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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.

Introduction

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 appointment using our virtual calendar for Oakland and 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 at apply.cca.edu
  • 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

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:

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.

Requirements checklist continued

Personal essay

Every applicant must submit a personal essay of at least 250 words when completing their online application. Think of the essay as an opportunity to tell us more about yourself, your grades, portfolio, and goals. You’re encouraged to talk about what influenced you to pursue art, architecture, design, or writing. Your essay should address how you envision yourself contributing to the CCA community, including how you’ll exemplify the college’s core values:

  • Cultivate intellectual curiosity, risk-taking, collaboration, innovation, compassion, and integrity
  • Foster social justice and community engagement
  • Promote diversity on our campuses
  • Advocate sustainability and environmental responsibility

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 in the link below.
  • 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 in the link below.

Letter of recommendation

You must submit one academic letter of recommendation by either a teacher or school-based counselor. While completing your online application, you’ll be asked to provide the name and email address of your recommender. They’ll receive an automated email from CCA providing them with instructions for uploading their letter.

You may include an additional 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.

Portfolio

You must submit a portfolio through SlideRoom. Your portfolio should represent your best work (single medium or a range of mediums) and reflect your motivations, inspirations, and willingness to challenge yourself. First-year applicants are encouraged to submit 10–15 images, while transfer and second-degree applicants are required to submit 15–20 images.

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

You may also submit a “maker" portfolio, one that highlights a creative project you made, such as a bike you redesigned or clothes you found and restructured.

BA in Writing and Literature and BA in Visual Studies applicants

Follow the portfolio guidelines above or submit a writing portfolio of 5–10 pages (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, drama, lyrics, or a graphic novel).

Your writing sample may be a class assignment that expresses your creative writing potential.

Visual Studies applicants may submit an example of a written history assignment.

Bachelor of Architecture applicants

While not required, if you choose to submit architectural images, your work should reflect design, not 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. Please note, however, that applications submitted after the priority deadlines are excluded from merit and diversity scholarship consideration. Need-based scholarships will continue to be awarded to qualified applicants who submit a late application.

Nov 15

Undergraduate fall priority deadline: Early action

Deadline to submit application for an early response from CCA.

Feb 01

Undergraduate fall priority deadline: First-year scholarships

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

Mar 01

Undergraduate fall priority deadline: Transfer scholarships

Transfer applicants must submit application by this deadline to be considered for all undergraduate institutional scholarships, including diversity, merit, named, and all-college honors.

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.

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.

Contact

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.

Claudia Molina's Portrait

Claudia Molina

Admissions Counselor

+1 415-853-3225 (call, text)

[email protected]
Ana Scharfenaker, Admissions Counselor, CCA Admissions

Ana Scharfenaker

Admissions Counselor

+1 415-301-7081 (call, text)

[email protected]
Emmitt Smith, Admissions Counselor, CCA Admissions

Emmitt Smith

Admissions Counselor

+1 415-914-7721 (call, text)

[email protected]
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James Yu

Admissions Counselor

+1 415-914-9244 (call, text)

[email protected]
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Columbia Shafer

Senior Admissions Counselor

+1 415-802-1036 (call, text)

[email protected]

Schedule an appointment with a counselor

View calendar for San Francisco

Scholarships

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 $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 $20,000, 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

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

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

Loans

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

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

Glass blowing student laughing in the Hot Shop during class

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.

View the 10 steps admitted students need to take next to enroll for fall 2019.

Writing course placement

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.

Dec 01

Tuition, billing worksheet, and transcripts deadline

Make your first fall tuition payment, complete your billing worksheet, and submit a hard copy of your official transcripts and, if applicable, test scores.

Dec 01
Dec 15

Online registration period for courses

Check your CCA email account for your program’s online registration form for fall courses.

Dec 12

Housing application deadline

Apply by this date to be considered for spring priority housing in Clifton Hall, Avenue Apartments, and Irwin Hall.

Jan 14

Residence hall move-in day: Spring semester

Jan 15

International student orientation

Jan 16
Jan 17

First-year, second-degree, and transfer student orientation

Jan 22

Spring classes begin

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