The school was established as the Paier School of Applied Art in 1946 by Edward T. and Adele K. Paier. The Paiers, who were both experienced in business, education, and art, initially opened the school of Applied Art in West Haven, Connecticut. In 1954, another local art school known as the Whitney School of Art failed and the Paier School assumed responsibility for continuing the education of the Whitney students. This teach-out of Whitney led to the school changing its name to Paier School of Art. In 1954, the institution moved to New Haven, Connecticut and introduced a new program in photography, appointing William Gerdes, former Dean of the Progressive School of Photography in New Haven, to head the new photography program at Paier. The resulting growth in the school's population base led to the institution moving to 6 Prospect Court in Hamden 1960 and in 1963 expanding to its current location off of Circular Avenue. The College continues to offer students both timeless and contemporary skills in the visual arts, as well as a solid grounding in academics and human value systems necessary for growth and success in modern society.
Career-oriented students can pursue study programs in fine arts, graphic design, illustration, interior design, or photography. The faculty is drawn from top professional ranks and provides instruction based on the creative demands of their fields. Students willing to take on new and rigorous challenges can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to find a place in the productive stream of professional art.
In addition to the exploration of ideas and technique in the art curricula of the College, the degree programs also include studies devoted to art history, humanities, mathematics, physical science, and social science. Each of these areas includes imaginative and analytical expression of human experience — with oneself, with others, and with the world. This perspective contributes to an appreciation of the unity of life and to the understanding vital to the development of mature art statements. Each of these areas, rich in verbal expression, adds depth to the use of visual symbols, and each of these areas, diverse in modes of expression, adds range of creativity to artists who are sensitive to the world about them. Commitment to these perceptions is vital to the development of today's artist and is at the core of the College's approach to education.
The school was accredited as a 4-year, degree-granting institution in 1982. The Paier College campus consists of four buildings located in Hamden, CT (pop. 57,000), in a neighborhood setting within a suburban locale just north of New Haven (pop. 124,000). Eight colleges and universities, as well as other cultural centers — the Yale Gallery; the Peabody Museum; the Mellon Center for British Art; the Beinecke Rare Book Library; the Shubert; Long Wharf and Yale Repertory Theaters; as well as many other visual and performing arts facilities — are all within easy access to the College.
Greater New Haven also offers a wide array of restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, and historic sites, as well as entertainment and recreational areas that provide a varied and stimulating environment for Paier students. Paier is also situated just minutes south of the Wilbur Cross Parkway (Route. 15) and is within easy reach of the Hartford Capital region (38 miles), New York City (78 miles), and Boston (154 miles) by car, bus, or train. Connecticut, southernmost of the New England states, offers access to beaches, lakes, rivers, mountains, and a variety of scenic and outdoor activities. In fact, all of the northeast, rich in the traditions of early America, and alive with creative energy and a long-standing commitment to education, surrounds the Paier student with almost limitless opportunities for diverse cultural experience.