Information for Applicants

Why Attend CSULB for your Graduate Degree in Studio Art or Art History?

  • Affordability & Access: The cost of attending CSULB is far lower than other Los Angeles area graduate programs. California residents pay $4,451 per semester (as of fall 2024) for full-time tuition, putting the total cost of attendance just over $26,000 for our 3-year program. Many schools in the area cost well above that amount for just one year of study. Graduate students often receive a large amount of support from federal and state based financial aid, as well as School of Art scholarships.
  • Accomplished Faculty: School of Art faculty are active practitioners who are well-established in their field and are consistently meet high standards for quality of teaching, creative work or research, and service.
  • New MFA Graduate Studios: In 2019, our new Graduate Studio complex opened. It features 32 graduate spaces, a graduate gallery that is available for daily student reservations, and a graduate workroom and classroom, centralizing graduate activities and facilitating community.
  • Visiting Artists & Scholars: CSULB's excellent Visiting Artists and Scholars program gives our students access to a wide range of LA artists, curators, historians, and critics through lectures, classroom visits, studio visits, and our annual Graduate Critique Week.  Recent guests have included:
    •  Alex Anderson, Carmen Argote, Paloma Barhaugh-Bordas, Sula Bermúdez-Silverman, Saeri Cho Dobson, Mercedes Dorame, June Edmonds, Kenturah Davis, Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski, Christina Fernandez, Nicki Green, Mildred Howard, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Janna Ireland, Annika Johnson, Dawn Kim, Young Joon Kwak, Kathya Maria Landeros, Wes Larios, Heidi Lau, Jacqueline Laurita Cortese, Constance Mallinson, jill moniz, Dominga Opazo Pavez, Coyote Park, Mary Anna Pomonis, Paul Baker Prindle, Vick Quesada, Rosalía Romero, Stacy Jo Scott, Wesley Taylor, Lauren Thorson, Clarissa Tossin, Chris Ulivo, Gabriela Urtiaga, and Rodrigo Valenzuela.
  • A vibrant student community: 2024 will be the 20th annual GLAMFA exhibition (Greater LA MFA Exhibition) which is curated by MFA graduate students at CSULB and features graduate students in programs across Southern California and beyond. Our student organization, the Fine Arts Roundtable, hosts an annual Open Studios event and many other gatherings for students.
  • We value making: CSULB has incredibly comprehensive facilities that embrace traditional methodologies as well as cutting edge tools for students to explore. From lithography facilities and loom rooms to 3D printing and digital animation, students can get hands-on experience with a wide range of tools and media, and work with faculty who are renowned for their use of these processes.

Graduate Degrees and Certificates Offered by the School of Art

  • MFA in Studio Art 

    • Animation 
    • Ceramics 
    • Drawing and Painting 
    • Fiber 
    • Illustration
    • Metals
    • Photography
    • Printmaking
    • Sculpture/4D
    • Wood

Our MFA in Studio Art includes 10 tracks listed above. When you apply to our program, you will choose a track for your application. Please note that The Graphic Design Track is not available for fall 2025 admission.

  • MA in Art History

In addition to providing advanced analytical and communication skills broadly applicable to numerous careers, the art history graduate program prepares students with the necessary research skills and experiences to enter the professional fields of teaching, museum work, art gallery management, art consultancy, arts management, and art writing, or to continue their studies at the doctoral level. Our faculty train graduate students in the following areas: Ancient Mediterranean Art and Archaeology; Asian Art/20th Century Asian Art and Architecture; Contemporary Art; Latin American Art and Architecture; Medieval Art and Architecture; Museum and Curatorial Studies; Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture; 18th and 19th Century Art and Architecture of Europe and the United States; and 20th Century Art. Additional areas of strength across disciplines include gender and sexuality studies, critical theory, colonial and post-colonial studies, critical race theory, materiality, empirical and archival research, reception theory, global art studies, the history of emotions, and Marxist and post-Marxist methodologies.

Please note that the Certificate in Museum Studies is not available for fall 2024 admission. However, Museum Studies courses continue to be available through, and applicable toward the MA in Art History.

