Catalog Policies

Admissions Policies

Admission to the Institute

California Institute of the Arts is committed to the principle of equal opportunity. The Institute does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, veteran status, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, or other characteristics or classifications protected by the law in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, employment policies, scholarships and loan programs, and other Institute administered programs and activities, but may favor U.S. citizens or residents in admission and financial aid.

Inquiries concerning CalArts’ equal opportunity policies, compliance with applicable laws, statutes and regulations (such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973), and complaint procedures should be directed to the Dean of Students, Academic Administration Building, Room A207, 661 253-7891. To the extent that such inquiries and complaints pertain to employment-related matters, they should be sent to the Director of Human Resources, Academic Administration Building, Room F201A, 661 253-7837.
The decision to admit students for degrees and certificates is primarily the responsibility of the school faculties and the Office of Admissions acting through procedures established by the faculty, deans and administration, which are consistent with established Institute policies. These procedures place strong emphasis upon the student’s potential to benefit from admission to one of the Institute’s schools as demonstrated by portfolio, audition and other evidence of achievement and creative ability. Application procedures and portfolio and audition requirements are described on the CalArts website and in other official publications.
Note: International applicants must meet special standards described in this policy and in the Admissions Bulletin. The Admissions Committee may choose to conditionally accept students whose ability to maintain satisfactory progress in our Critical Studies curriculum is in question. Conditionally accepted students will be required to meet with the Institute Academic Advisor twice a year prior to class-sign up. The Institute Academic Advisor will develop an ongoing plan individual to the student’s needs which may include tutoring, counseling, or special workshops.

Admission Prerequisite

Undergraduate applicants to the Institute must provide a secondary (high) school transcript from a regionally accredited high school or must be working toward graduation or its equivalent at the time of application. Applicants will also be considered for admission on the basis of testing rather than secondary school graduation under the following circumstances:

  1. Upon presentation of an official General Education Development Exam (GED) report with a total score of at least 300 with no individual score below 55; or
  2. Upon presentation of a transcript from a regionally accredited college or university verifying at least 24 semester units of transferable college-level course work. The transfer credit must be in academic courses suitable for transfer toward Critical Studies or of a critical or analytic nature based in the student’s métier.

Applicants to MFA and MA programs must have earned an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Applicants to the DMA program must have a Master’s degree or equivalent in a relevant field from a regionally accredited college or university, or a Master’s degree in another field with skills and knowledge demonstrably commensurate with a Master’s degree in music.

International Students: Credentials, diplomas and certificates of secondary school and college-level work must be presented in official English translation, with notations as to the numbers of hours attended per week and the total of weeks completed.

High School or Secondary School transcripts verifying graduation, transcripts from all colleges or universities previously attended, and college or university transcripts verifying previous degrees must be received no later than the end of the student’s first semester of attendance. Students with transcripts outstanding at the end of the first semester of attendance will not be eligible to enroll for subsequent semesters.

Application Fee

In accord with policies approved by the Board of Trustees and the President, a non-refundable application fee is charged. The amount is set annually and is subject to review by the President.

The Director of Admissions may consider exception for payment of the application fee under special conditions:

  1. When a guidance counselor or financial aid officer at the applicant’s current school writes a letter on behalf of the applicant providing financial hardship information;
  2. When a College Board fee waiver is submitted;
  3. When the applicant is a spouse or child of a CalArts faculty or staff member;
  4. When the applicant is a former CalArts student;
  5. When the applicant has already been accepted and received a deferment of enrollment to the next year, or when the applicant has been placed on an official waiting list and reapplies for the next year.

All exceptions must be in writing. Any applicant who failed to complete the application process, or who was rejected for any academic year, must reapply and pay the non-refundable fee.

Admission Deposit

All students admitted to the Institute are required to submit an enrollment deposit. Deposit deadlines are indicated in the student’s offer of admission. This deposit assures the student of a place in school and is applied toward their tuition account when the student registers. The deposit is non-refundable, even if the student does not register. The amount of the deposit is set annually by the President. An additional housing deposit is required for students requesting on-campus housing.

