Catalog Policies

Institute Degree and Certificate Requirements: Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA)

CalArts has developed the following minimum standards for receiving a degree or certificate from the Institute. Schools may develop additional requirements on approval of the President and Provost.

Admission Prerequisite

An undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution or a government approved foreign institution is required for admission to the MFA degree programs.

Length of Program 

The MFA degree program requires from two to three years to complete, depending upon the requirements of the individual disciplines. The requirements of the individual disciplines are found in the individual school degree requirements sections of this Course Catalog and in the Admissions Viewbook.

Residence Requirements

Depending on the program of study, a minimum of one year to three years in residence is required and, regardless of the minimum requirement, the final semester before graduation must be in residence i.e., as a registered student. Schools may establish slightly different criteria for the residency requirements under exceptional circumstances and with the approval of the Provost*.

Curriculum Requirements 

Candidates for the MFA degree are called upon to complete all of the work defined by the program and school in which the student is enrolled. These requirements are described annually in the Course Catalog and may be clarified in the school handbooks.

Transfer Credit (MFA) 

Up to one year of graduate credit may be granted for work completed at a regionally accredited postsecondary institution prior to admission to CalArts’ MFA study. Such transfer of credit is at the discretion of the dean of the student’s school. Full documentation, including official transcripts, will be required.

* Residency Requirement Exception for Academic Year 2020-2021: Given the COVID-19 pandemic is an exceptional circumstance, the Provost has approved a residency exception for Fall 2020.  For students who opt to enroll part-time for Fall 2020, their degree length will not be extended solely for the purposes of fulfilling residency. Students will still need to complete all other requirements of the degree.

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