The Tacoma School of the Arts opened in the Fall of 2001 in downtown Tacoma. The school’s proximity to cultural organizations like the Museum of Glass, Tacoma Art Museum, and Tacoma Arts Live provides opportunities for students to engage in the local visual and performing arts community. Classes are taught through the lens of art, and students choose a major in the visual or performing arts.

The Visual Arts Department at SOTA is an academically challenging program created to help students develop their own style through carefully designed curriculum. Courses are taken in sequence, one each semester of the freshman and sophomore year beginning with the required basic Drawing and Foundation classes. After completion, students may then elect to pursue Photography, Graphic Design, Filmmaking, Advanced Illustration, or Painting. Each area of study contains its own sequence of courses, integrating beginning and advanced students as both teacher and learner.

The Performing Arts Department at SOTA is committed to providing pre-professional training which imaginatively balances theory and practice, and is based on a quality liberal arts foundation. Through classroom study, studio preparation, and productions and performances, students are encouraged to pursue a commitment to individual excellence and collaboration, a passion for their discipline, and to develop a firm grounding in all aspects of live and mediated performance.


SOTA is committed to integration: we want students to see their learning, their world, and their lives whole. Thus we seek to help students make connections within academic disciplines, between the academics and the arts, between their lives now and their lives as they enter the larger global community in a very few years. With this holistic vision firmly in mind, we also believe students deserve the opportunity to go deep – to develop and pursue a particular passion at increasingly greater depth, guided by mentors in our community who can encourage excellence.


We believe all students have the right to high-quality educational experiences that develop their unique needs and passion.


Our mission is to partner with community resources to change public education, emphasizing creativity and utilizing a fully inclusive model that educates the whole student through our values: Community . Empathy . Thinking . Balance​ .
  • Community - We are a learning community. Careful planning and design of school culture enables us to rely on the strengths of each staff and student and to develop our highest potential.​

  • Empathy - Every member of our community has unique perspectives, strengths and struggles, and we strive to adapt our approach to see the world from their point of view.

  • Thinking - We challenge ourselves to dive deep into any idea, seeking a strong understanding as opposed to merely reciting facts. Learning is inspired by dreams and imaginations.

  • Balance - We seek both left-brained and right-brained thinkers, creativity alongside analysis. We find balance in perspective and our schools seek to always show both sides of a picture.​