Study Programs Guide at California Institute of Arts
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


  1. Overview of the California Institute of Arts
  2. Film and Animation Study Program
  3. Graphic Design Study Program
  4. Fine Arts Study Program
  5. Photography and Media Study Program
  6. Music Study Program
  7. Theater Study Program
  8. Dance Study Program
  9. Critical Studies Study Program
  10. How to Apply for a Study Program

Choosing the right course to pursue can be quite a journey, right? But don't worry! If you're considering the California Institute of Arts, you're in the right place. This blog post aims to guide you through the various study programs at this esteemed institution. So, if you're asking "what courses are offered at California Institute of the Arts?", read on!

Overview of the California Institute of Arts

Founded in 1961, the California Institute of the Arts, fondly known as CalArts, has been a beacon of creativity and innovation in the world of arts education. It's a place where you can let your imagination run wild, learn from some of the best in the field, and develop your own unique artistic voice.

So, what courses are offered at California Institute of the Arts? Well, CalArts offers a diverse range of study programs, each tailored to nurture the innate talents of its students. These programs span across several disciplines, including:

  • Film and Animation: This program dives deep into the world of film making and animation, equipping you with the skills to create your own masterpieces.
  • Graphic Design: In this program, you'll learn how to communicate visually and make designs that captivate and inspire.
  • Fine Arts: This program is for those who love to paint, sculpt, or create installations. It's all about expressing yourself through your art.
  • Photography and Media: This program is for those who see the world through a lens and want to tell stories through their images.
  • Music: If you have a passion for melodies and rhythms, this program will help you hone your musical talents and understanding.
  • Theater: This program is for the drama kings and queens out there. It's all about bringing stories to life on stage.
  • Dance: For those who communicate best through movement, this program will help you perfect your technique and express your emotions through dance.
  • Critical Studies: This program is for the thinkers—the ones who like to dig deep, analyze, and critique the arts.

Regardless of which program you choose, you'll be part of a vibrant, creative community that encourages experimentation and collaboration. And don't worry, we'll be diving into each of these programs in more detail later on in this guide. So, stick around!

Film and Animation Study Program

Let's kick off with one of the most exciting programs at CalArts—the Film and Animation Study Program. If you're someone who has always been fascinated by movies and cartoons, this might be just the right fit for you.

CalArts' Film and Animation program offers you a chance to dive into the magic of storytelling through moving images. The faculty includes award-winning filmmakers and animators who are eager to share their expertise and guide students to develop their own unique styles. So, when you ask, "What courses are offered at California Institute of the Arts?", remember that film and animation is a major draw.

Here's a quick peek into what you can expect from this program:

  • Storytelling: Learn how to captivate audiences with compelling narratives. It's all about creating a connection between your characters and your audience.
  • Animation Techniques: From traditional hand-drawn animation to cutting-edge computer graphics, you'll get to explore it all. You'll learn how to bring characters to life with fluid motion and expressive performances.
  • Filmmaking: You'll get hands-on experience in directing, cinematography, and editing. Yes, you'll actually be making films!
  • Sound Design: Discover how the right soundtrack can elevate your film or animation to new heights. It's not just about what you see, but also what you hear.

With a blend of theory and practical assignments, this program ensures that you're well-equipped to enter the competitive world of film and animation. Whether you dream of working for a major animation studio, or creating your own indie films, the Film and Animation Study Program at CalArts could be your stepping stone to success.

Graphic Design Study Program

Ever wondered how logos, posters, or websites are created? They all fall under the umbrella of graphic design, and guess what? The California Institute of the Arts offers a top-notch Graphic Design Study Program that can set you on a path to becoming a skilled designer.

The program isn't just about making things look pretty—it's about communicating ideas and messages visually. So, if you're someone who likes to think creatively and has a knack for aesthetics, this might be the answer to your question, "What courses are offered at California Institute of the Arts?"

Here's a little taste of what this program offers:

  • Typography: You'll learn how to use fonts effectively to convey mood and tone. It's amazing how much difference the right typeface can make!
  • Color Theory: Discover the power of color and how it can be used to evoke emotions and responses. Ever noticed how certain colors make you feel a certain way? That's no accident!
  • Print Design: From designing brochures to creating stunning magazine layouts, you'll get to work with various print mediums. Ink and paper have their own charm, don't they?
  • Digital Design: In today's digital age, knowing how to design for the web is crucial. You'll learn about creating user-friendly interfaces and engaging online experiences.

By the end of the program, you'll have a solid foundation in design principles, as well as hands-on experience in using industry-standard design software. Whether you want to work in a design agency, start your own freelance business, or even launch a career in the booming tech industry, the Graphic Design Study Program at CalArts can help you turn your artistic dreams into reality.

