Art Center College of Design

Learn to Create. Influence change.

aka ArtCenter   |   Pasadena, CA   |


Learn to create. Influence change. This is the mission of Art Center College of Design. For more than 80 years, we've achieved an international reputation for our rigorous, transdisciplinary curriculum, faculty of professionals, strong ties to industry, and a commitment to socially responsible design. At Art Center, we prepare artists and designers to make a positive impact in their chosen fields and on the world at large.

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Dr. Lorne M. Buchman

Main address

1700 Lida Street

Pasadena, CA 91103 USA

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Higher Education Institutions (B40)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?


The advertising industry is changing rapidly. As the new media landscape continues to transform the way advertising looks, feels and interacts with the viewer, the fundamental need remains: brands must make a powerful connection with their audiences. At Art Center, you will create those connections by becoming well versed in traditional forms of advertising while being prepared to master new technologies and emerging ad platforms.

Beginning classes leave you fluent in the languages of advertising, including film, video, photography, graphic and interaction design, social media and digital engagement. In later terms, you collaborate with students from other majors in Transdisciplinary Studio courses and use creative problem-solving skills to develop powerful campaigns integrating traditional and new media. We also break the conventional classroom structure to operate like a true agency. Weeklong intensives, brainstorming sessions, peer critiques and off-campus excursions develop your skills as a "visual writer” and "verbal art director”—earmarks of an Art Center education.

Our Advertising program, launched with Art Center’s founding in 1930, is the oldest in the country, and our list of alumni reads like a Who’s Who of the industry. Today, our faculty of leading art directors and copywriters brings into the classroom a fresh perspective on advertising’s evolving landscape, helping you graduate with the skills and insight to become a leader in shaping its future.

Population(s) Served

Entertainment designers are story-tellers. They bring stories to life by designing novel characters and worlds. This requires an excellent imagination, a thorough understanding of how such things are created, and the ability to conceptualize within the parameters of a given story.

Within Entertainment Design are housed two tracks: Concept Design and Character Animation. Although many classes are shared, students apply directly to one track or the other.

Concept Design

Concept artists create the visuals we see in films, video games, animation, commercials, TV shows and theme parks, executing everything from environments and architecture to characters and vehicles.

Art Center’s Concept Design students specifically focus their creativity to master the skills required of concept designers in the entertainment industry. Our intensive curriculum blends and expands upon illustration and industrial design. You receive a rigorous education in drawing, rendering, model building, sculpting and the use of 3D digital tools. Near the completion of your degree, you research and develop an in-depth senior project emphasizing a personal focus within entertainment.

Each spring, representatives from top companies attend our Entertainment Design Intern Show to meet students and review individual exhibitions of work, with the goal of selecting students to join their team as interns.

An impressive roster of Art Center alumni and entertainment professionals bring their expertise into our classrooms as faculty and visiting lecturers. Graduating from the program with the ability to bring imaginary worlds to life, you join this network ready for a creative future.

Character Animation

This track will be launched in the Fall of 2015 and has been designed in close collaboration with industry specialists. Character Animation students will focus on the nuances, traits, and overall performances that bring particular definition to the characters that populate a story.

A simple tilt of the head, a gradual lift of the brow, a sudden straightening of the posture—how we say things is often more meaningful than what we say. Character Animation at Art Center is all about this how, teaching students not only to design outward appearances but also to activate those surfaces to bring out the soul of a character.

Through an immersive study of performance and storytelling as it applies to traditional animation, computer animation, and design, our students learn to breathe life into the characters that populate the story worlds of feature animation, live action film, TV, commercials, and games.

Our program develops students as animators, artists, performers, and designers, equipping them with a wide and deep skillset that delves into design theory, dramatic performance, and both traditional and digital drawing and painting, enabling them to become storytellers of the highest order.

Population(s) Served

Environmental Design is a human-centered discipline that focuses on the total spatial experience—from the first moment of encounter to the last moment of interaction.

We approach spatial design from the inside out and learn to look at projects as total sensorial experiences. Our students look beyond the single object, moment or place to see how collectively they make an impact in projects ranging from branded retail, theme-driven dining, new hospitality, exhibition and residential design—delivering effective, inclusive environments using responsible material choices and manufacturing practices. Our emphasis on spatial experiences also makes Art Center graduates leaders in the design of furniture, lighting and interior/exterior living components.

