California Institute of the Arts Reviews

  • 22 Reviews
  • Valencia (CA)
  • Annual Tuition: $55,056
100% of 22 students said this degree improved their career prospects
77% of 22 students said they would recommend this school to others
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Student & Graduate Reviews

  • Reviewed: 2/2/2023
  • Degree: Music
"I was super excited when I saw that there was a program that could possibly bring technology and audio together. Me being engineer as an undergraduate I was super stoked when I could pursue education in music technology. However when I started my classes I realised that it was total waste of time and money. This is me talking only for music technology department. Nobody cares about you here. There’s one mentor for 30 students who barely has time to meet up with and talk to you about your career and education. The department head is never at school. Never seen him at all. The whole Purpose of this program is to bust your ass off with project you hopefully can find somewhere within school and possibly put it on a portfolio. And end up with a studio assistant job. The best part about me doing an MFA is that I have all the classes with BFA students and the curriculum remains the same. Except an MFA student has to finish an additional project to get HIgh Pass grade. Not sure if that’s how a Masters course is. If you really want a challenge you can take a class which VST development which teaches audio programming with C++ . Be aware , this class has no TAs and no time given by the teacher to help you in case you are stuck. You have to take time outside class read books and watch YouTube videos to catch up. They say that the prerequisite for this class for this class is intro to programming 1. Do not believe that. This class requires way more experience in coding than you think it does. Career fairs in CalArts is pretty useless. I attended one and it was the most useless thing ever. There are three kinds of companies that show up. 1. Companies that want to market themselves in the market and offer extra classes for you to take. 2. Companies that want to hire 1 or 2 students only. 3. Companies that have no relevance to the school. There was absolutely no one hiring music tech students. I personally do not recommend the Music Tech program. This was my experience here at CalArts. I had to to take a supplemental program from UCLA in web development to get a job."
  • Reviewed: 7/28/2020
  • Degree: Film Production
"This school is expensive and does not allow for much interdisciplinary study at a high level. The BFA Film program is extremely niche and experimental. It does not prepare students to work in the film industry with any specialized skill set. The film education (technically speaking) is general. The school indulges poor mental health and impracticality. This program has ties to the art world, not the film industry. It is most relevant if you want to be a video artist in that sense, though don't expect to make a living doing that. I would not recommend this program for people who want to work commercially, or want to make a living as a filmmaker. I would also not recommend this program for people who seek a broad arts eduction in different disciplines."
  • Reviewed: 10/15/2018
  • Degree: Film Production
"The BFA program is not supportive of a career in the film industry and tends to look down on any sort of commercial film-making. You are forced to watch a number of very boring experimental films made by the faculty and their friends. Tensions around "ethics" of artistic choices are high. The school as a whole is structurally rigid and does not allow for taking quality classes outside of your discipline (such as acting or dance). The non-art academics were also often not of quality. Self-indulgent poor mental health pervades the culture of the the school and the art generated there. The art people make at CalArts is at best "cool" and at worst deeply unsettling and disgusting. The building itself is cold and sterile. Santa Clarita is an extremely uninspiring place. The school is extremely overpriced."
  • Reviewed: 11/28/2017
  • Degree: Fine Arts
"CalArts not only has great Professors who are working in the field, and several different programs but it also has a name that will help you go far. I have found many fellow students that I can network with, but also have long lasting relationships with. Out of the several schools I was offered to attend for my Masters degree, CalArts is the best fit for me, and the career I am pursuing."
