Graduate Admissions

CCA is a distinguished leader in graduate-level education, and our support for students starts early in the application process. Dedicated graduate admissions advisors can connect you to answers, aid, and more.


Admissions timeline

Intellectual promise and creative achievement

Our graduate programs at CCA provide professional education in a highly creative environment. Graduate students at one of the world’s top art schools learn in state-of-the-art facilities and regularly connect to the Bay Area’s brightest.

For questions about each graduate program and its application process, reach out anytime to our admissions team via email or phone; you can also set up an appointment using our virtual calendar. As you prepare to apply, you’ll want to become familiar with the key dates below, as well as our general graduate admissions timeline:

  • October 1 – First day to submit your FAFSA application to be considered for federal financial aid and some institutional scholarships
  • November 1 – 2020 application becomes available
  • January 10 – Priority application deadline for all graduate programs and to be considered for institutional graduate scholarships (applications received after January will be reviewed individually on a rolling basis)
  • February 1 – Graduate application review begins
  • March 15 – Notification of graduate admissions decisions and scholarships begin to roll out, and financial aid award notices are mailed to qualifying admitted applicants
  • April – Admitted graduate students are invited to campus for various spring events
  • May 1 – Admitted graduate students must confirm attendance and submit the $500 enrollment deposit for the fall semester by this date*

*Note: Admitted MFA in Comics students must confirm attendance and submit the enrollment deposit by April 15.

Key Dates

Important graduate student deadlines

Apply early for scholarship consideration

CCA practices rolling admissions, which means applications can be submitted for review after the January 10 priority deadline; however, those applications are excluded from merit and diversity scholarship consideration. Need-based scholarships will continue to be awarded to qualified applicants who submit an application after February 1. For additional information or assistance, please contact [email protected].

Jan 10

Graduate application priority deadline

Deadline to submit application for institutional scholarship consideration and admission for the following academic year. Applications received after this date will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Mar 15

Admissions notifications begin

Admissions and scholarship decisions begin to roll out. Financial aid award letters will also be sent to qualifying admitted students.

Jun 01

Graduate deadline to confirm attendance and submit deposit

Admitted graduate students must confirm attendance and submit the $500 enrollment deposit for the fall semester by this date. MFA in Comics enrollment deposit deadline is April 15.

Funding options

Our Financial Aid office is dedicated to helping you discover and connect with the right resources to make your education dreams a reality. Every year, we award more than $45.6 million in combined scholarships and nearly 75% of our students receive some form of financial aid. Learn more about scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans.


Your graduate application checklist

To apply for admission to CCA, graduate students must fulfill several core requirements:

  • An online application and nonrefundable application fee of $70
  • Unofficial college transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Portfolio (log in to SlideRoom and pay a nonrefundable fee of $15)
  • Personal essay
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • GRE scores (optional)
  • Interview (varies by program)
  • Proof of English proficiency (international applicants only)

Please note that portfolio, personal essay, and interview requirements are tailored to each master’s program. You’ll need to review your program of interest for specific instructions.

Enrollment checklist

Online application

You’ll submit an online application and nonrefundable application fee of $70. The application for the fall semester opens November 1. If you have questions about the application process, please email us at [email protected].

Unofficial college transcripts

We’ll refer to your unofficial college transcripts while reviewing your portfolio and additional application materials. You’re required to upload your unofficial transcripts of undergraduate coursework as a PDF document through Slideroom. Students who have already taken graduate courses are encouraged to submit those transcripts, too. For international applicants, all transcripts must be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation.

When to submit official transcripts

Once you have been admitted and enrolled, all students will need to submit official, sealed transcripts showing the completion of a Bachelor's degree to our graduate admissions office by August 1, 2020.

Postal address
Graduate Admissions
California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco, CA 94107-2247 USA

Two letters of recommendation

You are required to submit two letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources. Please note that we do not accept personal recommendations. Applicants should request their letters of recommendation through Slideroom. In the "References" section, click "add reference" to enter the contact information for your recommender. The recommender will receive an automated email from Slideroom providing them with instructions for uploading their letter.

Resume or curriculum vitae

You’ll need to submit a resume, typically a one- to two-page summary of your experience and skills, or a curriculum vitae (CV), which can be more detailed. In either case, please outline your educational and professional background and relevant experiences and activities, including community work. Please note that your submission must be in PDF format.

Proof of English proficiency

Unless English is the official language of your home country, you must submit one of the following test scores: TOEFL, IELTS, CAE, CEFR, PTE Academic, or Duolingo English Test. An official copy of your score must be sent directly from the testing service to CCA’s Enrollment Services office. To learn more about graduate testing requirements and to see if you qualify for an English proficiency waiver, please visit International Admissions.

GRE scores (optional)

CCA does not require the GRE test for admissions consideration. However, if you’re applying to the Master of Architecture or Master of Advanced Architectural Design program, you may include these scores with the rest of your application materials.

Interview (varies by program)

Some programs require an interview during the application review process. Applicants who are selected for an interview will be contacted to arrange a meeting with the graduate program manager or a faculty member. Applicants may choose between an on-campus or Skype interview. Master of Architecture applicants with prior education in the field will be evaluated for advanced placement in the program during the interview.

