BusinessWeek magazine in 2009 called CCA one of the world’s best design schools.
CCA ranks fourth among San Francisco Bay Area colleges and universities for highest-paying degrees (Stanford, Santa Clara University, and UC Berkeley, in that order, are the top three).
U.S. News & World Report ranks CCA as one of the top graduate master of fine arts programs for Ceramics, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Painting/Drawing, Photography, and Sculpture.
CCA was founded in 1907 by Frederick Meyer in Berkeley as the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts during the height of the Arts and Crafts movement. The Arts and Crafts movement originated in Europe during the late 19th century as a response to the industrial aesthetics of the machine age. Followers of the movement advocated an integrated approach to art, design, and craft. Today, Frederick Meyer’s "practical art school" is an internationally known and respected institution, drawing students from around the world.
In 1908 the school was renamed California School of Arts and Crafts, and in 1936 it became the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC).
The college’s Oakland campus location was acquired in 1922, when Meyer bought the four-acre James Treadwell estate at Broadway and College Avenue. Two of its buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Oakland campus still houses the more traditional, craft based studios like the art glass, jewelry metal arts, printmaking, painting, sculpture and ceramic programs.
In 2003 the college changed its name to California College of the Arts.
CCA offers 22 undergraduate and 13 graduate majors. CCA confers the bachelor of fine arts (BFA), bachelor of arts (BA), bachelor of architecture (BArch), master of fine arts (MFA), master of arts (MA), master of architecture (MArch), master of advanced architectural design (MAAD), masters of design (MDes) and master of business administration (MBA) degrees.
The CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, located near the San Francisco campus in a new facility on Kansas St., is a forum for contemporary culture. In 2013 the Wattis Institute recruited a new director, Anthony Huberman, formerly of Artist's Space in New York.
Alumni Robert Arneson and Peter Voulkos and faculty member Viola Frey helped establish the medium of ceramics as a fine art and were closely linked to the emergence of the 1960s ceramics movement. The photorealist movement of the 1970s is represented by current faculty member Jack Mendenhall and alumni Robert Bechtle and Richard McLean. Alumni Nathan Oliveira and Manuel Neri were leaders in the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Marvin Lipofsky founded CCA's Glass Program in 1967 and was important in the Studio Glass movement. Two school faculty established California Faience.
Noted alumni include the artists (listed in alphabetical order, by last name);Natalia Anciso (MFA 2011)
Agnes Chavez (BFA 1984)
Sonia Landy Sheridan (MFA 1961), professor emeritus at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (BFA 1981 Painting and minor in Photography), educator at UC Davis
Robert Arneson (MFA 1958)
Viola Frey (BFA 1956)
Manuel Neri (Ceramics, attended in the 1950s)
Peter Voulkos (MFA Ceramics 1950s)
Ako Castuera (BFA 2000 Illustration), best known for storyboard art on Adventure Time
Audrey Marrs (MA 2008, Curatorial Practice), Oscar-winning filmmaker and co-founder of Ladyfest
Wayne Wang (attended in the mid 1970s), film director
Robert Bechtle (BFA 1954, MFA 1958), painter
Val Britton (MFA 2006)
Squeak Carnwath (MFA 1977)
Geoffrey Chadsey (MFA 1995)
Jules de Balincourt (BFA 1998)
Jake Longstreth (MFA 2005)
Richard McLean (BFA Painting)
Robert S. Neuman (MFA 1951 Painting)
Toyin Odutola (MFA 2012)
Nathan Oliveira (BFA 1951, MFA 1952)
Don Stivers (Painting, attended in the 1940s), military painter
Beatrice Helg Swiss photographer
Todd Hido (MFA 1996)
Hank Willis Thomas (MFA 2004 Photo/MA Visual Criticism)
Margo Humphrey (BFA Printmaking)
Roland Petersen (attended 1952-1954), painter and printmaker
Tomie de Paola (MFA 1969 Illustration)
Chelsea Martin (Individualized Major 2008)
Harrell Fletcher (MFA 1994,) social practice
Bryan Nash Gill (MFA 1988), sculpture
Ana Maria Hernando (BFA 1990), installation art
David Ireland (BFA ID 1953)
Raymond Saunders (MFA 1961)
Richard Waters, inventor of the waterphone
Viola Frey (BFA 1956)
Bryan Nash Gill (MFA 1988), sculpture
Bob Haozous (BFA 1971 Sculpture)
Adrien Segal (BFA 2007 Furniture Design), sculpture designed with data
Erik Adigard (BFA 1987 Graphic Design)
Roger C. Field (BFA 1968 Industrial Design)
Florence Resnikoff (BFA 1967 Jewelry)
Kay Sekimachi (BFA 1946-1949 Textiles)
Michael Vanderbyl (BFA 1968)
Kate Colby (MFA Writing)
Joseph del Pesco (MA 2005 in Curatorial Practice), curator and arts writer
Tessa Rumsey (MA 2002 in Visual and Critical Studies), poet
Listed noted faculty both past and present, in alphabetical order by last name.Renny Pritikin
Yves Béhar (head of ID department 2005–2012)
Brenda Laurel (professor and chair of graduate design program)
Florence Resnikoff (professor of Jewelry and metal arts from 1973–1980)
Kota Ezawa (associate professor of film and fine arts)
Lynn Marie Kirby (graduate and undergraduate fine arts, film and interdisciplinary studies)
David Huffman (undergraduate painting and drawing)
Xavier Martínez (painting and drawing from 1908–1943)
Frederick E. Olmsted
Maria Porges (graduate fine arts)
Raymond Saunders (former professor of painting)
Taravat Talepasand (adjunct painting professor)
Tammy Rae Carland (dean of fine arts and professor)
Jim Goldberg (photography teacher from 1987-2014)
Larry Sultan (photography teacher from 1989-2009)
Viola Frey (ceramics teacher from 1965-1999)
Marvin Lipofsky (founder of the glass department)
Lia Cook (textile design)
Ted Purves (chair of Social Practice graduate program)
Opal Palmer Adisa
CCA is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).