Photography and Media

Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the Photography and Media 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 Photography and Media Application Guidelines

In addition to the general application requirements (online application and application fees, artist statement, two letters of recommendation and transcripts), Program in Photography and Media 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 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)

The portfolio should indicate what your artistic interests are and how you represent them in your practice. Your work can be in any medium, and we encourage applicants to submit a variety of types of work. In order for your portfolio to be seriously considered by the faculty reviewing your work, it is important to follow the following guidelines. Please read through the requirements carefully, and direct any questions to the Assistant Director for Admissions.

  • Your portfolio must be submitted through the portfolio section of the CalArts Application, and should include approximately 20 images representative of your most recent or current work. You do not need to submit 20 distinct works or projects, but please make sure that each image you submit shows us different content. Sketches and works-in-progress are welcome.

  • Submit individual images of individual works. Do not submit a pre-formatted portfolio. 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 "edit details" fields of the 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 academic work. Please do not include generic class assignments (i.e. technical exercises, figure/life drawing, still life drawings).

  • 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 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 issues and concerns inform your art-making practice?

  • Why are you applying to your program at CalArts?


Video Introduction 

BFA students are strongly encouraged to submit a video introduction. We would very much like to meet you. Since this would be impossible in practical terms, we ask that you send a brief video introducing yourself. 

  • 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; cellphone camera or consumer cameras are okay.