SVA was established by co-founders Silas H. Rhodes and Burne Hogarth in 1947, as the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. The school began with three teachers and 35 students, most of whom were World War II veterans who had a large part of their tuition underwritten by U.S. government's G.I. Bill. The college was renamed the School of Visual Arts in 1956. It offered its first degrees in 1972. In 1983, the college introduced its first graduate offering, a Master of Fine Arts in painting, drawing and sculpture.
Today the school has a faculty of more than 1,000 and a student body of over 3,000. The school offers 11 undergraduate and 22 graduate degree programs and is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
The BFA interior design program is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. The MPS art therapy program is approved by the American Art Therapy Association, and the MA art education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
The college's logo, seen on its banners, publications and merchandise, was created in 1997 by designer George Tscherny for SVA's 50th anniversary and redesigned in 2013.BFA Advertising
BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects
BFA Fine Arts
BFA Interior Design
BFA Photography and Video
BFA Visual & Critical Studies
SVA also has three non-degree granting undergraduate departments: Art History, Honors Program and Humanities and Sciences.MFA Art Writing
MAT Art Education
MFA Art Practice
MPS Art Therapy
MFA Computer Art
MA Critical Theory and the Arts
MA Curatorial Practice
MFA Design for Social Innovation
MA Design Research, Writing and Criticism
MPS Digital Photography
MPS Fashion Photography
MFA Fine Arts
MFA Illustration as Visual Essay
MFA Interaction Design
MFA Photography, Video and Related Media
MFA Products of Design
MFA Social Documentary Film
MFA Visual Narrative
The Division of Continuing Education at SVA offers noncredit courses from most SVA departments; ¿Hablas Diseño?, a selection of advertising, branding, cartooning, copywriting, illustration and marketing courses taught in Spanish; professional development and corporate training courses; and summer residency programs.
SVA Arts Abroad offers short-term study abroad programs in various creative fields.
In 2014, LinkedIn named SVA #2 in its "best schools for designers" list. PayScale included the college in its "Top 10 Art & Design Schools by Salary Potential" list for 2013 - 2014. SVA is ranked 18th among the art graduate schools in U.S. News & World Report, with its MFA Photography, Video and Related Media program ranked the sixth MFA photography program in the country. Since 2012, SVA has been included on the Military Friendly Schools list, which is maintained by G.I. Jobs magazine.
SVA operates out of several buildings located in the Gramercy Park neighborhood, on Manhattan's east side, and in the Chelsea neighborhood, on the city's west side. Additionally, the college maintains a residence hall on Ludlow Street, in Manhattan's Lower East Side. From 1994 to 1997, the college also had a branch campus in Savannah, Georgia. However, the campus was closed following a lawsuit from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
The college's 209 East 23rd Street building, located between Second Avenue and Third Avenue, features classrooms, administrative offices, a cafeteria (Moe's Cafe) and an amphitheater. The upper floors are mostly designated for the film, video, graphic design, advertising, illustration and cartooning classes. The building also houses the SVA Gramercy Gallery, on the ground floor.
The college operates from several floors of the building located at 380 Second Avenue: the second, where the SVA Library and some classrooms are located; the fifth, where undergraduate animation studios and the MFA Design Department are located; the seventh, where the illustration classrooms and studios are located; and the eighth, where Humanities and Sciences administrative offices and classrooms are located.
In addition to its collection of books, periodicals, audio recordings, films and other media, the SVA Library houses the Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives, which comprises the collections of Chermayeff & Geismar, Seymour Chwast, Heinz Edelmann, Milton Glaser, Steven Heller, Ed McCabe, James McMullan, Tony Palladino, George Tscherny and Henry Wolf; and the SVA Archives, a repository for materials pertaining to the college's history. Both archives are available to the public via appointment.
This building is where classrooms and studios used for undergraduate and graduate photography classes are located, as well as the college's radio station, WSVA, and some administrative offices.
The SVA building located from 133 to 141 West 21st Street, between Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, contains most of the studios serving drawing and painting classes, particularly for freshmen. It also features classrooms and studios for classes in interior design, printmaking, computer art and art history. The building also houses the SVA Flatiron Gallery, on the ground floor, and a cafeteria (Moe's Cafe) on the lower level.
SVA also owns the buildings located at 132 and 136 West 21st Street, which have offices, classrooms and studios for art criticism, art education, art therapy, cartooning, computer art, design, illustration and writing. The building at 132 West 21st Street houses the Visible Futures Lab, a workshop featuring traditional and emerging fabrication technology, which regularly hosts artists in residence.
Located at 335 West 16th Street, this building houses the BFA Fine Arts Department, including sculpture studios and digital lab.
The SVA Theatre is located at 333 West 23rd Street, between Eighth Avenue and Ninth Avenue, in Chelsea. It was formerly the Clearview Chelsea West Cinema. The facility was purchased in 2008, renovated and reopened in January 2009. Designer and SVA Acting Chairman Milton Glaser produced designs for the theater's interior and exterior, including the sculpture situated atop its marquee. The 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) facility houses two separate auditoriums, one with 265 seats and one with 480, and hosts class meetings, lectures, screenings and other public events. The SVA Theatre has also hosted the red-carpet New York première of Ethan Hawke's The Daybreakers and a diverse list of world premières connected to SVA's educational mission and student interests, ranging from Lucy Liu's 2010 feature documentary Redlight, to the 2011 Fox animated comedy Allen Gregory; and the 2012 film The Hunger Games. Community partners that have used the theater include the Tribeca and GenArt film festivals, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlaNYC environmental initiative, and the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting. The theater is also home to the Dusty Film & Animation Festival, held annually since 1990, which showcases the work of emerging filmmakers and animators from the college's BFA Film and Video and BFA Animation programs.
SVA has three gallery spaces: SVA Chelsea Gallery, at 601 West 26th Street, 15th floor; SVA Flatiron Gallery, at 133/141 West 21st Street; and SVA Gramercy Gallery, at 209 East 23rd Street. The galleries show a mix of student and professional art; exhibitions are free and open to the public.
There are several residence halls available for students at SVA.23rd Street Residence (formerly New Residence), at 215 East 23rd Street, is an apartment-style dormitory reserved for new students.
Gramercy Women's Residence, at 17 Gramercy Park South, houses only female students. Residents have a shared key to Gramercy Park.
Ludlow Residence, at 101 Ludlow Street. This residential building opened in 2009, and houses 350 students in 259 single and 47 double rooms.
24th Street Residence, is a 146,000-square-foot, 14-story residence hall that opened in August 2016. The site was purchased by Magnum Real Estate Group and 40 North in April 2015 for $32.25 million from the nonprofit International Center for the Disabled. It houses 505 residents in 242 suites, including office space, and serves as the flagship residence hall for the school. The college's Residence Life, International Students Office, Student Affairs and student government, Visual Arts Student Association, all operate from the 24th Street Residence.
George Washington Residence, at 23 Lexington Avenue.