  • MA in Art with a Concentration in Art Education

*Please note that the MA in Art with a Concentration in Art Education has been discontinued and is not available for fall 2024 admission.

Application Requirements

Both of these applications are required in order to apply for all graduate programs in the School of Art:

The School of Art only reviews applicants for fall admission. We do not currently offer spring admission. Admission to a graduate degree program at CSULB is a two-part process that requires application to and acceptance by both the University and the School of Art. There are two separate applications, reviewed by separate groups of university staff and School of Art faculty. Both need to be submitted before the deadline of January 15th . Individual programs may conduct interviews, in which case they will contact you directly.

  1. CSULB / Cal State Apply Application: available Oct. 1- January 15th;
  2. $70 application fee, payable online only through Cal State Apply;
  3. Official sealed transcripts from the college or university you earned your bachelor's degree, sent electronically or mailed directly (see CSULB's Graduate Transcript Information for more information);
  4. Any additional materials as requested by the university.
  5. In addition, International Students should review current admissions requirements on the International Admissions website.
  6. School of Art Slideroom Application: available Nov. 1- Jan.15th. There is no fee for the School of Art application. You will need to create a Slideroom account if you don’t have one already and select the program you would like to apply to. 
  7. PDF (unofficial) copies of your transcripts.
  8. Two letters of recommendation. You will enter email addresses for your recommenders through Slideroom. They will be contacted and will upload their recommendations directly to Slideroom.
  9. CV or resumé.
  10. Additional Supplementary materials based on the program you are applying to, as described below.

Supplementary Materials

MA Art History Supplementary Materials

  1. Writing Sample: Your writing sample should demonstrate potential for original academic research as well as strong interpretive and writing skills. Most applicants will submit a term paper they have completed in an undergraduate Art History course or as their senior thesis. Your writing sample should be ten to twelve pages long, double spaced, not including bibliography. Illustrations are not required.
  2. Art History Pre-Requisites: You will need to list the courses you have taken to meet the required MA Art History program pre-requisites (detailed below) and upload unofficial transcripts that reflect these courses.  If you are self-taught or a native speaker and do not have academic language coursework, in your application you will be able to state your intention to demonstrate language proficiency through an in-house exam. 
  3. Statement of Purpose: Please present your reasons for pursuing graduate study in the School of Art at CSULB. Your statement should be 1-2 pages long, double-spaced. In your statement, you may want to answer some of the following questions:  
    1. Why is CSULB the best place for you to pursue your academic and research goals? 
    2. What are your primary research interests in art history and, if applicable, in other disciplines? 
    3. Which specific CSULB faculty you would you like to work with? 
    4. What additional experiences have prepared you for graduate study in Art History, and what skills have you gained from these experiences? Some examples might include past employment, educational experiences, teaching, service to the community, or other areas where you developed leadership or written and oral communication skills. You are also welcome to describe past publications, presentations, awards, or recognition you have received. 
    5. What are your goals after earning this degree? 

MFA Studio Art Supplementary Materials

  1. Portfolio of 20 Images/Videos of Studio Work: Your portfolio should include 20 images/videos of your studio work. We encourage you to submit a portfolio that represents a cohesive body of work, rather than a sampling of everything you have done as an artist. Faculty reviewers are more interested in seeing recent work (completed in the last 2-3 years), rather than a chronological selection of past works.  After uploading your images to Slideroom, you will provide titles, dates, dimensions, duration, short descriptions, and medium or other relevant details for each image or video. For group or collaborative projects, be sure to indicate your role in the project. For excerpts of video projects, it is important to include information to contextualize the excerpt as you are only allowed to upload a selection up to 10 minutes long. Preparing Images and Videos for Slideroom: Uploaded image files may not be larger than 5MB each. Supported image formats are: .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif, .tif, .tiff, .bmp, .tga. Slideroom processes all images so they have a maximum of 1280 pixels at the longest length. Information required for each image includes: Title, dimensions (H x W x L), medium, date. Videos, where required, can be embedded from YouTube or Vimeo, or uploaded directly to Slideroom. Longer works of film and video must be excerpted (max. 10 min). Uploaded videos can be no larger than 60MB. Supported video formats for uploading are: .m4v, .mov, .mp4, .wmv, .flv, .asf, .mpeg, .mpg, .mkv, Supported audio formats are: .mp3, .wma, .ogg, .flac. 

