General CalArts Information

How can I learn more about your programs and see the campus?

You are welcome to visit campus. The campus tours and information sessions require a reservation. We encourage you to register at least a couple of weeks in advance. Space is limited. 

Information sessions are small, comprehensive group meetings led by an Admissions Counselor to provide an opportunity for prospective undergraduate students to learn more about our programs and to ask questions about the application process. Campus tours are led by student tour guides and visit select spaces on campus that represent the student experience at CalArts.

How many students attend CalArts? Where can I find more information about the student population?

CalArts had an enrollment of 1,471 students in Fall 2016. Please view more statistical information at CalArts Facts and Figures.

Applying to CalArts

How can I get an application fee waiver?

We acknowledge that the application fee may present a financial hardship to some applicants. Contact the Office of Admissions for more information.

Please note, fee waiver requests are submitted separately from the application for admission. Submit your fee waiver request well in advance of your application deadline, whenever possible. The final deadline to submit a fee waiver request is January 2. Do not submit your application fee until your fee waiver request has been processed and you have received a reply. Paid application fees will not be refunded.

CalArts will accept the standard College Board fee waiver, NACAC fee waiver, or a letter from a high school/transfer counselor who can verify family financial hardship. More information can be found at Application Deadlines & Fees.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

We strongly recommend that your letters come from someone who can speak about your artistic development and your readiness for college-level work. This may include art teachers, academic teachers, college counselors, artistic mentors, employers or collaborators.

Can I get my letters of recommendations and transcripts returned after I receive my decision letter?

Your letters and transcripts are part of your admissions file and cannot be returned to you after we have received them.

What is an artist statement?

An artist statement is very important in the admissions process. Please use this statement to discuss the issues and concerns that inform your art-making practice, your reasons for applying to CalArts, and your artistic goals. We do not have a length requirement, but we recommend that your statement run about 1-2 pages. Some programs have additional requirements for the artist statement (please see Specific Program Requirements). When applying online, this statement should be submitted with both your online application and your online portfolio.

Does CalArts accept GEDs or State Proficiency Exams in place of a High School Diploma?

Graduation from an accredited secondary school or its CalArts approved equivalent is required to enter and graduate from the BFA program. For students attending Home School programs that do not result in a state-recognized High School Diploma, equivalence may be established by completing the General Education Development (GED) examination or a comparable regional test such as the California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE). Home School students may send official interim Home School transcripts during the admissions process but must arrange for final transcripts to be sent upon graduation.

How is an admissions decision made and who makes it?

It is the faculty of each program, working together, who decide artistic acceptance. The decision is made after considering the audition or portfolio, the artist statement, and the letters of recommendation. The Office of Admissions then reviews the academic coursework and any official language test scores that have been submitted to ensure that students are prepared for the rigors of the academic component of their coursework at CalArts.

Can I add more materials to my portfolio and application after I already sent it?

No. The portfolio should be sent as complete from the time they are submitted. Late additions cannot be matched with previously sent materials.

When will I be informed of my admissions decision?

The notification period for the admission decision will be approximately March 1 through early April for students that applied by the regular deadline. There may be cases, however, where the decision will come earlier or take longer. We send decision letters out at different times, depending on each program’s review schedule and when required materials for the student’s file are received. There is no significance attached to receiving your notification earlier or later than other students that have applied.

What is the CalArts CEEB code for submitting my test scores?

The CalArts CEEB code is 4049, and the ACT college code is 8126.

Can I apply to more than one program?

Yes. You will need to submit a separate application in addition to required materials and an application fee for each program you would like to apply to. You will also have to send a separate portfolio, or schedule an audition if required, for each of those applications. If you are accepted to more than one program at CalArts, you will then have to choose one program as your major.

What if the program I want to apply to is already closed? Can I change majors after I have been accepted?

If the program that you wish to apply to is closed for admission, please contact the Office of Admissions about the next semester of eligibility. You may not change majors or programs after you have been accepted. If you decide to switch programs, you will need to submit all of the required application materials, including a portfolio or audition and an application fee at the next available opportunity.

When will I get my portfolio back?

Only portfolios submitted with a self-addressed, pre-paid package will be mailed back to students. Portfolios are returned after May 1 through late August. If you would like to pick up your portfolio from the Admissions Office, we require three days prior notification.

International Students

What if my TOEFL/IELTS/PTE/DET score does not meet your requirements?

Send your current score by the application deadline and then sign-up to retake the test as soon as possible. We may review an application with a low TOEFL/IELTS/PTE/DET score. However, we will not review applications without a TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or DET score. Please view more information on our English Language Proficiency page.

Are International students eligible for financial aid?

All state and federal funds for education are available to U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents only. International students are eligible for institutional funds (scholarships and grants), but these funds are limited and awarding is very competitive. CalArts scholarships do not cover a student’s entire tuition. All awards are based on merit.

Financial Aid

How can I apply for CalArts scholarships?

Our priority deadline for financial aid is April 1. Please review the financial aid application information on the Financial Aid page.

Do I apply for financial aid after I receive my decision letter from CalArts?

No. If you are a prospective student, we urge you to apply for financial aid before you receive your decision letter from the Office of Admissions. Financial aid deadlines are important and can easily be missed if you wait to apply. You must complete and submit the FAFSA by the April 1 priority deadline to be considered for both federal funds and CalArts grants.

Academic Information

How long will it take me to finish my degree?

BFA degrees typically take four years to complete, while MFA/MA programs vary from two to three years. The Performer-Composer DMA Program is three years.

I have already taken some general education courses, will they transfer?

CalArts, in principle, accepts all postsecondary transfer credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities; we accept equivalent courses for our core curriculum requirements in Critical Studies. Classes must be passed with a grade of “C” or higher. Please keep in mind that the year level placement in your major is determined by your audition or portfolio, and is not solely dependent on the number of credits that are transferred in. Please review our Critical Studies Transfer Guide for more information.

What resources do you have for learning disabled students?

Please view the resources available through our Student Affairs Office.

Does CalArts offer part-time study?

No. CalArts is an intensive arts training program, and as such, we offer only full-time study.