Graduate Programs & Policies

CCA offers a Master of Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD); Master of Architecture (MArch); Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Design, Fine Arts, or Writing; Master of Arts (MA) in Visual and Critical Studies or Curatorial Practice; and a Master of Business Administration (MBA in Design Strategy).


The MFA in Comics, the MFA in Film, the MFA in Fine Arts and the MFA in Writing use a Pass/Fail (P/F) grading scheme.

The Master of Architecture, MA in Curatorial Practice, Master of Design in Interaction Design, MFA in Design, MBA Programs, and the MA in Visual & Critical Studies use an A-F grading scheme based on a 4.3 scale.

Individual courses are graded based on the program in which they are offered. If a course is cross-listed with another program, the grading scheme is based on the primary section.

For example, if a student enrolled in a "graded" program takes a course in a Pass/Fail program, the student receives a "P' or "F" on their transcript for that course. A "P" neither has a grade point attached nor will it affect the GPA. An "F" has zero points attached and will affect the GPA.

Alternatively, if a student enrolled in a Pass/Fail program takes a course in a graded program, the instructor assigns them a grade, and the Registrar will convert the grade to a "P" or "F". A letter grade of "C" or higher is converted to a "Pass" and a grade of "C-" or lower is converted to a "Fail".

In all graduate coursework a minimum grade of "C" is required. A grade lower than "C" will require a student to repeat the course. Though a grade of "C" is required in individual courses, all graduate students must maintain a GPA of 2.66 ("B-") or higher to remain in good academic standing. For details, please see Academic Suspension, Probation and Dismissal for Graduate Students section below.

In addition to the above grading scheme, Master of Architecture students must earn a minimum grade of "C+" in the following studio requirements; Studios 1-3, Advanced Studio, Integrated Building Design, Thesis Studio, Research Seminar and Research Lab. A grade of "C" or lower will require a student to repeat the course. Additionally, MFA in Fine Arts and MFA in Writing students who are pursuing a dual degree with the MA in Visual & Critical Studies program receive letter grades for their Visual & Critical Studies courses.

Please review additional information on Grade Appeals »

Academic Progress for Graduate Students

Satisfactory academic progress toward a graduate degree consists of maintaining both a minimum term (semester) and cumulative GPA of 2.66 (with the exception of Comics, Fine Arts and Writing). If classes are taken for degree credit, summer session will be considered a regular term of study for most purposes.

Academic Suspension for Graduate Students

A graduate student may be suspended for academic reasons with conditions set by the program chair for their re-admittance. For example, if a student is showing progress and development with the concepts and skills of their discipline, but is lacking proficiency in a particular area, the program chair may suspend the student and recommend an interim plan in preparation for potential reentry to the program.

Academic Probation for Graduate Students

Any graduate student in a "P/F" program will be placed on academic probation and is subject to dismissal if they receive a grade of "F" in one or multiple courses per term.

Any graduate student in a "letter graded" program whose term or cumulative GPA drops below 2.66 ("B-") will be placed on academic probation and is subject to dismissal.

Academic Dismissal: Grad Students

Due to the nature, seriousness, and length of graduate study, a graduate student who is dismissed for academic reasons can not petition to be reinstated to their program.

Dismissal from a graduate program is final.

Graduate Leave of Absence or College Withdrawal

If a graduate student needs to take a voluntary leave of absence or is withdrawing from the college please use the Leave of Absence / Withdrawal form. (Note: this is a modifiable form, so be sure to download the actual PDF to preserve the functionality.)

A graduate student taking an approved leave of absence will need to meet with and receive the approval from the Chair of their Program before returning to CCA.


Students who are unable to complete the work for a course due to a family emergency, personal illness or other extenuating circumstances may request an extension.

At least two-thirds of the semester's course work must be completed and the student must be passing the course to be eligible for an extension. Extensions are not granted to students on academic probation.

If a graduating student receives an extension for a course taken in that student's last term at CCA, that student's degree will not be posted until the final passing grade has been received by the Registrar from the instructor.

Students who have received an extension must complete the outstanding course work and have a grade turned in within 5 weeks of the end of the term; instructors may set earlier deadlines at their discretion. If the student completes the work by the deadline, the instructor will assign a final grade for the course.

Otherwise, the instructor or the Student Records Office will assign a grade of F for the course. The student's schedule will be adjusted if they receive an F for the class and it is a prerequisite for another course they are enrolled in, Notification of any schedule changes will be sent to the student's CCA email account.

Students on financial aid who do not complete all of their course work in a given semester may be required to complete that course work the following semester in order to maintain their financial aid eligibility. Completion of this work is in addition to any other enrollment and eligibility requirements.

Transfer Credit Policy

CCA has developed an integral multiyear graduate program. However, under special circumstances transfer credit is given to students who have done graduate-level courses at colleges and universities that have been accredited by their regional associations.

