8 Art Schools in California | Fees & Details

Looking to get an art degree from the US? The art schools in California are one of the best places to look for reputable art programs. Also, you can find a myriad of options to choose from. Let me walk you through these art schools in California to help you choose one that meets your academic demands.

California serves many things for different people including as a vibrant educational hub. The state has more than 450 public and private universities and colleges making it the state in the US with the highest number of higher institutions. The number of universities in California alone is more than in some countries.

This presents an opportunity to students because you can find several less competitive schools to apply for and still get a reputable degree.

With this high number of universities in California, the chances of you not finding a suitable academic program to pursue is highly unlikely unless you are not interested in studying here.

And some of the best universities in the world and the US are here in California like Caltech, UCLA, Stanford University, University of Southern California, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and many others. These schools alone offer some of the top-ranking programs in the world.

Popular programs in California include medicine, business, arts and humanities, and computer science. We already have posted on the best computer science schools in California, the best pharmacy schools in California, and the best colleges in California for pre-med. Now, to help art students get into their dream school, I present this post on the art colleges in California.

This post will help those interested in getting a degree in art find an art school in California that is best for them and I am sure you already have an art discipline in mind. Art is not just fine art alone, it encompasses a broad spectrum of disciplines like the health sciences and each can be studied as a major degree program. If you do not have an art discipline in mind, pick from the list below:

  • Sculpture
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Dance
  • Visual Arts
  • Architecture
  • Fine Arts
  • Performing Arts
  • Art History
  • Drawing
  • Printmaking
  • Digital Art
  • Aesthetics
  • Ceramics
  • Interior Design
  • Applied Arts
  • Fashion Design
  • Plastic Arts
  • Renaissance Arts

One of the perks of being an art graduate is that you can explore other job opportunities that are not your discipline but within your field or you can just start up on your own. Art students are developed in such a way that they rarely or never go job hunting, most times, they end up building a solo career or an enterprise.

As an art graduate looking to start on their own, you may want to take MBA programs online to learn the ropes of professional business, merge it to your field, and build a successful career. You can also look up the business colleges in California to earn a reputable graduate business degree. Most, if not all, of the universities in California accept international students including the art schools.

If you are abroad and considering getting an art degree from California you should read our guide on how to study in California before proceeding with your application.

Before we proceed, we have also published a myriad of posts on free online courses that cover a wide range of study areas, including free online art classes for beginners, that you may find interesting. If you are interested in pursuing a music career our post on the best music schools in the world can help you find a music school or program suitable for you.

Now, let us see how you can get into an art school in California…

How to Get into Art School in California

Art schools in California are highly competitive and difficult to get into, their acceptance is really low around 4-8% and to get accepted you need to fulfill all academic requirements with high grades. California College of the Arts, for example, accepts B+ students from high school or students with a GPA of 3.34 on a scale of 4.0 so, you see what you need to beat, right?

Other common requirements to get into an art school in California include a personal essay, transcript of previously attended schools, letter(s) of recommendation, SAT/ACT scores, and a portfolio of your work. Community involvement can also boost your chances of getting accepted.

An alternative that you may consider is by going to pursue an art discipline from one of the community colleges in California which takes 2 years to complete and then earn your associate degree. You can then transfer the credit to one of the art colleges in California for a four-year bachelor’s degree. This way, you will be accepted faster than other applicants because you already have a strong foundational knowledge of the arts and a degree to back it up. This is just a tip.

Average Cost of Art School in California

Art schools in California are expensive, the California College of the Arts, for example, charges undergraduate students $74,505 per year no matter their residency status. The average cost of art schools in California is $42,000.

Note that tuition fee varies depending on the school, your degree program, and residency status with international students paying higher. Check our post on low-tuition universities in California to find a cheap university that offers art programs.

art schools in California

Art Schools in California and their Tuition

Here, you will find first-hand details on the art schools in California and their cost. With each of their details and tuition exposed, you get to know which art school is best for you and begin processing your admission almost instantly.

1.     ArtCenter College of Design

ArtCenter College of Design is a reputable private art college located in Pasadena, California. It was established in 1930 and has since been operating as a prestigious art institute providing education to undergraduate and graduate students.

Offered programs include Film, Illustration, Interaction Design, Spatial Experience Design, Graphic Design, Brand Design and Strategy, Entertainment Design, Photography and Imaging, Product Design, and Transportation Design.

ArtCenter also offers interdisciplinary programs that offer students the opportunity to explore the outside world through merging art with other disciplines and working with experts in the industry. Extension programs are also offered where more than 125 hands-on, non-degree courses for adults, teens, and kids are offered both online and in-person.

All the programs at ArtCenter are taught by a faculty of practicing artists and designers who have decades of experience in their respective fields. The tuition for undergraduates is $24,471 per term and $25,863 per term for graduates.

Visit ArtCenter

2.     California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

Co-founded by Walt Disney, the California Institute of the Arts is one of the best art schools in California and among the best art schools in the world. It ranks 5th in the best fine arts program, 9th in painting/drawing, and 9th in photography, and sculpture. CalArts is a private art university located in Santa Clarita, California, and was established in 1961 as the first degree-granting higher institution in the US for visual and performing arts.

CalARTS is organized into 6 schools which are the School of Art, School of Critical Studies, School of Dance, School of Film/Video, School of Music, and School of Theatre. Altogether, they offer over 70 academic programs in visual, performing, media, and literary arts at undergraduate and graduate study levels.

