Student Life

CalArts Pool Party during welcome week - Fall 2018
CalArts Pool Party during welcome week - Fall 2018

We like to think that life at CalArts gives us the best of all worlds. The campus is tucked quietly into the hills of the Santa Clarita Valley with easy access to classic Southern California hiking trails, rock climbing, and mountain vistas, but you’re also just a short drive away from the vibrant cultural life of Los Angeles.

Our 500,000 square foot main building is often described as labyrinthine, with endless nooks and crannies to explore. Whether you’re on campus for class, for studio time, or for working in the shops or labs, you can always find space to make yourself comfortable. And if you want to enjoy the reliably pleasant Southern California weather, we also have plenty of grassy expanses to spread out in.


On Campus Housing

The reality of COVID-19 has introduced profound logistical challenges as we uphold critical safety and health protocols. So we can meet best practices for physical distancing and to keep all students safe, the Institute has decided not to offer on-campus housing this fall. This was an exceptionally difficult decision, but we are following public health and safety guidelines for residential living and advice of experts. The way our residence halls were designed makes it very challenging to avoid close contact at entrances and exits, shared bathroom layouts, and compact gathering spaces and hallways.

We will provide a variety of off-campus housing options, and the Residence Life Office will help manage this transition. CalArts has also been working with several nearby hotels to secure spaces for the entire academic year. Incoming and returning students who have applied for housing will be receiving more information over the coming weeks. Residence Life has also developed a new guide to help you navigate living off campus in Santa Clarita and the greater Los Angeles area.

If you have questions in the meantime, please email or call the Residence Life Office at and 661-253-7897 (staffed Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. PDT).


Read the fall 2020 Housing Faqs to Learn More

Learn more

Off Campus Options

Although in a typical year, less than 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.

Feel free to contact the Residence Life Office with any questions.

Dining On and Around Campus

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 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. 

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, bike, or drive to.

If you prefer to cook at home or pack a lunch, we’ve got options for that too. There are about half a dozen grocery stores within just a few miles of campus, ranging from Vons and Ralphs for your standard fare, Sprouts and Whole Foods for natural foods selections, and ethnic markets for more specific tastes.

Health and Wellness

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 Student Health Center is open Monday-Friday and provides general care like first aid and treatment for minor illnesses. Our medical professionals are 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 from your admissions portal 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 Experience 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 through the registration process.

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. For questions about registering with this office, email

New Student Orientation

New Student Orientation at CalArts provides an opportunity to preview and to prepare for life as a CalArts student. Sessions will include some practical discussions designed to smooth your transition into CalArts, along with school and metier orientations, opportunities to talk with an academic advisor, and a range of helpful information from staff and offices across campus.

Fall 2020 New Student Orientation is scheduled for September 1 through 13.  The Office of Student Experience will send more details about this important (and fun) week later in the summer.