CalArts Moves to Remote Learning for Fall Semester

This email was sent to the CalArts community on the adjustment of the Fall 2020 semester plans. All CalArts classes will now be conducted online.   

Dear Fellow CalArtians,

From the start of this pandemic, our foremost goal has been the same: the health, safety, and well-being of the entire CalArts community.

We had hoped like so many other institutes of higher education that coronavirus cases in Southern California would remain low. In the last two weeks, we see that is not the case. The nationwide COVID-19 case count now exceeds 4 million with nearly 70,000 new cases per day. The strained testing system is causing challenges for appropriate public health response. L.A. area K–12 schools are planning online classes which impacts our faculty and staff. With the continued absence of reopening guidelines from the State of California, it’s clear we must now adjust our plans so that all fall undergraduate and graduate courses will now be conducted online. As many of our fellow higher education institutions in Los Angeles are doing, we will also continue to endeavour to use campus facilities and make campus resources available to students for artmaking as is safe and as we are permitted.

This is a terribly difficult decision. It’s not what we hoped for. This decision was reached through input and consultation from the Deans, the Chair and the Academic Council, program directors, other faculty, and the Trustees. We understand the immediate challenges this will create and the adjustments we now must make that affect all of us. But we take this decision in our steadfast commitment to the health and safety of the entire CalArts community, and of our larger society.

And as we remain safe, we MUST KEEP MAKING ART.

Thank you to everyone who has been working on the CalArts Returns plan, especially our students, faculty, and staff. This has been a grueling summer where every week brings a new challenge, both at CalArts and at home, and we would not be ready for this moment without you.

To the credit of our dedicated faculty and staff, we’re ready for this moment. This is not a setback, but an evolution in our plans. All the hours and preparation that have gone into our planned hybrid approach can now be channeled into remote/online learning. We’re equipped to rise to the circumstances.

Here are key points of our Fall 2020 plan.


  • All fall classes will be conducted online, with asynchronous and/or synchronous (real-time) sessions.
  • Registration continues as scheduled online on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
  • As previously announced, orientation will take place online. 
  • Classes will begin at CalArts online on Monday, Sept. 14.
  • While full-time tuition remains unchanged, CalArts is now offering part-time options, with tuition prorated for .75, .5, and .25 enrollment. (Please contact your specific program’s director if you are considering part-time enrollment.)


  • This week in recognition of the financial impact the virus has on many of our students, CalArts’ Trustees approved an additional $3.3 million in need-based scholarship funding, in particular for students from underrepresented populations. Details regarding eligibility for these need-based grants will be shared next week from the Office of Enrollment. In the meantime, if you have questions about your current financial aid package, please reach out to Financial Aid at
  • We are working to provide increased access to key technology, developing metier-based technology kits and a laptop loan program through our Information Technology Department and Library. 
  • CalArts has developed a comprehensive set of campus health and safety standards to help protect everyone’s health and well-being during the coronavirus pandemic. We will provide carefully controlled access to equipment checkout, shops, labs and other maker spaces on campus as pandemic restrictions ease and government guidelines allow.
  • The majority of administrative office staff members will continue to work remotely, but will be available to assist students through phone and online communications. 

This change is difficult for us all, but the health and safety of our community must be our first priority. We know that you have many more questions about the upcoming semester. More information about classes and registration from Provost Tracie Costantino and about student support services from Vice President for Student Experience Brain Harlan is forthcoming. We also encourage you to attend a virtual information session on Sunday, Aug. 9, with Provost Costantino, Vice President Harlan, and me, where we will take questions and explain next steps in more detail. 

Beginning your education, progress toward your degree, and your development as an artist are very important to us; so much so that each individual CalArts student—both incoming and continuing—will be receiving a personal call from CalArts about plans for the upcoming semester. 

In addition, there are other Q&A sessions and town halls scheduled to answer more detailed questions. 

  • Academic Advisors and the Registrar's Office have scheduled several sessions for the week of Aug. 3 for registration-related questions. (Please check student emails for details.)
  • International Students are invited to join upcoming town halls scheduled by the Office of International Student Services. You will receive an email with specifics soon.
  • Metiers (our programs) will be holding a number of Zoom meetings to answer specific questions about fall learning and classes. These will be set up specifically through each school and each program director.

We know this is temporary, but we do not know for how long. We will work toward a spring semester opening of our campus which would include hybrid, in-person and remote options with the appropriate safety accommodations. 

This historic moment is ours to shape. The world needs us to keep creating, to keep growing, to keep healing, to keep pursuing our call to be artists. Our dependence on screens won’t last forever – but our impact, and what we create now, will.

Thank you for your commitment not only to arts education but also to one another, especially in these times. I could not be prouder of the ability of our community to do this.

Let’s continue to make art.

Ravi S. Rajan