Fine Arts Study Program

Imagine walking through a gallery, admiring the paintings and sculptures, and thinking, "I made that." Sounds exciting, right? The California Institute of the Arts offers a comprehensive Fine Arts Study Program. This could be the perfect answer to your question about what courses are offered at California Institute of the Arts if you're passionate about creating art.

This program is designed to help students like you explore your artistic potential and express your unique vision. You'll be encouraged to experiment, challenge conventions, and develop your own artistic voice. Sounds like an artist's dream, doesn't it?

Here's what to expect from the Fine Arts Study Program:

  • Drawing and Painting: Start with the basics of sketching and move on to more advanced techniques in painting. You'll explore different mediums like oils, acrylics, and watercolors. There's something magical about bringing a blank canvas to life, isn't there?
  • Sculpture: Get hands-on experience in creating three-dimensional artworks. From carving stone to molding clay, you'll learn how to shape your ideas into tangible forms.
  • Installation Art: Discover the art of creating immersive, experiential spaces. It's all about engaging the viewer's senses and creating a unique atmosphere.
  • Art History: Learn about the great masters of art and how their work has shaped the world of fine arts. Because to create the future, we need to understand the past, right?

With the skills and knowledge you gain from the Fine Arts Study Program, you'll be well-prepared to exhibit your work in galleries, work as an independent artist, or continue your studies in a specialized field. So, are you ready to leave your mark on the world of art?

Photography and Media Study Program

Ever looked at a photo and felt like you could almost step into it? Or watched a video and felt a whole range of emotions? That's the power of photography and media. If you're wondering what courses are offered at California Institute of the Arts that can help you create such impactful visuals, their Photography and Media Study Program is worth considering.

This program isn't just about clicking pictures or shooting videos. It's about telling stories, capturing moments, and expressing ideas. You might be thinking, "That's exactly what I want to do!" If so, let's dive into what the program offers.

  • Photography: From understanding camera settings to mastering lighting techniques, you'll learn everything you need to capture stunning photos. But remember, it's not just about the technical aspects; it's also about developing an eye for the extraordinary in the ordinary.
  • Filmmaking: Discover the art of telling stories through moving images. You'll learn how to shoot, edit, and produce films that can evoke emotions and provoke thoughts. There's nothing quite like seeing your vision come alive on screen, is there?
  • Media Studies: Gain insights into the impact of media on society and culture. From traditional print media to digital platforms, you'll explore how information and ideas are disseminated and consumed.
  • Digital Art: Learn how to create art using digital technologies. It's about pushing boundaries and exploring new ways to express yourself.

By the end of the Photography and Media Study Program, you'll be equipped with the skills and knowledge to create powerful visual narratives. Whether you want to become a professional photographer, filmmaker, or digital artist, this program can set you on the right path. So, are you ready to see the world through a new lens?

Music Study Program

Have you ever felt chills down your spine when listening to a beautiful piece of music? Or caught yourself tapping your foot to a catchy beat? That’s what music can do—it can move us, uplift us, and even transport us to a different world. And if you're wondering what courses are offered at California Institute of the Arts that can help you create such captivating sounds, then their Music Study Program is what you should be looking at.

This program is a perfect blend of theory and practice, tradition and innovation. It's not just about hitting the right notes—it's about creating music that resonates with people. Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Let's break down what the program entails:

  • Music Theory: Master the language of music. You'll learn about melodies, harmonies, rhythm, and how they all come together to create a piece of music.
  • Composition: Unleash your creativity and learn how to compose your own music. From a simple melody to a full-fledged symphony, the possibilities are endless.
  • Performance: Hone your performance skills, whether you're a vocalist or instrumentalist. It's all about connecting with the audience and delivering a memorable performance.
  • Music Technology: Get hands-on experience with the latest music technology. From recording techniques to music production, this is where art meets technology.

By the end of the Music Study Program, you'll not only be a proficient musician but also a creative artist who can use music as a medium of expression. So, whether you want to compose your own music, perform on stage, or produce music, this program can be your stepping stone. Ready to hit the high note?

Theater Study Program

Did you ever marvel at the magic of theater, where actors bring stories to life right before your eyes? Or maybe you've dreamed of standing on that stage yourself, under the bright lights, transforming into different characters? If so, you're probably curious about what courses are offered at California Institute of the Arts that could turn this dream into reality. Well, look no further than their Theater Study Program.