Students in MFA writing studios

Applying for a dual-degree program

Core requirements for dual-degree options are the same as other graduate programs, but you should familiarize yourself with the application process before beginning the online form. You can apply for any one of our dual-degree options with a single application. However, you must submit portfolio and personal essay requirements for both programs.

Pursue two degrees over a three-year period

  • MA in Visual and Critical Studies + MA in Curatorial Practice
  • MA in Visual and Critical Studies + MFA in Fine Arts
  • MA in Visual and Critical Studies + MFA in Writing
  • MBA in Design Strategy + MFA in Design


We’re here to answer your graduate admissions questions

Front of the San Francisco campus at night

Graduate Admissions

+1 415-914-7721 (call, text)

[email protected]

Speak with a counselor

Schedule an appointment with a graduate admissions advisor in San Francisco.

San Francisco office

80 Carolina Street, first floor
San Francisco, CA 94107 USA
Hours: M–F, 8 am–4:30 pm
(View map)

Postal address

Office of Graduate Admissions
California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco, CA 94107-2247 USA

David Murray Profile photo

David Murray

Director of Graduate Admissions

+1 415-703-9533 (call only)

[email protected]
Emmitt Smith, Admissions Counselor, CCA Admissions

Emmitt Smith

Senior Graduate Admissions Counselor

+1 415-914-7721 (call, text)

[email protected]


Plan to apply early

Fund your graduate experience

MFA in Fine Arts student Alex Lee in her studio

Fund your graduate experience and future

We have a dedicated Financial Aid office to help you discover and learn how to apply for scholarships. Each year, we award more than $21.2 million in college-funded scholarships. There are five types you may be eligible for: merit, diversity, named and emeritus, all-college honors, and need-based CCA scholarships. They’re highly competitive, so we recommend researching and gathering supplemental materials early.

Merit scholarships

Graduate scholarships range from $10,000 to $42,000. Scholarships are highly selective and are issued by the graduate programs based on the strength of the student’s application. If you’d like to be considered for a merit scholarship, please apply by the January 10 deadline. Please note that CCA cannot offer financial aid to international students in the form of federal loans or federal work-study.

Swedish graduate applicants
If you’re a Swedish student entering CCA in fall 2019 and are pursuing an MFA in Fine Arts or Design, you can apply to be considered for the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation Scholarship. CCA offers this merit scholarship of $25,000 to one student each academic year, and it’s renewable for one additional year of study.

Diversity scholarships

Diversity scholarships, up to $26,000, are awarded to qualified graduate applicants who bring diverse experiences, ideas, and creative work to the CCA community. They can be renewed for four years of full-time enrollment as long as the recipient retains good academic standing. Issued by the Admissions office, awards are based on a thorough review of application materials, essay(s), portfolio, and the following criteria:

  • Students from educationally disadvantaged families
  • Academic and artistic achievement
  • Leadership in service to a community
  • Work that focuses on cultural or social issues

If you’d like to be considered for a diversity scholarship, please apply for admission by the January 10 deadline.

CCA scholarships

CCA scholarships

CCA scholarships are awarded to graduate students with demonstrated financial need based on their academic achievement. Please note that you must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen to be eligible. Students whose enrollment status is part-time may receive prorated scholarships.

Named scholarships

Named scholarships

These are scholarships initiated in honor of a generous donor, alum, emeritus faculty, or friend of CCA. Recipients are full-time incoming or continuing graduate students who are either U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens and who demonstrate financial need and academic merit. Some of these scholarships, such as the Yozo Hamaguchi Printmaking Scholarship, are exclusively for students working in particular disciplines.

All-college honors scholarship

Each spring, CCA sponsors the All-College Honors Awards competition. Twenty-three scholarships are awarded, including those for students in the MA, MBA, MFA, and MArch graduate programs. Visual and written submissions are reviewed by an external jury.

Recipients must be in good academic standing and enrolled full-time for the fall semester following the competition. You’ll be notified by mail when the application is available in March of each spring semester. For more information, please contact your graduate program manager.

MArch students

If you’re enrolled in the Master of Architecture program, you’re eligible for the Architecture Award, which is juried during the MArch mid-review. All students who participate in this review will be considered for the award.

Admitted Students

Take the next step to enrollment

A student smiles at the teacher as she gives feedback on his work.

We’re thrilled that you’re now part of the California College of the Arts community. Before you take the next step, please locate your official admissions letter, which will contain your new student ID number. You’ll need to refer to this as you begin enrollment and other important processes. Should you need help at any point, you can email [email protected].

Key enrollment dates and steps

Over the coming weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to apply for housing in one of three residence halls, sign up for your first courses, and meet your future classmates and faculty. To hold your place in your program, you’ll need to declare your intent to enroll. You may be considering many options for your graduate experience, so please connect with [email protected] to learn more about our community and resources.

Next steps at a glance

  1. Confirm your attendance
  2. Set up your new CCA email
  3. Review your financial aid offer
  4. Apply for CCA housing
  5. Register for courses and review transfer credit
  6. Make your payments
  7. Sign up for health insurance
  8. Add emergency contacts
  9. Obtain your I-20 and F-1 visa (international students)
  10. Attend an orientation

Connect with a program advisor

To learn more about your graduate program of interest, go to the How to Apply section on the graduate program page and look for contact information for a Program Manager or Senior Manager of Academic Programs.

Push boundaries and lead conversations that transform culture

Apply now