.S. News & World Report's list of best graduate fine arts programs in 2012. Through the Department of Art housed within the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, students can pursue studio concentrations in painting, printmaking and sculpture. The current faculty is composed of nearly 24 professors, guest lecturers and visiting critics, and students are assigned their own private workspace at Tjaden Hall.

The undergraduate fine arts program requires 130 credits of coursework and includes three introductory painting studios. Upper-level electives focus on issues related to painting materials, processes and spatiality. Unique to the program is the opportunity for students to spend one semester each in New York City and Rome.

Graduate students who pursue the 60-credit Master of Fine Arts must commit to four semesters of full-time study, and the program culminates in a thesis exhibition and a group show in New York City.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Fine Arts,
    Master of Fine Arts
  • Tuition and Fees (2012-2013): $43,413*
  • School Type and Setting: 4-year; private, not-for-profit; small city

CUNY Hunter College

This Manhattan college is the largest in the City University of New York (CUNY) network, as well as one the oldest public institutions of higher learning in America. The Department of Art offers programs in art history and studio art, and the present faculty consists of more than 40 professors and distinguished lecturers. According to U.S. News & World Report in 2012, Hunter College ranked seventh in the country for its graduate painting and drawing program.

The Bachelor of Arts program requires 24-42 credits of major coursework, and students enrolled in the 42-credit option can pursue a 9-credit concentration in painting. Upon completion of 90 credits of coursework, those who would like to acquire additional studio experience can apply to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. This is a 61-credit professional course of study that includes a 6-credit concentration in painting or another fine art, as well as the opportunity to pursue advanced work both on and off campus. In the past, students who qualified for the Honors Program pursued special projects in advanced painting and watercolor techniques.

The 48-credit Master of Fine Arts program includes a studio concentration in painting and a 6-credit project course.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art,
    Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
    Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art
  • Tuition and Fees (2012-2013): $5,829 in-state; $12,039 out-of-state*
  • School Type and Setting: 4-year; public; large city

New York University

One of the largest private institutions in America, New York University's main campus is located in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan. In 2012, the school was 45th on the U.S. News & World Report's list of best graduate fine arts programs. Presently, the full-time faculty at the Department of Art and Art Professions is composed of 22 members and includes a graduate painting and drawing director.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts program requires 128 credits to complete and includes 86 credits of major coursework in art history, drawing, media and sculpture. Undergraduates who pursue a concentration in drawing and painting can take up to 36 credits in studio- and project-based courses. During their senior year, honors students may qualify for studio space in the department's Beaux Arts building.

Serious painters may also be interested in the part-time Master of Arts in Studio Art, a 36-credit interdisciplinary program that includes private studio space, an option to study abroad and a thesis exhibition. Only 10 students per year are admitted to the highly competitive Master of Fine Arts program, and the course of study requires 60 credits and two years to complete.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
    Master of Arts in Studio Art,
    Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
    Advanced Certificate in Studio Art,
    Minor in Studio Art
  • Tuition and Fees (2012-2013): $43,204*
  • School Type and Setting: 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city

Pratt Institute

The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Manhattan is a 125-year-old professional school that offers programs in architecture, art and design. In 2012, the institute ranked 27th in the nation for its graduate fine arts program (U.S. News & World Report). Painting is the most popular area of emphasis at the Department of Fine Arts, and students currently have access to over a dozen visiting artists.

The Associate of Applied Science program requires four sequential courses in painting, after which students can apply to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program (134 credits). Beginning in their sophomore year, undergraduates who pursue the 4-year course of study have the option to enroll in more formal painting intensives. Individual studio space is assigned during the senior year, and the program culminates in a campus-based thesis exhibition. Students in the 60-credit Master of Fine Arts program in painting and drawing also participate in a thesis exhibition and supplement their work with a written report.

  • Programs Offered: Associate of Applied Science in Painting and Drawing,
    Bachelor of Fine Arts,
    Master of Fine Arts
  • Tuition and Fees (2012-2013): $41,092*
  • School Type and Setting: 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city

Rochester Institute of Technology

This Rochester school is located in New York State's third-largest city, and the institutional emphasis is on career-oriented and experiential education. Along with the Pratt Institute, the school was tied for 27th on the U.S. News & World Report's list of best graduate fine arts programs in America. The School of Art's fine arts programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and the current fine arts studio faculty includes seven professors.

The undergraduate studio art program has three major areas of emphasis: painting, sculpture and printmaking. In addition to an introductory course in painting, the 120-credit curriculum includes three studio electives and the opportunity to participate in a senior show. Unique to the department is a 300-level course in watercolor that emphasizes the illustrative and painterly aspects of the medium.

