New Student FAQ

General Info

I am interested in PNCA, how do I start the application process?
To begin the application process, submit an online application. This is free, and should only take about 20 minutes. After you submit your application, an admissions counselor will be in contact with you and help guide you through the rest of the admissions process. In addition to the online application, we require a digital portfolio, two essays, and official transcripts.

What does rolling admissions mean?
Rolling admissions means we have no admissions deadline. We will continue to accept qualified applicants as long as space permits. When we fill our class, we go to a waitlist. For students interested in enrolling fall semester, there is a March 1st priority deadline to be considered for competitive scholarships.

If I am admitted, am I able to defer?
Your admissions may be deferred for up to two years from the semester you applied for. If you go to school elsewhere, we will need to see those transcripts, and in some cases an updated portfolio is asked for, but you do not need to start the application process over.

How do I arrange a campus visit?
Please call us at 503.821.8972 or email us at to schedule a campus visit. Tours are normally conducted Monday- Friday at 10 am and 2 pm. If you would like, a portfolio review can be arranged as well.

I just want to take one class; do I still have to apply?
If you are only interested in taking one class, you may do so without applying to and enrolling in the BFA program. Interested students must make an appointment with an academic advisor. Registration takes place just before the start of each semester and is done on a space-available basis, enrolled BFA students have priority. Full tuition and fees are due at the time of registration, Financial Aid is not available. Please contact the Registration office for more information at or 503.821.8903.

Do I need to submit all my application materials at once?
No. You may send in your application materials as you have them ready.

How many students attend PNCA?
In the 2008-2009 school year there were 477 BFA students, and 30 MFA students enrolled at PNCA. For the 2009-2010 school year we are expecting a 15% increase for a total of 585 students.

Are interviews a part of the admissions process?
Interviews are not a required part of the admissions process but they are encouraged. An interview provides you with the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about PNCA and allows us to learn more about you and your art. These may be done in person during a campus visit, or over the phone.

Is there a language requirement?
There is no foreign language requirement for admittance into PNCA.

Is student housing offered?
Apartment style student housing is available about one mile from campus in Housing Northwest’s Goose Hollow Plaza. For more information, please visit our student housing page

Are there study abroad options?
Yes. From France to Australia, from Dakar to Tokyo, PNCA offers a wide range of study abroad options for both Short and Semester Long Programs. The AICAD Mobility Program (U.S. and Canada) and New York Studio Program give PNCA students additional opportunity to pursue classes at other affiliated colleges of art and design while fulfilling PNCA requirements.

Are liberal arts courses offered?
Yes. As an accredited four year college granting Bachelor’s degrees, students are required to take Math, English, Natural Science and Social Science courses as part of their PNCA education.

What if there is a class I want to take that is not offered at PNCA?
Students who are taking at least 12 credits on PNCA’s campus are permitted to take up to one class per semester at another institution while paying PNCA tuition, as long as it is a class that PNCA does not offer.

Is part-time enrollment an option?
Yes, BFA students have the option of enrolling part-time. Students taking 6-11 credits per semester are considered part-time students and will be paying tuition on a per-credit basis, but still qualify for Financial Aid. A student taking less than 6 credits, is not eligible for most Financial Aid. 12-18 credits is considered full time.

^ Back to top


How do I submit my portfolio?
We require 12-20 digital images for the portfolio. These may be emailed to us at, or mailed to us on a CD.

What should I include in my portfolio?
There is not one specific type of portfolio we are looking for. We ask that you give us what you feel is your best work or most representative of the work you are currently doing. We look for strong content, composition, technical skill, and creativity. You may include work in a variety of media which may demonstrate course assignments, personal projects, or work experience. Observational drawings are always something we like to see as well.

What does a portfolio review entail?
The portfolio review is an informal one-on-one meeting with an admissions counselor where you can get feedback on your work. This is a great opportunity to get advice before submitting your portfolio and also help determine whether PNCA might be a good fit for you. The work shown during the portfolio review does not need to be complete or in a polished format, counselors always love to see what you are doing in your sketchbook.

What should I bring to a NPD (National Portfolio Day)?
You may bring your original 2D artwork, or digital copies to be reviewed at NPDs. If the work is large-scale or fragile, we recommend bringing digital copies. Our admissions counselors will have lap tops with them to view digital work, but there is not always internet connection on site, so bringing a CD or flash drive is advised. In addition, it is helpful to pre-print labels with your full name, mailing address, phone number, email, website (if you have one) high school name along with the city and state it is in, graduation year, and what you are interested in studying. This will save you time from writing the same information repeatedly, and save us from trying to decipher handwriting.

