Press Release

PAFA to Wind Down Degree-Granting Programming, Refocus on Core Mission

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) today announced plans to wind down its BFA and MFA degree-granting programs and return to its roots, recommitting itself to expanding the stories of American art through its collections and exhibitions...

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) today announced plans to wind down its BFA and MFA degree-granting programs and return to its roots, recommitting itself to expanding the stories of American art through its collections and exhibitions and providing arts education for the full lifecycle of the artist.

PAFA became an accredited college in 2013 and will wind down the degree-granting part of its educational programming in Spring 2025. Current PAFA students on track to graduate in the spring semesters of 2024 or 2025 will be able to complete their degrees as planned. PAFA is supporting the other 37 students with personalized transfer plans, allowing them the opportunity to transfer their PAFA credits and finish their arts degrees on schedule at five local colleges and universities: Arcadia University, Moore College of Art & Design, Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture, and University of the Arts.

“This is a difficult day for our students, faculty, and staff. We left no stone unturned in our efforts to find a different outcome,” PAFA President Eric Pryor said. “Key considerations were whether PAFA could continue to offer the high-quality student life experience our students expect and deserve, and whether it was financially sustainable to do so. After deep reflection, the answer to both questions was no.”

The Board of Trustees of PAFA made the final decision at a special board meeting held on Jan. 9, 2024, after extensive outreach to potential partners with whom PAFA might collaborate to continue granting PAFA degrees.

PAFA also shared information regarding its plan going forward, which includes three core components:

  • Increasing focus on the art museum, the first in America and founded in 1805, that features one of the country’s most diverse and extensive collections of contemporary American art;
  • Expanding existing non-degree, certificate, and continuing education programs and developing new educational offerings and experiences; 
  • Creating an “arts ecosystem” anchored by a new creative and cultural hub for artists, creators, lifelong learners, and art appreciators that uses PAFA’s unique, dynamic facilities and its prime Center City location.

“Our new blueprint for the future will tap the best of PAFA’s history and marry it to a future vision that is wholly unique, appealing to a broad art community, and financially sustainable,” said Anne McCollum, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “Almost every American artist of note has been collected and exhibited by PAFA or has taught here. PAFA has always provided world-class fine arts education and will continue to do so.”

Last Updated
January 10, 2024 - 12:57 PM

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.