In 2009, USC Upstate was granted membership to the National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Visual Arts Program

The University of South Carolina Upstate Visual Arts program will be recognized for its dedication to quality and integrity in educating students in the most currently established technical and theoretical areas of the visual arts. Dedicated to the mission of USC Upstate as a metropolitan university, the Visual Arts program will emphasize technology and its application toward visual literacy and communications in the arts by enabling students to embrace theoretical appreciation and applied skill, a broad range of ideas, expressions and interpretations for creative and critical thinking. Students will complete the USC Upstate Visual Arts program prepared to enter society as individuals ready to continue their education in graduate studies, apply their creative skills in careers, pursue life experiences and contribute to community and world involvement.  

NASAD Accreditation
In 2009 USC Upstate was granted membership to the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. NASAD is the national accrediting organization established to improve educational practices and maintain professional standards in art and design education.

NCATE Accreditation
In 2011 the USC Upstate Art Education Program was awarded accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

  • USC Upstate Visual Arts includes Bachelor of Arts programs in:

  • Courses in Visual Arts follow national accreditation standards that require nine contact hours of work per week for 3 credit studio courses. Six hours are covered in the scheduled class period, with a minimum of three hours work outside of class.

  • Art Studio courses include lab fees that support shared classroom materials, equipment, field study, and academic instruction. Students are responsible for personal supplies that are required to complete course assignments. Basic materials are required. Individual instructors will assign additional supplies necessary for specific courses.

  • Transfer applicants in art for the Bachelor of Arts degree with emphasis in studio/graphic design, or the bachelor of arts degree in art education, must meet the program requirements listed in the academic catalog. The requirements for art majors do not follow articulation and transfer agreements for the general University.

    Course descriptions are available in the academic catalog

  • Upstate Visual Arts is a significant and growing program of the University of South Carolina Upstate, which has more than 130 majors. Visual Art studio labs and faculty offices are located in the 8,000 sq. ft., P. Kathryn Hicks Visual Arts Center and include a full-service Apple McIntosh digital lab and an industrial digital cutter/engraver lab. A second full-service Apple McIntosh digital lab, Art History classrooms and a new Art Education lab are located in the Humanities building near the P. Kathryn Hicks Visual Arts Center and include the latest smart technology for educational instruction. Most Visual Arts lab/studio classes are limited to 15 students per faculty/instructor for the most effective instruction and application of workspace.

Additional Information

Curtis R. Harley Art Gallery Scholarship

The scholarship is awarded annually to a full-time art major who is a graduate of a public Spartanburg County secondary school and who is currently enrolled in art courses, has at least 30 credit hours and a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. For details:  USC Upstate Financial Aid and complete the Foundation Scholarship Application (available between November 1st and February 1st). Awards are made for the following year.

Art Studio Fellowship Project

USC Upstate Visual Arts is a collaborative partner in the West Main Artists Cooperative located in downtown Spartanburg. Participation in the cooperative allows for a private studio space for an Upstate student or faculty member each semester/summer. The Art Studio Fellowship Project is executed in the form of a scholarship/award and includes the opportunity to earn academic credit.

 Art Studio Fellowship Project Guidelines.


USC Upstate sponsors two galleries that are located in the Humanities and Performing Arts Center (HPAC). The Curtis R. Harley Art Gallery, located on the first floor of the atrium lobby, is dedicated to nationally and internationally established artists and exhibitions that support the academic mission of the institution. Lectures, symposia and workshops are scheduled to accompany exhibitions that are also followed by receptions honoring the visiting artists. 

The Focus Gallery, featuring outside creative undertakings for students, is located on the HPAC balcony level of the lobby and is a teaching model for the Art Education program. Exhibitions feature the work of K-12 students in the Upstate region. Exhibitions are accompanied by a lesson plan from the directing teacher to explain project objectives and to include SC Visual Arts Standards in Education. 
The UPSTATE Gallery on Main officially opened its doors in February of 2015. Showcasing the permanent work of artists Andy Warhol, Jerry Uelsmann and Beatrice Riese, the Gallery offers its visitors the opportunity to see a variety of contemporary, original exhibitions in downtown Spartanburg. Visitors can also enjoy guest exhibitions and student work.           

USC Upstate also supports a growing permanent collection that emphasizes works from the 20th century including over 100 original photographs by Andy Warhol. The permanent collection also includes a growing number of monumental sculptures located across the campus. 


Study Abroad

Study abroad opportunities are offered by the Visual Arts program through support of the USC Upstate Center for International Studies. Summer and semester programs are available to various countries with an art emphasis on programs in Italy and England. Students can register for six hours of transferable college credit. For more information contact Lee Neibert, department chair.

Club Art and Design

Club Art and Design is sponsored by the Visual Arts program and supported by the Office of Student Affairs. A faculty advisor from the Art program oversees operating procedures of this student-based organization and membership is open to students who are registered in visual arts. The mission of Club Art and Design is to promote superior scholarship in art, keep members informed of current art activities, organize workshops and field trips of academic interest and establish networking and professional relationships with industry and the community.

Community Partnerships

USC Upstate Visual Arts is committed to a variety of programs and partnerships in the Upstate community. Partnering with the Spartanburg Art Museum, located in the Chapman Cultual Center in downtown Spartanburg, Upstate Visual Arts and SAM have combined efforts to strengthen art and art education for the region through academic internships, docent-led exhibition tours and art education programs for K-12. In September 2010 SAM hosted a selection of original photographs by Andy Warhol from the USC Upstate permanent collection of art.