FAQ’s

Welcome to the California State Summer School for the Arts – four weeks of exploration, discovery and hard work designed to unleash your creative power. From July 7 through August 3, 2018, a talented group of high school students will receive intensive training from professionals in music, theatre, film, visual arts, dance, creative writing, and animation. Held at CalArts in Valencia, California, The tuition is $1,850 for California residents, and $5,700 for out-of-state residents. Full and partial scholarships are available for first-time California resident attendees only. Interested? You’ll find complete program descriptions, answers to commonly asked questions, and the application forms and instructions on this web site.

NOTE: Application forms and descriptions of required assignments for Summer 2018 session will be made available on this website in December. Completed application forms and assignments are due by 6 pm PST on February 28. Acceptance notices will be mailed in May.

General Questions

WHAT IS THE CALIFORNIA STATE SUMMER SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS (CSSSA)?

The California State Summer School for the Arts is a rigorous, preprofessional, month-long training program in the visual and performing arts, creative writing, animation and film for talented artists of high school age. CSSSA provides a supportive environment in which students hone acquired skills and explore new techniques and ideas for an intense and exciting learning experience. The school was created by the California Legislature, and held its first session in 1987. Its purpose is to provide a training ground for future artists who wish to pursue careers in the arts and entertainment industries in California. The California State Summer School for the Arts is a state agency funded through a unique public-private partnership.

WHO MAY ATTEND THE SCHOOL?

California residents enrolled in grades nine through twelve may apply to attend CSSSA. Students from outside of California may also apply; twenty are admitted each year. Participants are selected in the spring, on the basis of their talent and creativity as demonstrated through assignments and teacher recommendations. The student body is representative of the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the state. The admissions process is highly competitive. (Last session approximately one in three applicants in most departments were accepted). Students invited to the school are named California Arts Scholars.

WHERE AND WHEN IS IT HELD?

CSSSA is held at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), a fully accredited degree granting institution of higher learning for students of the visual, cinematic, and performing arts. Established through the vision and generosity of Walt Disney in 1961, CalArts is located in Valencia, a residential community situated twenty-five miles north of Hollywood, in the Santa Clarita Valley. For information about the California Institute of the Arts, point your web browser to calarts.edu.The thirty-second annual session of the California State Summer School for the Arts will begin on Saturday, July 7 and end on Friday, August 3, 2018.

WHO ARE THE TEACHERS?

Our faculty members are accomplished, practicing professional artists, musicians, writers, dancers, actors and filmmakers. Many are distinguished college and university instructors. The teacher to student ratio is roughly one instructor to nine pupils. The school employs a Registered Nurse and assistants, a licensed Counselor, and a Recreation Director. The CalArts Residential Life staff, supervised by an experienced professional director, includes fourteen graduate student resident assistants. CalArts Safety personnel are on campus at all times.

CAN I APPLY TO WORK IN MORE THAN ONE DISCIPLINE?

Yes. If you are seriously involved in more than one art field, you may submit more than one application. Since each of these applications will be considered separately, you must submit separate application forms with ALL the required materials and a $20 application fee for each discipline for which you wish to be considered. However, you will only be allowed to enroll in one department.

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE AT THE SCHOOL?

Monday through Saturday, breakfast is available in the cafeteria beginning at 7:00 a.m. Regular classes are held between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., and last between one and three and one-half hours each. One hour is set aside for lunch. Dinner is served from 5 to 6:45 p.m. Evenings are devoted to rehearsals, self-paced studio work, film screenings, collaborative projects, concerts, lectures, sports activities and informal student performances and poetry readings in the student coffeehouse.

CAN I GET HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE CREDIT FOR ATTENDANCE?

Students can receive 3 units of college extension credit from the California State University system (Humboldt State University Office of Extended Education) for successful completion of the summer session. By law, a student may not receive high school credit for attending CSSSA unless his or her school district arranges to pay all costs and fees for program attendance.

ARE THERE OTHER ACTIVITIES AT CSSSA?

There is a full schedule of recreational opportunities available on weekdays and Saturdays from 4 to 9 p.m., and all day on Sundays. Optional field trips to California attractions such as Disneyland, The Getty Museum and the Los Angeles Music Center are offered on Sundays at an extra cost.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ATTEND?

