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History of the College



Pennsylvania College of Art & Design began as the dream of a handful of dedicated artists and their many supporters in the spring of 1982 after York Academy of Arts in York, Pa., closed its doors. In eight short weeks, the non-profit Pennsylvania School of the Arts (PSA) was formed.

At that time, PSA offered a three-year diploma program that consisted of classes in fine art, interior design, and communication arts.  In 1984, PSA was accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design, and continued as a non-profit, professional art school.

PSA quickly outgrew its building and looked to the city of Lancaster for its new home. In 1987, the school moved to 204 North Prince Street in downtown Lancaster. With its commitment to and investment in the city, it became one of the key cultural anchors in Lancaster and was part of the leading edge in the city’s economic development.

With the move, school officials announced that PSA’s name would change to Pennsylvania School of Art & Design.

The move from Marietta to the city of Lancaster provided students and staff with more space (from 14,000 to 37,000 square feet), better facilities, ample northern light, room to expand, plentiful housing nearby and a vibrant campus: downtown Lancaster itself.

In the fall of 1999, the school was approved as a college and awarded degree-granting privileges by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In August of 2000, the first freshmen pursuing Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees began their studies.

In the summer of 2001, the College marked another milestone when it purchased the property it was leasing at 204 North Prince Street, making its home a permanent one. This purchase provided the College with an opportunity for expansion and has further established Pennsylvania College of Art & Design as an anchor in downtown Lancaster.

In July of 2003, the College changed its name to Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. The college also purchased the property next door (at 202 North Prince Street), thus increasing its size to more than 60,000 square feet.


In 2007, PCA&D became an accredited institutional member of the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.


PCA&D opened the new Design Center in 2010.  Read about its opening here.

Today, PCA&D is an economic driver in the city of Lancaster and a leader in the art, education and business communities. During the 2011-2012 year, it marked its 30th anniversary.


Read stories about PCA&D's engagement with the community by visiting our News page.


As a non-profit professional art college, Pennsylvania College of Art & Design offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in digital media (beginning in Fall 2014), fine art, graphic design, illustration, and photography; professional certificate programs, pre-college courses, and credit and non-credit art classes for adults, high school students and youth.

Pennsylvania College of Art & Design is truly “Your place to prepare for a life in art.”

Archival photos courtesy of Christian R. Herr, Jr. and Mr. & Mrs. Henry B. Rudisill.







Your Place to Prepare for a Life in Art and Design

204 North Prince Street | P.O. Box 59 | Lancaster, PA 17608-0059 | (717) 396-7833

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