We pursue a global sense of industry-driven design that investigates every aspect of where and how people live, work and play. Our students gain global awareness through Transdisciplinary Studio courses, international study abroad and Sponsored Projects classes with industry-leading com-panies, corporations and organizations. Our students also investigate Designmatters sponsored projects on behalf of humanitarian organizations globally. All of which amounts to a rich and diverse educational experience for students aspiring to be influential and impactful spatial designers.

Population(s) Served

The Film program at Art Center prepares you for an evolving industry in which one fact remains constant: filmmakers must be strong visual storytellers. Here in Los Angeles, the world’s entertainment capital, you begin shooting immediately, with access to the latest production and post-production tools. The curriculum focuses on mastering filmmaking skills in order to serve the narrative.

Our faculty of distinguished working filmmakers and small classes foster close, mentoring relationships. In addition, the complex industry tapestry of L.A. gives us access to studio heads and A-list talent who, as guest lecturers, share their intimate knowledge of the business.

Success in the entertainment industry requires a broader base of knowledge than ever before. We believe in learning by making. Only when you’re fully immersed in making films do you truly learn your craft. Our production center maintains a generous supply of industry-standard equipment, and our post facilities offer most everything you need to fulfill the technical and creative vision of your story.

Our three main tracks of study are in directing, cinematography and editing. Also, for approved students, we offer specialty courses of study with an emphasis in screenwriting and producing. Throughout the program, you discover and refine your artistic style and distinctive voice, and collaborate with students from other disciplines. You will develop a thorough understanding of the entire filmmaking process.

You enter as an apprentice artist and leave ready to reach an audience through your storytelling.

Population(s) Served

The continual exercise of imagination and discipline is the basis for a career in art: a life of compelling vision that questions and transforms our way of seeing, thinking and engaging the world. Art Center prepares students by training them in the rigorous foundation skills they need to be highly adaptable visual problem-solvers, with particular attention to aesthetics and conceptual dexterity. We foster a healthy fearlessness undeterred by conventional boundaries—experimentation, risk and complexity are embedded into the very fabric of student work. Such versatility and adaptability are paramount in preparing artists to excel in a continually changing global environment.

Two of the biggest questions young artists face are: What is my unique voice? and Where does that voice fit into the world? At Art Center, it is our job to help you discover these answers by engaging in a rigorous process of training, questioning and self-discovery.

Fine Art supports a spectrum of disciplines including drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, film/video, photography and digital imaging, as well as an array of art-and-design hybrids. Our nationally and inter-nationally recognized faculty members work to create a program that is both broad in its scope of interests and small in its well-woven community. Learning occurs in the context of small classes and a high degree of mentoring that allows for a more one-on-one education.

The new Artmatters concentration, which stands as a counterpart to the college’s successful Designmatters program, focuses on the intersection between art and social space.

Population(s) Served

Graphic design has evolved to become much more than ink on paper; it has left the page to conquer space, motion and interaction. To stay ahead of the curve, you’ll need to expand your creative skills in an integrative learning environment that crosses all media.

Our Graphic Design curriculum integrates the definitions of designer, artist and entrepreneur. Guided by faculty members who are noted professionals in their areas of expertise, you’ll develop sophisticated typographic and image-making skill-sets working across both emerging and traditional media—everything from letterpress to data visualization and from packaging to spatial experiences—to create emotionally resonant messages.

You’ll learn how to anticipate and react to the technological and social changes affecting how we communicate with one another. You’ll have the opportunity to study abroad and to participate in high-profile collaborative projects with industry partners, nonprofit organizations and students from different majors. And with our innovative transmedia area of concentration—which allows you to manipulate and transcend mediums—you’ll be empowered to create new media categories.

Since we want our students to design experiences that serve a purpose, we’ll encourage you to work outside your comfort zone and to engage with culturally relevant content using every possible tool at your disposal. In the process you’ll discover new things about yourself and the mediums that you’re pushing to their limits.

