History

The University of the Arts we celebrate today evolved from two century-old institutions: the Philadelphia College of Art (PCA) and Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts (PCPA).

PCA was established in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Together, they were originally known as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, created in response to the growing interest in art and art education stirred by the country's Centennial Exposition. In 1949, PCA changed its name to the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, reflecting expanded programs that trained artists in a variety of areas. The school received accreditation as a college in 1959, and in 1964, it separated from the Museum to become the Philadelphia College of Art.

The performing arts programs of the University of the Arts date back to 1870, when three graduates of Germany's Leipzig Conservatory opened the Philadelphia Musical Academy, one of the first European-style conservatories of music in America. The Academy became an independent college of music in 1950, one of only eight institutions in the nation to offer four-year Bachelor of Music degrees. The school changed its name to the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts (PCPA) in 1976. One year later, the Philadelphia Dance Academy became part of PCPA and, in 1983, the School of Theater was created, achieving the college's ideal combination of dance, music and theater arts.

In 1985, PCA and PCPA merged to become the Philadelphia Colleges of the Arts, a collaboration bringing the institution one step closer to becoming the nation's first comprehensive arts university. After being granted university status in 1987, the University of the Arts became the largest institution of its kind in the nation, offering programs in design, fine arts, media arts, crafts, music, dance and theater.

In 1996, the University added a third academic division, the College of Media & Communication, which merged with the College of Art & Design in 2011 to become the College of Art, Media & Design.

Today, the University's more than 2,100 students, enrolled in 41 undergraduate and graduate programs, are taught by almost 500 full- and part-time faculty members on the University's campus on Philadelphia's vibrant Avenue of the Arts.

The University's Hamilton Hall, pictured above circa 1826, is the oldest building on Broad Street.