Collegewide Learning Outcomes

California College of the Arts educates students to shape culture through the practice and critical study of architecture, design, fine arts, and writing.

All students engage in a rich and rigorous curriculum composed of Core studio, general education, and major coursework as well as co-curricular experiences. This preparation culminates in graduates whose creative practice demonstrates the perceptual acuity, conceptual understanding, and technical facility sufficient for them to begin work on a professional level.

In addition to the common outcomes below, which are vital components of any undergraduate education at the college, each major program addresses discipline-specific concepts, techniques, and learning outcomes in depth.

The collegewide learning outcomes were developed to communicate to the CCA community -- including prospective students, families, and faculty -- the priorities and guiding principles that distinguish the educational experience here. At the same time, articulating the outcomes in this way provides a framework for collegewide assessment of student learning.

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Knowledge & Understanding

CCA students demonstrate broad, historically grounded knowledge of art and design practices, including nonvisual arts as well as an understanding of critical theory, philosophy, social science, history, and science.

Art & Design

  • Broad knowledge of the development (historical and contemporary) of art and design practices.
  • Insight into the role of art/design in intellectual and cultural life.

Human Cultures

  • Understanding of art forms (literary, performing, etc.) other than the visual arts and design.
  • Awareness of critical theory, philosophy, social science, and history.

Physical & Natural World

  • Awareness of science, math, and technology.
  • Knowledge of the experimental and analytical methods of the physical and biological sciences.

Practice & Applied Learning

CCA students are prepared to shape their futures by learning to collaborate and work in interdisciplinary ways towards creative, scholarly, and professional goals.


  • Students are experienced collaborators capable of working cooperatively and contributing appropriately to achieve goals.
  • Students are able to collaborate by integrating a number of perspectives.


  • Students adapt and apply skills, ideas, or methodologies gained in one situation/activity/discipline to new situations/activities/disciplines.

Preparation for Professional Practice

  • Students identify, evaluate and use sources of information relevant to making career decisions.
  • Students identify and develop career options by engaging with program faculty and available career development resources.
  • Students understand the primary professional opportunities available to graduates in their disciplines and what they need to do individually to prepare themselves to pursue those options within their own creative practice.

Intellectual Skills & Literacies

CCA students are critical thinkers, viewers, researchers, and creators who actively seek information and forge meaning from a range of resources and perspectives.

Information Literacy

  • Students recognize the need for information when considering a concept, topic, or problem.
  • Students can identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly mobilize that information for the task at hand.

Visual Literacy

  • Students can apply their knowledge of historical and contemporary art and design practices to decipher and produce visual artifacts/environments.

    Critical Thinking

  • Through the systematic collection and analysis of evidence, students thoroughly explore issues, ideas, artifacts, and events before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion.

Quantitative Reasoning

  • Students can reason and solve quantitative problems from a wide array of authentic contexts and everyday life situations.
  • Students can understand, analyze, create, and communicate about arguments supported by quantitative evidence.

Creative Thinking

  • Students combine or synthesize existing ideas, images, or expertise to express themselves in original/innovative ways.
  • Students take strategic risks in their creative practice in order to gain from the experience.


CCA students are able communicators, prepared to express themselves in a range of modes for a variety of purposes and audiences.

Written Communication

  • Students can develop and express their ideas coherently in writing.
  • Students can effectively present their ideas and express themselves in writing for a variety of purposes to both professional and academic audiences.
  • Students can read a range of texts in order to extract and construct meaning.

Oral Communication

  • Students can speak clearly and effectively for multiple purposes and audiences.
  • Students can prepare a purposeful oral presentation designed to inform, convince, or foster understanding.

Visual Communication

  • Students can develop their ideas and express themselves visually in a variety of formats/media.

Personal & Social Responsibility

CCA students understand the diversity of human perspectives, the causes and effects of disparity, and their stake in creating a sustainable future.

Civic and Intercultural Knowledge and Engagement

  • Students demonstrate an understanding of cultures and identities by exploring diverse perspectives, histories, and values.
  • Students demonstrate an understanding that their own attitudes and beliefs may differ from those of other cultures and communities.
  • Students are aware of the social and cultural impact of power and privilege.
  • Students understand the roles artists/designers can play in civic life.


  • Students demonstrate an understanding of sustainability as a global, social, economic, environmental, and practice-based concern.