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Mission & History

The Art of Inspiring Careers


Moore College of Art & Design is dedicated to excellence in art and design. Founded in 1848, Moore is the first and only visual arts college for women in the United States. Through its undergraduate Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees for women and its coeducational Graduate Studies programs, Moore cultivates creativity, promotes scholarship and prepares its students for professional careers in the arts by emphasizing critical thinking, problem solving, risk-taking, and strong communication skills. Moore is dedicated to producing graduates that distinguish themselves as leaders in their fields.

As a cultural leader, Moore promotes access to the arts throughout the broader community. The Galleries at Moore introduce the work of significant regional, national and international artists to the community through distinctive exhibitions and educational programs. The wide-ranging Continuing Education program also serves the community by providing opportunities for men and women to learn new skills for personal and professional growth. Through Moore’s acclaimed Young Artists Workshop, founded in 1921, the lives of children and youth are enriched through creative arts education.

Building on its historic legacy of educating women and men for successful careers in the visual arts, Moore is committed to adapting to the needs of future generations of artists, designers, scholars and educators throughout its diverse educational programs.


Founded by Sarah Worthington Peter in 1848, Moore College of Art & Design is the first and only women’s visual arts college in the nation. Established as the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, the College continues to thrive on the promise of empowering women to achieve financial independence by providing a high-quality, career-focused education. 

Today, Moore celebrates its rich legacy. Sarah Worthington Peter's original vision continues to drive the College’s mission to educate women for careers in the visual arts. Though our first major was textile design—established during the Industrial Revolution, of which Philadelphia was the center—the College now offers 10 BFA programs including Animation & Game Arts, Art Education, Art History, Curatorial Studies, Fashion Design, Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interior Design and Photography & Digital Arts.

In recent years, we have expanded our curriculum to include Post-Baccalaureate programs in addition to continuing education programs for adults and youth. In 2009, Moore introduced coeducational graduate level programs.

Note: Some publications refer to the founding of the College as having taken place in 1844. According to research conducted by Nina de Angeli Walls for her book "Art, Industry, And Women's Education in Philadelphia" (Westport, CT, Bergin & Garvey, 2001), the date apparently stems from Emily Sartain's years as principal of the school (1886 - 1920), when she adopted the date to satisfy a celebratory event she wanted to hold.


Moore is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. (AICAD) is a non-profit consortium of 36 leading art schools in the U.S. It was founded in 1991 by a group of 25 presidents who felt a need for the similarly structured art schools to come together so as to mutually develop their schools and programs.

Moore College of Art & Design is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. (267.284.5000) The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the US Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Moore is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association or Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and is accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the BFA major in Interior Design is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA formerly known as FIDER).

Moore’s Accreditation Status:

First accreditation: 1958
Reaccredited: 2012
Next reaccreditation: 2022