From Shakespearean classics to contemporary performances, this program covers the whole spectrum. It's designed to prepare you for the diverse and dynamic world of theater. Now, let's raise the curtain and see what this program has in store for you:

  • Acting: Learn how to become the character, not just play it. This goes beyond merely memorizing lines—it's about understanding the character's emotions, motivations, and actions.
  • Directing: Discover how to guide actors and coordinate a production. It's like being the captain of the ship, steering it towards a successful performance.
  • Playwriting: Unleash your imagination and write your own plays. Who knows, your work might be the next big hit on Broadway!
  • Stagecraft: Get a hands-on experience with the technical aspects of theater, including set design, lighting, and sound. It's all about creating the perfect atmosphere for the play.

By the end of the Theater Study Program, you'll have a deep understanding of the intricacies of theater, and you'll be ready to take your place on the stage—or behind the scenes. So, are you ready to step into the spotlight and let your talent shine?

Dance Study Program

If you've ever found yourself swaying to the rhythm of a song, lost in the melody and the movement, you might be wondering what courses are offered at the California Institute of the Arts to help channel this passion. The answer lies in their Dance Study Program. This program is the perfect stage for those who communicate best not with words, but with their bodies.

In this program, you'll explore the world of dance in all its forms—from ballet to hip-hop, from contemporary to jazz. It's all about learning to express yourself through movement. Here's a glimpse of what you'll encounter:

  • Ballet: The foundation of many dance styles, ballet teaches you grace, poise, and discipline. It's all about precision and control.
  • Modern Dance: Break the rules of traditional dance and learn to move in new and creative ways. Modern dance is all about freedom and expression.
  • Choreography: Learn to create your own dances, setting movements to music in a way that tells a story. It's like being a painter, but your canvas is the stage and your paint is your dancers.
  • Performance: Master the art of performing in front of an audience. It's not just about the steps—it's about connecting with the audience and making them feel the emotions of the dance.

So, if you're ready to put on your dancing shoes and explore the rhythm of life, the Dance Study Program at California Institute of the Arts is waiting for you. Who knows, you might just find yourself dancing in the spotlight, inspiring others with your passion.

Critical Studies Study Program

Have you ever watched a movie, read a book, or looked at a piece of art and thought, "I wish I could dive deeper into understanding this?" Well, if you're curious about what courses are offered at the California Institute of the Arts to satisfy this intellectual curiosity, then the Critical Studies Study Program could be your answer.

This program is designed for those who love to ask questions, dig deeper, and explore the world of art from a fresh perspective. It's about understanding art in its many forms and how it impacts society. Here's a little peek into some of the areas you'll explore:

  • Art History: Travel back in time and learn about the artists who paved the way for today's creatives. Discover how art has evolved over the centuries and its influence on society.
  • Film Analysis: Break down films shot by shot, scene by scene. Understand the director's vision, the cinematographer's angle, and the actors' interpretations. It's like having a backstage pass to the world of cinema.
  • Literary Theory: Delve into the world of literature and understand how authors use words to create worlds, characters, and narratives. It's about finding the story hidden in the story.
  • Philosophy of Art: Explore the big questions about art. What is art? What is its purpose? How does it impact us? It's about connecting the dots between art and life.

So, if you're ready to look at art in a whole new light, the Critical Studies Study Program at the California Institute of the Arts might be just the ticket. It's about using art to understand the world—and maybe even yourself—a little better.

How to Apply for a Study Program

Okay, so you've heard about the amazing courses offered at the California Institute of Arts and you're itching to sign up. But how exactly do you go about it? Don't worry, the process is straightforward, and we're here to guide you every step of the way.

First off, you'll need to fill out an application form. This tells the institute who you are and what you're interested in. Make sure to fill it out carefully and double-check everything before you hit that submit button.

Next, you'll need to gather your documents. This includes things like your high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and any other important papers. Remember, these documents give the institute a better understanding of your academic background, so don't leave anything out.

One of the most important parts of the application is your portfolio. This is where you get to show off your talents. Whether you're applying for the Film and Animation, Graphic Design, Fine Arts, Photography and Media, Music, Theater, Dance, or Critical Studies study program, you'll need to provide a collection of your best work. So, make sure to give this part of the application the time and attention it deserves.

Finally, don't forget about the application fee. This is a standard part of the process and goes towards processing your application.

Once you've got everything together, send it off and wait for a response. Remember, applying to a study program at the California Institute of Arts is a big step, but it's also an exciting one. So take a deep breath, cross your fingers, and look forward to the incredible journey ahead!

If you're considering studying at the California Institute of Arts and want to learn more about applying for a Masters in Fine Art, we highly recommend checking out the workshop 'Applying for Your MFA (Masters in Fine Art)' by Ciarra K. Walters. This workshop will provide you with the necessary guidance and tips on successfully applying for your MFA, ensuring that you're well-prepared for this exciting next step in your artistic journey.