We’ll challenge you with this ambitious endeavor—one whose potential is being fulfilled by our graduates, who have gone on to work for cutting-edge organizations like Google, Facebook, IDEO and Local Projects.

Population(s) Served

Today’s illustrators are image makers and storytellers. Conceptualizers and problem solvers. Provocateurs and culture mavens. Illustration now is moving beyond the literal interpretation. It is creating mood and atmosphere, communicated via accomplished personal technique, for an array of commercial and social impact projects.

Illustration connects everything from high fashion and retail environments to animation and computer games; from political, editorial and street art to mainstream publishing. Illustration’s unique ability to define social, political and cultural ideas makes it an ideal solution for an unparalleled scope of creative and communications projects.

At Art Center, you certainly master drawing skills. But you also increase your business knowledge and develop your understanding of illustration’s impact on contemporary culture. After a thorough grounding in foundation classes you focus on a curricular track that best suits your talent and career objectives. Illustration Design blends hand and digital practice for licensing, print, publishing and motion. Illustration for Motion is for students interested in storyboarding and motion design. Illustration/Fine Art takes imagery beyond illustration to the gallery environment. And Entertainment Arts prepares you for a fast-paced career in TV and feature animation. Our new Surface Design program provides opportunities to explore style and aesthetics in the realm of fashion, textile and apparel design.

Additional enrichments within the program include study abroad opportunities, Transdisciplinary Studios—in which illustrators work collaboratively with students from other majors—and dynamic guest lecturers.

However you tailor your curriculum, you graduate from Art Center with the potential to translate your creative gifts into engaging and meaningful career paths.

Population(s) Served

Interaction design is all around us—mobile apps, wearable technology, games, websites, social networks, art installations and public spaces are just a few examples. If you’re interested in designing interactions that are useful, innovative and delightful, there’s no better training ground than Art Center.

Although this is a new major at the College, we have a rich history in interaction design, spanning the fields of graphic, transportation, entertainment, industrial and media design. Art Center graduates hold leading positions in companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and IDEO.

With the field of interaction design experiencing a period of tremendous growth, in 2012 we launched a degree program dedicated to creative innovation and professional leadership. We have crafted a course of study in which you think deeply about the user’s experience, apply technology creatively and invent new approaches to interaction and design. Our curriculum emphasizes core methods, tools and processes that prepare you to lead as new technologies emerge.

But it’s not all about technology. After all, people interact with every object or system in our world, be they human-made or natural. In our program, you focus on the user experience and study how people think, feel and behave when they use any product, environment or system. By considering human factors, cognitive sciences and psychology, you learn how to design cohesive systems that can deeply impact people’s lives.

And that’s a skill that can have lifelong applications.

Population(s) Served

In the 21st century, the development of unprecedented avenues of communication, innovative research, and advances in hardware, software and media have impacted nearly every traditional means of image production and distribution. Photography continues to be the driver of many of these technological and perceptual changes in politics, culture, the marketplace and global conditions. As a result, image makers today are challenged to be more technically capable, conceptually knowledgeable, professionally confident, ethically responsible and culturally aware than ever before.

Within a rich transdisciplinary educational environment, the Photography and Imaging Department is taking photographers into the future. Our strong relationships with industry, long tradition of integrating photography with other design disciplines, and deep experience designing new technologies and applying creative solutions to social impact problems have opened professional doors for countless graduates.

Art Center offers an intimate and intense atmosphere of study that challenges assumptions about our medium, nurtures and promotes originality, and encourages individualized practice in student work, whether your goal is to become a commercial photographer, an artist, or both. Here, you learn to apply the tools of photography—traditional and digital—in a specific and personal investigation of cultural conditions or questions. Our program stresses conceptual development and social awareness aligned with the integration of professional technique and strategies, in the development of a dynamic career in image making.

Images are the new global documents. They represent a new literacy and currency of this time, and will continue to be the most essential component of compelling stories in a world with an insatiable need to be informed.

Population(s) Served

While the core of what we do as product designers involves understanding people’s needs, identifying opportunities for innovation, visualizing ideas and realizing solutions, it’s imperative that we understand and embrace the limitless array of opportunities we have to shape our future.

