According to “U.S. News and World Report,” 11 of the top 40 best fine arts school in the nation are in California. To select the best art schools in California, this report relied on their own 2016 rankings in combination with 2016 data from the U.S. Department of Education and the schools' websites. The best art colleges in California push their students' artistic boundaries with expanded learning opportunities in the arts.

University of California, Los Angeles

The Department of Art at the University of California, Los Angeles, offers both bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts, ranking fourth nationally for best fine arts schools, with a 90 percent graduation rate. The department provides undergraduate programs in a range of visual arts such as painting and drawing or photography, making it one of the best known photography colleges in California. Graduate students can specialize in six areas, including ceramics, painting and drawing or sculpture. Students receive instruction from notable faculty who regularly exhibit their own work worldwide. In addition, the department has a distinguished list of alumni with significant contributions to the field of art.

California Institute of the Arts

Known as CalArts, the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, ranked sixth nationally with a 67 percent graduation rate, offering BFA and MFA degrees in the visual arts. Students at the school receive instruction that combines artistic creativity with academic rigor, taught by faculty leaders in their fields. Faculty members work with students in a system of independent study, within a progressive program. The school has extensive studios and facilities and can promote student work at eight dedicated galleries. Students also enjoy a one-to-seven faculty-to-student ratio at a school with numerous distinctions and notable alumni.

California College of the Arts

The California College of the Arts, with campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, offers bachelor's and master's degrees in a range of art programs such as comics and film. "U.S. News" ranked the college 15th nationally, with a 62 percent graduation rate, celebrated alumni, and a faculty at the cutting-edge of most art movements over the past 50 years. Students learn in innovative programs that balance tradition, theory and practice. These programs push art boundaries into other disciplines like science, and often incorporate global learning practices, including ancient art forms. The college also encourages using the arts to address issues such as social justice and diversity.

University of California, San Diego

The Department of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in a range of visual arts programs, ranking 13th nationally, with 62% of students graduating in 4 years and 86% finishing a degree in 6 years. The department is one of the country's leading centers for research in contemporary art, bringing artists, critics, curators and historians together in a unique community with strong ties to Southern California artistic innovations and the southern border culture. Students regularly interact between disciplines, as they are encouraged to reach outside the boundaries of their program of study. An award-winning faculty provides instruction as students draw on the inspiration of an award-winning cadre of alumni.

Art Center College of Design

The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena ranked 20th nationally, with a 68 percent graduation rate in 2011, the most recent year for which data was available. The school offers a range of visual arts programs from the bachelor's to the master's. Students primarily spend their time one-on-one in the studio with more than 400 working artist faculty and instructors. The school includes award-winning faculty and students, a distinguished alumni, and a mission to reach out to the community with evening classes and a Saturday program for high school students.

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