Students who would like to acquire advanced painting techniques may also be interested in the Master of Fine Arts program, a 61-credit course of study that includes courses in business, fine art research and a thesis.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
    Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art
  • Tuition and Fees (2012-2013): $33,258*
  • School Type and Setting: 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large suburb

SUNY at Purchase College

The State University of New York (SUNY) institution at Purchase was founded by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, and the school offers students a conservatory- and liberal arts-based approach to education. Undergraduate and graduate programs in fine and visual arts are available though the School of Art and Design. In 2012, the college ranked 45th on U.S. News & World Report's list of top graduate fine arts programs.

Under the direction of exhibiting artists, students in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program can pursue a 27-credit concentration in painting and drawing. In addition to a study of materials and techniques, the curriculum includes three sequential courses in painting, and students work in well-lit facilities that have been especially designed for this type of studio work. They can also participate in field trips and attend review sessions with visiting critics and professional artists.

Along with the undergraduate fine arts program, the school offers an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science program and a 64-credit Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts program that include studio-based electives.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Fine Arts,
    Bachelor of Science in Visual Arts,
    Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts
  • Tuition and Fees (2012-2013): $7,230 in-state; $16,480 out-of-state*
  • School Type and Setting: 4-year; public; large suburb

The New School

The New School for Design is one of seven academic divisions in this Manhattan-based university. In 2012, the college was ranked 36th on the U.S. News & World Report's list of best graduate fine arts programs. The school is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design and an institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Through the School of Art, Media and Technology, fine arts students have the opportunity to work with eight full-time and over 2-dozen part-time faculty members.

The school offers undergraduate courses in beginning, illustrative and life painting, a core lab in painting and drawing and a summer intensive. In particular, the course in beginning painting teaches students without prior experience how to set up a palette, apply colors in an abstract and realistic manner and work with still- and real-life models.

Students who pursue the Bachelor of Fine Arts program complete 134 credits of coursework, and while the curriculum does not include any specific topics in painting, it does allow for a number of electives and independent studio work in the senior year. The graduate program in fine arts requires two years and 60 credits to complete and includes a combination of advanced studio work in painting, sculpture or another related discipline, as well as theoretical studies and training in professional business and promotional practices.

Additional program offerings include a combined Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts program totaling 180 credits.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Fine Arts,
    Master of Fine Arts
  • Tuition and Fees (2012-2013): $39,368*
  • School Type and Setting: 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city

University at Buffalo (SUNY)

The largest of all 64 schools in the State University of New York System, this Buffalo research institution is located in Western New York near Niagara Falls and Toronto, Canada. Through the Department of Visual Studies, undergraduates can pursue programs in art history, studio art and visual studies. Among other prestigious institutions, faculty members have exhibited their work at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

While the Bachelor of Arts curriculum includes a more general study of art and design, the Bachelor of Fine Arts program allows for 78 credits of major coursework and a specialization in general studio work, painting and sculpture. Students who pursue the major studio concentration in painting take courses in drawing, composition, painting processes and non-traditional painting.

Although not specific to painting, the department also offers a 2-year graduate program in visual arts.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art,
    Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
    Minor in Studio Art
  • Tuition and Fees (2012-2013): $7,989 in-state; $18,609 out-of-state*
  • School Type and Setting: 4-year; public; large suburb

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Painting Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)
Bard College 4-year; private, not-for-profit; fringe town Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts,
Master of Fine Arts
$44,798*
Columbia University 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts,
Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts
$47,246*
Cornell University 4-year; private, not-for-profit; small city Bachelor of Fine Arts,
Master of Fine Arts
$43,413*
CUNY Hunter College 4-year; public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art
$5,829 in-state; $12,039 out-of-state*
New York University 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
Master of Arts in Studio Art,
Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
Advanced Certificate in Studio Art,
Minor in Studio Art
$43,204*
Pratt Institute (Main) 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city Associate of Applied Science in Painting and Drawing,
Bachelor of Fine Arts,
Master of Fine Arts
$41,092*
Rochester Institute of Technology 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art
$33,258*
SUNY at Purchase College 4-year; public; large suburb Bachelor of Fine Arts,
Bachelor of Science in Visual Arts,
Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts
$7,230 in-state; $16,480 out-of-state*
The New School 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Fine Arts,
Master of Fine Arts
$39,368*
University at Buffalo (SUNY) 4-year; public; large suburb Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
Minor in Studio Art
$7,989 in-state; $18,609 out-of-state*

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics.


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