If my portfolio was reviewed at NPD, do I still need to submit it for admissions?
Even if we saw your portfolio at NPD, we still need a digital copy of it on file for scholarship consideration.

^ Back to top

Transcripts and Test Scores

What transcripts do I need to submit?
We will need your high school or GED transcript, plus transcripts from all other accredited schools you have attended. If you have received your Bachelors degree, then we do not need your high school/GED transcript. All transcripts need to be official transcripts, meaning in a sealed envelope directly from the school.

Do you accept AP credit
Yes, grants credit for Advanced Placement testing in Art History, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English Literature, Calculus, and Statistics all with a score of 4 or higher and History with a score of 3 or higher. Official scores must be sent from the College Board to receive credit.

Are SATs or ACTs required?
We do not require the SATs or ACTs but will look at the scores if you have taken either of those tests and would like to mail us the results.

^ Back to top


How do I know if I am considered a first-time freshman or a transfer student?
If you have taken any college courses after graduating from high school, then you are considered a transfer student.

I’m planning on transferring to PNCA, what classes should I be taking now?
We accept classes with a “C” grade or better received, that fit in with PNCAs curriculum. Math, English, science, humanities, and art classes generally transfer over. Health, P.E., business, technology, and foreign languages often don’t transfer. For more information, go to our transfer page and download our full transfer student policy. We also have transfer grids available for many of the community colleges in the region that show what classes transfer directly.

Is the application process different for transfer students?
No, the application process is the same for both freshman and transfer students. If you are a transfer student, we will need an official transcript from any institution you have been enrolled in, even if you withdrew or do not think any of the classes will transfer. In some cases we make ask to see additional examples of your work from college level studio courses you took elsewhere.

^ Back to top

Scholarships/Financial Aid

How do I apply for financial aid?
The first step in applying for financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have it submitted to PNCA. This is free to fill out at .

What do I need to do to apply for scholarships?
Each student that successfully submits a completed application for admissions will automatically be considered for our merit based scholarships. There is nothing additional the student needs to do to apply for PNCA scholarships. To look for scholarships outside of PNCA, we recommend student look at,,, and (for OR residents only).

What happens after I apply for Financial Aid?
Students who have been admitted to PNCA and successfully completed a FAFSA will receive a Financial Aid Award Letter in the mail. The Financial Aid Award Letter will indicate the types and amounts of financial aid for which the student is eligible during the academic year. Award letters are typically sent to eligible students at the end of March or beginning of April.

PNCA does not require a response to the offer of assistance unless the student wishes to decline any or all portions of the award package being offered. Instructions for loan application will be included with the award letter.

How will my Financial Aid be disbursed?
Financial Aid will be disbursed to your student account by the Business Office at the end of the add/drop period each semester. Students attending both Fall and Spring semesters will receive equal disbursements of the Federal Aid at the beginning of Fall and Spring semesters. After the add/drop period (the first two weeks of the semester), the Business Office will begin processing financial aid refund checks to those students whose financial aid exceeds their college charges.

Students who are receiving funds through a campus employment program, such as Federal Work Study, will receive paychecks each month as they earn their funds. Funds earned through a campus employment program are not paid toward tuition and fees.

Please feel free to contact PNCA’s Financial Aid office at any time by phone, fax, email, or in person if you have any questions or need assistance.
phone: 503.821.8971
toll free: 1.888.390.7499
fax: 503.821.8978
financialaid [at] pnca [dot] edu
Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30am-5pm

What is the cost of tuition?
For the 2010-2011 school year, full time tuition and fees for the BFA program is $27,926. If attending less than full time the per-credit fee is $1,079. The tuition for the MFA program is $32,450.

^ Back to top

After Graduation

What professional opportunities do you offer students to prepare for life after graduation?
Students are required to take a professional Practice course in their senior year which helps prepare them to present themselves and their work to an employer, gallery, or graduate school. Expert speakers and industry professionals are invited into the college in many classes and across the curriculum. From gallery owners to tax accountants to copyright and intellectual property attorneys’ students are encouraged to expand their understanding of the professional side of having a career as an artist. We have a full time career counselor on campus and students are encouraged to partake in internships, volunteer opportunities, and creative exchanges with companies and institutions both local and abroad. Such opportunities often provide students not only with great work experience but also networking connections in the art world. Additionally, there are many opportunities to students through their courses to help curate and hang shows, work with clients, and present their work. Students will ultimately find their own individual path and PNCA stands ready to assist each member of the campus community with guidance and advice on actualizing their professional dreams.