Christopher Rivas
  • Reviewed: 3/6/2017
  • Degree: Performing Arts
"CalArts changed my life. It was as crucial for me as anything I have ever done, especially as an artist, Of the bat I will say this, you get from CalArts, what you put into it. You can work from 7am-1am every day or you can go 9-5 and get away with it and pass and just cruise; it's all up to you. The doors are open and the things are there for the hungry and ready. I entered CalArts green, and came out tested and ready to act and be one of the strongest actor sin the machine that is Hollywood. All my teachers were exceptional in taking the time to know me and therefor push me in challenging and safe ways. CalArts was amazing for connections. The networking you get at CalArts is unbelievable. Everyone who goes there is a brilliant, talented actor/writer/artist/actor/dancer/etc.... If you go you will meet so many amazing people and rub shoulders with people who may become famous later, who knows? Some I knew did, and some still may have their moment. The CalArts rolodex is a good one. CalArt will hook you up, even if you are a socially awkward hot mess as I certainly was back then. It's nice to be in LA, but not be directly in LA. I repeat, you are in a suburb 30 minutes outside of LA called Valencia. This distance allows you to head into the city (if you have a car), but mainly stay around this small town and focus on the work. While you are there, try to live on campus the first year and enjoy all of the amazing avant-garde theatre, regular Thursday night art openings, dance concerts, varied music, and general free-spirited anything goes California atmosphere. There's installation art everywhere. There's even a pool! I repeat, the faculty are brilliant. My few critiques are small and thus: classroom signup was a total s***-show and needs to be updated, the graduate dorm rooms are tiny and ant-infested, and the administration is rather antiquated. My final caveat about CalArts is Holy Cow is it expensive. I'll leave it at that. if somehow you can get the grants and scholarships - it is way worth it. Know what you are getting yourself into if you go to CalArts. You will probably end up deeply in debt if you're not disabled or rich. But you will get super-well-networked, and learn about obscure and wonderful things that you never knew even existed. You will be abetter human because of it."
Zach Tolchinsky
  • Reviewed: 9/18/2016
  • Degree: Computer Animation
"Cal Arts is the best school for me Ive come across yet. Sounds like a strange thing to say, because your average student hasn't tried out as many universities as I have. This is my Third school. Now, that's not because I failed out or didn't finish or didn't just plain like a place. Its because I love education and education specifically through art practice. Ive been searching for a place like Cal Arts since day one and California. I don't know if my case is special, but I know I demand a very high level of talent and commitment from my education and Cal Arts is the only place that has given me that challenge. The challenge of my peers and their skills, and the challenge within myself to do better every day. For me, most schools coast by on simple projects and abstract practices like blowing into the air until your face is red (Seriously, that was an acting exercise I experienced in an earlier school.) Cal Arts gives me the tools I need to succeed and I couldn't be more in love."
Katherine Ortiz
  • Reviewed: 3/28/2016
  • Degree: Performing Arts
"I went to Calarts a few years ago and it was fantastic. It's a very liberal school so if you're looking for something more traditional I would go elsewhere. However, the training I received there is fantastic and has truly helped me develop my voice in the professional world."
Christopher Yarrow
  • Reviewed: 5/24/2015
  • Degree: Performing Arts
"The only real Con of our graduate program would be the cost. Tuition is steep and almost everyone is on loans in order to afford it, and being a 3 year program it leaves many students with large students loans to pay back after graduation. The faculty and training is phenomenal and I wouldn't trade it for any other training in the world."
Elizabeth Valencia
  • Reviewed: 5/4/2015
  • Degree: Fine Arts
"The program and faculty are exceptional. This school molds you as an artist, thinker and as a person. The courses stress real world skills and get students ready to enter the art workforce. The only negative things are the private art school price tag and the fact that the school is not as diverse as I would like."
Stephanie Taglianetti
  • Reviewed: 9/1/2014
  • Degree: Creative Writing
"A diverse, eclectic environment with much to be desired as far as campus safety, affordability and career support are concerned."
Elizabeth Smith
  • Reviewed: 6/19/2014
  • Degree: Performing Arts
"Cal Arts is worth the money! Connections are everything!"
Robin Hirshberg
  • Reviewed: 5/16/2014
  • Degree: Performing Arts
"CalArts is wonderful! But you have to be adventurous. There is opportunity absolutely oozing from the walls and you have to take advantage of it for the school to be worth it. Definitely a place for self-motivated, dedicated artists of all disciplines."
stephanie taglianetti
  • Reviewed: 4/30/2014
  • Degree: Creative Writing
"Pros: Great faculty and classroom dynamic. I always feel like a valuable part of the classroom due to the low teacher:student ratio. Cons: Affordability, facilities (in my metier) and communication within programs."
