Charles Gaines Fellowship for MFA Art Students

Developed by CalArts Faculty Emeritus Charles Gaines, the Gaines MFA Fellowship provides full support of tuition expenses for MFA Art students who self-identify as Black Americans of the African diaspora or domestic students who self-identify as Mexican or of Central American descent. Two fellowships will be awarded for qualifying students each academic year.

A pivotal figure in the field of Conceptual Art, Charles Gaines’ body of work engages formulas and systems that interrogate relationships between the objective and the subjective realms. Using a generative approach to create series of works in a variety of mediums, he has built a bridge between the early conceptual artists of the 1960s and 1970s and subsequent generations of artists pushing the limits of conceptualism today.

Gaines lives and works in Los Angeles and is Faculty Emeritus at CalArts. Gaines established this fellowship to provide critical scholarship support for Black students in the M.F.A. Art program. 

Announcements of the fellowship can be found at ARTnews and The New York Times

Charles Gaines teaching at CalArts in 1992. Courtesy Charles Gaines I have spent my whole teaching career at CalArts working—not alone but with others—on diversity and inclusion in order to increase the presence of the minority voice in society and to help make possible access to opportunities that have been historically denied to people of color and that most Americans take for granted.

—Charles Gaines, Artist and Faculty Emeritus 

The Fellowship

This fellowship covers tuition throughout a student's tenure at CalArts, which is the most substantial portion of the cost of a CalArts education. The scholarship recipient is responsible for educational fees and costs associated with housing, food, and other living expenses. However, recipients may be eligible for additional sources of financial aid, including scholarships and loans. You can find out more by visiting our Financial Aid page or by emailing

The MFA Program in Art at California Institute of the Arts

A forum for the sustained exploration of possibilities in cultural production, the MFA Program in Art pushes students to question conventional ideas about contemporary art.

The MFA in Art provides graduate students a great deal of freedom in designing a course of study that best suits their individualized needs. Students are supported in cultivating their own areas of interests, and in developing research trajectories and critical skills necessary for a unique art practice. In critiques, seminars, individualized studio practice, independent studies and deeply engaging social environments, MFA students enhance their ability to consider and shape the physical and virtual world—and, by extension, the political and social fields they inhabit. 

Ideally situated in the creative heart of Southern California, our alumnx include internationally-known contemporary artists, arts executives and leaders, and professionals working in Los Angeles and throughout the world. They win top awards, found influential companies and organizations, shape today’s artmaking conversations, and pursue a life and career in the arts. 

Application Process

Eligible applicants to the CalArts MFA Program in Art will be automatically considered for the fellowship, and there is no separate application process specifically for the fellowship.

To learn more about CalArts, check out our Explore CalArts page or sign up for an event, information session, visit our application process webpage to find step-by-step instructions, or sign up for our mailing list. You are also welcome to connect directly with the admissions contact for the MFA Program in Art, Rodrigo Arruda, Assistant Director of Admissions for the School of Art.