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Fact Sheet

Willamette/PNCA Agreement

On September 17, 2020, Willamette University and Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) entered into an agreement whereby the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR, will become part of Willamette University. PNCA will be an independent college within the University and retain its campus in Portland, OR.

The schools share a rich history and mission focused on the arts and the Pacific Northwest. This coming-together will deepen the connection of art and design with the liberal arts and sciences, establishing a catalyst for new thought and expression in critical subjects like climate change, racial and social justice, and health. Linking these areas to computational science and analysis – and to management skills essential for execution – will better equip students to imagine and spearhead substantive change.

Over the past several months, Willamette and PNCA leadership have engaged in comprehensive discussions about how this arrangement will provide not only critical academic mission alignment, but also financial stability for PNCA’s future. The relationship will foster new academic opportunities, too, for both communities.

  • PNCA will become a part of Willamette University, while retaining its name and identity. PNCA will continue to operate as an independent college and will continue to operate on its campus in Portland.
  • The Center for Contemporary Art & Culture, as well as PNCA’s other academic centers and collections, will also become a part of Willamette University under the agreement.
  • Following approvals by accreditors and regulators, this agreement is expected to be legally recognized in early 2021.
  • Combined resources of both institutions will immediately reinforce the student experience, as PNCA’s undergraduate and graduate programs in art and design join Willamette’s distinguished schools in the arts and sciences, management, and law, along with expanded affiliations with schools like the Claremont School of Theology.
  • Importantly, the combined community will continue to uphold the hallmarks of place and the social capital of each institution – including creativity and culture in Portland and policymaking and government in Salem. Engaging the region’s financial driver, the vibrant private sector in Portland, will be a key element in this blended dynamic.
  • For PNCA students, Willamette offers a much greater curricular breadth in areas like languages, the humanities and social sciences, and computational and data science, as well as new opportunities for collaborative work with the performing arts. For Willamette students, PNCA offers substantially broader opportunities in the fine arts, design, and visual studies.
  • The two institutions share a long legacy in the arts. In 1860, Willamette began offering the first college-level arts programs in the Northwest, and today its College of Arts and Sciences offers undergraduate programs in the studio arts, theatre, music, and art history that have gained national recognition. PNCA was founded in Portland as the Museum Art School in 1909, became fully independent in 1994, and has grown into the regional flagship for professional undergraduate and graduate education in art and design.

Key Facts about Willamette University

  • Located in Salem, OR
  • Private Liberal Arts University
  • Tuition 2020-2021: $53,300
  • Room & board 2020-2021: $13,480
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 1,808

Key Facts about Pacific Northwest College of Art

  • Located in Portland, OR
  • Private Art & Design College
  • Tuition 2020-2021: $40,750
  • Room & board 2020-2021: $10,000 - $14,861
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 522