Congratulations and welcome to CalArts! 

The resources we’ve compiled here should help ease your transition to CalArts and connect you to our diverse creative community. 

Important Dates and Ways to Connect

Important Dates

Bills become available
July 1, 2019

Payment deadline
August 15, 2019

International Student Move-In
August 28, 2019

International Student Orientation
August 29-30, 2019

New Student Move-In
August 31, 2019

New Student Orientation
September 1-8, 2019

Course Advising Day
September 5, 2019

Fall 2019 Classes Begin
September 9, 2019

Final payment deadline (with late fee)
September 13, 2019

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Student Life

As a new CalArtian, you should expect to spend most of your time on campus for class, studio time, or rehearsal, to use equipment and facilities, to attend performances and gallery nights or just to hang out.  The 500,000 square foot main building has lots of nooks and crannies to explore and to make yourself comfortable, not to mention the library, cafeteria and cafe. And if you want to enjoy the Southern California weather, there’s also a pool, tennis and basketball court and plenty of grassy expanses to spread out in.

On Campus Housing

On campus options and deadlines

There are two options for on campus housing, Chouinard Hall, which houses undergraduate students, and the Ahmanson apartment complex, which houses graduate students and third and fourth year undergraduates.  Rooms in Chouinard are primarily double occupancy with bathrooms shared across two or three rooms.  Rooms in Ahmanson are singles, with a shared kitchen, living area, and bathroom for every five or six rooms.

The residence halls are maintained by Residence Life staff, along with twelve Resident Assistants (RAs) who are returning students hired and trained to provide support and assistance to students living on campus.

On campus roommate matching process

As part of the housing application process, we ask students to complete a Resident Information Form.  The more information you provide here, the better equipped we’ll be to assign you a roommate who will compliment you and your lifestyle.  Please answer honestly and include any information that you think will be helpful.  Roommate assignments are sent out the first week of August.

Students also can request Gender Inclusive Housing in both Chouinard and Ahmanson.   Gender Inclusive Housing allows for an environment in which student housing is not restricted by the gender binary.  Students that would like to talk further about Gender Inclusive Housing can contact the Residence Life Office.

Off campus options

Although only about 30% of our students live on campus, CalArts is not a typical commuter school.  Off campus students often develop their own small communities of roommates and neighbors throughout the Los Angeles area, and so continue their CalArts experience even when they are away from campus.  

Many students live in the local Santa Clarita community, while others opt for a 30-minute commute into northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods like Echo Park, Eagle Rock, Silver Lake, and Highland Park.  Many San Fernando Valley neighborhoods are easily accessible by freeway, as well as the beach adjacent communities on the westside, or foothill communities like Tujunga, Altadena, and Pasadena.  If you choose to live outside of the Santa Clarita area, please be aware that public transportation is limited and you will need access to a car to commute to and from campus.

We have created an Off-Campus Resource Guide that includes local apartment complexes and information that students should consider when planning to live off-campus.  Feel free to contact the Residence Life Office with any questions.

Off-Campus Resource Guide

All students living in Chouinard are required to purchase a 10-meal per week meal plan.  Students in Chouinard can choose to upgrade to the 14, 17 or meal plan during the semester to meet their needs.  Ahmanson residents can also opt to purchase a meal plan that come in blocks of 5, 10, 14, or 17 meals per week. Meal plans are billed directly to your student account.  Meal plans come with flex funds that can be used in either Steve’s Cafe or Tatum.  You can also purchase additional flex funds in the Accounting Office and are redeemed using your CalArts ID.


Steve’s Cafe
Our main cafeteria was completely remodeled in 2015 and renamed Steve’s Cafe, in honor of our former President Steven Lavine.  Steve’s Cafe is run by Bon Appetit with a focus on offering a range of healthy and sustainable food options, including a full salad bar, pizza oven, vegetarian and vegan options, and daily specials.  Check out the weekly menu at the Bon Appetit page.

Tatum Lounge
Tatum is our on campus coffee shop that is managed by Bon Appetite and staffed by students.  There is a full selection of espresso drinks, gourmet coffees and teas, snacks, pastries, and quick meals to go.  There’s also always a good playlist to listen to while you catch up on homework, hang out with friends, or take a nap on one of the comfy sofas.

Off Campus Eats
As much as we all love cafeteria food, sometimes you might want a little something else…Our Santa Clarita neighborhood has lots of dining options that you can walk to, and even more if you’re willing to hop into a rideshare.

If you want to pick up groceries to use in your dorm kitchen, you can do that too. We have about half a dozen grocery stores within just a few miles, ranging from Vons and Ralphs for your standard fare, Sprouts and Whole Foods for natural foods selections, and ethnic markets for more specific tastes.

