Undergraduate Admissions

CCA is where you’ll learn to shape culture and society through the critical study of art, architecture, design, and writing. Your experiences here will transform you and your creative practice, and our collaborative community is here to help every step of the way.


Join a top-ranking art and design college

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Pursue purposeful work

From hands-on studio work to a supportive critique culture, undergraduate programs at CCA provide you with the inspiration and structure you need to pursue a career in the arts. Learn in state-of-the-art facilities alongside renowned faculty as you develop and fine-tune your creative potential. You’ll also have access to a community of artists, makers, and entrepreneurs, thanks to CCA’s central location in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For questions about each undergraduate program and its application process, reach out anytime to our admissions counselors via email or phone; you can also set up an in-person, Skype, or phone appointment using our virtual calendar for campus visits. As you prepare to apply, you’ll want to become familiar with the key dates below, as well as our general undergraduate admissions timeline.

Spring 2025 application deadlines

  • August 1, 2024Application becomes available
  • October 1, 2024 – Priority application deadline for first-year and transfer applicants for merit scholarship consideration

Fall 2025 application deadlines

  • August 1, 2024Application becomes available
  • October 1, 2024Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) becomes available for the 2025-2026 year
  • November 15, 2024 – Early action application deadline for first-year applicants
  • February 1, 2025 – Priority application deadline for first-year applicants for merit scholarship consideration
  • March 1, 2025 – Priority application deadline for transfer applicants for merit scholarship consideration
  • March 2, 2025 – Deadline for California residents to submit FAFSA for CalGrant

How to Apply

Starting the undergraduate admissions process

Application requirements

To apply for admission to CCA, undergraduate students must create, gather, and submit the following:

CCA does not require SAT or ACT as part of the application review process.

If you have questions about the application process, please email us at [email protected].

Application fee and application fee waiver

A $70 nonrefundable application fee is required as part of the application process. Applicants can submit payment for the application fee online. When submitting payment, they will need to reference their student ID number, which can be found in the application receipt confirmation email.

Application fee waivers are accepted for domestic students with limited financial resources who meet any of the NACAC application fee waiver guidelines. Students who meet one of these criteria should request the fee waiver on their CCA or Common App application form, and are not required to submit the NACAC fee waiver form.

NACAC application fee waiver guidelines

  • Student has received or is eligible to receive an ACT or SAT testing fee waiver
  • Student is enrolled in or eligible to participate in the Federal Free or Reduced Price Lunch program (FRPL)
  • Student’s annual family income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service
  • Student is enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., TRIO programs, such as Upward Bound)
  • Student’s family receives public assistance
  • Student lives in federally subsidized public housing, a foster home, or is homeless
  • Student is a ward of the state or an orphan
  • Other requests from a high school principal, high school counselor, financial aid officer, community advisor/leader, or other official who can attest to the student's circumstances

Get information in other languages

To simplify enrollment for students whose primary language is not English, we have translations of CCA’s admissions process and requirements in Korean, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish.

Requirements vary based on enrollment type

Are you an international or transfer student? Are you undocumented or a veteran? Based on your enrollment type, your application requirements and deadlines will differ. Some applicants will need to submit additional materials, such as language test scores. Select your status below to learn more:

Requirements checklist

Online application

Undergraduate applicants can apply online using either method:

CCA’s application will ask you to identify yourself as a first-year applicant (no post-secondary coursework completed after high school graduation), a transfer applicant (some post-secondary coursework without a bachelor's degree awarded), or a second-degree applicant (recipient of a bachelor's degree or equivalent).

Transfer and second-degree applicants are encouraged to work with an admissions counselor to plan for the greatest number of transferable units and advanced placement credits.

Personal essay

At CCA we understand that art has the ability to live outside the studio, impacting others by sharing new perspectives and asking important questions. Most often these perspectives and questions are the result of the artist’s own lived experiences, identities, passions, and inspirations. In 500 words or less, please reflect on how your unique perspective influences the art you make/want to make while at CCA.

High school and/or university transcripts

Every applicant must submit their transcripts for all institutions where they were enrolled, regardless of degree completion. All transcripts must be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation of the original.

First-year applicants must submit high school transcripts that show proof of graduation or a General Education Diploma (GED).

Home-schooled applicants must submit detailed syllabi of courses (equivalent to grades 10–12) and detailed information about curricula you’re pursuing through any public or private agency, including community college transcripts.

