NHS Program of Studies – Art & Design

The art and design program offers numerous discipline-based courses aimed at expanding students’ skill development and conceptual understanding in art production, aesthetic judgment, art criticism and art history. The purpose of this program of study is to enrich students’ lives through their engagement in the many functions and forms of authentic arts-based learning.


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Graduation Requirements

New York State requires all students to successfully achieve one credit of art or music for graduation. Please note the Studio in Art course is the prerequisite for all other high school art courses. An introductory course, Studio in Art is designed to address the New York Standards for Visual Art at the High School proficient level while providing an overview of the major areas of concentration in visual and media arts. The anchor standards are:

  1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
  2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
  3. Refine and complete artistic ideas and work.
  4. Analyze, interpret and select artistic work for presentation.
  5. Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.
  6. Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.
  7. Perceive and analyze artistic work.
  8. Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.
  9. Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.
  10. Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
  11. Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.

Art & Design as a Sequence of Study

Students planning to major in art must have at least a three-unit sequence of art courses and, if pursuing the Advanced Regents Diploma, a five-unit sequence of art courses. The sequence generally begins in the 9th grade with Studio in Art. The student should then schedule as many art courses as possible during the next three years. Students may fulfill the three-unit sequence by pursuing any combination of advanced art electives in the visual arts that total three units, including: fine art, media art and three-dimensional art offerings. At least two years of the Advanced Art Studio courses are recommended for a student to prepare a portfolio of artwork needed for college, art school admissions, or AP portfolio submission.

Fine Art as a Sequence of Study

In addition, students may pursue a five-unit sequence for an Advanced Regents Diploma in the fine arts by taking a combination of art and music courses. The combination must consist of Studio in Art and/or a performing ensemble (1 cr.) or Music Theory I (.5 cr) and Music Theory II (.5 cr.), along with any combination of electives from the art and music offerings totaling five units.

Students may also fulfill the sequence requirement by taking Studio in Art from the Art & Design department and the full-year Design and Drawing for Production or Architectural Drawing from the Technology department, along with a combination of electives from the art offerings totaling five units.

Advanced Regents Diploma

If pursuing the Advanced Regents Diploma, students must choose one of the following sequences:

  • Fine Arts – Studio in Art and four units of art and/or music courses
  • Visual Art – A five-unit sequence beginning with Studio in Art
  • Music – The five-unit music sequence
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • Language Other Than English (LOTE) – A sequence totaling three units

(Note: Successful completion of the language competency exam at the end of the 8th grade meets the one unit of LOTE required for graduation.)

Art & Design Electives & Prerequisites

Art & Design Elective Courses Offered for a Full Year (1 Credit)


Grades Offered


Studio in Art 9-12 None
Drawing and Painting 10-12 Studio in Art
Advanced Art Studio IH, IIH, & IIIH 10-12 Drawing and Painting
Advanced Ceramics IH & IIH 10-12 Ceramics II
Advanced Digital Photography IH & IIH 10-12 Digital Photography II
Advanced Studio in Film IH & IIH 10-12 Studio in Film II

Art & Design Elective Courses Offered or a Semester (1/2 Credit)


Grades Offered


Digital Photography I 10-12 Studio in Art
Digital Photography II 10-12 Digital Photography
Studio in Film I 10-12 Studio in Art
Studio in Film II 10-12 Studio in Film I
Ceramics I 10-12 Studio in Art
Ceramics II 10-12 Ceramics I
Jewelry and Metal Work I 10-12 Studio in Art
Jewelry and Metal Work II 10-12 Jewelry and Metal Work I
Art, Community and Technology* 10-12 Studio in Art
Sculpture 10-12 Studio in Art
Studio in Animation 10-12 Studio in Art
Studio in Computer Arts 10-12 Studio in Art
Studio in Graphic Design 10-12 Studio in Art
Advanced Jewelry H 10-12 Jewelry and Metalwork II
Advanced Studio in Computer Arts H 10-12 Studio in Computer Arts
Advanced Studio in Graphic Design H 10-12 Studio in Graphic Design
*Art, Community & Technology meets every other day for a mod.