At CalArts we recognize that in order to support the academic and creative development of our students, we need to support the whole person.  To that end, we offer a variety of health and recreation services to help each of our students thrive.

Health Services Office
The CalArts Health Services Office is open Monday-Friday and provides general care like first aid and treatment for minor illnesses.  Our medical professional is also available to discuss health issues or concerns and will refer students to nearby physicians or hospitals as needed.

All students are required to provide up to date immunization records.  If you have not yet submitted your form to the Health Services Office, please download the form and present it to your healthcare provider to complete. This must be returned to us before the start of the school year.

Counseling Services
For students who are accustomed to receiving counseling services at home, or who need additional support after enrolling, CalArts has three full-time counselors on staff.  Our counselors all have extensive experience working with young people and with artists, and are available to meet with students throughout the academic year. For more information, visit our Counseling webpage.

Health Insurance
All students are required to maintain health coverage while enrolled at CalArts.  The office of Student Affairs works closely with our insurance provider to secure reasonable rates and flexible coverage that is available for any enrolled student to purchase. Students may opt out of the student health insurance plan by providing proof of other coverage to the Accounting Office.

CalArts Health Insurance

Accommodations and Disability Services
CalArts students who identify as having a disability or who are otherwise qualified may request accommodations from the Disability Services Office.  It is important to note that the IEP from a student’s K-12 education will not automatically transfer to accommodations at the college level; students must take steps to self-identify and to provide documentation of their disability if they wish to make a plan for accommodations.  Please fill out our Disability Services Registration Form and contact the Student Affairs Office to set up an appointment with our Disability Services Specialist.

New Student Orientation at CalArts provides an opportunity to preview and to prepare for life as a CalArts student.  Just as your student experience will combine studies, artmaking, and serious recreation, our orientation schedule will also provide a glimpse into all of these areas of the student experience.

Sessions will include some practical discussions designed to smooth your transition into CalArts, along with school and metier orientations, opportunities to meet with an academic advisor, and of course some good food and a couple of parties for good measure.

Fall 2019 New Student Orientation is scheduled for September 1 through 8.  The Office of Student Affairs will send more details about this important (and fun) week later in the summer.

Degree Program and Mentoring

The Role of the Mentor
Each student at CalArts is assigned a faculty mentor. The role of the mentor is to guide the student in the development of their creative work through one on one meetings, direction in selecting courses in the metier each semester and yearly written mentor reports. These relationships often extend beyond the classroom, and it is not uncommon for mentors and mentees to pursue creative collaborations post-graduation. 

Faculty mentors are all artists working and teaching in the same field as their mentees. Some students find that they form strong bonds with their assigned mentors, while other students may gravitate toward the work and guidance of other faculty.  The diversity of our faculty allows for a richness of shared creative experiences through both formal and informal relationships, and students will work closely with a variety of faculty members throughout their degree program.

Mentor Assignment
Mentors are typically assigned late in the summer. Students can view their mentor assignment in the Hub by following the “Academic Profile” link under the WebAdvisor menu.  Students will have time to meet with their mentors during New Student Orientation in September, and will talk again with their mentors at Course Advising Day to get approval for their proposed plan of study for the semester.

School of Art: Online Resources
School of Art Homepage
School of Art Degree Requirements

School of Art: Studio Assignments
Studio assignments in the School of Art are prioritized based on degree program, course level, and availability of space:

  • New MFA students in the Art, Photo/Media, and Art and Technology Programs will receive a studio assignment within the first two weeks of class.
  • New transfer BFA2s and BFA3s in Art and Photo/Media will receive a studio assignment by the fourth week of class.
  • New BFA1 students in the Art Program will receive a studio assignment in early October.
  • New BFA1 students in the Photo/Media program will not generally be assigned a personal studio space, but will receive Photo Lab access.
  • All Graphic Design students will receive a studio assignment in the first week of class.

Art Program
Students can expect to be pre-enrolled in some of their required courses for the first semester, but should also plan to add additional courses online and in person at Course Advising Day. For example, in person signup is required for Independent Studies and for courses outside of the student’s program. To get a better sense of what to take, students are advised to refer to the catalog, and also to talk with their mentors at Orientation and Course Advising Day.

Initial mentor assignments are made during the summer, taking into consideration each student’s practice and interests and the faculty member’s experience and fields of research. However, if the student doesn’t find the relationship generative they can always switch mentors by talking with the Art School Office.

