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Courses & Programs

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Visual Art

A female student painting

The Holyoke Community College Visual Art Department offers an Associates Degree in two areas of concentration: Visual Art and Graphics. A one-year Graphic Design Certificate is also offered.

The department’s two degree options and certificate share a foundation of study that emphasizes the fundamental concepts of basic art and design. Each option provides a self-contained path of study that enacts the college’s general education goals, and promotes student learning outcomes that equip our students with the habits of mind and general competencies of an educated person. We guide our students to become thinking individuals who are adaptable to today’s changing environment; we prepare our students for transfer to four-year institutions or professional achievement.

Visual Art students enter our programs with various goals that range from completion of the Graphics Design Certificate in order to begin new careers, to attaining an A.S. degree in order to transfer to four-year art programs. Some focus strictly on portfolio development for transfer, while others are in search of personal enrichment. Non-art majors take art courses to fulfill their Humanities (C) electives.

Students who do transfer to four-year institutions are regularly admitted into some of the country’s most prestigious art schools, colleges, and universities.

  • To provide a foundation for reasoned, systematic, and critically rigorous thinking about the practice and history of art and design.
  • Foster visual literacy among all students enrolled in studio and lecture art courses, that will enable students to access, develop, and use information effectively to accomplish specific needs within the art and design practice.
  • Make visual art accessible and rewarding to the general student body of HCC.
  • Develop in students the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college, transfer, and the workplace.
  • Provide students with technical and conceptual skills necessary for advanced study and careers in or related to the visual art field.
  • Foster cultural literacy among all students and a familiarity with the seminal monuments of Art History (students learn to trace visual sources; observe the influence of tradition, convention, purpose, audience, and self-expression; consider works of art as products of specific hands, patrons, and cultures; identify and evaluate period styles, regional styles, personal styles, and phases of an artist’s development).
  • Encourage an awareness of the role the visual arts play within the human experience.
  • Promote life-long commitment to the arts.

degrees & certificates

The Visual Art program prepares students for transfer leading to a BA or BFA degree and continued studio practice. Students successfully completing the Visual Art program will produce a portfolio of two-and three-dimensional artwork that demonstrates an understanding of form and content. This will include effective use of the elements and principles of art making to convey the dynamics of figure/ground relationships, expression of volumetric structure, and spatial qualities of value and color, among other skills and concepts. Students will also develop strategies for visual communication and personal artistic expression. In Art History classes, students will look intensely at works of art and consider their cultural and social significance.


The Graphics program lays the foundation for a career in graphic design, printing, publishing, or advertising. Successful completion of this program will include the creation of a portfolio which is required for transfer to upper level studies leading to a BA or BFA degree. 

graphic design certificate

Successful completion of the Graphic Design Certificate will include the creation of a portfolio which is required for transfer to upper level studies leading to a BA or BFA degree and for entry level graphics positions.

ask a question

Got a question about HCC? Chat with us! 
M-F 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.