Art & Design Courses & Descriptions

Click on the link or scroll down for course descriptions.


1 year, 1 credit, Grades 9-12

This studio course is the comprehensive foundation for all secondary school art. Studio in Art is a prerequisite to all other high school art courses. In this course, students will have a brief exposure to 2- and 3-dimensional art, including painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, computer art and digital photography, design and art history. The exposure to these areas in the excitement of a studio atmosphere will encourage the development of concepts and skills in the visual arts and appreciation of world arts and cultures. This course is further designed to develop an understanding of art for students as a life-long learning and engagement process. Students will discover the many ways in which they can be artists.


1 year, 1 credit, Grades 10-12

The Drawing and Painting course is designed for students whose primary interest in art lies in two-dimensional expression. Its concern is with drawing, painting and printmaking mediums, skills and concepts. Students will develop basic draftsmanship and composition skills in media such as graphite and charcoal. The course emphasizes the use of color and color theory in several media including acrylic paint, collage and watercolor. Prerequisite: Studio in Art


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

The course offers an extension of the three-dimensional concepts, materials, processes and techniques explored briefly in the foundation course, Studio in Art. Students will build upon previous experiences, as well as be introduced to new media and tools for expression in sculptural form. The course emphasizes hands–on activities using a variety of materials and techniques, which may include ceramics, wire working, found objects, mold-making, plaster and assemblage used to create sculpture. In addition to the creation of three-dimensional works of art, students will develop an understanding of the context of their work through exposure to art and artists from various time periods, places and cultures and class discussion with peers in a studio environment. Prerequisite: Studio in Art


1 Year, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

This course invites special education and regular education students to create and collaborate on artwork through the use of technology and traditional art materials. This diverse group of students will learn from one another, establishing and sustaining a sense of community in the classroom and beyond. Students will achieve artistic purpose and communicate intent by their selection and use of appropriate media. Students will work with peers to create and reflect on their digital artworks. This class meets for a mod every other day. Prerequisite: Studio in Art


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

The course offers students the opportunity to experiment and explore the many processes and techniques of working with clay. Students will be exposed to historical and contemporary examples of design in pottery and ceramic sculpture as they engage in the production of clay sculpture. In addition to learning various (clay) hand building approaches to pottery, students will learn the basic techniques of glazing and other surface treatments that can be applied to pottery and ceramic sculpture. Prerequisite: Studio in Art


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

Students will continue to explore further possibilities in the area of clay pottery and ceramic sculpture. In addition to examining works from various historical and cultural influences, students in Ceramics II will develop skills in surface refinement as well as structural problem-solving. There will be an emphasis on developing an understanding of sculptural form, textural effects and glazing techniques. Thinking and planning in three dimensions and proficiency in the use of sculptural materials and tools will also be highlighted. In addition, students will learn basic throwing techniques on the potters’ wheel. Prerequisite: Ceramics I


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

This course offers students the opportunity to explore and experiment with a variety of processes and techniques as they develop an understanding of design concepts of jewelry, metalworking and sculpture. The materials and techniques covered include: silver, copper, brass, enameling, brazing, soldering, and glass. The course will prepare students with a foundation of the fundamental skills and design concepts for Jewelry and Metal Work II. Prerequisite: Studio in Art


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

Students in this course will work with the tools and materials that are used with traditional and contemporary jewelry and metalworking, as studied in the Jewelry I course. This will include materials and processes, such as metals; surface treatments, forming and soldering, as well as a focus on developing the skills used for creating and designing with wire, stone, spray paints, clay and found objects. Emphasis will be on learning to handle materials and tools with greater skill and creative expression. Prerequisite: Jewelry/Metalworking I