If you’ve received college credit while in high school from programs such as Running Start, dual enrollment, or summer pre-college, please submit these official college transcripts.

Mailing address for official transcripts
California College of the Arts
Office of Admissions
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

Please note that it’s your responsibility to send us your official transcripts as soon as they’re available. While CCA accepts unofficial transcripts to process applications, your offer of admission and degree audit are subject to change based on receipt of your official transcripts.

Information for transfer or second-degree applicants

Transfer and second-degree applicants must submit all college transcripts. Transfer credit will be evaluated upon admission. If you plan to transfer academic credits earned at a non-U.S. institution, you must submit a translated evaluation of your college transcripts.

  • Get details about our transfer partnerships and learn about recommended evaluation agencies, existing transfer agreements, and our unique partnership with City College of San Francisco.
  • Applicants with 30 or more transferable units aren’t required to provide a high school transcript. Learn more about transfer credit and the courses we suggest taking if you’re planning to transfer to CCA in the future.

Letter of recommendation

You must submit one academic letter of recommendation from either a teacher or a school-based counselor as part of your application. Letters should be sent directly to CCA in one of two ways:

  1. If you’re applying through Common App, you may request letters of recommendation through Common App as you complete your online application. You’ll be asked to provide the name and email address of the individual who will be writing your recommendation letter. They’ll receive an automated email from Common App that provides instructions for uploading their letter. Students who submit their letters through Common App don’t need to fill out the “References” section in Slideroom.
  2. If you’re applying through CCA’s application, please request your letter of recommendation through Slideroom. In the “References” section, click “add reference” and enter the contact information for the individual who will be writing your recommendation letter. They’ll receive an automated email from Slideroom that provides instructions for uploading their letter.

In addition to the required academic letter, you may include a letter of recommendation that references your academic work, artistic accomplishments, job, or volunteer experience. We welcome letters from an art teacher, employer, clergy member, volunteer coordinator, and anyone outside of your family. These can be submitted using the same submission methods outlined above.


All applicants must submit a portfolio through SlideRoom. Your portfolio should represent your best work and reflect your motivations, inspirations, and willingness to challenge yourself. First-year applicants are required to submit 10–15 images, while transfer and second-degree applicants must submit 15–20 images.

We evaluate all portfolios for admission to the college by the same criteria; reviewers are determining admission to the college as a whole, not per program. Portfolios do not need to show work in a single discipline, or in the discipline you are interested in pursuing, and we encourage you to explore a variety of ways of making. For more advice on submitting visual work, learn how to put your best portfolio forward.

Stand-alone film, video, and animation samples should not exceed five minutes total; multiple clips are acceptable provided their cumulative length is five minutes or less.

We encourage you to include creative written work in your portfolio, especially if you are interested in the BA in Writing and Literature or BA in History of Art and Visual Culture programs. Written pieces, whether short works or excerpts of longer pieces, should not exceed one page, or 500 words. You may submit 10-15 short pieces of written work or a combination of written work and visual art pieces, not to exceed 15 items in total.

Writing samples may be from a class assignment or they can be personal pieces that demonstrate your creative writing potential. These can be in any genre, such as poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, drama scripts, song lyrics, graphic novels, etc. Students interested in the History of Art and Visual Culture program may submit an example of a written history or art history assignment.

Because the application portfolio requirement is not major-specific, students interested in the Bachelor of Architecture program may include architecture work in their portfolio, but are not required to. If you choose to include architectural work, reviewers will be looking at the concepts driving your design, along with your technical and drafting skills.

Key Dates

Find important admissions deadlines below

Plan ahead for your application

CCA practices rolling admissions, which means you can submit an application for review after the priority deadlines. Applications submitted after the priority deadlines may still be considered for merit scholarships. Need-based scholarships will continue to be awarded to qualified applicants who submit a late application.

Nov 15

First-year early action deadline

First-year applicants should submit an application by this deadline to guarantee merit scholarship consideration.

Feb 01

Undergraduate fall priority deadline: First-year scholarships

First-year applicants must submit an application by this deadline to be considered for all undergraduate institutional scholarships, including the Visionary Practice Scholarship, merit, named, and all-college honors.

Mar 01

Transfer fall priority deadline

Transfer applicants should submit an application by this deadline to guarantee merit scholarship consideration.