Art and Technology Program
All new and returning students are pre-enrolled in the required program classes. Students may select additional elective classes online and in-person at Course Advising Day. For more information about the required courses, students can refer to the course catalog, or email the Program Director with any questions.

Mentors are assigned by the faculty over the summer, and will be introduced to students during the week of New Student Orientation.  More details about Orientation will be available through the Art School Orientation Schedule, and questions regarding Orientation should be directed to the Art Office.


Graphic Design Program
Incoming students will be pre-enrolled into required courses by the Registrar’s Office. Students should receive a curriculum guide by email with a breakdown of course requirements and how many electives can be taken each semester. Students can also refer to the course catalog for a breakdown of course requirements. 

Required courses account for the majority of coursework in the first year, though all entering students will have the opportunity to register for additional electives online when fall registration opens. Certain courses that require instructor consent to register can be added on Course Advising Day.

Course Advising Day is mandatory for all Graphic Design students, even if they are not planning to add any additional courses. This day is an opportunity to meet with Graphic Design faculty and talk through any questions about the program, courses and life on campus.

Students will learn their mentor assignment during New Student Orientation. Initial mentor assignments are primarily based on shared areas of interest and experience between the mentor and the student. 

Photo/Media Program
Mentor assignments are made over the summer by program directors and faculty. A mentor is your advisor and your advocate. If you are new to CalArts, your mentor can help guide you through the procedures of the Art School, the Photo/Media Program, and help acquaint you with services provided by other parts of the Institute.

Aesthetics and Politics Program
All first year MA students are pre-enrolled in their required courses, which are described in the course catalog. Any other elective courses in the School of Critical Studies are available for online signup.  Students may also sign up for elective courses in other schools, though this may require instructor consent at Course Advising Day.

Because of the unique low-residency tuition structure of the Aesthetics and Politics Program, first year MA students are limited to enrolling in 12 units per semester. Students may choose to enroll in more than 12 units, but will be charged a per unit fee for the additional units.

Mentors are announced to students at New Student Orientation. Assignments are based on student interest and faculty expertise, to the extent that a match is possible. Students often indicate in their statements of purpose whom they want to work with, or perhaps they have previously worked with a faculty who is a colleague of faculty at CalArts. Mentors become default thesis first readers, but often those assignments shift based on how a student's work develops.

Creative Writing Program
First semester Creative Writing students will be pre-enrolled in the required CMWP-601 Writing Now course. All other courses offered by the School of Critical Studies will open for online course signup in August, but some elective courses offered by other schools may require instructor consent at Course Advising Day.

First semester course requirements are listed in the course catalog, and students should also be on the lookout for a welcome letter from the program to be sent by email ahead of registration. This message will provide an overview of Program requirements along with important dates relevant to Program reading series, TAships, thesis proposals and other requirements and opportunities.

The Program Director of the MFA in Creative Writing assigns mentors mid-to-late June. Whenever possible, the Program Director attempts to match mentors to the writing practices and interests of incoming students. 


Mentors are assigned late in August. The initial mentor assignment is based primarily on ensuring a balanced student to mentor ratio. Students are given the opportunity to select a new mentor at the end of their first year of study.

First Semester Course Selection
All students in the School of Dance are pre-enrolled into their required metier coursework. BFA students should plan to add one additional Critical Studies course online to ensure they stay on track with the recommended six units per semester.

School of Film/Video: Online Resources
School of Film/Video Homepage
School of Film/Video Degree Requirements
School of Film/Video Student Handbook

Equipment Cage
Students in the School of Film/Video may request access to equipment from the Cage, which is located around the corner from the school’s main office. There may be some restrictions on immediate access to equipment based on individual student’s prior experience or training. Access to most equipment is granted through production classes. The cage staff is currently working on a comprehensive access guide to the equipment.

Character Animation Program
Prior to New Student Orientation, students will receive more information about enrollment. 

Character Animation class signup functions differently in the Fall than in the Spring. The Fall Schedule will be visible in the CalArts Catalog at the end of August or sooner, at which time students will be pre-enrolled into their required courses. On Course Advising Day, students may enroll in person on a first-come, first-served basis for any additional electives.

In the Spring, all required courses will be pre-enrolled and visible to students prior to registration. Additional courses for Spring semester enroll online, with the possible exception of classes that may require instructor consent at Course Advising Day in January. 

After the start of the semester, students will have access to cubicles with animation desks, as well as computer labs with Wacom Cintiqs, high-speed flatbed scanners, laser printers, software including Adobe Suite, Autodesk Maya, ProTools, Cinema4D, ToonBoom Harmony and Storyboard Pro and Sound Effects Library.

