Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the Art Program, faculty, facilities, curriculum and view student work. Please note that you must complete all Admissions Requirements as well as the portfolio requirements to be considered for admission.

BFA and MFA Program in Art Application Guidelines

In addition to the general application requirements (online application and application fees, artist statement, two letters of recommendation and transcripts), Program in Art applicants must also submit a portfolio. The faculty is interested in what motivates or inspires each individual applicant and looks for evidence of this in both the portfolio and the artist statement.


MFA Interviews

Applicants who have passed the preliminary selection process will be notified in mid-February . At that time, candidates will be invited to visit CalArts in March for an interview and to meet faculty and students. The interview is required of invited candidates and is an important component of the final selection process. Video chat interviews are available in exceptional cases, however we like to emphasize the importance of having an in-person interview as part of the application process for prospective students. Additionally, it gives you an opportunity to see the school and meet and talk to the faculty.

Portfolio Guidelines (BFA, MFA)

We want to know what your artistic interests are and how that manifests in your practice. Your work can be in any medium; in fact we encourage applicants with multiple interests to submit a variety of work. In order for your portfolio to be seriously considered by the faculty committee and in order to produce the most advantageous presentation, it is important to follow the guidelines. Please read through the requirements carefully. Direct any questions to your Assistant Director of Admissions. 

  • Your portfolio must be submitted through the portfolio section of the CalArts application, and should include approximately 15-20 works representative of your most recent or current work. Some sketches and works-in-progress are acceptable. Drawings or paintings created digitally are accepted, however if your practice has physical elements it is to your advantage to also include a selection of work done directly with physical materials or methods.

  • IMPORTANT: Do not submit a pre-formatted portfolio or composited images. Submit separate images of individual works. Pre-formatted portfolios (composited images) do not provide an acceptable presentation of your artwork and are highly discouraged. Do not submit composited images, PDFs, or links to websites, and please make sure that the image fills the slide. Otherwise, we will not be able to view the work.

  • Enter any captions, descriptions, or titles of your work in the fields provided in the portfolio upload tool. Do not add captions, descriptions, titles or other extraneous text within the area where you upload your image.

  • We are looking for personal work that gives us a sense of who you are as an artist, rather than technical exercises (i.e. please do not include generic class assignments, figure/life drawing, still life drawings) unless you believe they offer a view of a personal and/or unique approach.

  • CalArts does not offer a program in Illustration.The School of Art offers both undergraduate (BFA) and graduate (MFA) programs in Art, Graphic Design, and Photography and Media and a graduate-degree program in Art & Technology (MFA only). The School of Film/Video offers programs in Character Animation and Experimental Animation

Artist Statement

There is not a minimum or maximum word count requirement, but it is recommended that your statement be between 500 and 1,000 words. An artist statement is very important in the admissions process and should answer the following three questions:

  • What are your artistic interests/goals?

  • What informs your art-making practice? (Ideas, research, ways of making, and so on.) 

  • Why are you applying to your program at CalArts?

Video Introduction

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a 30-90 second video introduction. We would very much like to meet you and since this would be impossible in practical terms, we ask that you send a brief video introducing yourself. We would like you to specifically talk about your influences and interests, to discuss a particular image or artwork in your portfolio, rather than provide personal facts.

  • Duration: minimum of 30 seconds, maximum of 90 seconds.

  • Speak directly to the camera.

  • No edits.

  • No special effects or on-screen overlays.

  • File should be uploaded or linked directly in your portfolio. 

  • Does not require professional-level equipment; cell phone cameras are okay.