Explore what’s possible as a CCA student

Researching art and design schools on the West Coast? The following primer for potential students can help you picture yourself learning, making, and thriving in CCA’s community of creative-citizens, in a region of international prestige.

Why CCA?

Making waves since 1907

A student tapes off the edge of a screen in the printmedia studio.

More than 100 years ago, CCA was founded with the radical goal of merging theory and practice to engage communities through the power of art and craft. That’s still our jam today.

Even though things look a little different on campus than they did in 1907 (hello, 3D printers), our approach to teaching art, design, architecture, and writing balances traditional skill-building with future-focused experimentation.

It’s your turn to make a transformation

Select your pathway

To best imagine your future at CCA, first-year students should continue on this page to learn about the undergraduate experience, and transfer, graduate, or international students should select from the options below.

What We Do

Make art that matters

CCA students learn how to use their skills to actively shape the future and make work that makes a difference. This distinctive mission of ours is achieved through supportive hands-on learning and a radically creative spirit that can only be found in the Bay Area.

Here are stories of undergraduate students, alumni, and faculty learning to look at the world in a new way and find solutions to modern-day problems, no matter their discipline.

Small classes and mentorship from diverse faculty

Our professors are accomplished educators, scholars, professional practitioners, and researchers. Just like our student population, diversity of faculty is important to us: 33% of tenure-track and tenured faculty identify as people of color, and 47% of tenure track and tenured faculty are female-identifying (49% overall).

Portfolio Prep

A thoughtful portfolio can expand your opportunities

An industrial design student crafts a shoe out of wood

As part of your CCA admissions application, you’ll submit a compilation of work through our online submission portal. This portfolio for first-year students should include 10 to 15 examples of your best and most recent work. You can share images, videos, audio, and PDFs.

Your portfolio helps us make admissions and scholarship decisions. It can feel vulnerable to share your work, especially in this capacity, but don’t be nervous! We encourage all forms of creativity and are excited by unique modes of personal expression, so don’t be shy in showing us you. We’re looking for potential—not perfection.


We’re here to help as you explore what’s next

Connect one-on-one with a counselor

Text, call, email, or schedule an appointment with a member of our Admissions team! We can answer questions, provide feedback on your portfolio, arrange a campus visit, and help with pretty much anything else that comes up along your journey to freshman year.

interior of CCA main building on San Francisco campus

CCA Admissions

+1 415-610-7004 (call, text)

[email protected]

Virtual Events

Learn with us before you even apply

A portfolio review at National Portfolio Day 2019.

At CCA, you’ll connect with a range of visiting artists, scholars, entrepreneurs, and others thanks to our access to the Bay Area’s influential art and design communities and business industries. Here are two ways to follow along now and learn more about our undergraduate programs.

Undergraduate Admissions Events
Register now for these valuable informational events for prospective undergraduate students, including Q+As with program chairs, current students, alumni, and faculty; discussions with admissions and financial aid counselors; and guided virtual tours of our campuses.

CCA Events Calendar
Many upcoming events in our virtual spaces are free and open to the public, including weekly chats with faculty from various divisions.


Open house for prospective students and their families

Parent Session 1: Saturday, November 14, 2 - 3 pm

So your kid wants to go to art school: What YOU need to know
You’ll be surprised what you can do with a degree in art or design! In this session, find out how a college of art and design can benefit your student’s career in the long-term and how what we do differs from your average art program at a state school. We’ll talk about why this is worth it, what our alumni have done with their degrees, and what kinds of careers are possible with the connections they make at CCA. We’ll be joined by CCA’s Office of Career Development.
Register for this event

Parent Session 2: Saturday, November 21, 2 - 3 pm

So your kid wants to go to art school: How to make it happen
This session is all about how to support your student through the process of applying to art school. We’ll talk about financial aid options, cost of attendance and return on investment, application requirements, and how to help your student put their best portfolio forward. CCA’s Office of Financial Aid will be joining us to answer your questions.
Register for this event

Student Session 1: Saturday, November 14, 2 - 3 pm

CCA: Your art will happen here
As a first-year student at CCA, you’ll take courses in the drawing studio, the woodshop, the hybrid lab, the printmaking studio—the list of new mediums you’ll get to try is endless! But don’t get overwhelmed; you’ll have fantastic faculty to mentor you through the first-year program at CCA. Come meet two of those faculty members and see recent student work from first-year studio classes.
Register for this event

Student Session 2: Saturday, November 21, 2 - 3 pm

San Francisco: Your life will happen here
Sure, the classroom is an important part of college, but what happens outside the classroom is also a big part of your life as a college student. San Francisco is our extended campus, and in this session, we’ll help you explore life as a CCA student, the residence halls, student organizations on campus, and the creative community and storied art scene of the Bay Area that you’ll become a part of.
Register for this event

More to Explore

Learn about life as a CCA undergraduate student

Learn how and when to apply

Find your creative community at CCA

Request more info