As the role of design continues to expand and diversify, emerging techno-logies and platforms for innovation are enabling "design entrepreneurs” to take ideas from concept to marketplace. And design is increasingly recognized as crucial to achieving commercial and organizational success, and vital in improving lives.

Product Design at Art Center provides you with a foundation in the design process, grounded in a human-centered approach and in professional practice. This ethos is crystallized in the Department’s many social impact projects created in collaboration with Designmatters Department.

Along with core visual, creative, technical and analytical skills, you gain a comprehensive understanding of design research methodologies, business principles, materials technologies, manufacturing processes, global trends and sustainability through our state-of-the-art research lab, CMTEL (Color, Materials and Trends Exploration Laboratory). Our partnership with the international business school INSEAD enables students interested in the intersection between design and business to immerse themselves for a semester in an MBA program. Students also benefit from participation in DesignStorms® and other Sponsored Project courses commissioned by corporate partners seeking to explore new frontiers in design and innovation.

Good design is about combining functionality, relevance and commercial viability with visual and emotional appeal in a marketplace that demands products that minimize environmental impact, from production to disposal. You emerge from our program prepared to meet these needs on both local and global scales, having developed the tools to visualize the future and the skills to become a creative leader.

Population(s) Served

The challenges facing the transportation and automotive industry present tremendous opportunities for transportation designers. Art Center has long served as a globally recognized catalyst for innovation. As transportation designers, our students grow to become passionate problem solvers focused on developing design solutions to address these challenges.

With dozens of advanced automotive design studios and companies leading the emerging fields of new mobility and alternative energy located in Southern California, we are positioned at the heart of trans-portation design’s future. Our instructors are professional designers and successful entrepreneurs working in the industry and serving as experts on important topics being debated in the field. Thanks to this vibrant current of energy passing between the campus and the "real world,” students gain an insider’s perspective of this rapidly changing and highly competitive profession.

Known for more than its longstanding influence in automotive design, our program can prepare you for a career in motorcycle, marine, aircraft, commercial transport, personal mobility and public transit design, as well as vehicle interiors. Exploring the balance between form and function, you will develop the ability to create vehicle concepts with distinct personality, improved function and broad social impact.

In addition to traditional elements of styling, comfort, safety and usability, our curriculum emphasizes vital topics such as sustainable mobility, the implications of brand, and product life cycle. You will gain fluency in drawing and in physical and digital modeling skills, plus develop an understanding of vehicle architecture, materials, process and aerodynamics. And you will join the next generation of designers tackling problems that may not be articulated yet, creating the future and participating in the innovation economy.

Population(s) Served

Graduate Art is an interdisciplinary Master of Fine Arts program that encourages divergent ideas and methods. It provides degree candidates with a comprehensive understanding of art history, art making and contemporary art. Students are given the freedom and support to become any kind of artist they imagine, and to make any kind of art there is—or that they can invent.

Studies are led by a core faculty of seven artists (including the department chair), supplemented by five other full-time faculty and an adjunct faculty of approximately 15 artists, critics and theorists. Students spend the majority of their time in one-on-one studio visits with faculty members, balanced with rigorous critical, academic, and practical coursework. Through its Graduate Seminar course, biannual conference series, and annual artist-in-residence partnership, the program also welcomes internationally recognized artists, historians and writers to the College who address the cultural, historical and political currents that shape art making and the creative process.

In their last two terms, candidates work towards a final show and written thesis under the guidance of a committee comprised of three senior faculty members, culminating in a public defense.

Among the many resources available to students, the Graduate Art Complex at Art Center’s South Campus provides students with individual artists’ studios, indoor and outdoor tool shops, gallery spaces, dedicated computing and video production facilities, and a student lounge.

Population(s) Served

Our Master of Science degree in Environmental Design focuses on the parameters of sensory-based design and its ability to deliver a complete user experience on a variety of scales. The program takes candidates beyond the confines of style to consider the links between the psychological, physical, emotional and sensory effects of design. Our graduates become uniquely qualified to advance the impact and discipline of environmental design.

Drawing from a diverse array of fields, the Environ-mental Design Department investigates the dynamic qualities of story-driven design to conceive staging and sequencing which captures the dramatic qualities and needs of a specific spatial experience. The graduate program concentrates on conceptual rigor crossed with professional practice and a focus on theoretical thinking, technical innovation, manufacturing, fabrication and project execution. Rather than merely following trends, students define the future of our living environment.