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

Students will learn to visually communicate through the use of a digital SLR camera. Students will explore the basic tools, techniques and aesthetics of black and white digital photography through a combination of lectures, demonstrations, assignments and critiques. There will be an emphasis on the creative use of camera controls, exposure, digital imaging software (Adobe Photoshop CC), and an awareness of the impact digital photography has on our contemporary society. The digital photography course will require work outside of regular class time. Prerequisite: Studio in Art


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

This course is designed to allow students the opportunity to expand their photographic competency and aesthetic sensibility while learning techniques to improve work and build a greater understanding of advanced functions of the digital camera. The course stresses the development of a cohesive body of work, with the final goal being a digital presentation portfolio that showcases the most effective photographic images the student has created. Students will be given various “creative problems” that they will solve with their digital cameras – to further their understanding of photography as a means of visual communication. Most of the photography assignments consist of both work done outside of class (shooting assignments) and work in the Electronic Arts lab during the blocks. Prerequisite: Digital Photography I


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

This filmmaking course will introduce students to video as a media for creative expression and visual communication. Students will write, plan, produce and direct short films. Digital editing techniques will be explored as well as learning how sound can enhance the visual image. Students will take on full responsibility for their projects as they work in small collaborative groups to develop the film treatment and storyboard, and then shoot and edit the project. Also, students will learn about the various ways to distribute and promote their work both online and through various film festivals. Prerequisite: Studio in Art


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

This video filmmaking course is a continuation of Studio in Film I. Students will continue to write, plan, produce and direct short films while expanding their knowledge of filmmaking technique. Students will be introduced to techniques such as claymation, computer animation, and stop-action animation to visually communicate their ideas. Students will utilize iMovie, Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Animate CC, and iStopMotion to create and edit their productions. Prerequisite: Studio In Film I


1 Semester, 1/2credit, Grades 10-12

This course is designed to teach students a variety of 2D animation tools and techniques in the Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe Animate CC software programs. Frame by frame, tweening, and rotoscoping methods will be taught using Wacom tablets, digital cameras, and video footage. During this course students will explore the history and evolution of animation with key concepts and changes in technology. Students will ultimately bring their drawings to life while learning the principles of animation along with effective storyboarding and sound editing. Prerequisite: Studio in Art


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

This course will teach the elements and principles of design through the medium of computers and digital technology. It is intended for the student who is interested in learning about new technologies and using them to create art in immediate and real-life ways. Students will learn how to use digital cameras, flatbed scanners, and Wacom tablets as tools to help express their artistic point of view. In addition, students will be learning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, software tools and techniques to create unique digital composites and illustrations. Prerequisite: Studio in Art


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

This course will teach the fundamentals of graphic design through the creative process of combining art and technology to communicate ideas. It is intended for the student who is interested in learning about visual communication through typography, logo and magazine cover design, album and movie poster art, app icon design, and logo animation. Students will learn the visual problem solving process of following a concept from its initial creation to the finished product. Students will learn to use tools and techniques in the professional design and image editing software Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to create their graphic artwork. Prerequisite: Studio in Art


All students must have previous experience in the subject area they choose; recommended preparation is a minimum B average in preparatory courses. These are advanced studio courses in which the talented or highly-motivated art student can work in a heavily enriched program. The student may choose the area in which he/she wishes to concentrate. All advanced art courses are honors level.


1 year, 1 credit, Grades 10-12


1 year, 1 credit, Grades 11-12


1 year, 1 credit, Grades 12

Advanced Art Studio 1, 2 and 3 are sequential courses that demand persistent studio effort, critical thinking, problem solving and reflection. Art students will improve their skills in various mediums, with an emphasis on observational drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and mixed media. Students will develop a thoughtful studio practice and an understanding of the art historical context for their work as they expand their abilities to communicate meaning visually through independent projects. The course maintains a challenging studio environment for advanced students developing portfolios for college, art school and/or AP consideration and all students will maintain a digital portfolio of their work. This course will require work outside of regular class time. Students may choose to prepare and submit an AP Drawing Portfolio at the end of their second year in the course or their senior year. This course is open to students recommended by an art teacher or department director. Prerequisite: Drawing and Painting and teacher recommendation