Oct 01

Undergraduate spring priority deadline for first-year and transfer students

Deadline for first-year and transfer applicants to submit applications for spring semester to guarantee consideration for institutional scholarships.

When to apply for federal loans

One of the many ways to fund your education is to apply for a federal loan. You can submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA, every year you enroll in college. FAFSA can also determine if you qualify for on-campus federal work-study jobs. Please note that international students do not qualify for federal loan money, but they do have other options for funding.


Admissions counselors are here to help

Navigating the college application process

We’re here to answer your questions and support you every step of the way, whether you’re in the early stages of applying to art school or have a specific question about requirements. You can reach us by email or phone.

Schedule an appointment with a counselor

Contact your regional counselor

If your region isn’t listed, please email [email protected] to be connected with your counselor. International students should email [email protected] and transfer students should email [email protected].

States: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island

California counties: Butte, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Orange, Placer, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus, and Ventura

States: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia

California counties: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lassen, Madera, Modoc, Mono, Plumas, Sierra, Siskiyou, Trinity, Tulare, and Tuolumne

States: Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin

California counties: Nevada, San Benito, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sonoma, Sutter, and Tehama

States: New Jersey and New York

States: Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming

California counties: Del Norte, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Yolo, and Yuba

interior of CCA main building on San Francisco campus

CCA Admissions

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

[email protected]


Fund your academic journey

CCA supports talented undergraduates

We’re committed to helping you make the best use of all available financial aid resources. The average amount of combined scholarships and grants a CCA undergraduate receives is $29,175. All undergraduates who apply by the priority deadline are considered for merit, Visionary Practice, need-based, and CCA scholarships. We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding scholarships or additional financial aid resources.

Recognizing academic merit and financial need

We provide five types of institutional scholarships you may be eligible for:

  • Merit scholarships, which can range up to $29,000, are awarded based on academic achievement and creative ability
  • The Visionary Practice Scholarship is awarded to students who have a perspective, a point of view, and are making a significant impact through their art, work, and life experiences.
  • Need-based scholarships, based on academic achievement, are awarded to those with demonstrated financial need
  • Named and emeritus scholarships, which include some awards exclusively for students working in particular disciplines, are based on demonstrated financial need and academic achievement
  • All-college honors are merit prizes awarded each fall semester to select students with exceptional portfolio submissions
Students learning about various career opportunities.

Additional financial aid resources

While the amount varies based on individual circumstances, nearly 84 percent of students receive some form of financial aid each year. Take a look at our list of additional resources, including grants, loans, and work-study, for funding your education.


Grants are the most beneficial form of financial aid because they don’t have to be repaid. There are three types of grants you may be eligible for:

  • Federal Pell Grants, which can range up to $7,395, are awarded based on financial need and enrollment status
  • Cal Grants, solely for California residents, are awarded based on your cumulative GPA and financial need
  • U.S. Department of Education grants include discretionary grants, formula grants, and additional student loan or grant opportunities


Federal loans are one of the many ways to fund your education and potentially qualify for on-campus work-study. To apply, you’ll need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Our Financial Aid office can provide you with loan counseling to help you create an attainable repayment plan once you’re no longer enrolled in college. Please note that federal educational loan programs are only available for U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens.

You can also apply for a private educational loan. Because these can be more expensive, we recommend maximizing any eligibility under FAFSA first. You can find a private loan lender that’s the best fit for you with the right student loan guidance.


Work-study opportunities are a great way to earn money while attending college. Based on financial need, there are two different types:

  • Federal work-study, which is based on your FAFSA submission, awards you priority status for securing a part-time job on campus
  • Institutional work-study is awarded to undergraduates who may or may not have financial need and don’t qualify for federal work-study

In addition to work-study programs, undergraduate students can get professional experience and network with professionals through on- and off-campus employment.

Admitted Students

Take the next step toward enrollment

A smiling student in a baseball hat and headphones around their neck.

We’re thrilled that you have begun your journey to join the California College of the Arts community. You’re probably wondering what comes next. You should start by reviewing our Undergraduate Admitted Student page for everything you need to know. You’ll find information on how to review your financial aid, view any transfer credits, schedule your Admitted Student Appointment to go over your offer with an admissions counselor, and explore your campus housing options.

If you already know you’d like to accept your offer and attend CCA, awesome! You can submit your enrollment deposit now and get started with the next steps.

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