Graduate Environmental Design is a two-track program that enables degree candidates to specialize and obtain advanced knowledge of theory and practice. The Spatial Experience track addresses the relationship among body, materials, space and emotions, and our approach dictates that we work in a multidisciplinary way; this program is for students interested in elevating a multiscale spatial design direction with a strong industry focus and application. The Furniture and Fixtures track investigates the relationship among space, place, function and application of furniture and fixture design, emphasizing innovation, industry standards and the manufacturing process; this program deepens understanding of production furniture, case goods and fixtures and their relationship to manufacturing, materials, market and brand.

Art Center also offers an undergraduate degree in Environmental Design for students looking to explore the relationship between space, object and emotion.

Population(s) Served

The graduate Film program at Art Center provides developing filmmakers an immersive opportunity to refine and expand their visual storytelling abilities under the mentorship and guidance of top Hollywood talent and decision makers. Our location in Los Angeles, the heart of the entertainment industry, enables us to build a faculty of working professionals and a constant flow of guest lecturers from all corners of the industry.

At Art Center, students have the opportunity to create and own their personal work. They can focus on directing, screenwriting, cinematography, editing or producing. Faculty mentors are working professionals who guide and assist students in the design, development and production of their projects.

Our program attracts a diverse community of storytellers. Traditional disciplinary boundaries melt away. Collaboration among students and faculty from other disciplines allows ideas to flourish.

In a program that provides industry solutions for all phases of production, filmmakers are encouraged to network and seek out professional relationships early on. The Art Center culture of exploration encourages filmmakers to stretch as they find personal, inventive solutions. They are expanding the possibilities of the existing media landscape into as yet unexplored directions.

Our graduates join a large extended family of creative professionals who are widely recognized for bringing a unique approach to every project they tackle.

Population(s) Served

Art Center’s "Grad ID” program offers a Master of Science curriculum focusing on theory and practice for the production of insightful research, development of human-centric innovations and the creation of new business opportunities.

We combine the pursuit of extraordinary visual design and making skills with the knowledge, theories and methods essential to developing design solutions for complex and unstructured problems. In doing so, we prepare students to assume leadership roles throughout creative organizations. Our faculty of internationally renowned educators—accomplished professionals across a range of design, technology and business fields—help our students develop their abilities through projects and critical dialogue in a design studio environment. The program prepares graduates with an optimal combination of knowledge, skills and experience to lead innovation for enterprise and to create the future.

We design with a consciousness that our innovations exist in a larger context. Our methodology, Strategic Innovation, takes a systems-level view and strives to balance the business, technological and human aspects of any challenge. This broadly applicable creative process produces empathetic solutions to essential human needs and allows designers—and enterprise—to be resilient and to grow.

Grad ID also has joined forces with Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School of Management to offer a dual MS/MBA degree in Innovation Systems Design (ISD). The two-year program prepares tomorrow’s innovation leaders by combining business strategy, leadership and management acumen with the rigorous development of creative skills and design innovation methodology.

We also offer a dual degree program with the Drucker School of Management, which results in an MS in Industrial Design from Art Center and an MBA from Drucker; this is the Innovation Systems Design Program. For more information, please visit

Population(s) Served

How do designers operate in a world of perpetual change? What is the relationship between future speculation and today’s very real, very immediate challenges? And how might such conditions generate new practices in design? These are the issues students raise and tackle head-on in Media Design Practices (MDP).

Our interdisciplinary MFA is grounded in media—graphic, visual, interactive, spatial, experiential—and technology. We explore the role of design in the world through two different but related contexts, reflected in the names of our tracks: Lab and Field.

Lab track students use design to explore the implications of emerging ideas from science, culture and technology. Students design potential futures to grapple with issues such as digital privacy or connected bodies. Projects and partners change every year, and may include NASA scientists, offbeat Los Angeles cultural institutions or Silicon Valley engineers.

Field track students study local practices and global systems in diverse international contexts, from refugee camps to corporate boardrooms to urban slums. Using a mix of ethnography, prototyping and speculation, students design in the context of urgent social issues, working abroad for up to three months. The Field track partners with Designmatters, Art Center’s social impact program.

