Catalog Policies

Graduation Process: General Statement

General Statement

The Board of Trustees confers all degrees and certificates awarded by the California Institute of the Arts. The President on recommendation of the Academic Council with the approval of the Provost or his/her designee and the faculties of the Institute presents candidates to the Board. Graduates are honored at an annual commencement.

Qualifications for Graduation

The faculty of the school in which the student is enrolled is responsible for determining whether the student is qualified to receive the CalArts degree or certificate. This decision requires the faculty to determine that the student has demonstrated a significant measure of artistic achievement, as well as the satisfactory completion of all residence, units and course requirements. Ordinarily, the BFA degree program and Certificate of Fine Arts program require a minimum of four years of study and 120 units of credit; the MFA degree program and Advanced Certificate of Fine Arts program require 2 to 3 years of study, or the equivalent; the MA degree is a one year full–time program of study and one year of low-residency study; the DMA degree program requires 3 years of study in residence. The certificate requires completion of the equivalent of BFA study and additional study in the metier, while excluding the Critical Studies courses needed for the BFA degree.


  1. Student’s responsibility: In preparation for graduation, the student must: 
    1. Consult with the mentor and the faculty of the school in which he or she is enrolled about the expected time for completing the program of studies for the degree or certificate. 
    2. Pay the Student Experience’ Graduation fee of $25 to the Accounting Office. 
    3. Present an application for graduation and the fee receipt to the Registrar. 
    4. Complete settlement of outstanding obligations in records, accounts and property commitments with Institute offices. 
    5. Complete all loan exit interviews with the Financial Aid Office and/or the Accounting Office. 
    6. Complete the Graduation Exit Survey sent to each graduating student via email.
  2. Registrar’s Office: 
    1. Sets deadline by which graduation reviews must be completed each semester. This date is set each semester in consultation with the Provost and the President. 
    2. Prepares a tentative list of candidates for graduation to be reviewed by the schools. 
    3. Notifies students of obligations to be met for the degree or certificate. 
    4. Sends a list of candidates for degrees and certificates to Academic Council and deans for final action, and forwards final recommendations to the President and the Board of Trustees. 
    5. Reviews all eligible students for degree completion at the close of each semester, and follows through with any pending graduates not yet completed
  3. Deans and faculty: The faculty and dean of each school recommend action on each candidate for graduation and inform the Registrar’s Office within the established procedures and deadlines.

Commencement Participation

CalArts celebrates degree conferrals through a yearly commencement ceremony held at the end of each spring semester. Students will be cleared to participate in the commencement ceremony following their final term in residency. In order to qualify to participate in commencement, students must be enrolled in all final course requirements, including transfer work or courses to be completed during the summer following commencement. Students will be cleared to participate in only one commencement ceremony for each degree program that they complete at CalArts.

Policy Category:
Revised Date:
Sep 2017
Revision History:
Previously revised March 2015