What types of jobs are students getting after they graduate?
PNCA students go in a variety of directions after graduation. Some alumni have landed jobs with the many creative firms here in Portland including, but not limited to Weiden + Kennedy, Nike, Adidas, and Nemo Designs. Some pursue the gallery/museum path, while others yet work as freelance photographers or designers. At PNCA we provide students with a skill set that can be manifested into various work environments which call for creativity.

^ Back to top


What MFA programs does PNCA offer?
PNCA currently offers two MFA programs. The MFA in Visual Studies just graduated its first class of students in Spring 2009. This is a two year full-time program that is multi-disciplinary and mentor based. The flexible character of this program allows students to work in a singular discipline or to pursue a combined practice that bridges disciplines and media. The MFA in Applied Craft and Design, offered jointly with the Oregon College of Art and Craft will enroll its first students in Fall 2009. With over 200 Years of experience, OCAC and PNCA foster a new forward-thinking model of art and design education that gives students access to resources at both colleges. This unique two year program merges the highest level of craft with design practice and entrepreneurial strategies.

Can I enroll spring term?
No. Both MFA programs only enroll new students in the Fall.

How do I schedule a campus visit?
Campus visits for the MFA in Visual Studies program are offered at 1 pm on Fridays. Visits for the Applied Craft and Design are offered at 2 pm on Mondays. OCAC offers tours of their facilities at 1 pm on Mondays. Please call us at 502.821.8972 or email at to schedule a visit and learn more about our MFA offerings.

^ Back to top

Student Housing

What is included in a “furnished” apartment?
Furnished housing includes a twin bed, desk, and chair for each student. The common space includes a sofa, dinette table and dining chairs. Students must provide their own lamps, linens, and cooking utensils.

Is the PNCA student housing at the Goose Hollow Plaza like a dorm?
Goose Hollow Plaza consists of individual apartments rented by students from a variety of Portland area colleges. PNCA has a block of rooms for PNCA students which are furnished. The apartments come with internet access, a bath and kitchen. There isn’t a cafeteria or meal plan on site so students are responsible for all of their meals. Students are also responsible for paying electric and phone service.

Are there Resident Advisors?
Yes, PNCA has up to 4 Resident Advisors on site along with HNW’s on site staff Manager, a live-in Assistant manager, live-in student Resident Managers, and a Student Night Manager. The staff is trained to provide activities, enforce policies, ensure building safety, offer referrals to outside resources, help with lockouts, and answer general questions. Staff is on hand at all hours for emergency situations and do walk rounds throughout the building.

What kinds of activities and features are offered?
The PNCA RA’s host game nights, outings to see plays, potlucks, movie nights, open art critiques, hikes in Forrest Park, field trips to art shows etc… HNW sponsors evenings at the Portland Opera, various plays, sports, Cinco De Mayo Parties, BBQs, etc. Often these events are free for residents or offered at a substantial discount. Goose Hollow Plaza also has a fitness area and study room on site available to residents.

What is the surrounding area like?
Goose Hollow Plaza is located in a residential neighborhood close to downtown Portland. Many restaurants, shops and parks are nearby. A grocery store is just blocks away as well as public transportation to take you across the river or to any other part of town.

How far away is PNCA from Goose Hollow Plaza?
PNCA housing is approximately one mile from the PNCA campus. HNW will provide a free shuttle bus that will make schedule stops at PNCA Monday through Friday. Goose Hollow and PNCA are also connected by using the Max line and Portland street car.

How many roommates will I have?
Each two bedroom apartment will be shared by two or four students. The roommates will be matched by HNW using the information provided on the PNCA Housing application form.

Can I have guests stay with me?
Yes. However, any guest staying longer than seven (7) nights in any month is considered an illegal tenant. Be respectful of your roommate’s and ask if it is ok before you have a guest stay the night.

Is parking available?
Students are responsible for making their own parking arrangements. Long term parking is available by renting a space in the underground parking lot offered at the building for $60/month. Or you may purchase a yearly long term street-parking permit through the city of Portland.

What size are the apartments?
The apartments range from 900-954 sq ft. and each bedroom is approximately 300 sq ft.

Are pets allowed?
Yes, if they are caged or in a tank. However, arrangements and approval are made directly with the PNCA Residence Life Coordinator. A deposit and additional fees are required.
Download more info on pets.

Is there an apartment available for me to see?
Yes. HNW is happy to show you a two-bedroom apartment. Please contact the HNW office directly to arrange a tour: 503-222-7105. Let them know that you are with PNCA so that they show you the correct apartment style.

^ Back to top