1 year, 1 credit, Grades 10-12

51795 Advanced Studio in FILM II H

1 year, 1 credit, Grades 11-12

These courses are designed to build upon the skills and techniques introduced in Studio in Film I and II. Students will learn techniques to strengthen their ability to conceive and develop ideas that will lead to compelling, authentic, and personally meaningful films. Students will have the opportunity to become killed in more advanced principles and practices of film production. Student will learn to talk about and critique their own work, as well as that of other artists, as they prepare a portfolio of work. Students will utilize iMovie, Adobe Premier CC, and Final Cut Pro to edit their productions.

51660 Advanced Studio in Computer Arts H

1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

This course is created for the aspiring digital artist. Students will be involved in the process of developing specific project goals each quarter with continued emphasis on building their artistic and technical skills through related software programs. Students may focus on graphic design, computer fine art or two-dimensional animation. Portfolio preparation for college will be developed and completed by the end of the course. Prerequisite: Studio in Computer Arts.

51340 Advanced Jewelry H

1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

Students in this course will continue to explore possibilities in working with the tools and materials that are used with jewelry making and metalworking. In addition, students will be introduced to casting processes as well as other innovations for creative expression. The emphasis is placed on students refining their skills and mastering the use of metal working tools, materials and techniques. Prerequisite: Jewelry/Metalworking II

51540 Advanced Sculpture H

1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

In Advanced Sculpture, students will continue to work with the three-dimensional concepts, materials and processes explored in the beginning sculpture class in addition to a variety of new materials. Students will be encouraged to develop their artistic voice by considering the concepts for their sculptures. They will re-visit previously studied techniques and apply their understanding and skills in new and creative ways. The focus of this class will be on promoting student confidence in making choices for their work that expresses their personal vision. This course may be taken for 2 consecutive years.

51490 ADVANCED Digital Photography I H

1 Year, 1 credit, Grades 10-12

51495 ADVANCED Digital Photography II H

1 Year, 1 credit, Grades 10-12

In these sequential courses, students will explore advanced techniques through the creative modes of the DSLR camera while learning how the editing software of Adobe Photoshop and Bridge can create more visually effective imagery. Students will work on individual projects – in conjunction with shooting assignments given by the teacher – to further their understanding of photography as an expressive medium. This class will require work outside of regular class time. Prerequisite: Digital Photography II and/or teacher recommendation.


Depending on enrollment, students enrolled in the following courses may meet in regular sections of each, but will follow an advanced curriculum.

51190 Advanced Ceramics I H

1 year, 1 credit, Grades 10-12

51195 Advanced Ceramics II H

1 year, 1 credit, Grades 11-12

Advanced Ceramics 1 and 2 are designed for the self-motivated ceramic student with interest in continuing the study of art and ceramics beyond high school. Students will create works of art influenced by self-guided research as well as feedback from peers and the instructor. Students will develop greater proficiency in hand building and throwing techniques and explore more complex glazing methods as they create challenging, independent ceramic projects.


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 10-12

The Advanced Studio in Graphic Design class is intended for students who wish to learn advanced tools and techniques in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Animate to create new design projects and develop a portfolio for college admission. Students will face new design challenges and build their visual communication skills through typography, iconography design, product wrap design, and an independent project of their choosing. Critiques of student work will be a major component of the course as well as student and teacher evaluations of work. Prerequisite: Studio in Graphic Design


  • Niskayuna High School art students may apply for school credit for course work taken outside of school such as Sage College’s “Summer Arts Program,” New York State’s “Summer School of the Arts,” private lessons, etc.
  • Programs with which we are familiar and that provide documentation for and evaluation of student work accomplished in their program will be granted credit with prior approval of the art director.
  • Students taking other programs that do not provide us with that information, or with which we are not familiar, must present a portfolio of their work to the art director. The director will evaluate the work and decide whether or not school credit may be granted for the work accomplished in that particular program.
  • Prior approval must be granted by the art director if students wish to be considered for school credit.