California Institute of the Arts

Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, CalArts is the first U.S. higher educational institution to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in both visual and performing arts. Located thirty miles north of downtown Los Angeles, CalArts is a very different kind of school; its mission is to educate professional artists in a rather small, unique learning environment founded on the principles of artmaking excellence, experimentation, critical reflection and independent inquiry. Given the rich and exhilarating diversity of artistic practices and cultures available at CalArts, students are encouraged to pursue their specialties in the broadest context possible. As a result, all BFA candidates are required to complete the school’s Critical Studies curriculum, which covers core topics in the humanities, social sciences, cultural studies, and science and technology. The Critical Studies curriculum helps bridge the divides between disciplines by establishing a common base for critical thought, independent inquiry and discussions on a wide range of contemporary cultural issues.

A few of the many aspects which set CalArts apart from other Art Schools/ Conservatories are that both visual and performing arts are studied under one roof, the environment is quite intimate with an Undergraduate enrollment of 800, a Graduate enrollment of 442, and a 7 to 1 student to faculty ratio in which each student is assigned a mentor to work closely with throughout his or her degree program.  Within this model CalArts students are afforded a great deal of individualized attention, instruction, workspace, and opportunities for exhibition and performance. 

The exceptional facilities and innumerable resources available at CalArts also help to foster student development and achievement. Facilities for School of Art students include spacious studios, a state-of-the-art MacLab, Photo Lab, Print and Media Lab, Video Lab, and the Super Shop, an institute-wide resource that provides facilities and technical instruction for three-dimensional production, including the fabrication of robotic, kinetic and interactive pieces. Also, students of the School of Art have many opportunities to exhibit their work throughout the year in seven on-campus galleries, as well as in various unconventional or informal settings around campus. Most notably, the gallery at the newly created the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) enables students to view and exhibit works of art in the heart of Los Angeles. Furthermore, the school’s visiting artists program offers additional opportunities for students to learn from the experiences of other artists, in addition to the already exceptional faculty.

Throughout its history, CalArts has sought to advance the practice of art and promote its understanding in a broad social, cultural and historical context. The legacy it has created as a result of this mission is evident in the school’s dynamic group of alumni, with such notables as actors Don Cheadle and Ed Harris, directors Tim Burton and James Mangold, and artist Mike Kelly, among others. CalArts offers students the knowledge and expertise of leading professional artists and scholars and a full complement of artmaking tools. In return, it asks for the highest artistic and academic achievement, where artists function equally as intellectuals and critical thinkers. 

The Numbers:

Admissions and Cost:
The Institute welcomes applications for admission from anyone committed to the visual or performing arts.The decision to admit an applicant follows both academic and artistic review procedures established by the faculty, deans, and administration. Review procedures focus on the applicant's talent and potential for successful professional study as demonstrated by audition, portfolio review, and other evidence of achievement and creative potential.The decision regarding acceptance is made after the portfolio review or audition has been completed and the admissions office has received the application for admission, the application fee, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, transcripts of previous academic work, and evidence of high school completion (or the equivalent).  Admission to the institute is highly selective.  Above all, CalArts is looking for students who will be the right fit for the school, and whose potential for being an active and innovative member of the community is evident through the application process.

Reflecting its longstanding commitment to new forms and expressions in art, as well as a rigorous academic curriculum, CalArts invites creative risk-taking, urges exchange among artists, mediums/materials, disciplines and cultural traditions, and looks for a strong articulation of the applicants artistic ideas and goals through both the portfolio submissions and personal statement.  Since CalArts does not have general foundation program in the first year, portfolio requirements differ by program.  Visit the CalArts website to obtain detailed portfolio guidelines for each area of study.

Tuition for the 2006/2007 academic year is $29,300.  Students should expect other budgeted costs for room & board, books & materials, transportation and institutional/lab fees.  The average estimated budget for the year is $42,000 which includes tuition costs.  CalArts Financial aid office works with students to assist in providing scholarships, grants, federal loans and work study.  For more details, visit the Financial Aid page on the CalArts website.


24700 McBean Parkway
Valencia, CA 91355-2397
(661) 255-1050 (Phone)
(661) 253-7710 (Fax)