Mentors are assigned at the end of August. Mentors and mentees are matched based on creative interests.

Experimental Animation Program
All required metier courses are pre-enrolled in the Experimental Animation Program. This may be enough of a full-time course load for first semester students, but students may add additional electives online or at Course Advising Day. Degree requirements are listed in the course catalog.

Students should expect to receive a mentor assignment early in the summer. Initial mentor assignments are typically determined during the admission process when faculty identify students they’d like to work with. However, students can request to change their mentor.

Film Directing Program
All of the first semester courses in the Film Directing Program are pre-determined and listed in the course catalog. Students are guaranteed seats in these courses, and will either sign up for them at Course Advising Day or have them added to their schedules by the Registrar’s Office.

Students will be assigned a mentor in late July.  The Program Director will determine these initial assignments based on student responses to a questionnaire sent to students earlier in the summer regarding their artistic goals and aesthetic interests and influences.

Film and Video Program
All required courses are listed by year in the course catalog. Some required courses are pre-enrolled by the Registrar’s Office, some are available for online signup, and others enroll through instructor consent in person at Course Advising Day. Course Advising Day is mandatory for all PVF students. 

Incoming PFV students have access to both E105 and E60 computer labs on the first day of classes. Second-semester students are granted key access to the individual editing suites.

Mentors are assigned over the summer based on shared creative interests. Students will meet their mentors at orientation and will have an opportunity to talk through course selection and the signup process.

School of Music Online Resources
School of Music Homepage
School of Music Degree Requirements

All incoming School of Music students will be assigned a mentor by the beginning of Orientation Week.  Mentor assignments are typically determined based on their major specialization. See the Music Office for more details.

First Semester Course Selection
Students will be pre-enrolled into some of their first semester required core classes either in advance or based on the outcomes of the Music Theory and Musicianship Skills Placements exams administered during Orientation Week.

Other course enrollments should be made in consultation with the student's mentor and specialization faculty during Orientation Week.  Typical BFA1-1 course enrollments are indicated by specialization in the course catalog.

Incoming transfer students should discuss course enrollments with their mentor and faculty in their specialization during Orientation Week.

All students who have a required lesson within their specialization will have a private lesson preloaded onto their class schedules prior to the start of each semester. Requests for non-required lessons must be submitted by 4PM on Course Advising Day of each semester. See the Music Office for instructions on how to submit requests.
A limited number of lockers are available to music students based on need and availability. Students should visit the Music Office at the beginning of Orientation Week if they would like to request a locker assignment.

First Semester Course Selection
Students may be pre-enrolled in some of their required metier classes. Critical Studies courses and additional elective classes may be added either online, or for classes that require instructor consent, may be added in person on Course Advising Day.

Attendance at Course Advising Day is mandatory. Incoming students will meet with their mentors on Course Advising Day to select and finalize their first semester schedules. This time also allows you to meet with faculty across the Institute, discuss and finalize your class schedule and ensure that you are meeting your program requirements. 

All students are strongly encouraged to consult with your mentor before adding or dropping any class or making commitments, curricular or extracurricular, which may affect their training.

All incoming students are assigned mentors in advance of Course Advising Day. Mentors are assigned in consultation with Theater School Program Heads, Program Directors, and Deans. Generally, the mentor is also one of the student’s métier instructors.

The mentor is a student’s academic and artistic advisor designed to facilitate student concerns. Students are responsible for meeting with their mentor throughout the school year. This communication serves as a basis for the student and the mentor to work creatively toward making the student’s progress as challenging and successful as possible.

An integral part of the BFA experience is the Critical Studies curriculum.  In addition to its two graduate programs, the School of Critical Studies is also responsible for the development and delivery of a general education curriculum that prepares and encourages students to consider aesthetic questions within larger socio-cultural, ethical and political contexts.

The foundation of the Critical Studies curriculum is the Level-100 sequence, which includes our cornerstone critical writing course in the fall semester, and Introduction to Critical Studies, followed by a writing intensive special topics course in the spring.  This two-course sequence is required of all BFA students who transfer in fewer than 15 units of Critical Studies applicable coursework.

As part of each student’s overall degree completion, they are expected to complete a total of 46 units of Critical Studies coursework, 8 units of which must be completed on campus through coursework offered by the School of Critical Studies. All other units may be completed through coursework offered through the School of Critical Studies, through academic-oriented courses offered through each of the metiers or through transfer credit.

