Frequently Asked Questions
What are the dates for the 2023 summer session?
SUMMER CALENDAR 2023
Thursday June 29 Students Move-in
Friday June 30 Orientation Day
Saturday July 1 Comics Festival at Silver Sprocket
Wednesday July 5 Workshop Day
Thursday July 6 First Day of Classes
Wednesday August 2 Last Day of Classes
Thursday August 3 Graduate Readings
Friday August 4 Graduate Readings
Saturday August 5 Move-out
Is this a fully, nationally accredited graduate program?
The program and CCA are accredited by WASC and NASAD.
When does the MFA in Comics program begin and end?
The program does NOT follow the traditional Fall and Spring semester schedule. Students begin the MFA in Comics program at the start of their first Summer residency and finish at the end of their third Summer residency.
How long does it take to complete the program?
It takes two years and one month to earn your MFA. In other words, three summer sessions and the Fall and Spring semesters that fall between them.
What hours are students in class during the Summer sessions?
During our in-person Summer intensives, students complete 12 units of coursework. These classes meet from 9am-7:30pm, Monday-Friday for four weeks. Students enrolled in the program are expected to attend all classes throughout the summer session as well as the Friday evening guest lectures.
How many units are required to complete the program?
All graduate comics students must complete 60 units to earn their MFA.
There are 12 units in each of the 3 summer sessions. Students are enrolled in 6 units in the Fall and Spring semesters in between Summer sessions.
During the Fall and Spring semesters, CCA graduate cartoonists are considered part-time students unless they opt to enroll in our in-person courses worth 3 credit units, which gives them 72 units on graduation.
Take a look at our Curriculum page for more information.
How does the low-residency schedule work?
The MFA in Comics low-residency schedule consists of three, 5-week Summer residencies in San Francisco, along with part-time Fall and Spring semesters that can be completed from anywhere in the world. Each day of the Summer session begins with literary comics seminars in the morning, tools and techniques studios in the afternoon, and ends with intensive comics workshops focusing on every aspect of the creative process.
During the Fall and Spring semesters, graduate cartoonists are paired one-on-one with professional mentors for biweekly meetings, as well as online workshops with our graduate comics faculty. This mentoring process is designed to support students as they complete their MFA in Comics thesis projects.
Take a look at our Curriculum page for more information.
Can you take the MFA in Comics as a full-residency program?
Local students can take optional in-person Advanced Comics and Applied Comics classes in the Fall and Spring semesters in addition to their Mentored Study and online Comics Studio courses to bring their credit hours from 6 credits up to 9 credits per semester. With this model, they graduate with 72 credits instead of 60 credits. This makes them full-time students all year round.
This also allows students to be on the school’s health insurance plan, and allows foreign students to get their F1 Student Visas in order to remain in the country (see below).
Can international students apply?
English proficiency exams must be completed prior to submitting the application. Official English proficiency exam scores (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE) must be sent to the college directly from the testing agency. International applications will be considered incomplete -- and not reviewed -- until we receive proof of English proficiency.
Can international students stay year-round in San Francisco?
Students taking 72 units and enrolled full-time all year round can remain in the United States while maintaining valid F-1 nonimmigrant status.
Students enrolled in the 60-unit low-residency model will also obtain an F-1 visa to participate in the Summer intensive sessions, but will only be enrolled part-time each Fall and Spring semester, and cannot stay in the US in valid F-1 status between Summer sessions.
For more information, please review the International Students in CCA’s low residency program in MFA Comics or contact Program Chair Justin Hall.
It is important to note that additional units above the 60 units required by the MFA in Comics program and any undergraduate courses are not eligible for financial aid.
When do I apply?
Applications open November 1 and have a priority submission deadline of January 15. There are rolling submissions after that date.
How many students are in each class?
We aim for an average cohort size of 12 students. Previous graduating classes have ranged from 10-14 students.
Our ideal cohort size is one that allows us to give everyone individual attention while creating a vibrant and active community of artists and storytellers.
How many students are on campus during the summer session?
With three cohorts of cartoonists on campus during the summer session, between 30-36 students participate in the program. Every summer session includes 3 cohorts: new students, 2nd year returning students, and 3rd year students who will graduate at the end of the summer session.
What kinds of comics do students typically make?
Every kind of comics you can imagine, from memoir to fantasy adventure to journalism comics. There’s no house style or content restrictions here at CCA. The goal is to help all of our students create the best version of the kinds of comics they want to make.
See sample excerpts from alumni thesis projects.
What kinds of courses will I take?
