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A+D Student Handbook


Academic Policies and Grading

Minimum Credit load: All students are expected to complete a minimum of 12 credits each semester. The School of Art+Design does not allow part-time study without special permission of the Director.

Maximum Credit load: Up to 18 credits are allowed with no special permission. 19-24 credits may be taken with permission of adviser and a 3.0 minimum GPA.

Minimum GPA: All students are expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 to remain in good academic standing. All required studio arts classes must be completed with a grade of C or higher in order to advance within the degree. Any required studio arts grade of C- or below must be repeated.

Merit Scholarship recipients: In order to continue receiving a Merit scholarship, a cumulative GPA of 3.25 must be maintained. 

Upper level vs. Lower level courses: Lower-level courses are those with course numbers of 1000 or 2000. Upper-level courses are those with course numbers of 3000 or 4000. Students in the BSVA program need to pay special attention to their upper level credits.

Repeating a course: A course cannot be taken twice for credit towards graduation unless there has been a significant change in the course content and permission has been given by the Registrar before registering for the course. Courses that are repeated to replace an unsatisfactory grade do not count as “double credit.” When repeating a course, the new grade replaces the previous grade, which can boost the student’s GPA.

Grading Philosophy: All students’ work is evaluated throughout the semester, with a final grade assigned at the completion of each course. Each grade is determined by the teacher alone, and reflects not only the documented accomplishments of the student, but also his or her attitude and approach to the course.

 It is expected that each student will not only perform at a given level but will also show a trajectory of growth through the semester. Grades are personal evaluations of an individual’s potential and progress in class. The faculty challenges the students to demonstrate clear and passionate commitment to continued study in this professional program.

Attendance Policy

 There are no excused absences in the School of Art+Design. Three or more absences in any course will result in a failing grade. Excessive tardiness may count as absences. Please see your course syllabi for more details.

Exhibition Opportunities

Purchase offers many locations for the exhibition of student artwork, not only dedicated venues inside the VA Building, but also indoor and outdoor spaces about the campus. Each building on campus has its own protocol. The School encourages students to display their work and mandates that they observe the letter and the spirit of the rules for each place of exhibition. If you are planning an exhibition in Visual Arts, note well the following regulations which apply to all areas of the building:

You must obtain permission from the individual(s) responsible for overseeing the area in which you wish to exhibit.

 Openings and receptions are gladly permitted. Music must be kept at a reasonable volume where it does not disrupt other campus activities. Immediate cleanup after such events is the duty of the artist. No alcoholic beverages may be consumed at any time, for any reason, anywhere in the Visual Arts building!

No part of the building may be disturbed or altered in the exhibition of artwork. Such modifications include, but are not limited to, the repainting of doors, walls, ceilings, floors; removal of doors; removal (even temporary of ceiling tiles; and appendage of any object from the dropped ceiling suspension grid.

When hanging your work, please use hardware of the appropriate size and type. No adhesive (this includes tape or glue of any kind) may be used on any painted surface within the VA building. (Tape causes far more damage to a wall than does a properly-sized nail.) Absolutely nothing may be installed in a stairwell or restroom.

As a creative community we respect difference, promote tolerance, and encourage freedom of expression. If you are concerned that any art project, installation, performance, etc. could present potential safety or health concerns, be inappropriate or offensive to certain individuals or groups, or potentially present legal difficulties for the artist, the viewer or the school, please consult with the faculty or director

General Building Policies

In an emergency, call University Police: (914) 251-6911, calling 911 may cause delayed police response. Non-emergency University Police calls should be made to (914) 251-6900

This is a smoke-free and alcohol-free facility. Under no circumstances are alcoholic beverages permitted in the Visual Arts Building. Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the Building, not even in the vestibules between doorways. 

Theft or vandalism of college property or anyone’s personal belongings will not be tolerated. Violations of this principle will be cause for immediate punitive action.

The Visual Arts Building is the working environment for students, staff, and faculty, and everyone should strive to keep the building looking good. Graffiti is a form of vandalism and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Its removal represents a significant cost to the community and results in higher tuition and fees to the students. If you are considering a work that in some way might fall under the category of graffiti for a class assignment, before installing be sure to obtain clearance through the submission of an installation and removal plan to the Visual Arts Building Manager. Only the Building Manager may authorize the alteration (by paint or other medium) of, or adherence of any projects to, any area of the Visual Arts Building.

For our health and safety, the following materials may not be used anywhere within the building: perishable or decaying material, including dead animals or animal parts, live animals, bodily fluids or parts, objects or materials of a potentially hazardous nature, including but not limited to open flame, petroleum derivatives, out-gassing plastic, and chemical solvents.

Shops, stairways, hallways, elevators and community work areas cannot be considered as storage space for art work or materials. All fire lanes must be kept open and free of debris. The building must be kept free of clutter so other individuals and classes may enjoy and make full use of our facilities and be able to safely exit the building in case of an emergency. When you complete work in a space that is in communal use, please respect that space and the others that use it by cleaning up after yourself.