When these two tracks come together—in the studio, classes and reviews—a vibrant dialogue emerges. What results is an array of student perspectives that recast the role of technology in society in surprising new ways. Upon graduation, students are ready to launch a design practice that is uniquely suited to the challenges of our time.

Population(s) Served

Our Transportation Systems and Design students are developing compelling, sustainable and viable transportation and mobility solutions for an inspired future.

For people passionate about the automotive industry and the expansive field of transportation and personal mobility, our Master of Science program encourages creativity and strategic thinking beyond the sketchpad to impact the vehicle manufacturing industry, and to create better, compelling transportation solutions at a systems level, rather than a product level.

Because design brings value well beyond the areas of product and service development, our curriculum encompasses a combination of design methodology, strategic innovation, systems thinking, customer-driven research, political insight plus entrepreneurial and communication skills. The program’s community of students—with prior degrees in subjects such as design, architecture, urban planning, business, engineering, anthropology and economics—brings diverse perspectives and stimulates the transdisciplinary culture that is essential to advance transportation design throughout the coming decades. Degree candidates participate in international conferences and conduct rigorous research; in collaborative teams they explore how to create the ideal user journey while preserving precious environmental resources. The College’s strong ties to government and industry provide direct access to organizations pushing the emerging fields of new mobility and alternative energies.

This course of study encourages graduates to become agents of change prepared to reinvigorate industry across a broad landscape, from design studios and manufacturers to organizations responsible for transportation systems solutions at the national, state and local levels.

Population(s) Served

Practicing graphic design is a process of creating change. In their pursuit of great ideas, our change-making students follow a simple path—they See, Do, and Lead.

Art Center’s MFA Graduate Graphic Design (MGx) program educates graphic designers who will lead the next global generation of our profession by influencing companies, communities and society at large and extending the boundaries of communication design.

Expanding upon the College’s internationally recognized undergraduate graphic design curriculum, this MFA program provides an immersive education in craft, design leadership and strategic thought—all within a socially responsible transmedia platform that includes print, interaction, motion, packaging and mediatecture. We emphasize entrepreneurship, leadership and management, with a focus on practical, yet exquisite, professional design solutions.

Our regular two-year program consists of four full terms, a summer term reserved for studio-based independent study and an internship. If appropriate, we also offer a three-year program that includes two additional terms of undergraduate graphic design courses tailored to individual students’ needs.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Mission statement: "Learn to create. Influence change." ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design, offering BFA, BS, MFA, and MS degrees through 11 undergraduate programs and 6 graduate programs. Its most essential function is to produce high-quality, well-educated, employable graduates who can make a positive impact in society.

In the past few years, study after study in higher education has found that career and job preparation is today's students' top criterion for their academic pursuits. In 2013, the head of Gallup told the Chronicle of Higher Education, "A good job is now what Americans want out of college. Not just a degree."

ArtCenter's unapologetic focus on career-specific education is resonating with record numbers of students. Despite the higher costs of private college tuition, demand for an ArtCenter education is at an all-time high. The volume of applications for admission has nearly doubled since 2004.

ArtCenter is aiming to gradually increase its capacity while preserving the exceptional quality of its programs and maintaining its low (9:1) student/faculty ratio that enables highly individualized instruction and mentorship. Through active pursuit of philanthropic support for scholarships, it is also aiming to make its programs as affordable and accessible as possible.

ArtCenter’s visionary approach to art and design education is based on the College’s conservatory-like approach to teaching and learning; a desire for rich, intercultural and transdisciplinary dialogue; and a mandate to provide students innovative learning and making spaces.

Strategic Plan

Create Change 2.0 is the product of the ArtCenter community evolving and updating initiatives of Create Change 1.0, the plan that guided the institution from 2011 to 2016. We undertook our planning for Create Change 2.0 with a keen eye on the opportunities created by the bold initiatives we launched in the last five years. We have new programs in place, extraordinary new facilities and the strength and willingness to assess our progress honestly and to ask some tough and critically important questions about our future. The overarching driver of this plan is the question of value—how we create value for our students in the process of realizing our mission. In doing so, Create Change 2.0 organizes our thinking around issues of student success, educational innovation and strategic infrastructure.