Robin Hirshberg
  • Reviewed: 11/4/2013
  • Degree: Performing Arts
"CalArts is a fantastic place. There is so much opportunity to do anything and everything you could possibly want. The experience is priceless."
Claire Larsen
  • Reviewed: 6/13/2013
  • Degree: Performing Arts
"California Institute of the Arts is a wonderful place. But it is expensive and it has its issues, like any college. And for students and artists this is a reality to be considered and obviously a difficult one. If you are a self-starter, intrepreneur type who is prepared to work hard and are committed to a life in the arts - then this place is for you. Be prepared to make your own opportunities if you feel you are not being challenged or "seen" by the faculty during a given semester. At CalArts, you can. We have a world class Dance, Animation and Film school in addition to Studio Art, Theater and Design. It is possible to take classes in different schools and to collaborate across the metiers but you have to fight for it and plan ahead. You can gain valuable teaching experience for credit through the Community Arts Partnership which is great as many artists in the real world teach but not many BFA or MFA programs provide teaching opportunities. CalArts is a school interested in exploring themes of social justice across all metiers. The Critical Studies faculty are kick-ass, world class and include LA Times Theater critic Charles McNulty among many other well known scholars, critics and writers. Most of the faculty at CalArts are working professionally in their field- TV/Film, Theater, Dance, Animation, etc. And this has its pros and cons. At the undergraduate level, really think about it given the cost and check in with your own maturity level and work ethic. CalArts will not provide a lot of structure- You do that and guess what? Welcome to the real world... the real world just won't cost you $40K plus living expenses per year... Graduate students, if you are accepted as the class sizes are smaller and admission is very competitive, I say go for it. I am glad I am here at the end of the day. Attack any teaching opportunities, make your own work, collaborate, ask a lot from your faculty, relentlessly bother financial aid and get grants/scholarships from outside sources. At the Master's level it is probably worth it to take out loans and go for it, but make sure you do your part to make it worth your while. This place has a ton of connections in the industry in LA and beyond, but be prepared to work hard and to ask for what you want... relentlessly if necessary. Its a lot like the real world in that way. LA is affordable and only a 30 min commute from the campus. Valencia is convenient but very suburban, which means it is boring but more affordable."
Carolina Charry Quintero
  • Reviewed: 6/6/2013
  • Degree: Liberal Arts
"Calarts is a great place to grow as an artist. Even though it is an expensive school, the support of the faculty and the creative freedom it offers makes it absolutely worth it. The graduate program is designed to give you the technical tools necessary for the kind of work you want to make, and at the same time to support you and challenge you conceptually. The creative freedom and diversity of aesthetics truly contributse to find your own creative voice."
Chrysanthe Tan
  • Reviewed: 6/3/2013
  • Degree: Liberal Arts
"Amazing program. Amazing minds. Almost no diversity. Terrible college town."
sean kasa
  • Reviewed: 4/24/2013
  • Degree: Graphic Design
"this school is going to make an excellent connection building tool for my chosen profession. Above that though, i will be surrounded and learning from the creatively best of the best."
Sachandra Grandoit
  • Reviewed: 3/14/2013
  • Degree: Performing Arts
"I will be entering as a first year this Acting Student this 2013. I haven't actually experienced a full year. I will start this fall. I did visit the campus and spent a day as a student. I loved the intense class schedule that I had. And I loved interacting with the current students. The campus was safe the diversity was exceptional and the campus was pretty."
Emily Chao
  • Reviewed: 3/11/2013
  • Degree: Film Production
"Although the quality of education at CalArts is exceptional, tuition and living costs are high. The surrounding area lacks accessibility without a car. The faculty, however, are very inspiring and willing to help. Overall, the quality of education here makes the financial struggle feel worth it."