In order to make timely progress toward degree completion, BFA students are expected to take 5-6 units of Critical Studies coursework each semester (this semester by semester benchmark may be slightly different for students transferring in credit from a previous institution). With the exception of the Level-100 sequence, all Critical Studies courses enroll online with certain restrictions based on year level:

  • 200-level courses are open only to BFA1s and BFA2s
  • 300-level courses are open only to BFA2s and above who have met the Level-100 prerequisite
  • 400-level courses are open to BFA3s and above who have met the Level-100 prerequisite

Beginning the first day of the semester, online registration for Critical Studies closes and students must get permission directly from the instructor to add.  This also allows students who do not meet the prerequisites listed above to get approval for courses that they were prevented from signing up for online.

In addition to the overall units requirements, students should also be aware of  the specific area requirements that must be completed. These include Humanities, Social Sciences, Cultural Studies, and Science and Math. All other course requirements may be selected from a range of disciplines, ranging from computer programming to creative writing. Students may also choose to pursue a Critical Studies minor if there is a particular area of interest that they wish to focus on more intently.

More information about specific requirements can be found in the course catalog.

Academic Resources

CalArts Hub
The CalArts Hub is a portal to the Institute. The Hub gives you access to essential information such as your class schedule, unofficial transcript, grades, mentor assignments, announcements and the course catalog. To log in, use the same username and password as your CalArts email.

HubHelper is a CalArts site that is mainly used for submitting digital forms to the institute for processing. Like the Hub, you’ll log in using your email username and password. You can also update your personal information on the HubHelper and view your Mentor Reports or Mid-Residency and Graduation Reviews.

Class Signup
Class signup at CalArts happens in three phases:

  1. Required courses are added to student schedules in advance of registration.

  2. Students sign up for other required and elective courses online.

  3. Students meet with mentors and faculty at Course Advising Day to make final schedule changes in person.

Class Signup Overview

The Registrar’s Office
The Registrar’s Office is your main resource for help signing up for classes, transcripts, enrollment verifications, transfer credit evaluation, and general help with many of the questions you may have about your enrollment at CalArts.

At CalArts, our Academic Advisors work collaboratively with students, mentors and schools to help students identify their academic, personal and career goals. Please feel free to contact our Academic Advising Office by email ( if you have general questions about your degree requirements.  Academic advising appointments are available 10 am-4 pm, Monday-Friday during the school year. Although the office does its best to offer drop-in academic advising, we recommended that students schedule an appointment in advance.

Academic Support

*hub login required

CalArts Library
The CalArts Library offers a full range of academic reference and instruction services with a focus on supporting the creative exploration of our community of students, faculty, artists, and scholars.  The Library has a collection of over 200,000 physical items, 300,000 electronic resources, and an archival and rare book collection.

The Library is open until midnight most days during the academic year, and is a great place to explore, study and discover new sources of inspiration and information.

Writing Center
Located in the Library and managed by the School of Critical Studies, the Writing Center offers one-on-one support for students seeking help with a range of writing-related tasks.  Writing Center tutors are trained to assist students as they develop the skills of self-editing, organization, idea development, clarity and concision and critical thinking.

Students can drop in for a 30-minute session on a first-come-first-served basis, or make an appointment in advance to meet with a tutor for a full hour.

Undergraduate students can transfer in units to apply toward their overall Critical Studies requirements, either from AP Exams or from coursework completed at another college or university.  If you completed AP Exams, check with the College Board to make sure your score report was sent to CalArts. If you completed coursework at another college or university, please send official transcripts directly to the CalArts Office of the Registrar. We also award transfer credit for IB and A Levels.  For more detailed information about how your previous credits may transfer, please visit our Transfer Credit information page.

If you have not completed additional units, but would like to get ahead this summer by enrolling at a local college in your area, please contact our Academic Advising team at so they can help you select appropriate courses for transfer.

At the end of each semester, we assess each student’s progress by looking at two factors: total units completed at CalArts during the semester, and cumulative Critical Studies units completed overall.  This review is part of our Academic Standing Policy, and is one way for us to make sure that you stay on track to graduate.

If you fall below these benchmarks in any given semester, you will be placed on Academic Warning.  We recommend that all students on Academic Warning work closely with their Mentor and an Academic Advisor to determine a plan to get back into good standing.

International Students

Information about Visa process and timeline, Academic Requirements (TOEFL, ELL,  Level 100 Requirements)

Learn More

Billing & Financial Aid

Accounting Office Contact Information

661-253-7852 phone
661-222-2736 fax
9am-4 pm, Monday-Friday
9am-12pm, 1-4 pm, Monday-Thursday, closed Fridays (mid-May through end of August)

Financial Aid Office Contact Information

661-253-7869 or 800-443-0480 phone
661-287-3816 fax
Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm (closed Fridays in the summer)