Watercolor Classes in New York with School Information

Research watercolor classes in New York, which currently has more than 11 colleges and universities offering courses. Read an overview of courses, tuition info and program options for these schools and decide which one is right for you.

Essential Information

In New York State, there are a number of private and public colleges and universities that offer at least one course in watercolor painting. Some schools offer these classes within art degree programs at the associate or bachelor's degree level. Other schools offer non-credit certificate programs or stand-alone continuing education classes in such areas of focus as transparent watercolor, Chinese watercolor and botanical illustrations. Students should be aware that some courses require a preliminary study in painting and that individual offerings may be restricted to undergraduates enrolled in a degree program. Below are overviews of the schools in New York that offer watercolor classes.


Cornell University

Cornell University in Ithaca is the federal land-grant institution for New York, and its College of Agriculture and Life Science is one of four divisions that receive direct funding from the state. Through the college's Department of Horticulture, students can pursue a non-credit certificate program in botanical illustration that includes a 6-week course in watercolors.

The course is one of three required for the certificate and is designed to help students approach nature from both an artistic and scientific viewpoint. At the start of the program, students find out how to prepare a sheet of watercolor paper for painting and care for their brushes. In addition to an introduction to color, they also learn how to apply a variety of washes and perfect their dry brush techniques.

  • Program Offered: Botanical Illustration Certificate of Completion
    (Working with Watercolor is a required course)
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $600 per course*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city

CUNY Hunter College

This Manhattan-based college is not only the largest school in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, but is also one of the oldest public institutions of higher learning in the United States. The college offers a 3-credit course in watercolor that meets one evening a week for approximately four hours and allows for five hours of open studio work. This is a lower-level course that introduces students to the basic concepts associated with the medium, and those who have not completed the drawing and visual studies prerequisites may be able receive a waiver from the instructor. Students can take this course as an elective within the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree programs in studio art.

  • Programs Offered: BA in Studio Art,
    BFA in Studio Art
    (Watercolor Painting can be taken as an elective)
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $5,829 per academic year (NY residents); $12,039 per academic year (non-residents)**
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

CUNY Kingsborough Community College

Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn is also part of the CUNY network, and the school enjoys a prime waterfront location in Manhattan Beach. Through the college's Associate of Science in Fine Arts program, students can take two sequential elective courses in watercolors - transparent and intermediate watercolor painting. In particular, the intermediate course introduces students to 'wet into wet' and glazing techniques. Prerequisites include an introductory study of acrylics and oils.

  • Program Offered: AS in Fine Arts
    (Transparent Watercolor Painting and Intermediate Watercolor Painting can be taken as electives)
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $4,250 per academic year (NY residents); $6,590 per academic year (non-residents)**
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Daemen College

The smallest school on the list, Daemen College, in Amherst, is a residential college located near Buffalo in western New York. There are two watercolor courses offered as part of a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art program. BFA students may specialize in drawing, illustration, painting or sculpture.

The introductory course in watercolor includes a study of water-soluble casein paints and basic painting skills. The advanced course in watercolor builds techniques and provides students with a background in Asian and Western watercolor traditions.

  • Program Offered: BFA in Fine Arts
    (Watercolor Painting I and Watercolor Painting II can be taken to fulfill program requirements)
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $23,130 per academic year**
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb

Hofstra University

Hofstra University in Hempstead is the largest private institution on Long Island, and the campus is located on a 240-acre property. Through the Division of Humanities, students can enroll in a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree program in fine arts and choose a concentration in painting. Students explore a range of painting mediums and can focus on the medium of their choice (including watercolor) through a series of studio courses.

Watercolor training can also be achieved through two elective courses that require a basic painting course as a prerequisite. A painting materials and skills class provides a combination of demonstrations, lectures and hands-on projects that introduce aspiring artists to casein paints, gouache, watercolors and more. Beginning and intermediate students can also take a course in watercolor that includes projects in landscape and still life painting and, like the program at Daemen College, emphasizes Asian and Western techniques.

  • Programs Offered: BA in Fine Arts,
    BS in Fine Arts
    (Painting studio classes that may focus on watercolor are included)
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $35,950 per academic year**
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb

Monroe Community College (SUNY)

This community college, which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, has a Damon City campus located in downtown Rochester and a Brighton campus over the border of Rochester, in Brighton.

Monroe Community College offers an Associate of Science in Fine Arts program that includes painting courses. Students can enroll in a 3-credit elective course in watercolor and water-based media. This course provides students with an introduction to the materials, methods and tools associated with the medium. In addition to hands-on practice, the course emphasizes self-evaluations and peer critiques. This is a service-learning course, and students have the opportunity to participate in the Memory Project and create an original portrait for a child living in an orphanage.

  • Program Offered: AS in Fine Arts
    (Watercolor/Water-based Media can be taken as an additional art class)
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $3,772 per academic year (NY residents); $6,912 per academic year (non-residents)**
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Pace University

Pace University is a multi-site institution with locations in lower and midtown Manhattan as well as campuses in Pleasantville and White Plains. At the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences in Manhattan, students can pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art. A Bachelor of Science in Art is available at Pleasantville. Students must be enrolled in an undergraduate program to take the courses in watercolor painting, and the beginning course is offered every fall and spring in New York City.