Provisional admission may be granted when:

  • The dean and faculty have reservations about a student's preparedness to meet the artistic standards of admission established by the Schools; but the student is seen by them to have the potential which merits an opportunity to develop.
  • A student has not completely fulfilled Institute requirements for admission, such as providing transcripts to substantiate high school or previous college work or such as obtaining an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score.

Provisional Admissions

Provisional admission may be granted when:

  • The dean and faculty have reservations about a student's preparedness to meet the artistic standards of admission established by the Schools; but the student is seen by them to have the potential which merits an opportunity to develop.
  • A student has not completely fulfilled Institute requirements for admission, such as providing transcripts to substantiate high school or previous college work or such as obtaining an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score. 

Whenever provisional admission is granted

The student will receive written notification that admission is provisional, the reasons for that status, what is required to gain admission to regular good standing, the time allowed to fulfill those requirements, and the consequences of not meeting. them.

When provisional admission relates to an artistic/academic decision made within one of the Schools

  • BFA students must complete the requirements for termination of the provisional status within the first two semesters of residence; MFA students must comply within the first semester of residence.
  • A regular review of the student's work will be held within the BFA student's second semester of residence or the MFA student's first semester of residence. The review will be conducted by the mentor with a regular review committee. A decision shall be made either to terminate the provisional status and grant regular enrollment status, or to terminate the student's enrollment at CalArts. 
  • A written report of the decision of the review committee will be prepared and sent to the student, the Registrar, the Director of Financial Aid, and the Dean no later than one week before the last class day of the designated semester in residence.

When the provisional status relates to transcripts or administrative requirements:

  • Both BFA and MFA students will be given one semester to fulfill requirements for termination of the provisional status.
  • At the end of the first semester of residence, the Registrar will review the student's status and records. If the requirements to achieve regular statudent status have not been fulfilled, the student will receive written notification that their CalArts enrollment is in jeopardy of termination. Copies of the notice will be sent to the school dean, mentor, and Financial Aid Office. Students will have until the last day of late registration of the following semester to fulfill requirements or enrollment will be terminated. 
  • Non-English speaking students who fail to achieve the TOEFL or IELTS score required for CalArts admission may not be admitted to the BFA program.

Dated: May 15, 1998

English Language Proficiency

There is no intensive English language program offered at CalArts. Applicants are expected to be proficient in the English language before applying for admission. Applicants from non–English speaking countries must present evidence of proficiency in the English language at a level that will permit undertaking and completing the course of study:
1. Applicants must take the Internet based version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL ibt), or the academic version of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Students attending U.S. accredited high schools abroad or in the U.S. may submit a SAT Critical Reading and Writing score of 500 or above in lieu of TOEFL/IELTS

2. Minimum scores for admission are 80 TOEFL ibt or 6.5 IELTS for undergraduates and 100 TOEFL ibt or 7 IELTS for graduates.

3. Any exceptions to the minimum standard requires special approval from the Provost, the Dean of the school, the Program Director, the Director of Admissions and the International Student Advisor or other designated officials.  In some cases a student may be conditionally accepted. Students who have not taken the TOEFL or IELTS are not eligible for conditional acceptance. Students conditionally accepted for low test scores will be required to: 

a. Complete an intensive English Language program prior to their enrollment.

b. Retake the TOEFL/IELTS and submit an updated score.

c. Meet with an Academic Advisor.

d. Take the English placement exam during Orientation.

4. CalArts reserves the right to require the TOEFL, IELTS, or SAT at any point during the application process of any applicant whose English proficiency is in question.

5. All students for whom English is a second language, whether they have met the TOEFL/IELTS requirements or not, will be required to take a writing placement test during orientation week at CalArts. Non-native speakers will not be allowed to sign-up for critical Studies course work until they have taken the test. CalArts reserves the right to require English as a Second Language, or Supplemental English for Artists (both two semester courses) of any student who demonstrates insufficient English proficiency on the writing placement test.

Policy Category:
Revised Date:
May 2012