The comprehensive fee covering room, board and tuition for California residents is $1,850; for out-of-state attendees it is $5,800. The California State University College Credit Registration Fee will be communicated to admitted CSSSA students in the Spring. The non-refundable application fee is $20. Optional Sunday field trips are offered at cost. A non-refundable deposit of 50 percent of the comprehensive fee is required upon acceptance.

IS FINANCIAL AID AVAILABLE?

Financial Aid is provided for applicants based on demonstrated need. Nearly forty percent of the students who have attended the summer program have had significant portions of their tuition fees paid by the California State Summer School Arts Foundation. 
 Students requesting Financial Aid may be eligible for a waiver of the $20 application fee. If you are requesting a waiver of the application fee, you must e-mail a request to  Also, you must complete your Financial Aid Request Form and provide supporting tax documents within the online application. 
 Note: Financial Aid is restricted to CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS, and FIRST-TIME California attendees. Financial Aid is not awarded to students attending the summer program for a second summer, regardless of department.

HOW DO I APPLY TO THE CALIFORNIA STATE SUMMER SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS?

You must upload all application materials, due by 6 pm PST on February 28, to the department you are applying to. A complete application includes:

  • A completed CSSSA APPLICATION form.
  • Two RECOMMENDATIONS. At least one of these should be from a teacher, private instructor, or professional artist familiar with your principal artistic discipline. These recommendations must be submitted online. Instructors will receive an e-mail with a link to the recommendation form upon submitting the application.
  • VERIFICATION OF YOUR SCHOOL ATTENDANCE by submitting a copy of your current unofficial high school transcript.
  • The ARTISTIC ASSIGNMENTS outlined for your program of interest.
  • A completed FINANCIAL AID REQUEST form and a copy of the required tax return, if you wish to apply for aid.
  • A NON-REFUNDABLE $20 APPLICATION FEE must be paid online with a credit card upon completing your application.

I MISSED THE FEBRUARY 28 DEADLINE. DO YOU GIVE EXTENSIONS?

CSSSA does not grant exceptions to our deadline of 6 pm PST on February 28. If you are viewing this after 6 pm PST on February 28, we encourage you to consider CSSSA for next year. We do not make exceptions for anyone—schools, teachers, parents or students—applications after 6 pm PST on February 28 will not be considered.

Financial Aid

WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF INCOME MY PARENT/GUARDIAN CAN HAVE FOR ME TO QUALIFY FOR FINANCIAL AID?

There is no maximum amount. Financial aid is based on many variables and your parent/guardian’s income is one. By filling out the financial aid forms and providing copies of your parent/guardian’s most recently filed tax returns, we are able to assess your eligibility for aid. To be considered, you must provide the required information, including your 1040 tax documents, by 6 pm PST on February 28.

WHAT IF MY PARENT/GUARDIAN CANNOT FIND COPIES OF THEIR MOST RECENT TAXES

Unfortunately, without the copies of the taxes, you will NOT be considered for financial aid. We are required to verify your application with the most recently FILED taxes. You must submit your Financial Aid Request Form and a copy of your parents’ or guardians’ 2016 or 2017 U.S. income tax return WHEN YOU APPLY in order to be considered for financial aid. We recommend that your parent/guardian contact their tax preparer for copies or the government agency where they are filed.

WHAT IF MY PARENT/GUARDIAN DOES NOT HAVE TO FILE TAXES?

You must provide copies of their disability, state or other official papers indicating this to be the case.

WILL A REQUEST FOR FINANCIAL AID HURT MY CHANCES OF BEING ACCEPTED TO CSSSA?

No. Your request for financial aid will have no bearing on the admission process. No applicant is denied admission solely on the basis of inability to pay. 
 You must, however, submit your Financial Aid Request Form and a copy of your parents’ or guardians’ 2016 or 2017 U.S. income tax return WHEN YOU APPLY in order to be considered for financial aid.

WHAT IF I DECIDE TO APPLY FOR FINANCIAL AID AFTER THE DEADLINE?

As the application clearly states, you must apply for financial aid at the time of application. If you decide to apply after 6 pm PST on February 28, you will NOT be considered for financial aid – it will be too late, no exceptions.

HOW MANY ATTENDING STUDENTS RECEIVE FINANCIAL AID?

Nearly forty percent of the 500 California resident students attending the program each year qualify for some amount of financial aid.

Do you have more questions?

Read the complete Student Handbook

If you need help or have any questions about the application process, call the office at (916) 229-5160 or send email to org

Questions specifically about Financial Aid? Read the Financial Aid FAQ. For questions not covered in the FAQ, email .