California Art Schools

California Art Schools – 15 Best Art Colleges in California (Ranked for 2024)

California has long been a magnet for artists and creative thinkers, from the Hollywood dream-makers to the tech visionaries of Silicon Valley.

The state’s diverse landscapes and innovative spirit are also reflected in its top-tier art schools. Whether you’re in the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles, the technology hub of San Francisco, or the scenic enclaves of San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Pasadena, you’ll find an institution that fuels your artistic ambitions.

From the timeless beauty of classical art forms to the interactive, digital art advances revolutionizing the way we experience media, California offers unparalleled opportunities for artists of all inclinations.

Digital Art

Graphic Design



Fashion Design

Fashion Design

Interior Design

Interior Design

As you navigate through our curated list of the top 15 art schools in California, you’ll find detailed insights into what each institution has to offer in terms of degrees, enrollment, and community engagement.

Whether you’re an aspiring painter or a digital prodigy, explore the California art schools that can transform your creative dreams into a fulfilling career.

What Is The Best Art School In California?

1. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Valencia

  • Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA in multiple disciplines such as Animation, Graphic Design, and Fine Arts
  • Enrollment: Approx. 1,500 students
  • Community: Actively collaborates with Los Angeles art galleries and museums; students and faculty often participate in local art events.

Full Sail University – Sponsored

Online College

Areas of Study: Music & Recording, Technology, Games, Art & Design, Film & Television, Media & Communications, Business, Sports
Enrollment: 15,500
Student Life: Digital interaction
Annual Tuition (after aid): $28,000

2. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena

  • Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA in Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Entertainment Arts
  • Enrollment: Approx. 2,100 students
  • Community: Integral part of the Pasadena art scene with various exhibitions and community projects.

3. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles

  • Degrees Offered: BA, MFA in Fine Arts, Design Media Arts
  • Enrollment: Approx. 45,000 students (all departments)
  • Community: UCLA art students are actively involved in the LA art community, including exhibitions at renowned museums.

4. San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco

  • Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA in Fine Arts, Photography, Film
  • Enrollment: Approx. 650 students
  • Community: A significant contributor to San Francisco’s rich art history; regularly collaborates with local galleries.

5. Academy of Art University, San Francisco

  • Degrees Offered: AA, BFA, MFA in various disciplines including Animation, Game Design, and Fashion
  • Enrollment: Approx. 10,000 students
  • Community: Engages with San Francisco’s vibrant art and tech scenes through exhibitions and partnerships.

6. University of California, San Diego (UCSD), San Diego

  • Degrees Offered: BA, MFA in Visual Arts, Electronic Media
  • Enrollment: Approx. 37,000 students
  • Community: Actively involved in San Diego’s art scene with public installations and community projects.

7. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach

  • Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA in Drawing, Painting, Game Art
  • Enrollment: Approx. 700 students
  • Community: Close ties with Laguna Beach’s art festivals and galleries.

8. California College of the Arts, San Francisco

  • Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Animation
  • Enrollment: Approx. 1,500 students
  • Community: Actively engages with the local art and tech industries in the Bay Area.

9. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles

  • Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA in Fine Arts, Digital Media, Fashion Design
  • Enrollment: Approx. 1,100 students
  • Community: Students and faculty frequently participate in LA’s art events and exhibitions.

10. University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles

  • Degrees Offered: BA, MFA in Fine Arts, Interactive Media
  • Enrollment: Approx. 48,000 students
  • Community: Collaborates with local museums and offers various community outreach art programs.

11. San Diego State University, San Diego

  • Degrees Offered: BA, MFA in Applied Arts and Sciences, Multimedia
  • Enrollment: Approx. 35,000 students
  • Community: Contributes to San Diego’s cultural landscape with student exhibitions and public art projects.

12. Chapman University, Orange

  • Degrees Offered: BA, BFA in Graphic Design, Studio Art, Digital Arts
  • Enrollment: Approx. 10,000 students
  • Community: Actively involved in Orange County’s art scene, including collaboration with local galleries.

13. Stanford University, Stanford

  • Degrees Offered: BA, MA in Art History, Studio Art
  • Enrollment: Approx. 16,000 students
  • Community: The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is a major art venue that enriches the local community.

14. University of California, Irvine (UCI), Irvine

  • Degrees Offered: BA, MFA in Studio Art, Digital Filmmaking
  • Enrollment: Approx. 36,000 students
  • Community: Students are engaged in community art programs and local art exhibitions.

15. University of California, Davis (UC Davis), Davis

  • Degrees Offered: BA, MA in Studio Art, Art History
  • Enrollment: Approx. 39,000 students
  • Community: Actively collaborates with Sacramento’s burgeoning art scene and hosts various on-campus art events.


The breadth of disciplines offered by California’s art schools is as wide-ranging as the state itself.

Students seeking traditional Fine Arts degrees can explore rich programs that offer the full gamut of disciplines: painting, sculpture, ceramics, and art history, to name a few. However, the Golden State is also at the forefront of digital art education.

Whether you’re interested in video game design, digital illustration, or 3D animation, schools like CalArts and the ArtCenter College of Design provide a pathway into these cutting-edge fields.

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