General Studies Requirements FAQ
Why do I have to take Critical Studies classes?
It is the philosophy of CalArts that training in the arts should go hand-in-hand with a liberal arts education that allows students to understand their art in relation to larger social, political, cultural, and scientific contexts. For this reason, it is expected that 40% of your program of study will be comprised of courses taken from Critical Studies. For a longer description of the Critical Studies philosophy and its curriculum, see the Course Catalog.
How many units of Critical Studies do I have to have to graduate? In what areas?
All BFA candidates are required to take a total of 46 units in Critical Studies by the time of graduation. This amounts to 2-3 courses per semester and represents about 40 percent of each student's overall course load.
The Critical Studies Core Curriculum
In the first or second semester of the first year, all students must take Critical Writing and the Arts or "Writing Arts"-a course that introduces students to key concepts underpinning the relation between Art and society. Only students who come to CalArts with AP credit for English Composition with a test score of 3 or better or Freshman Composition units from a regionally accredited college or university are exempt from the Writing Arts requirement.
First-year students must also take a one-semester Foundation Course, chosen from a variety of subjects ranging from literature to contemporary politics to the biological sciences. Both Writing Arts and the Foundation Course have an intensive writing workshop component. In addition to these two required, first-year courses, students will take one course each semester from the Critical Studies curriculum array. It is strongly advised that these are chosen from our 200 level courses.
Throughout the remaining three years, students must get at least two units in each of the following Critical Studies categories:
- Critical/Intellectual Skills
- Social Sciences
- Cultural Studies
- Sciences and Math
- Métier Studies-courses dealing with the history, theory and criticism of the student's chosen art form (maximum 14 units)
- Other Métier Studies-courses dealing with the history, theory and criticism of an art form other than the student's chosen specialty
The remaining units are elective and drawn from other courses offered by the School of Critical Studies, or can be fulfilled through Advanced Placement credits and liberal arts/general education transfer credits from other regionally accredited colleges and universities. To successfully complete the 46 units, it is expected that after the first year, the student will need to take an average of three Critical Studies courses per semester.
What are foundation classes and how do I know which classes are considered foundation?
Foundation courses are intended to provide you with basic knowledge of, and critical perspectives pertaining to, areas of study in the liberal arts. One foundation course is required in your first year of study at CalArts.
Courses which are marked with an asterisk ("*") next to the course number in the catalog are considered foundation.
What are Metier Studies and Other Metier Studies?
Metier Studies courses are the history, theory and criticism of the student's chosen art form. Other Metier Studies are the history, theory and criticism of art forms other than those in which the student is majoring.
If I took AP (Advanced Placement) classes in high school, do I have to take Critical Studies classes?
CalArts grants Critical Studies credit toward the BFA degree for successful completion of examinations in the Advanced Placement Program of the College Entrance Examination Board. Students presenting scores of 3 or better are granted 4 semester units toward the Critical Studies requirement for each examination in the Humanities or Sciences as they relate to Critical Studies core curriculum requirements.
If I have transfer units from another college will they be applied to my Critical Studies requirements? Foundation requirement?
California Institute of the Arts, in principle, accepts all postsecondary transfer credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities. However, transfer credits can not be applied to the foundation requirement.
Effective Fall 2007, students with previous bachelors degrees do not have to fulfill the full 46-unit Critical Studies Undergraduate Requirements. They are required, however, to complete at least 12 Critical Studies units in order to obtain a BFA degree from CalArts. All other students will be required to take at least 12 of the 46 credits total in Critical Studies at CalArts. Those students working toward a Certificate of Fine Arts are not subject to Critical Studies Undergraduate Requirements.
Are there limitations on transfer units?
Critical Studies accepts for transfer credit historical, philosophical and literary studies of religion and the Bible. We do not accept courses in religious studies that represent interpretations of a particular church or sect.
Generally we do not accept business courses for transfer credit. When we do, it is on a course-by-course basis, where for example, in a particular course there might be sufficient emphasis on writing skills to warrant transfer credit. We will give credit for courses in business and the arts as these are equivalent to our 'Survival in the Arts' courses.
We do not accept transfer credit for foreign language courses designated "conversational" except when such courses carry transfer credit by the institution from which they are offered. A maximum of 5 semester units of foreign language may apply to the Critical Studies requirement.
Generally we proceed on a course-by-course basis in allotting transfer credit to the applied sciences such as courses in the areas of engineering, electronics and computer science. Through course descriptions and syllabi we wish to be assured that there is a significant scientific or quantitative component to the course for which credit is given.
Can I make up an Incomplete? Can I make up a No Credit?
Students have one semester in which to make up any Incomplete with the instructor's permission. No Credits can only be made up with the instructor's permission and approval of the Deans Council.
Can I sign up for any Critical Studies class that I want?
Most Critical Studies classes require the prior permission of the instructor. Most courses also have a ceiling on numbers but if you are unable to get into your chosen course in a given semester or year, you should be able to take it subsequently. We recommend that first year students do not enroll in upper level and special topics classes. These are geared for 3rd & 4th year students.
What is Critical Studies 'Academic Warning' and how can I get off warning and return to the Bachelor Program if I have been placed in the Certificate Program?
Critical Studies Academic Warning is just that: a warning that a student is falling behind in the number of Critical Studies units given his/her year level. Upon a third consecutive warning, students will be placed in the Certificate of Fine Arts program. Once a student has brought the number of CS units up to the required number, he can petition to be returned to the BFA program. Please see the catalog for complete details.
If I want to take summer classes at a community college, how do I know which classes will transfer to CalArts?
Critical Studies Credit for Summer Courses or Concurrent Enrollment: Critical Studies generally accepts any credit earned by a currently enrolled student if the credit is earned at a regionally accredited postsecondary institution and otherwise meets transfer criteria. Students are strongly urged to consult with the Dean of theSchool of Critical Studies prior to enrollment in outside courses for which Critical Studies credit is expected. Consultation with the Dean will insure that course choices of the student are consistent with our requirements and will serve the student in fulfilling those requirements. Transfer credit is not guaranteed unless prior approval of the Dean of Critical Studies has been obtained.
Will Critical Studies follow my progress? Attend Mid-Residency reviews?
Critical Studies makes every attempt to attend mid-residency reviews of the BFA students. However, all BFA students will receive a Mid-Residency Report from Critical Studies sometime after their review. Students are welcome to come to the Critical Studies office if they have any questions or concerns about their progress in Critical Studies.
Where is the Critical Studies Office located?
The Critical Studies office is located in room E123j on the first floor of the main building.