Your semi-private studio space is for your use to produce the work required for your studies. It should be as comfortable an environment as is reasonable, given that others in the immediate vicinity are engaged in their own work. Remember—the Visual Arts building is a community. Potential health and safety issues are always of paramount concern. Note the location of all emergency exits and do not block or impede your or anyone else’s means of emergency egress.

NO HOT PLATES are allowed in the private studios.

No extension cords are to be plugged into any outlets permanently to supply power. If extension cords are needed to permanently supply power, they are to be plugged into a power strip that is plugged into an outlet. This is a fire code issue and is not negotiable. All other potential fire hazards must be carefully examined. Extension cords need to be grounded (3 prong).


There may be options and opportunities for you to engage in an expanded art making practice through many different classes (the use of non-traditional materials or presentation methods.) If you choose to work in this way, it is important to communicate a clear plan to your instructor before starting your project.  Through this communication it can be ensured that any work does not negatively impact the daily schedule or physical structure of the Visual Arts Building, or other areas on campus. Some practices or activities such as the painting of walls and the hanging of work from the ceiling must be approved by the Building Manager through instructor request. Any alteration executed in the course of an approved project or installation must be returned to its original state and confirmed by the instructor when finished.

Laptop Requirement

All incoming students must enter the School of Art+Design with a functional laptop (Mac or PC, two years old or newer) with the most up-to-date version of Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, After Effects CC, Premiere Pro CC, InDesign CC) installed and ready to open. Students are expected to maintain this machine through their four years in the program.

Don’t Panic!

This is a major investment, and we are aware that our students may not possess the cash flow to purchase a new laptop at this time. If students already own a laptop that will support the newest version of the software in Adobe Creative Cloud, they only need to enroll in the software program (if they don’t already have it), delaying the need to purchase a laptop until a later date.

Need It?

If students would like to purchase a new laptop, here are our recommendations:

Apple MacBook Pro
13-inch 3.1GHz dual i5, 16GB 2133MHz memory, 256GB SSD storage with AppleCare Protection
Student pricing available directly through Apple:

Windows PC
Acer, Dell, and Samsung are all recommended brands.
13–15 inch, dual i5 processor or better, 12 GB RAM, dedicated video card (this is important) and a 3-year extended service plan

Adobe Creative Cloud
Student pricing available through Adobe directly for $19.99/month

Maintain It

It is important to note that laptops and software are the property of the student, and Purchase College will not maintain, repair, support, or replace these items; therefore, an extended service warranty is recommended. There is an Apple Store close to campus (at the Westchester Mall in White Plains, accessible via the Purchase shuttle bus) that will provide service for Macs under warranty.

Protect It

In addition, it is recommended that students either extend homeowners insurance to cover the laptop and other valuables while at college or purchase a separate “renters insurance” policy for these items.

Professional Standards and Dismissal

Lack of academic progress, breaches of professional conduct, as well as judgment on such matters as artistic growth and development may also be the basis for professional probation or possible dismissal. There are 2 types of dismissals.

Board of Study dismissal: Faculty may determine that you are not performing well enough artistically or academically.  You would be encouraged to pick another major within Art+Design that better suits your artistic interests. You have the right to appeal to the Director of Art+Design.

Professional Dismissal: Breaches of professional conduct, defacing or intentionally damaging school property, or an overall failure to succeed in your degree may result in professional dismissal from Art+Design.  This is not a dismissal from Purchase College, however, you would be advised to choose another major where you could be more successful. You have a right to appeal this decision to the Dean of the School of the Arts.

Safety Considerations

Purchase College believes that artists should educate themselves on the safe use of materials and equipment and vigilantly promotes such practices to all members of the community. Art materials and equipment can pose chemical, kinetic, or radiation threats to the health of artists and to those who live and work in artists’ environments.

The level of toxicity, the length of exposure, the age of the artist, and his or her general health can all affect how any one individual may react to any health hazard. Immediate and severe hazards are usually quickly identified. More insidious is the long-term exposure to low levels of dust, noise, and certain solvents or chemicals, which may produce symptoms of mild but chronic headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, coughing, hearing loss, organ dysfunction, or skin irritation.

Ear protection may seem like a secondary consideration for some, but hearing loss is cumulative and it is important to protect yourself against high level noise sources. If loud noises or frequently repeated loud sounds cannot be avoided, be sure to use appropriate ear protection.


 When using local ventilation, position your work fully inside any exhaust booths or as close as possible to movable hoods as the contaminant-capture efficiency drops dramatically with distance. When working within a hood that encloses the source, work as far back into the hood as practical. Before starting work, make sure that the exhaust system is on.

Materials which give off noxious or toxic fumes must be used in the paint spray room (1030) with both the spray booth and main exhaust fans running.


