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Priority submission deadline: January 10, 2016

For general questions about the program, email

Application Requirements

  • Application ($70 nonrefundable fee required)
  • Personal essay
  • Writing Portfolio ($5 SlideRoom nonrefundable fee required)
  • Résumé / Curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • College transcripts
  • Interview


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

A personal essay of 500 to 1,000 words must accompany the application. The essay should be a clear statement of how the program fits into your writing and career goals and why mastery level exploration is desired.

It is best to describe what has influenced your desire to write about visual culture, mentioning the theories and texts that are of particular interest to you.

Writing Portfolio

Applicants must submit their portfolio online by registering for a SlideRoom account specifically for CCA applicants. Once an account is registered, instructions on how to create the portfolio will be provided.

The portfolio must consist of two writing samples (5,000 words maximum per sample) demonstrating your interest in the field of visual and critical studies and your creative potential.

Please keep in mind that once your portfolio has been uploaded and submitted to the college no further changes can be made. For technical issues with your portfolio, please email for assistance.

Résumé / Curriculum Vitae

Please outline your educational and professional background and relevant experiences and activities, including community work.

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, ensuring we receive your recommendations in a timely fashion and that 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.


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


Applicants will be contacted to arrange an interview with the graduate program manager or a faculty member.

Dual-Degree Opportunities

Applicants who wish to apply for the dual-degree option will have the ability to submit a single application. However, applicants must submit portfolios (visual/written) that meet requirements for each program.

You will find the various dual-degree options under the Visual and Critical Studies category under the enrollment plans section of the electronic application.

Be sure to first select Visual and Critical Studies for your initial graduate program in order to choose the a dual-degree option under the discipline area.

Added Requirements: 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.