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Graduate applications are taken on a rolling basis and reviewed by faculty once submitted through the online form.

For general questions about the program, email

Application Requirements

Application ($70 nonrefundable fee required)
Personal essay
LinkedIn profile
College transcripts
Two letters of recommendation

The following are optional components:



Applicants must complete and submit the application online. (Note: Due to the volume of applications received, CCA is unable to return any materials; please do not submit any hard copy artworks or writings.)

Personal Essay

Applicants can have either a design or nondesign background and work experience in traditional businesses, nonprofits/NGOs, or government.

A personal essay of 500 to 1,000 words must accompany the application. The essay should be a clear statement of your work within the context that addresses in a general manner the following topics listed here (in however order you like) and why mastery level exploration is desired.

  • Your relevant design, business, or nonprofit organization experience, and how it has shaped your current educational and career goals.

  • Describe the change you'd like to make in the world as a result of the skills and experience you expect to gain in the program, or how you are already making change, or both.

  • Describe both a positive and a negative experience you've had working as part of a team. Be specific, and include any insights you gained from your experiences.

  • How will the headline and article read should you be featured on the cover of Fast Company magazine?

  • Teach us something in seven sentences.

  • What changes are you making in your life to prepare for this program?

LinkedIn Profile

Applicants to MBA programs are required to provide a LinkedIn profile instead of a traditional résumé. To share your LinkedIn profile, include your LinkedIn profile URL with your first and last name on a text doc and upload it to your online application form.

You can use your profile narrative to highlight your education and work history, including any specific challenges, responsibilities, achievements, and learning experiences you gained at each.

Don't have a LinkedIn account? Create a free LinkedIn profile »



Unofficial transcripts are used for review purposes. Applicants are required to upload their unofficial transcript as a PDF document with the online application form.

Accepted and enrolled applicants will submit the official sealed transcript of their undergraduate coursework to Graduate Admission by August 1, 2016.

Applicants who have taken graduate coursework are welcome to also send transcripts in support of their graduate application.

For international applicants, all transcripts must be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation of the original.

All admitted students who were still in the process of completing a bachelor's degree at the time of applying must send the final transcript before enrolling to verify completion of the bachelor’s degree, including official notation of date of graduation, no later than August 1, 2016.

Mail your official transcript to:

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

Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation are required from an academic or professional source. No personal recommendations please.

We use an electronic recommendation process, which ensures that we receive your recommendations in a timely fashion and it is convenient for your recommenders.

When submitting your electronic application, you can provide the email address for your recommenders. Your recommenders will receive the recommendation form electronically and then return it electronically to CCA.

Optional Components


The portfolio is optional for DMBA applicants. Those who have a background in design or the arts who wish to provide a portfolio can do so by providing the portfolio URL with the LinkedIn profile or essay. (Note: SlideRoom portfolio submissions are not permitted for the DMBA program.)

The absence of a portfolio will not reduce chances of acceptance for nondesigners.

Portfolios can effectively communicate how you identify needs, solve problems, and what processes you use. However, what is as helpful as seeing completed projects is having you describe the challenge, context, learning, and iterations of prototypes during the project. Be more specific with fewer projects.

Portfolios may be uploaded to any internet host (, your personal website, a PDF posted to a file-sharing site, etc.). Be sure to make your online portfolio publicly accessible.


Applicants may choose to post a 3-5 minute video to a site (e.g., Youtube or Vimeo) and include the video's URL in their essay. Videos can be used to supplement essays with a personal story, interview, or project highlight. The absence of video will not adversely affect your admission consideration.


Applicants may be contacted to arrange an interview with staff, faculty, or alumni of the MBA in Design Strategy program.

Added Requirements for International Applicants

English proficiency exams must be completed prior to submitting the application. Official English proficiency exam scores (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE) must be sent to the college directly from the testing agency.

International applications will be considered incomplete, and not reviewed until proof of English proficiency has been received.

Detailed requirements for international applicants.

Note: GRE or GMAT scores are not required; however, a design portfolio is required for the MFA/MBA dual-degree option.