The manner in which you store art materials, handle them, and clean up afterwards will significantly influence the risk of accident or exposure.  Be sure to closely follow all protocols for the storage and disposal of your art materials in order to ensure a safe working environment for you and the community.

Senior Project

The Senior Project is the culmination of undergraduate studies at Purchase. It carries six to eight credits and is heavily emphasized within the culture of the school. The Senior Project is the vehicle for every BFA or BSVA candidate’s development of a coherent body of personal work within a discipline, or between or among disciplines. It is considered an extension and refinement of work which is already three years underway.

Each Senior Project consists of a body of work elaborated by a thesis paper that is at least 1500 words, includes documentation of the project, and a final bibliography. The paper serves both as a close analysis and broad reflection on a student’s influences, taking into account relevant art-historical and contemporary issues while outlining the project’s premise, its evolution and the resulting body of work.

 Students solicit faculty sponsorship during the semester preceding the one in which they intend to begin the project. They generally seek the guidance of teachers with whom they have had significant prior contact. A first draft of the written portion should be given to the sponsor one month before the end of the semester. Seniors and sponsors will discuss the time frame for intermediate drafts of the paper. Students choose a second reader of their thesis, who may or may not be Art+Design faculty.

 The second reader brings a fresh eye and a different perspective to the review of the project. The sponsor and the second reader will critique the completed project and the written paper. Some Boards of Study may require a formal review of each project by the entire faculty membership of the Board.


1500 words minimum

A minimum of 10 images of your own work (this does not include detail images). Students are also welcome to include additional images of influences.

Proper captions per image (title, date, dimensions, medium).

Final published projects should also include a proper bibliography.

Students should save their written thesis with JPEG images of their work as one PDF document. This must be submitted to Moodle. The deadline for submitting the paper is determined by the Registrar and is announced in the Academic Calendar.

Title page including sponsor names. 


*only applicable for 1 year senior project

End of junior year or semester before senior project: Students submit list of preferred Sr. Project advisors and statement of intent to BOS coordinator

By end of Senior Project 1: Students submit working bibliography to advisor and identify second reader

By March in Senior Project 2: Students will identify exhibition needs for the senior show to senior project advisor inclusive of equipment needs, display needs (pedestal, lighting, etc.), and any permission requests for outdoor exhibition. The advisor will work with area coordinators and staff to identify location and other technical needs for the senior show

By April in Senior Project 2: Students will submit first draft of written senior to Senior project advisor

Recommended Action in April: Students bring in first draft of text to learning center for review

End of April in Senior Project 2: Student submits final drafts to primary advisor and second reader

Mid April to May: Students finalize work for senior show and participate in final critiques with BOS faculty, 1st and 2nd faculty readers

Special Courses

Learning Assistant/Teaching Assistant (2 credits): Working with a faculty member in a particular class, you will have first-hand experience with preparation and presentation of course material. Creating course plans, class assignments, performing demonstrations, and running critiques, all under the close supervision of the faculty member are part of this experience.

VIS 3998 (undergraduate) and  VIS 5870 (graduate)

A special course contract signed by faculty and submitted to the Registrar is required.

Studio Assistant (2 credits): Studio assistants learn the practice of maintaining a productive work space through mini-apprenticeships to technical support staff or faculty members. They also supervise the shops and labs in the absence of faculty and support staff.

 PAD, PHO, PRT, SCP 3950

**permission of instructor is required.

A student may earn 6 hours of credit total for SA/LA study during the entire course of their studies at Purchase (All six hours of SA/LA credit cannot be of one type).

 Independent Study: Independent Study is an opportunity for students capable of working at an advanced level with limited supervision to engage in a special project that cannot be accomplished through regular course activity. To register for this course, a student must be a junior or senior in good academic standing. Any student registered for a Senior Project cannot also register for an Independent Study with their Senior Project advisor. The workload for this experience is approximately 3 hours per week for each credit hour earned.

VIS 3997 (undergraduate), VIS 5997 (graduate)

 Internship: Students may pursue an academic internship in their major area of study to augment the practical training received in their studio courses. More information about the internship experience and how to sign up is available through the Career Development Center.


In keeping with the college’s commitment to sustainability and the environmentally sensitive spirit of conservation of energy resources, please avoid unnecessary electrical consumption. Turn off lights, fans, and other electrical devices when you leave a room for the day. Consider carefully your choices and uses of art materials.

Artists should incorporate sustainable practices into all art production. Sustainability goes beyond the health of the participant to include supporting the health of the planet. Artists should be aware of issues of energy input, environmental burden, carbon footprint, and life-cycle analyses related to the materials and processes in the production, use, and disposal of materials employed in their work. Together we can make a continuing effort to minimize our contribution to pollution and waste by implementing sustainable practices whenever possible. Increased recycling, lowered volatile organic compound (VOC) production, local and regional sourcing of materials, and reduced used of petroleum-based materials are all starting points.