1. Student Success
As our programs continue to expand at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, student demographics are shifting and new needs are emerging. Within this context, ArtCenter is dedicated to supporting students and helping them thrive in the classroom and beyond. Key aspects of this initiative include diversity, a “whole student” approach and post-graduation support.

2. Educational Innovation
ArtCenter values our history of rigor, mentorship and professionalism that has made us a standard bearer in the field of art and design. As we face ongoing challenges in higher education, we strive to continue to lead by expanding our pedagogical perspectives, cultivating our faculty, increasing access to our community and innovating art and design curricula that remain adaptive to the needs 
of our students first.

3. Strategic Infrastructure
ArtCenter’s vibrant community, pedagogy and dual-campus system demands a state-of-the-art infrastructure of accessible facilities (actual and virtual), processes and staff. In tandem with our significant campus expansion, we must identify and build crucial infrastructural competencies and capabilities. These will ensure that the College functions efficiently, supports nimble innovation and invests wisely.

ArtCenter is fully accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission and NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design). The institution's academic rigor is strengthened by continuous input from the industries that employ ArtCenter's graduates. To ensure that students gain leading-edge knowledge in their fields, ArtCenter seeks out high-caliber faculty members who continue to have active professional careers in industry and the arts.

Financial sustainability has been essential and achievable. As a college that has been operating for 85+ years, ArtCenter has developed an economic model that is founded on sustainable revenues from tuition, balanced with contributed income. Philanthropic support is pursued each year to minimize the need to increase students' tuition beyond the annual rate of inflation.

ArtCenter was the first design college to be recognized with NGO status by the United Nations. It has maintained an excellent worldwide reputation for the quality of its programs and the breadth of its impact across many fields.

ArtCenter has started a major transformation of its facilities. Previously consisting of just two major buildings, ArtCenter now owns and operates four. It has dramatically expanded its spaces to alleviate overcrowding, and it has done so without having to raise students' tuition beyond the annual rate of inflation. In future years, the planned addition of student housing will change Art enter from a 100%-commuter campus to an exciting new kind of academic/creative community in which many students both study and live, with 24/7 access to studio spaces and below-market-rate affordability.

Scholarships remain especially needed to address the high cost of tuition common to art and design colleges. These costs arise from ArtCenter's commitment to providing the best specialized facilities, equipment and technology; a low student/faculty ratio; and a faculty made up of seasoned industry leaders. Many students willing to take out private loans simply can't access them in the current economy; mitigating this situation through scholarship support is the College's top fundraising priority.

Informed by the College’s conservatory-like approach to education; a vision for rich, intercultural and transdisciplinary dialogue; and a mandate to provide students new, innovative learning and making spaces, ArtCenter has developed a comprehensive development master plan, approved by city leadership, that charts a 15-year vision for the future of the College’s physical campuses.

The plan incorporates long-term plans for enhanced facilities and establishes a framework to guide future development across both ArtCenter campuses, featuring essential renovations at our Hillside Campus and an expanded South Campus at the gateway to our city.

Guiding principles:

- Create visibility and cohesion through physical spaces in a way that is uniquely ArtCenter, but is also respectful of, and engaged with, the surrounding community and fabric of Pasadena
- Provide new and flexible spaces for diverse communities and disciplines
- Use physical spaces to create a consistent and connected campus experience
- Create new spaces or renovation of existing spaces into sustainable, state-of-the-art facilities that enhance Pasadena’s reputation for education, culture and innovation

Community Building
- Open ArtCenter up to new connections within the community
- Enhance community amenities and Public Programs at South Campus, including a public auditorium, exhibition spaces and outdoor workshops
- Develop elevated quads at the northern and southern edges of South Campus, providing activity spaces, fountains, sculpture gardens and other campus amenities
- Foster partnerships and connections between ArtCenter and local residents and businesses


Art Center College of Design

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Art Center College of Design

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Su Mathews Hale

Su Mathews Hale Design

Term: 2020 - 2022

Michelle Gadsden-Williams

BlackRock, Inc.

Ivy Ross


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/18/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data