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Art Schools in Pasadena, CA with Degree Program Overviews

The Pasadena area has more than 20 colleges and universities that offer art programs. Learn about the degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three schools within 25 miles of the city.

Pasadena Art School Options

There are many schools near Pasadena, CA, that have art programs. Three major schools that offer both art training and a liberal arts education, all within 20 miles of downtown Pasadena, are profiled in this article. Also included is a table that compares the schools in several important aspects, such as enrollment, tuition and graduation rates. At the end of the article is a little more information about a few other schools for art in the Pasadena area.

  • Occidental College, a private school, has the smallest student population. It's in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles and is the art school closest to Pasadena, just four miles from downtown. Occidental offers a bachelor's degree and a minor option in art history and the visual arts.
  • About five miles from the Pasadena city center, California State University - Los Angeles has an accredited art program that offers a minor in art, a Bachelor of Arts in Art and a Master of Fine Arts in Art degree. Students can benefit from two art galleries, plus a visual resources lab on campus.
  • University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA), about 19 miles from Pasadena's downtown, offers a range of museums, studio workspaces and additional facilities for art students. It also has the prestige of having one of the top five graduate programs in fine arts in the nation. This school's degree offerings are a Bachelor of Arts in Art and a Master of Fine Arts in Art.

Comparison of Schools

Students need to look at many features in order to decide which school is right for them. This table allows them to easily compare these three schools in several areas.

Occidental College California State University - Los Angeles University of California - Los Angeles
School Type* 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, public 4-year, public
Total Enrollment (2017)* 1,972 28,531 44,027
Campus Setting* Large city Large city Large city
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018)* $52,838 $6,639 in-state,
$18,519 out-of-state
$13,261 in-state,
$41,275 out-of-state
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017)* 71% 91% 65%
Undergraduate Acceptance Rate (2017)* 42% 46% 16%
Retention Rate (2016-2017)* 91% 79% full-time students,
45% part-time students
97% full-time students,
80% part-time students
Graduation Rate (2011 start date)* 84% (12% transfer-out rate) 47% (2% transfer-out rate) 91% (4% transfer-out-rate)

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

Occidental College

This school, just north of downtown Los Angeles, offers a minor and a bachelor's degree program through the Department of Art and Art History.

Minor in Art and Art History

Students who select this 20-unit minor may have an emphasis on either studio art or art history. The studio art minor requires four studio courses and one course in art history. The art history minor requires five courses in art history with three that are 200-level courses or higher.

Major in Art and Art History

The major also offers an emphasis in studio art or art history. Each area of focus requires 48 credits of coursework. The studio art emphasis requires coursework in areas like painting, sculpture, printmaking, lithography, modern and contemporary art, and later European and American art. An emphasis in art history requires coursework in urban design, East Asian art, early European art, and a senior seminar in art history, among other topics.

California State University - Los Angeles

The Department of Art offers several degree programs, structured in such a way that students obtain an understanding of numerous styles and genres of art and also develop their skills in a focused area. The school's campus is located less than five miles east of downtown Los Angeles, with public transportation available from the campus.

Minor in Art

The minor requires 30 units in the art department, of which 12 are upper-division courses. The coursework begins with an introduction to drawing, world art and both 2-D and 3-D work. Students will also be required to choose six units of lower division electives and nine units of upper division electives.

Bachelor of Arts in Art

This degree program requires students to complete 120 units, 62-69 of which must be art courses. Students can choose from options in areas like animation, art education, art history and studio arts. Core coursework is the same as the minor in art. Additionally, students will engage in topics like digital design, color theory, modern art, Greek and Roman art, Baroque art, African art, sculpture, drawing and painting.

Master of Fine Arts in Art

This 60-unit program provides students with the opportunity to choose from a design or studio arts option. Areas of focus within those concentrations include graphic design/visual communication, photography, ceramics and sculpture. Students need to submit a portfolio of their work and they will also participate in an in-person interview, among other admissions requirements. Course topics for the major include research methodologies in art, perspectives on visual art, and three units of professional fieldwork in art.

University of California - Los Angeles

Part of the largest university in Los Angeles, UCLA's Department of Art is dedicated to providing professional training alongside a liberal arts education. The art department faculty consists of professional artists whose work is represented in museums in Los Angeles and New York as well as in international exhibits.

Bachelor of Arts in Art

Applicants must submit a portfolio with images of eight to ten recent works and optionally up to one minute of audio-visual media that highlight their personal interests. Students in the program are offered the opportunity to explore multiple mediums while finessing their creative approach to making art. Foundation courses include art theory, ceramics, drawing and painting, photography and sculpture. Students are also required to study new genres of art, such as video, installation or performance art. After completing these classes, students focus on advanced studio courses within a chosen medium. An art history context is integrated with the studio work. Students also have the opportunity to present their work in a juried exhibition.

Master of Fine Arts in Art

Applicants need to provide a portfolio of up to 20 still images representing the medium in which they intend to focus. If their work is based on video or performance, a DVD showcasing this material is required. Applicants with a bachelor's degree in an area other than art are considered on the merit of their work. MFA students can choose among specializations in ceramics, painting and drawing, sculpture, photography, new genres and interdisciplinary studies. The program requires intensive studio work as well as the study of art criticism theory. Each quarter, students are able to work individually with up to three faculty members. It takes a minimum of 72 units to complete the program, with 24 units required in a student's chosen specialization. Students must participate in the graduate exhibition toward the end of the program.

Other School Options

Glendale Community College is about six miles away from Pasadena and offers Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees as well as a certificate in either 2-D or 3-D art. East Los Angeles College offers Associate of Arts degrees and certificates in graphic communication and animation and is located approximately seven miles south of Pasadena. Less than ten miles away, Los Angeles City College offers an Associate of Arts degree in fine arts and graphic design, as well as programs designed for students who wish to transfer to 4-year institutions.


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