School of Theater

Applied Arts

Head of Applied Arts:
Mary Heilman

MFA Program

This two-year MFA Applied Arts Specialization offers intensive professional training in Scenic Art, Visual Communication and Art Direction.

This new program covers all areas of advanced industry practice—from scenic art and drawing techniques to digital rendering and CAD. It is designed for students interested in pursuing careers in theater, film, television, themed entertainment, immersive design, and other entertainment industry specializations as creative thinkers, storytellers, scenic artists, and art directors.  The degree is also applicable to those seeking careers in museums, commercial murals, interior design, and exhibition development.

This rigorous curriculum combines the modeling strategies of architecture and electronic design with the creative problem solving approaches of industrial and production design. Development of management and leadership skills will prepare students for today’s increasing industry demands. Students will engage in multiple projects to experience and develop a diversity of professional practices in live performance, film, and immersive environments.

This degree program is designed to serve students who have completed some training in art and/or theater and require more advanced skills and aesthetic exposure to achieve viable careers.


Every student is assigned a faculty mentor who is responsible for guiding the student through the artistic and academic programs. CalArts emphasizes the creation of strong student-to-faculty relationships which enable students to draw from their instructors’ knowledge and creative spirit. Although students are initially assigned to a mentor, they have the freedom to change mentors at any point, and the student-mentor relationship continues throughout the student’s time at CalArts.

Apply to CalArts

For application requirements, please visit

If you wish to speak to a counselor for useful information on assembling a portfolio for admission, more information about our program, or for general questions about the application process, please email, or call (661) 255-1050.

Last edited by vroveto on Dec 15, 2016
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