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Otis College of Art and Design: Academics, Admissions & Tuition

Research the degree and certificate programs offered at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California. Learn about its academics, and get admission and financial aid info to decide if this is the right school for you.

About Otis College of Art and Design

The Otis College of Art and Design was Southern California's first private arts school. Harrison Gray Otis, the founder and owner of the Los Angeles Times, opened the school in 1918. In 1997, the college moved from Otis's former mansion to West Los Angeles's Ahmanson Hall, and, in 2001, it expanded by opening the 40,000-square-foot Galef Fine Arts Center.

Today, the college houses its fashion design program in downtown LA, its graduate fine arts studios in Culver City, and its graduate program in public practice in Santa Monica. The college also has two galleries that are open to the public - the Ben Maltz gallery and the Bolsky gallery - both of which showcase current and past students' works. Otis College also hosts an annual spring exhibition, allowing graduate students to display their work.


Otis College offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degree programs in advertising design, architecture/landscape/interiors, fashion design, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, product design, sculpture/new genres, digital media, and toy design. Minor programs include sustainability, cultural studies, and creative writing, to name a few. BFA students are required to participate in the Creative Action program, which integrates classroom learning with a community project. Undergraduates also can take part in the Artists, Community, and Teaching program, which couples their major with a minor in teacher credential preparation or community arts engagement.

Otis College freshmen are referred to as foundation students, because all undergraduates must take foundation courses for their entire first year. The foundation curriculum combines a wide range of visual studies with a liberal arts and science education. Students spend part of their second foundation semester selecting a program of study.

Otis's graduate school offerings include Master of Fine Arts programs in fine arts, graphic design, public practice, and writing. The school also offers around 10 certificate programs ranging from art education to lighting design for non-degree students who already hold a bachelor's or a master's degree and who seek specialized instruction.

Otis College takes pride in utilizing the newest technology and multimedia for classes in all areas of study. The campus facilities include a library, computer center, video lab, metal shop, lab press, photography and printmaking labs, a woodworking shop, and a lighting studio. Additionally, the college provides students with career advice at its Center for Creative Professions.


The application process for Otis College starts with an online application and a $60 application fee. After sending the initial application, prospective students must submit their transcripts, test scores, an essay answering a specific application question, and a portfolio. The portfolio for first-time college applicants should include 10-20 examples of their most recent and best work. Graduate admissions procedures are specific to each program, but all programs require a bachelor's degree, resume, statement, portfolio, and undergraduate transcripts.

Otis College has a rolling admissions policy; it accepts students until programs are full. Undergraduate students can start applying October 1st for fall semester, with a February 15th priority deadline, and September 1st for spring semester, with a November 15th priority deadline. Students are notified of an admission decision within three weeks from when the admissions office receives their completed application. In 2011, 51% of the students who applied were accepted.

In Fall 2011, 98% of Otis undergraduates attended full-time. The undergraduate student population was 68% female, 32% male, and 86% under 24. Ethnically, the student population identified as 35% Asian, 22% Caucasian, 14% Latino, and 4% African American. California residents comprised 72% of the student body, while 17% of the students were from out-of-state, and 11% were from foreign countries.

Tuition & Fees

The undergraduate tuition for 2012-2013 is $18,175 per semester for students taking 12-18 credits. Students taking fewer or greater numbers of credits pay $1,212 per credit. Some of the mandatory fees include a $200 registration fee, a $125 technology and materials fee, and a $1,000 yearly health insurance fee. The total yearly cost for undergraduate tuition and fees is $38,300. On-campus housing in a shared room at the Playa del Oro apartments is about $4,060 per semester. Students also can expect to pay around $1,400 per year for books and supplies.

Otis College students can apply for state and federal aid through FAFSA. Additionally, Otis College provides scholarships and grants. The college also has an annual fashion show that raises money for scholarship funds. In 2011, 84% of undergraduate students received grant or scholarship aid averaging $13,780, and 68% of students received a federal student loan averaging almost $9,000. Additionally, students can enroll in payment plans to spread their educational costs over 10-12 months.

School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit*
Degrees Offered Certificate programs**, bachelor's, master's*
Religious Affiliation None***
Academic Calendar Semesters**
School Setting Large city*
Student Body 1,141 undergraduates and 68 graduate students in 2011*
Student Housing Two bedroom, four-person units in the Playa del Oro apartments; priority given to out-of-state students; May 1st priority deadline**
Schools and Programs One school offering art, media, design, architecture, and creative writing programs**
Student-Faculty Ratio 7 to 1*
Most Popular Fields of Study by Degree Level (Number of Recipients) In 2011:
Bachelor's: Film/video and photographic arts (59)
Master's: Creative writing (9)*
Undergraduate Graduation Rates 47% in four years
56% in six years
58% in eight years (students who started in Fall 2003)*
Admission Rate 51% in Fall 2011*
Entering Class Size 185 in Fall 2011***
First-Year Retention Rates From Fall 2010-Fall 2011: 78% of full-time students*
Average SAT and ACT Score of Admitted Students Middle 50% in Fall 2011:
SAT critical reading: 430 - 570
SAT math: 460 - 600
ACT composite: 21 - 27***
Application Due Date Undergraduate priority due date is February 15th for fall and November 15th for spring**
Decision Notification Date Within three weeks of application and materials receipt**
Tuition $38,300 per year for undergraduates and $39,300 per year for graduate students (cost for 2012-2013, including fees)**
Financial Aid Sources Available (Percent of Full-Time Beginning Undergraduates Receiving it) In 2010-2011: Federal grants (44%), state/local grants/scholarships (30%), institutional grants/scholarships (80%), student loans (65%)*
Percent of Students Receiving Some Form of Aid 81% of first-time, full-time undergraduates in 2010-2011*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **Otis College of Art and Design, ***NCES IPEDS Data Center.

School Contact Info

  • Address: Office of Admissions, Otis College of Art and Design, 9045 Lincoln Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90045
  • Phone: (310) 665-6820
  • Website: www.otis.edu

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