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Pasadena Art Colleges with Program and Course Info

Many schools within 30 miles of Pasadena, CA, have art programs. Read an overview of the programs, requirements and admission info at three schools that are less than 15 miles of downtown, and find out which school is the right one for you.

Art Schools in the Pasadena Area

Of the schools in the Pasadena area that offer art-related certificates and degrees, only two are in the city. This article looks at those two institutions as well as one other about 20 minutes from downtown Pasadena. It includes overviews of the varied programs they offer and a table of information that a prospective student should know, such as school size, tuition, graduation rate and the campus setting. At the end of the article is a listing of a couple of other area schools with relevant programs.

  • Less than one mile from downtown, Pasadena City College offers certificate programs in many topics, including product design. Associate's degrees are available in art history and studio arts.
  • The Art Center College of Design, around two miles from the city center, offers bachelor's degree programs in fine art, graphic design, illustration and photography. It also provides a master's program in art.
  • About 14 miles from downtown Pasadena, in Burbank, Woodbury University has bachelor's degree programs in animation, fashion design, game art and graphic design.

Comparison of Schools

Students who are looking for a college need to be aware of many facts. This table presents information about these three schools in a way that invites comparison.

Pasadena City College Art Center College of Design Woodbury University
School Type 2-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 27,324* 2,251* 1,160*
Campus Setting Midsized city Midsized city Large city
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $1,348 in-state; $7,004 out-of-state* $42,008* $38,460*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 61%* 60%* 82%*
Undergraduate Acceptance Rate (2017) N/A - Open admissions* 70%* N/A - Open admissions*
Retention Rate (2017) 74% for full-time students; 55% for part-time students* 80% for full-time students* 73% for full-time students*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate 36% (began 2014)* 68% (began 2011)* 52% (began 2011*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College has more than 140 courses in design, journalism and the arts, providing students with the opportunity to take classes in a wide variety of mediums and techniques. Each year an internationally prominent artist spends a period of time on campus to lecture, produce work and interact with students as an artist in residence.

Certificate of Achievement in Digital Media - Animation and Motion Arts

Students in this certificate program will need to achieve a 'C' or better in all of the courses. Topics include digital painting and drawing, motion graphics, sculpting, 3D animation, illustration and creative coding.

Certificate of Achievement in Digital Media - Interactive Art & Design

This certificate program requires the completion of an online portfolio and a team project. Students will need to finish 21-21.5 credits to earn this certificate. Coursework includes animation principles, interaction design, web design and development, user experience design, game design and game engines, and physical computing for art and design.

Certificate of Achievement in Digital Media - Graphic Design

For students who are interested in employment in the advertising or graphic design industries, this program can help prepare them for entry-level positions. The program consists of 48 units. It includes courses in computer graphics applications and provides students with the opportunity to develop unique design projects. Throughout their studies, students develop portfolios to showcase their foundation in commercial art.

Certificate of Achievement in Product Design - Graphics

Students seeking an entry-level position in product design can develop the requisite skills to start their careers. They study the relation of graphic design to product design and the fundamentals of branding and identity. Coursework also covers digitally assisted artwork generation. Students also develop a portfolio of work throughout this 33-unit program.

Associate in Arts in Art History

This program is designed for students who wish to continue at a 4-year institution, and students are guaranteed credit transferability to schools in the California State University (CSU) system. Focusing on cross-cultural art appreciation, the program explores historical and social perspectives and requires 60 units of coursework. A minimum of 18 units must be within the major.

Associate of Arts in Studio Arts

This transfer degree is appropriate for students intending to study sculpture, ceramics, painting, drawing or another type of studio art at a 4-year institution. The program requires 60 units of study. Students create a portfolio of original work and have the opportunity to develop critical-thinking and analytical skills. Similar to the art history program, credits are transferrable to schools in the CSU system.

Art Center College of Design

With a mission to cultivate socially responsible artists and designers, the Art Center College of Design maintains strong industry ties and a faculty of working professionals. The college has expanded over 80-plus years to encompass programs from fine art to forward-thinking design.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Art

The core program emphasizes nurturing the creative and technical growth of students through the study of experimental visual media, performance and installation, painting, photography and sculpture. Additional tracks are available, in either fine art or painting and illustration. Fine arts students have personal faculty mentors. The program culminates in two senior projects.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

This program gives students the opportunity to develop skills in communication design using the latest digital technology, traditional drawings and handset type. The program covers formal design principles and craftsmanship before students have the option of selecting a single area of graphic design on which to focus. Throughout the program, students apply their skills to projects for corporate clients or non-profit organizations while collaborating with students from other majors.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration

Applicants to this program must submit a portfolio that includes at least ten figure drawings, as well as several pieces showing the development of a story or concept. The applicant's work should demonstrate his or her point of view. The program provides a foundation in color theory, drawing, perspective, painting and art history, before requiring students to choose from specialized tracks. Specialization options include entertainment arts, illustration design, fine art painting and motion.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and Imaging

This program combines studio work with studies in technology, as well as courses in art history. The curriculum also covers the ways technology affects image capture through distribution, including its impact on issues of authorship and originality. Aspiring photographers also can learn about business planning and marketing. Photography and imaging majors can partner with students from other departments to work on projects for corporate and non-profit organizations. Both digital and traditional film equipment is available for student use.

Master of Fine Arts in Art

This program considers applicants with undergraduate degrees from any discipline. The program is interdisciplinary, cultivating student talent in film and video, performance and installation, photography, painting or sculpture. Students meet regularly with individual faculty members for the majority of their instruction. The program requires a minimum of 66 units ranging across five terms, at the end of which students publically exhibit their work and complete a written thesis.

Woodbury University

The School of Media, Culture & Design at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA, offers several art programs, and many faculty members are working creative professionals. Internships are available at several nearby studios.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation

Beginning with the design process, this professional degree program includes study of animation theory and history while preparing students to enter professional practice. Both digital and traditional animation techniques are covered. Students are required to participate in an internship in the animation field prior to graduation. The program culminates with a senior project, to be delivered on DVD.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design

This professional program covers the foundational skills required for a career in the fashion industry. Students study digital design and work with fabrics and other materials. Aspiring designers can choose to explore various design categories, such as shoes or knitwear. An internship or work experience with a fashion design company is required. During their senior years, students participate in a fashion show, where they display their designs.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art & Design

This cross-disciplinary program shares courses with the animation program and allows a choice of emphasis on Game Art or Game Design. The game art emphasis focuses on animation and environmental design, while the game design track focuses on conceptualization, prototyping and game mechanics. The program covers art history and the theoretical study of film, animation, fine art and digital art, as well as intellectual property issues, marketing and distribution strategies and ethical issues related to interactive media. Students also have the opportunity to develop hands-on skills in painting, drawing and sculpture.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Beginning with courses on the principles of design and color, the program sequentially builds to prepare students for careers in multiple areas of design. Design for print, Web and interactive media is combined with courses on branding and business practices. As seniors, students can choose a creative focus in entertainment design, environmental graphics, advertising design, motion design or publication design. Students also produce projects for social welfare issues or non-profit organizations and are required to participate in a design, advertising or marketing internship or professional experience.

Other School Options

Graduate students interested in a conservatory approach to visual arts and narrative storytelling can investigate the American Film Institute Conservatory, located 13.7 miles from downtown Pasadena. Approximately 29 miles from Pasadena, the Otis College of Art and Design offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


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