With courses in everything from the history and cultural impact of the comics medium to the future of digital comics, the program covers a lot of ground.
Is there a thesis or final project?
The program is designed to help students bring their dream comics projects to life as part of their thesis work. Thesis projects may be serialized comics, graphic novels, or comics intended for the web.
See sample excerpts from alumni thesis projects.
How are the Summer courses different from courses in the Fall and Spring?
Summer courses are in-person, daily intensives that offer students the opportunity to work in a tight-knit community of cartoonists from morning to night.
Our Fall and Spring mentorships, however, offer the time required to do the more sustained work required for the thesis projects, while also managing your lives outside of school. The Fall and Spring online studios keep everyone in contact throughout the year while continuing to develop your comics skills, with faculty and peers providing feedback on your work.
Who is the faculty? What kind of comics work do faculty members do?
We have a stellar roster consisting of faculty with expertise in all aspects of making comics. From comics historians to award-winning graphic novelists, our faculty cares about the art of teaching as much as the comics medium itself.
Check out our current faculty lineup and don’t hesitate to reach out to any of our instructors if you have questions about the program.
Do I get to talk directly to my one-on-one mentor?
Yes, yes, yes.
While our fall online studio course is designed for asynchronous communication (since students are spread out across world time zones), our one-on-one mentoring is always in real-time.
If you are in the Bay Area, you can meet with your mentor over coffee. If you live on the other side of the world, our mentors will Zoom or Google Hangout with you every other week to provide feedback and advice as you create your thesis project.
Is there housing? Where can I stay while in San Francisco for the summer sessions?
This summer, all students are eligible for housing in CCA's newest dorm, Founders Hall. Even students living in the extended Bay Area often choose to stay in CCA housing in order to cut down on their daily commute.
Learn more about housing options. Students interested in year-round housing should contact Program Chair Justin Hall.
Do we get to talk to industry professionals while in the program?
Yes, both in class and at special events.
The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the greatest centers in the world for comics art. It offers us a wealth of comics industry professionals to invite to classes during the Summer session and for special events during the Fall and Spring.
In addition to classroom visits, the Summer session features the Comics in the City lecture series each Friday evening.
And if you are staying year-round in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can take advantage of the steady stream of comics events taking place in comics shops, the SF Cartoon Art Museum, bookstores, and galleries.
Can I maintain my job while completing the program?
Many of our students maintain employment during the Fall and Spring semesters. The intensive Summer session requires all students to complete five weeks of morning-to-evening coursework. Once each intensive session has completed, however, the flexibility of the Fall and Spring semester schedule allows for students to both work on their thesis projects as well as maintain other employment.
Do most of the students in the program live near San Francisco during the Fall and Spring semesters or do they return to other parts of the US and beyond?
About half of our students live near San Francisco during the Fall and Spring semesters. The other half of our students return home during the Fall and Spring and complete their thesis and coursework remotely.
Are there scholarships or other financial aid available?
Yes and yes.
Learn more about scholarships and financial aid.
Are there work-study opportunities available to students completing coursework at-distance during the fall and spring semesters?
For students living outside of the San Francisco Bay Area during the Fall and Spring semesters there are limited online work-study employment opportunities. Please send a message to the Program Chair for more details.
Are graduate comics students permitted to enroll in additional classes offered by other programs during the fall and spring semesters?
Yes, with some restrictions. Students living in the Bay Area may enroll in additional courses pending program approval in the Fall and Spring semesters.
It is important to note that additional units above the 60 units required by the MFA in Comics program and any undergraduate courses are not eligible for financial aid. Upper-division undergraduate courses make up the majority of curriculum available to graduate cartoonists and are all subject to administrative approval for enrollment.
What are some of the careers students have gone onto after completing the program?
Our alumni have gone on to publish their thesis projects, obtain adjunct and full-time comics teaching positions, secure storyboarding jobs for major motion pictures, write for monthly comics, and edit entire lines of comics for children’s education.
What should I include in my visual portfolio when I apply?
While we accept all kinds of visual art (from photography to watercolor illustrations), we really love to see comics. Don't be shy about including sequential art in your portfolio even if it isn't as polished as some of your other non-comics pieces. We're looking for visual storytellers with unique voices who have something to say.
Since we love to work with everyone who loves comics (from writers without visual art experience to visual artists who are just beginning to write stories), we have an open mind about the application process. More than anything, do your best to show us your passion for the comics medium.
I still have a question. Is there someone I can contact?
Email MFA in Comics program chair Justin Hall.