Northwest College of Art and Design relocating to Tacoma, expanding degree programs

POULSBO — After more than 20 years at its hillside estate location just outside Poulsbo’s city limits, the Northwest College of Art and Design has decided to relocate to Tacoma.

The private art college, which offers bachelor of fine art degrees in visual communication, purchased a seven-story building in downtown Tacoma last week. The building, at 1126 Pacific Ave., offers more than 30,000 square feet of space — 14,000 more space than the college’s current location.

The modern building also features two elevators, two sets of stairs and eight bathrooms.

School officials said the move would take place after spring semester is completed. The college plans to begin teaching at the Tacoma campus in September.

NCAD officials declined to be interviewed. But on social media, the school posted on March 21 that “the relocation of the school to Tacoma is designed to position the college for long-term growth.

“The move to Tacoma will allow the college to continue to serve the Kitsap Peninsula while effectively and dramatically expanding our footprint and reach into Pierce, Thurston, Mason and King counties.”

Kitsap County has 250,000 residents, but the four counties the school will now serve has a population of more than three million.

For those Kitsap students who will commute come fall, the school posted that it will reimburse them for Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls for fall semester, and will also provide access to free parking.

Given the school’s downtown location, parking will be within a mile of campus, and students will be encouraged to use the free Link light-rail service (running every 12 minutes) between the Tacoma Dome and the school.

In conjunction with the relocation, NCAD — which is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges — will offer five new associate’s in occupational studies degrees, beginning in May 2018.

Those associate’s degrees — in graphic design, web design, web development, user experience design, and concept art — will be offered at the new location.

Since its inception, NCAD has grown from a Poulsbo waterfront location offering single workshops and art classes — it was known as Northwest College of Art then — to associate and undergraduate degrees.

“Change has been constant,” the school posted March 21. “Always with the intent of improving our school, improving our curriculum, and improving our ability to help our students prepare for creative careers … Over the more than 30 years that NCAD has existed, the school has maintained a philosophy of continuous improvement. In effect, the school has continually changed over time to better serve the needs of our students.”

Poulsbo City Councilman Ed Stern, an advocate for Poulsbo’s evolution as a college town, said of NCAD’s move:

“I’m sorry to see any good community organization moving away. As far as art, design and creativity goes, there are many other choices still here in Kitsap County at our accredited colleges and Western Washington University.

— Sophie Bonomi is a reporter for Kitsap Daily News. Contact her at

Terryl Asla is a reporter for the Kitsap Daily News. Contact him at