Programs of study include music, creative writing, technical direction, photography and media, film directing, art and technology, graphic design, aesthetics and politics, costume design, and acting.

The total cost of attendance for an undergraduate is $74,308 and covers tuition, transportation, books and supplies, personal expenses, medical, indirect expenses, meals, room, and fees. For graduate students, the total cost of attendance is $75,272.

Visit CalArts

3.     California College of the Arts (CCA)

California College of the Arts is a leading private art school in Berkeley, California established in 1907 existing for more than a decade. Enrolling in this art school, you will dive into over a decade-old art teaching and research, gaining extensive knowledge to develop your potential, and kick start a successful career in your field. You will also gain access to its wide network of alumni most of whom are big names in the art world.

The four core disciplines at CCA at Architecture, Design, Fine Arts, and Humanities. In these core, disciplines are built over 50-degree programs in undergraduate and graduate study levels.

Popular programs include Comics, Interaction Design, Writing, Design Strategy, Illustration, Industrial Design, Jewelry & Metal Arts, Painting & Drawing, Printmedia, Sculpture, Textile, and Photography. You will graduate with a BFA or BA for undergraduate and MFA or MA for graduate.

There are facilities on the campus for students to develop hands-on skills that will help them build a career after school. Entry requirements include an online application, personal essay, transcript from high school or university, letter of recommendation, portfolio, proof of English proficiency for international students, and a $70 non-refundable application fee. SAT or ACT are not required.

Undergraduate tuition is $53,856 while graduate tuition ranges from $34,056 to $68,112 depending on your course of study.

Visit CCA

4.     University of California, Los Angeles School of the Arts and Architecture (UCLA Arts)

UCLA Arts is one of the 12 schools at UCLA offering a range of academic degree programs through the departments of Architecture and Urban Design, Art,  Design | Media Arts, and World Arts and Cultures/Dance. This is one of the best art schools in California with a commitment to innovative education, pioneering research, dynamic public service, and community engagement.

UCLA Arts offers comprehensive degree programs leading to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Some of the programs are architecture, culture and performance, art, architecture, urban design, and media arts. There are also nine research centers and three museums for students to have access to all the resources they may need to explore and develop their potential.

The tuition for undergraduate students is $13,804 per year for California residents and $31,026 per year for non-residents. The tuition for graduate students is $17,756 per year for California residents and $32,858 per year for non-residents.

Visit UCLA Arts

5. NewSchool of Architecture & Design (NSAD)

NewSchool of Architecture & Design is one of the art schools in California with a focus on architecture and design. It was established in 1980 as a private for-profit college in San Diego and is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. If you are passionate about pursuing careers in the fields of architecture, design, and construction management then this is the school for you.

Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered to international and domestic students. The school has a diverse student body with over 120 students from 50 countries. The annual tuition for graduates is $10,257 for architecture and $8,244 for construction management.

The undergraduate tuition range is between $7,590 to$9,609 per annum depending on your program. And the professional certificate is between $7,590 and $14,093 depending on your program.

Visit NSAD

6.     Los Angeles Film School (LA Film School)

The LA Film School is one of the art colleges in California established in 1999 and offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs relating to the entertainment industry. This is a school that develops students to become future leaders in the entertainment industry with programs offered in animation, cinematography, film, directing, audio, visual effects, game art, and music. Some of these degrees are offered online.

The associate and bachelor’s degree programs can be completed in three years or less. To apply, select your degree first, check entry requirements, check the tuition fee and duration of the degree, apply online, and check the financial aid and scholarships. Tuition fee varies by degree program, see the breakdown here.

Visit LA Film School

7.     Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD)

Laguna College of Art and Design is one of the art colleges in California established in 1961 as a private college in Laguna Beach. The art college offers degree programs leading to bachelor’s and master’s study levels. If you are looking for an art school in California with low enrollment then this is the school for you, with a little above 700 enrollments annually, also, the programs offered here are few.

There are 8 undergraduate majors, 3 graduate programs, and 8 minors. Some of these programs include animation, drawing + painting, entertainment design, game art, liberal arts, graphic design, and art history. Tuition for undergraduates is $33,600 per year while undergraduate tuition ranges from $35,640 to $40,020 per year.

Visit LCAD

8.     Otis College of Art and Design (OCAD)

Otis College of Art and Design is one of the art colleges in California established in 1918 and accredited by the WSCUC and National Association of Schools of Art and Design. It is located in Los Angeles and was the first independent professional school of art in the city.

Undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in a wide variety of visual and applied arts, media, and design, as well as, extension courses for all ages that are offered annually.

Certificates are also offered in animation, digital imaging, fashion design, fine arts, graphic design, interior design, lighting design, motion graphics, surface design, photography, and UI/UX for web design.

The tuition for undergraduate and graduate students is the same at $49,100.

Visit OCAD

Art Schools in California – FAQs

How many art schools are in California?

There are over 450 accredited art schools in California.

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Thaddaeus is a lead content creator at SAN with over 5 years of experience in the field of professional content creation. He has written several helpful articles for Blockchain projects in the past and even recently but since 2020, he has been more active in creating guides for students who want to study abroad.

When he's not writing, he's either watching anime, making a delicious meal, or definitely swimming.

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