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New Critical Studies Requirements

There are a few important changes to the Critical Studies requirements for completing a BFA degree at CalArts. The total number of units for a BFA degree has not changed, but the new requirements should make it easier to fulfill the distribution of units.

What has changed?

  • The categories of Critical Studies Métier and Critical Studies Other Métier have been merged into a single category called Arts in Context (AIC). Courses within the AIC category count towards a student’s total of 46 units. Courses you took as either Critical Studies Métier or Critical Studies Other Métier are now reassigned to fall within the Arts in Context category and this will be reflected on your transcript and degree audit (aka “progress summary”).
  • Students may have specific Arts in Context requirements determined by the individual programs and schools. Please ask your mentor for more details.
  • The maximum of 14 units for Critical Studies Métier has been removed.

What has not changed?

  • The total required units remains the same: 46 units.
  • Students are still required to fulfill three units in Critical/Intellectual Skills (aka “Writing Arts” or “Critical Writing and The Arts”) and three units of Critical Studies Foundation (refer to the catalog for exemptions to the Critical Studies Foundation Requirement).
  • Students must fulfill eight units of breadth (either at CalArts or through transfer credit) within the following four Critical Studies categories:
    • Humanities
    • Social Science
    • Cultural Studies
    • Science and Math
  • Students must fulfill eight units in residence (classes are taken at CalArts) from the Critical Studies Core. The Core includes:
    • Critical/Intellectual Skills
    • Computing and Research Skills
    • Creative Writing
    • Humanities
    • Social Science
    • Cultural Studies
    • Science and Math.

New CalArts Course Number

You can tell if a course receives Critical Studies credit, and which Critical Studies category those units apply to, by looking at the NEW CalArts Course Number.

The new course numbering system at CalArts has three important parts:

  • The first letter indicates the school the course is offered through.
  • The next three letters indicate the general subject area.
  • The final three digits indicate the course’s level.

The example below shows a humanities course:


The first letter, C, indicates that faculty from the School of Critical Studies teach this course. But, just because a course number starts with C, this does NOT mean that this course will always yield Critical Studies credit towards the BFA requirements. There are courses taught through Art, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater that do provide Critical Studies credit! The trick is to look at the three letter subject code (“HMN” in the example above) and the three digit course level number.

Critical Studies courses for BFA students fall into nine subject areas. The subject codes for Critical Studies are:

Core Critical Studies Areas:

  • CIS – Critical/Intellectual Skills (AKA Critical Writing and The Arts)
  • COM – Computing and Research
  • CRW – Creative Writing
  • CST – Cultural Studies
  • HMN – Humanities
  • SCM – Science and Math
  • SOC – Social Science

Courses about the history and context of specific art forms:

  • AIC – Arts in Context

Other Critical Studies credit bearing courses (e.g. language courses):

  • CSE – Elective

If you are an Undergraduate (BFA or Certificate) student and you are looking for a Critical Studies course, make sure that the subject code is one of the nine listed above. Also make sure the course number is between 001 and 499 (if the number is 500 or higher, the course is designated for graduate students. Although some courses are taught for both undergraduate and graduate students, these courses will list separate undergraduate and graduate sections on the course schedule. If that is the case, you need to make sure you enroll in the appropriate section.

Last edited by Smith on Jul 29, 2014
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