Transfer credit may also be considered for courses taken at institutions that lack regional accreditation, but have been accredited by specialized agencies or at institutions outside the United States that have been chartered or authorized by their national governments.

All requests for transfer credit must be made during the admissions process, in advance of matriculation.

In general, transfer credit is only considered for courses that satisfy CCA graduation requirements, have been completed with a grade of B or better, and have been completed within the past 10 years.

Graduate students may obtain transfer credit for a maximum of 6 units.

Portfolio reviews are required to determine the credit that will be given for studio courses. All transcripts that reflect studio courses completed at other institutions must be accompanied by samples of work in order to be considered for credit toward any CCA studio requirements, including studio electives.

Students must have their program chair's approval for all transfer credits.


Internships may be taken for elective credit in all graduate programs except for Curatorial Practice.

Please consult with your program's office for details.

Graduate Assistantships

Near the end of each semester the graduate programs will notify students of teaching assistantship positions available for the following term. Students must apply to the graduate programs for these positions.

Teaching assistantships are based on merit and are awarded by the graduate chairs in conjunction with graduate faculty.

Dual Degree

The Visual & Critical Studies program offers the dual degree option as a unique opportunity for highly motivated students to pursue an MA in VCS and, simultaneously, a graduate degree in Fine Arts, Design, Writing, or Curatorial Practice. We believe that intellectual curiosity, academic rigor, and creative drive enrich and invigorate one another; dovetailing the curricula of two programs into three years of coursework that fully integrates two separate degree programs.

Applicants seeking to enter CCA as dual-degree students must apply to and be accepted by both the VCS program and one of the partner programs. Graduate students enrolled in a participating program may also apply to pursue the MA in Visual and Critical Studies. Interested students must apply to the VCS program during their first semester at CCA. They must enroll in one of the VCS core courses offered in the spring semester of the first year. Conversion to dual-degree status is contingent upon successful completion of one of the VSC cores classes.

Fine Art students pursuing the dual degree will only be awarded a studio for the four contiguous semesters of MFA study. It is likely that shared studio space will be available to a Fine Arts dual-degree student in the fifth and sixth semesters.

CCA is now offering enrollment in its new three-year dual-degree MFA/MBA in Design Strategy program. The curriculum blends courses from the Graduate Program in Design and MBA in Design Strategy programs and offers completion of degrees in each.

Students complete all critical courses in each program (with no electives) in order to satisfy the requirements of both specific degrees. Each semester equals 15 units combining studio and academic courses.

Because the Graduate Program in Design and the MBA in Design Strategy program each shares compatible perspectives on design and business, including some overlap in course material, select students are now able to complete both degrees without missing critical learning or experience.

Dual-degree MFA/MBA in Design Strategy program students are required to reside locally, at least for the first two years of the program. Students create two theses: one at the completion of the second year; and one at the completion of the third year. This latter thesis can build on the previous one or be entirely new.

For admission consideration in the dual-degree program, prospective students will submit one application but must complete all related admissions requirements for each. Only one application fee per dual-degree applicant.

Annual enrollment is limited to just two or three students, and potential enrollees must be accepted to each graduate program to be considered.


Thesis Format & Deposit Instructions

General physical format

The thesis must be in a format that fits on library shelves, such as a bound volume, upright standing container, or folder.

Dimensions: maximum= 12" tall, 11" wide, 3" thick

Media: should be composed of archivally stable material, at least part of which must be readable without the use of a sight-assisting device; if the thesis is digital or audiovisual, it must be accompanied by representative samples in printed form. (Digital or audiovisual material that is no longer readable will not necessarily be retained by the library in future years.)

Surrogates: theses that do not meet the above format requirements should be deposited in the form of a surrogate that represents the thesis project, such as printouts, photographs, textual descriptions.

Exceptions: the library will accept oversized theses or those not otherwise fitting the above requirements when faculty and the library director agree the thesis is an outstanding work or example to be retained for historical and research purposes.

Identifying Content
Each thesis must be accompanied by one or more sheets of paper that include the following information (presented legibly, using a permanent-ink pen):

  • a title for the thesis, or specified as "Untitled thesis"
  • student's official name on record with the college
  • program or department to which the thesis is submitted
  • degree for which the thesis is being submitted
  • names of faculty charged with approving thesis
  • date of thesis approval

Along with

  • an abstract that is no longer than a single side of paper
  • alternative name under which work is created, if applicable (e.g., El Greco, Dave Eggers)
  • year degree is being awarded (if different from approval date)
  • year thesis was created (if different from approval date)

The granting department should deposit the thesis in the Simpson Library no later than three months after the degree is awarded.

Theses from the last five academic years are housed in Simpson Library; theses from previous years are housed in Meyer Library.

Schedule of Classes

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All college facilities—shops, labs, spray booth, and the like—are available to all currently registered students who qualify for use.

Please see the appropriate studio manager in each area to gain access.