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Admissions . Apply . For Freshman Students 

For first-year students

If you have no previous college experience (excluding advanced credits earned during high school), you are a first-time first-year student. We admit first-year students into degree-seeking status for the fall semester only. 

As a first-year candidate, you will be considered automatically for portfolio grants and scholarships as long as you submit all of your application materials by March 1.

Amber Kempthorn is holding a students artwork and is revewing it. The student is looking over her shoulder.

First-year student application checklist

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

  1.  Complete and submit an online application. It is free to apply! You can apply via the Common Application (select Cleveland Institute of Art), or through our online application. We recommend that you apply early, and work with our admissions counselors who can answer questions and review your work to help you create a successful application.
  2. As part of the online application, you will need to provide a personal statement that discusses why you wish to attend a college of art and design. You may also share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
  3. Arrange to have your high school send your official transcript to the Office of Admissions. All incoming students must provide proof of high school graduation or GED equivalent. Students who have not yet graduated at the time of application should provide the most up-to-date high school transcripts available. Transcript must be sent directly from the school.
  4. OPTIONAL: Have one letter of recommendation forwarded to CIA. We suggest this letter be from an art teacher. We also will accept this letter from a counselor or someone who understands your desire to pursue an education in art and design. You may request a recommendation from a teacher or counselor from within the online application. The letter of recommendation must be received directly from the recommender.
  5. OPTIONAL: Submit ACT/SAT scores. The Cleveland Institute of Art allows applicants to decide whether to include scores from standardized tests when applying for admission. Students who do not elect to provide standardized testing will not face penalty in their evaluation for admission and/or scholarship. Official scores should be sent from the College Board/SAT (CIA's code is 1152) or the ACT (CIA's code is 3243). CIA will only consider scores sent directly from the testing agency.
  6. Submit your portfolio of artwork. You will submit your work through our Applicant Status Page or through SlideRoom. You can upload your portfolio and submit it when you complete your internal application. Or, if you choose to apply through the Common Application, you will receive instructions on uploading your portfolio shortly after submission.  Please carefully follow all of our portfolio guidelines.

Any printed application materials should be sent to:

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



Should CIA need to check the validity of a student's high school completion, the college would 1) reach out to the secondary institution in question to verify enrollment, completion of the program, and receipt of a diploma. If this proved inconclusive, we would 2) make outreach to the Department of Education for the school’s state to verify that the school is recognized as a provider of secondary school education.

For more information:

216.421.7418 | Contact

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 students who qualify for advanced standing with at least 9 college studio credits are eligible for spring admission.

Class of 1972 gathers over the years

August 30, 2023

Class of 1972 gathers over the years


Freshman Fall Application Deadlines

December 1 
Early action deadline 

March 1 
Regular decision 

June 1
Intention to register deadline and tuition deposit
Housing application deadline