Foundation Year is a year of discovery, a time to explore new ways of thinking and making, meet new friends and mentors, and get to know your new community.

A Time to Explore

In your Foundation Year, you’ll be immersed from day one in media and making of all kinds, from drawing and two- and three-dimensional design to digital tools and time-based media.

You’ll delve into the histories of art, culture, and ideas to develop a toolkit for critical thinking you can apply to your own work as well as the work of others.

The classroom and life skills you develop during this first year experience are key to both your success at PNCA and to a lifetime of creative practice.

First Year Seminar

Like every new student you’ll take the First Year Seminar which is designed to help you find your way in your new community while developing skills and habits to thrive at PNCA and beyond.

First Year Seminar introduces you to PNCA as well as to upperclassmen and faculty who can help you learn the ropes. Through presentations, hands-on projects, discussions, and field trips, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the college and all of its resources and you'll get to know Portland: its galleries, cheap eats, shops, getting around, and more.

An advisor looking through two student's work

Foundation Academic Advising

If you are a first-time freshman, you'll be introduced to your Academic Advisor (via email) who will help you register for your fall classes. They will be your go-to person for guidance and questions for your entire Foundation Year.

First Year Curriculum

You'll dive right in with introductions to traditional and innovative ways of making and thinking

  • First Year Seminar
  • Basic Drawing
  • Visual Elements: 2D
  • Visual Elements: Digital Tools
  • 3D Design
  • Time Arts
  • Studio Elective
  • Exploring Visual Culture
  • Writing in Context
  • Liberal Arts Elective ​​

Learning Outcomes

Students will apply proficiencies in a wide range of artistic/design mediums and materials, helping them choose their major course of study.

Students will apply a variety of critique methods while identifying their respective impacts on community cohesion.

Students will demonstrate professional skills through showing proficiency in time management, following directions, and communicating effectively with their peers and professors.

Majors Week

During Majors Week, Program Directors from each department make presentations and answer questions about each of our ten BFA programs to help you decide which is right for you.

Near the end of your Foundation Year, you'll select your major and begin planning your courses for sophomore year with the Program Director of your major.

Elena Gabrielle's Thesis Presentation at Focus Week

Schedule a visit

The best way to get to know us and our campus is to schedule a visit. We'll show you the campus, classrooms, labs, student work and activities, and more.

Office of Admissions