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Academics . Curriculum . Major Application 

Major Application

Choosing a major is one of the most exciting times in a CIA student’s journey. Art and design education is structured to prepare students for the challenges of competition that define a career in the art and design fields: consistent with that value, CIA students begin their major focus with an application process that is competitive.

Student drawing hand in foundation life drawing class

Creating a foundation for success

First-year students are enrolled in our Foundation program, which is designed to introduce students to the skills necessary to be successful in any discipline. This ensures that you’re learning the skills that will be most beneficial to your development as an artist and positions you for success when you apply for a major. You’ll receive rigorous training in the fundamentals: drawing, design, color, art history and writing. From the start, you’ll begin honing techniques you came in with and discovering new ones.

At CIA, all students must apply to and be accepted into their preferred area of study. This process occurs in the spring semester of your first year. Throughout your first semester, you’ll attend a series of workshops about the major application process that will introduce you to various options and career paths. Take advantage of open studio nights, where you get a chance to get your hands dirty in each major, meet students and faculty, and see how each department works. The major application process is competitive, so it’s essential to explore your options. In March, you’ll present your portfolio to the three departments you most want to pursue. Notices of the outcomes of the application process follow within a few weeks, and in April you’ll register for classes for your sophomore year.

Regardless of which area you wish to study in, we encourage you to explore studio classes in other departments. Interdisciplinary studies will broaden the skills and knowledge you bring to your studio practice while you’re a student, and to your career as an artist or designer once you have graduated. 

Major application process

Mandatory major application kickoff meeting

This fall semester meeting is the kick-off of major application activities and includes:

  • An overview of the process with the Director of Academic Services
  • A presentation by Career Services
  • Tutorials on how to join the Major Application Group on our student portal, myCIA, and how to download events to your calendar.
  • Departmental open houses will be conducted following the morning introduction session. Department open houses offer students the opportunity to meet with the department chairperson, faculty, and students in their preferred major.

Major application advising

Advising is available to students who desire assistance in selecting a major. This is a time for you to meet with an advisor individually to discuss any questions you may have about the major selection process.

Major application

You’ll complete a survey early in the spring semester to indicate which majors you intend to apply to.

Portfolio review week

Immediately following spring break, you’ll install a small exhibition of work created during your Foundation year. Every student is allocated the same amount of wall space for this exhibition. Department chairs view exhibitions throughout the week, reviewing work by students who applied to their major. You’ll also interview with the departments you’ve applied to.

Acceptance into a department

You’ll be notified of your major application status in writing by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Note: Completion of the Foundation program does not guarantee acceptance into a major. Students not accepted into a major, or accepted on probation, should contact the Office of Academic Affairs for specific instructions.

How do I decide what majors to apply to?

There’s never been a better time to become an artist or designer, and CIA offers so many creative opportunities, many you’ve never thought about. Taking advantage of your Foundation year to explore our programs will help you make an informed decision when you apply to majors in the spring semester. 

  • Foundation courses are designed to explore different disciplines and media. Through assignments, field trips and collaborations, you’ll refine your skills while learning new skills, career paths, and creative opportunities.

  • Many departments offer open studio nights throughout the year, which allow you to explore disciplines you may not be familiar with, learn new skills, and meet students in the major.

  • While every freshman takes the same classes in the fall semester, students elect to take an elective in the spring semester, which allows you to explore in more detail  career paths you’re unfamiliar with. These electives are offered in the visual arts, craft, design, and digital arts.

  • Academic advisors can answer questions about each major, help you think through how classes you took prior to attending CIA may apply to your major, and how different majors vary in how skills are taught and applied.

  • Our Career Services department is a great resource for exploring career paths, and to help you understand what skills you’ll need to be successful in a career path. They also have assessment tools to help you evaluate how your personality, interests, and goals can apply to various career paths.

  • Meet with students and faculty in the majors you’re thinking of applying to. They’re glad to discuss classes, careers and internship opportunities, and introduce you to alumni.

For more information on major application, contact the Office of Academic Affairs.

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