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Admissions . Apply . For Transfer Students 

For Transfer Students

Transfer your creativity to CIA

If you have attended any other accredited four- or two-year college, university, or post-secondary professional school, you are encouraged to apply to the Cleveland Institute of Art as a transfer student. 

Transferring to a new college can be overwhelming and intimidating. But at the Cleveland Institute of Art, we do our best to personally ease you through the process. Take a moment to review this page for information on our application and credit transfer processes as well financial aid and scholarships for transfer students. 

Transfer student application process

Transfer candidates are accepted at CIA based upon artistic and academic qualifications as well as available space. To be considered for admission, you must follow the application procedures and criteria below. 

1. Complete the application. You may apply online or fill out an application form and mail it to our Office of Admissions. Please note that we must have your signature at the bottom of the form.

2. Attach the $40 application fee. Make checks payable to the Cleveland Institute of Art.

3. Complete a personal statement, in which you describe your purpose for attending a college of art and design, what led you to this decision, and why you have chosen to apply at CIA. You may either fill out the personal statement prompt outlined in Section 5 of the application form or include a typed statement. If you send a typed statement, please sign the bottom of the personal statement form in the application. This glossary of art terminology may help you in crafting your statement.

4. Arrange to have official transcripts sent to us from all colleges, universities, and post-secondary schools attended.  

  • If you have completed less than 24 college credits, you must submit your official high school transcripts. 
  • If you have completed more than 24 college credits or attended a regionally accredited college or university full time for a year, you do not need to send your high school transcripts.
  • If you have completed less than 12 college credits, you must request your SAT or ACT test results to be sent to CIA. Our identification numbers are SAT-1152 and ACT-3243. 

5. Have one letter of recommendation forwarded to us. 

The letter preferably should come from a faculty member or counselor who knows your artistic and academic work well and understands your desire to become a working artist. 

6. If you are a transfer international student and English is not your native language, you also must demonstrate proof of English language proficiency with one of the following: 

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of at least 550 PBT (paper-based test), 213 CBT (computer-based test), or 80 IBT (Internet-based test)
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System ) band score of 6.0 or higher
  • SAT or ACT test scores
  • Completion of Level 112 ESL coursework 

7. Submit your portfolio of artwork. All work can be submitted online ( or in CD or DVD form. Your portfolio should consist of no fewer than 12 and no more than 20 pieces of work. Please carefully follow all our portfolio guidelines, and make sure to provide the specific elements required of transfer students.

If you choose to mail your application materials, please send to: 

    The Office of Admissions
    Cleveland Institute of Art
    11610 Euclid Avenue
    Cleveland, Ohio 44106

Transfer credits 

Once you have submitted your official transcripts from any colleges attended, we will evaluate all transcripts to determine which courses will transfer into CIA's undergraduate program.  

Transfer credit is divided into two categories: 

  • Academic credit: Generally, academic credit earned at another accredited institution will transfer as long as you earned a C or higher. 
  • Studio Credit: Credits for studio coursework are reviewed based on transcript, rigor of program from the transferring institution, and portfolio review. 

Before submitting a final application, you are strongly encouraged to meet with an admissions counselor to discuss which classes most likely will transfer and at what studio level you will be placed.

Transfer student financial aid and scholarships

In order to receive financial aid or loans, you must first be accepted as a degree-seeking student. Review our general financial aid tips included in our application checklist or learn more about financing your education.

Besides applying for financial aid, you also will be automatically entered in CIA’s Transfer Merit Scholarship Competition upon completion of your transfer student application. You do not need to apply for this scholarship. To be considered, complete your transfer student application by June 1 for the fall semester or November 15 for the spring semester. 

Have questions?

We pride ourselves on providing a personal connection to our prospective and current students, so if you have any questions about our requirements, please contact our Office of Admissions.

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Transferring to CIA: One student's experience

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Application timeline

We strongly encourage you to meet the following deadlines to ensure admission to CIA and eligibility for the highest amounts of portfolio scholarships and institutional financial aid. However, you may submit an application for admission any time before the first day of classes on a “rolling basis” and will be considered as long as space is available. Please note that only transfer student who qualify for advanced standing with at least 9 college studio credits are eligible for spring admission.

Fall application deadlines
(freshman and transfer)

December 1: 
Early action 1 deadline 

January 15: 
Early action 2 deadline

March 1: 
Regular decision

March 15: 
Priority deadline for need-based financial aid applications

May 1: 
Intention to register deadline and tuition deposit
Housing application deadline

June 1: 
Regular decision deadline for transfer students  

Spring Application Deadlines
(Transfer Only)

November 15: 
Regular decision deadline

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