The 3-credit courses in beginning and advanced watercolor painting have comprehensive plans of study that include in-class and homework assignments, discussions, field trips and slide-based lectures. In addition to becoming familiar with the materials, aspiring painters have the opportunity to learn about the rich cultural history associated with the medium. The college also offers two undergraduate courses in mixed media that include the use of cut paper, graphite, watercolors and other types of paint.

  • Programs Offered: BFA in Art,
    BS in Art
    (Painting in Watercolor I and Painting in Watercolor II can be taken as electives)
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $36,614 per academic year**
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city

Pratt Institute

The main campus of this school, which opened in 1887, is located in Brooklyn. It offers several continuing education courses in watercolor. Through the school's course in acrylic and watercolor painting, students get into the habit of keeping a sketchbook and learn how to transform their drawings into a well-composed project. In the watercolor painting course, they also learn how to work with both dry and wet brush techniques, become familiar with cold- and hot-pressed papers and experiment with the elements of light, color and value. Projects include abstract, landscape and still life paintings, and additional training in gouache and ink is provided.

Students who enroll in the botanical illustration course learn how to develop a painting strategy and perfect their watercolor wash techniques. Unique to the school is a course in Chinese watercolor that introduces participants to both impressionistic and traditional styles and teaches them how to lift and combine two or three colors on a brush.

  • Programs Offered: Continuing education classes:
    Acrylic and Watercolor Painting Mastery,
    Chinese Watercolor,
    Introduction to Botanical Illustration,
    Painting with Watercolors
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $255-$395 per course***
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city

SUNY Buffalo State

Based on student population, this Buffalo-based university is one of New York's largest schools to offer watercolor courses. Students can immerse themselves in the watercolor painting medium at the Burchfield Penney Art Center's International Center for Watercolor. They can learn techniques and tips through workshops and painting demonstrations led by recognized artists as well as view an impressive collection of watercolor works of art. Some examples of workshop topics include color triads, the connection between drawing and watercolor painting, painting homes, painting landscapes and poetic painting.

  • Programs Offered: Watercolor Workshops
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $20-$45 per workshop (some workshops may cost more or less)****
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

SUNY New Paltz

A founding member of the state university system, this New Paltz school is located in a historic village halfway between the capital and New York City. According to the school website, the visual arts programs are among the college's top ten undergraduate programs. The programs offered by the School of Fine and Performing Arts are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Students who are already enrolled in a qualified program, such as the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting, can take the course in water-based media and collage, which can be repeated. Prerequisites include five courses in design, drawing and painting. Once enrolled, students have the opportunity to explore a variety of subject matter through gouache, inks, polymers and watercolors.

  • Program Offered: BFA in Painting
    (Water Media/Collage can be taken as an elective)
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $6,758 per academic year (NY residents); $16,008 per academic year (non-residents)**
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; fringe town

Syracuse University

Syracuse University, in Syracuse, has a Department of Art (in the College of Visual and Performing Arts) which offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting degree program. Intensive training in watercolor painting is possible through studio work; a minimum of 30 elective studio credits is required for the bachelor's degree.

Qualified students can study abroad in Florence, Italy. Studio art options include a 3-credit watercolor painting course. Projects include interior, scenery and still life painting, and instruction takes place both in the classroom and around Florence.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting
    (Painting studio classes that may focus on watercolor are included)
  • Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013): $39,004 per academic year**
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Programs and Watercolor Classes Offered Undergraduate Cost (2012-2013)
Cornell University 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city Botanical Illustration Certificate of Completion
(Working with Watercolor is a required course)
$600 per course*
CUNY Hunter College 4-year, public; large city BA in Studio Art,
BFA in Studio Art
(Watercolor Painting can be taken as an elective)
$5,829 per academic year (NY residents); $12,039 per academic year (non-residents)**
CUNY Kingsborough Community College 2-year, public; large city AS in Fine Arts
(Transparent Watercolor Painting and Intermediate Watercolor Painting can be taken as electives)
$4,250 per academic year (NY residents); $6,590 per academic year (non-residents)**
Daemen College 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb BFA in Fine Arts
(Watercolor Painting I and Watercolor Painting II can be taken to fulfill program requirements)
$23,130 per academic year**
Hofstra University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb BA in Fine Arts,
BS in Fine Arts
(Painting studio classes that may focus on watercolor are included)
$35,950 per academic year**
Monroe Community College (SUNY) 2-year, public; large suburb AS in Fine Arts
(Watercolor/Water-based Media can be taken as an additional art class)
$3,772 per academic year (NY residents); $6,912 per academic year (non-residents)**
Pace University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city BFA in Art,
BS in Art
(Painting in Watercolor I and Painting in Watercolor II can be taken as electives)
$36,614 per academic year**
Pratt Institute 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Continuing education classes:
Acrylic and Watercolor Painting Mastery,
Chinese Watercolor,
Introduction to Botanical Illustration,
Painting with Watercolors
$255-$395 per course***
SUNY Buffalo State 4-year, public; large city Watercolor Workshops $20-$45 per workshop (some workshops may cost more or less)****
SUNY New Paltz 4-year, public; fringe town BFA in Painting
(Water Media/Collage can be taken as an elective)
$6,758 per academic year (NY residents); $16,008 per academic year (non-residents)**
Syracuse University 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting
(Painting studio classes that may focus on watercolor are included)
$39,004 per academic year**

Sources: *Cornell University, **NCES College Navigator, ***Pratt Institute, ****SUNY Buffalo State.


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