The Black Studies Department, the precursor to both Ethnic Studies and Diversity Studies at California College of the Arts, was founded in 1970 in the aftermath of the successful Third World student strikes at San Francisco State and UC Berkeley that established Ethnic Studies as an academic/activist discipline on those campuses.

Forty years later, the college furthered its commitment to diversity by establishing the President's Diversity Steering Group in 2009 and making the cultivation of diversity a central goal of its Five Year Strategic Plan in 2010.

CCA is committed to enhancing diversity, ensuring access to opportunities, and preparing our graduates for an increasingly complex global society.

James Irvine Foundation's Campus Diversity Initiative Grant

California College of the Arts received the James Irvine Foundation's Campus Diversity Initiative Grant, a multiyear grant (2003–6) that provided support for the college’s ongoing efforts to develop effective practices to build and sustain a diverse college community.