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 San Francisco 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:
Fall 2020 application deadlines
- August 1 – 2020 application becomes available
- October 1 – First day to submit your FAFSA application to be considered for federal financial aid and some institutional scholarships
- November 15 – Early action application deadline for first-year applicants
- February 1 – Priority application deadline for first-year applicants for merit scholarship consideration
- March 1 – Priority application deadline for transfer applicants for merit scholarship consideration
Spring 2020 application deadlines
- October 1 – Priority application deadline for first-year and transfer applicants for merit scholarship consideration
- October 31 – Notification of undergraduate admissions decisions and scholarships begin to roll out, and financial aid award notices are mailed to qualifying admitted applicants
- November 15 – Deadline for undergraduate candidates to notify CCA of intent to enroll and submit $300 nonrefundable deposit
To apply for admission to CCA, undergraduate students must create, gather, and submit the following:
- An online application and nonrefundable application fee of $70
- Personal essay
- High school and/or university transcripts
- One letter of recommendation
- Portfolio (log in to SlideRoom)
- Proof of English proficiency (international applicants only)
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.
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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:
Undergraduate applicants can apply online using either method:
- CCA's application
- The Common Application, which can be used to apply to any of its more than 700 member colleges and universities
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).
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.
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.
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
View calendar for San Francisco
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].
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California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura
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California counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Santa Clara
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California counties: Sonoma and Napa
States: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming
California counties: Marin, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz
California county: San Francisco
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 $21,290. All undergraduates who apply by the priority deadline are considered for merit, diversity, 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 $24,000, are awarded based on academic achievement and creative ability
- Diversity scholarships are awarded to qualified applicants who bring diverse experiences, ideas, and creative work to our community
- 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
Additional financial aid resources
While the amount varies based on individual circumstances, nearly 75 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 $5,920, 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.
We’re thrilled that you’re now part of the California College of the Arts community. Before you take the next step, please locate your admissions decisions, Temporary Admissions Log in, and FAFSA award letter. You’ll need to refer to these items as you begin enrollment and other important processes. Should you need help at any point, you can view the step-by-step guide.
Key enrollment dates and steps
Over the coming weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to apply for housing in one of three residence halls, sign up for your first courses, and meet your future classmates and faculty. To hold your place in your program, you’ll need to declare your intent to enroll. You may be considering many options for your undergraduate experience, so please connect with an admissions counselor to learn more about our community and resources.
Writing course placement
Before starting their first semester, all undergraduate students will either be placed in or waived from required writing courses. Placement is based on the results of ACT or SAT test scores, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam scores, or transfer credits. These assessments help us place you in courses where you’ll have the best opportunity to develop your writing skills.
Core Studio portfolio review
If you have prior college-level studio coursework that may be equivalent to one of our Core Studio requirements (Drawing, 2D, 3D, and/or 4D), you may be considered for possible transfer credit or waiver(s). To determine your eligibility, you’ll need to submit a Core Studio portfolio that will be evaluated by a First Year Core faculty member. Please note that there’s a difference between this portfolio and the one you submitted for your initial admissions application. The Core Studio portfolio review process is targeted at specific requirements rather than a wider range of skills and abilities in visual arts and design.
Supplemental portfolio review
If you have prior college-level coursework and experience in your chosen major, you may be considered for possible transfer credit or waiver(s) toward requirements within your declared major. To determine your eligibility, you’ll need to submit a Supplemental portfolio via Vault, the college’s online archive. You can access Vault with your CCA username and password. Once a faculty member has evaluated your portfolio, they’ll make final determinations and schedule recommendations for your course registration.
Laptop and technology requirements
Digital literacy is essential to an art and design education in the 21st century. To ensure success during first-year and major coursework, we require that all incoming students own a laptop. Your laptop must meet the minimum system requirements for software used in the First Year Core curriculum. Additionally, some of our academic programs have specific requirements. If you know your intended major, please check their recommended bundle.