  2. Artist Statement: In 1000 words or less, address the creative work you are submitting as part of this application. Artist statements can take many forms and approaches. They can describe, extend, and/or contextualize your creative work. You may want to describe your process, including the tools, methods, and artistic strategies you use, or provide a description of how the work has developed over time. You may also want to describe your work in relationship to art history, theory, or to the contemporary moment. Your statement should allow the faculty reviewers to understand what is most important to you as an artist. 

  3. Statement of Purpose: Please present your reasons for pursuing graduate study in the School of Art at CSULB.  In your statement, you may want to answer the following questions:  
    1. Why is CSULB the best place for you to pursue your academic and creative goals? 
    2. What are your main areas of interest, including interdisciplinary interests? 
    3. Have you identified specific faculty mentors at CSULB you would like to work with? 
    4. What additional experiences have prepared you for graduate study in Art, and what skills have you gained from these experiences? Some examples might include past employment, educational experiences, teaching, service to the community, or other areas where you developed leadership or communication skills. You are also welcome to describe past performances, exhibitions, publications, presentations, awards, or recognition you have received. 
    5. What are your goals after earning this degree? 

CSULB Prerequisites for Graduate Admission

An applicant may be accepted if, in addition to having satisfied requirements set by the School of Art for the degree concentration, the applicant has satisfied the following minimum university standards. To qualify for admission in conditionally classified graduate standing, these conditions need to be met:

  1. Applicant holds an acceptable baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting association or has, as determined by an appropriate CSULB authority, completed equivalent academic preparation in a university outside the United States;
  2. Applicant has attained a grade-point average of at least 2.5* (A = 4.0) in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted;
  3. Applicant has been in good standing at the last college attended.

School of Art Program Prerequisites

NOTE: Courses taken to fulfill prerequisites for a graduate degree may not be counted toward the graduate degree program of study. The School of Art requires a GPA of 3.0 in all prerequisite units for acceptance to our graduate programs.

MA in Art History Prerequisites

Applicants must complete prerequisite coursework approved by the Art History faculty to include:

  • 3 units of AH 448 (or equivalent theory and criticism coursework);
  • 9 additional upper-division units of Art History;
  • and four sequential semesters (or the equivalent) of college-level French, German, or a foreign language appropriate to the applicant's intended area of research with a 3.0 grade point average or better in these courses. Please note that admitted students may complete the foreign language prerequisite by completing the required coursework or by passing a departmentally administered foreign language exam by the end of the second semester of study.

MFA in Studio Art Prerequisites

The School of Art prefers, but does not require, that Studio Art applicants have undergraduate degrees in Art. Application to our graduate programs is competitive and most applicants to the studio programs will have an undergraduate degree in Art, many with a BFA in their chosen media. For Studio Art admissions, the part of the application that is given the most weight is the portfolio of work. The School of Art invites all applicants who feel they have strong portfolios to apply. If the reviewing faculty members feel the application is strong, but the applicant needs additional preparatory work, the School of Art may admit the applicant with Conditionally Classified graduate standing, with specific prerequisites stated on a case-by-case basis at the time of admission. Students who have deficiencies in prerequisites, but who are willing to engage in additional preparation to meet these requirements, are encouraged to apply.

Acceptance to a degree program in Art

After submitting the School of Art application materials, those who pass the program review are recommended by the faculty to be admitted as either Classified or Conditionally Classified. A Classified Graduate has satisfied all prerequisites. A Conditionally Classified Graduate has outstanding prerequisites to complete. Acceptance is not complete until the applicant has received both notification of acceptance from the School of Art and a formal letter of acceptance from the CSULB Office of Enrollment Services. Acceptance decisions are normally sent out before April 15th for fall admission.

Transfer Units

Transfer units are allowed on a case-by-case basis and must have been completed within the 7-year limit.

Additional Information

Additional information about the degree, committee procedures, and other graduate processes may be found in the “School of Art Graduate Guidelines,” given to each student accepted into a master’s program in the School of Art at CSULB.