Join thousands of students and parents getting exclusive high school & college admissions content!


If you’re an artist, California holds a wealth of opportunities for pursuing and honing your talent. These colleges will allow you to meet like-minded students and do something you love, all while receiving a high-quality education.


In this list, we’ll explore some of the best arts schools in California. While there are plenty of schools that offer arts majors or programs, this list includes colleges that are strictly focused on the niche arts. They will give you opportunities to meet professionals, showcase your work, and hone your craft.



7 Art Schools in California To Consider

Whether you intend to pursue a degree in Fine Art, Photography, Architecture, Animation, or in Design, such as Game Design, Interior Design, or Graphic Design, California boasts some of the top ranked art schools. Check them out below.


Art Center College of Design

Located in Pasadena, the Art Center College of Design boast a 9:1 student-faculty ratio. There are no gen ed requirements, and the school offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs, with majors across industrial design and visual and applied arts disciplines.



California College of the Arts

One of the most notable features of the San Francisco institution is its first-year program, which includes an end-of-year portfolio review. Majors extend beyond just visual arts to include Writing and Literature. Galleries and exhibits complement the culture and student life.



California Institute of the Arts

Along with visual arts, the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia also offers programs in performing, media, and literary arts. With an acceptance rate of 24%, it’s one of the more competitive arts schools in California. Another important feature of the school is the eight galleries dedicated to showcasing student work.



Laguna College of Art and Design

This Laguna-based college offers a first-year program that provides a foundation in students’ chosen fields. Majors include Animation, Fine Arts, Game Art, Design and Digital Media, and Illustration. The school also offers a graduate program.

Want to join thousands of parents and students receiving exclusive admissions information? Sign up to join our email list. It's free, and we'll only send you the best information!

Build a Profile That Will Impress Admissions Officers

Our mentorship program helps students in 9th, 10th, and 11th grade discover their passions, build their resumes, and get guidance throughout high school.


Otis College of Arts and Design

Otis offers the benefit of being situated in Los Angeles, which offers a host of opportunities for art students. Along with their chosen majors, students participate in core programs in liberal arts, business practices, and community-driven projects. Students have access to traditional visual arts majors along with quirky alternatives like toy design.



UCI Claire Trevor

Combing liberal arts with visual and performing arts, the Irvine-based school offers many cutting-edge facilities, including the Performance Capture Studio and Meyer Sound Lab



UCLA School of Arts and Architecture

A school within the University of Los Angeles, the School of Arts and Architecture is another highly selective option; the overall university has an 18% admissions rate. Offering programs in performing arts as well arts and architecture, UCLA’s many partnerships with performance venues and other organizations gives students many opportunities to showcase their work and meet others in the industry.



Choosing an Arts College

This list provides information about some of the best arts schools in California. Keep in mind that there are many other great schools for visual and performing arts that offer other programs, such as the University of Southern California, while this list covers strictly niche colleges.


When applying to arts schools in California—or any arts school—you will need to put together a strong portfolio. Most arts schools focus more on the portfolio than GPA and test scores, so be sure you understand the admissions requirements and process.


Whether you’re a West Coast resident or find yourself drawn to the Golden Gate state, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to cultivate and hone your talent at these arts schools in California!

Looking for help with your college applications? Check out our College Application Guidance Program. When you sign up for our program, we carefully  pair you with the perfect admissions specialist based on your current academic and extracurricular profile and the schools in which you’re interested. Your personal specialist will help you with branding, essays, and interviews, and provide you with support and guidance in all other aspects of the application process.

Want more tips on improving your academic profile?

We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.

Can't see the form above? Subscribe to our newsletter here.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Latest posts by Laura Berlinsky-Schine (see all)