Since 2008, Vermont College of Fine Arts has sought to provide its students with an exceptional graduate education in a unique low-residency student-centered format, led by faculty mentors who are world-renowned authors, artists, designers, composers, filmmakers and other practitioners of the fine arts. And we have attracted a truly remarkable cohort of students and alumnx who have brought with them a wide range of talents and experiences and graduated from our institution with their skills and capabilities honed to the highest levels. We indeed have a great deal of which to be proud.

But in the current world, a free-standing graduate institution in any field is the exception, all the more so in the arts. Providing a learning experience of the highest level is expensive, and for an institution that prides itself on serving a diverse population, the challenges of accessibility and affordability have proven monumental. The impact of the COVID years has only exacerbated this situation.

Many schools facing similar circumstances have simply closed their doors. We have seen too many examples of that right here in New England. But VCFA is too important, too special to be given up on. After extensive discussions that included our faculty leadership, staff leadership, and the Board of Trustees we are delighted to announce that we have entered into an affiliation agreement with an institution that is in many respects our peer, in key respects our mirror image and, importantly, financially strong: the California Institute of the Arts.

CalArts, which was incorporated in 1961 as the first degree-granting institution in the US created specifically for students of both the visual and performing arts, is a very highly regarded, primarily residential institution located just north of Los Angeles. It offers an excellent, fully equipped campus and a faculty that stands eye-to-eye with ours. And CalArts is equally excited to enter into an affiliation with VCFA, as they learn from our expertise in low-residency graduate arts education designed for non-traditional learners.  

Under the terms of our affiliation agreement, VCFA will continue to have its own Board of Trustees, President, academic leadership and faculty. VCFA will continue to deliver its high quality, mission-driven low-residency program to current and future students while making available to the significantly larger CalArts community our unique expertise in serving an adult population. In legal form CalArts will be our “parent,” but under the terms of our affiliation agreement VCFA will retain its academic independence, administrative offices in Montpelier, and its unique form and mission. 

We anticipate that this transaction will have a positive impact on the programs VCFA offers and on our students and faculty. We will benefit from the use of CalArts’ excellent campus and facilities, and the expanded administrative and student services support that only a larger institution can provide. The cost of your program and the availability of student financial aid will not be affected. You will remain a student of VCFA and, when you complete your program, you will become a proud VCFA graduate. As previously planned, our July 2024 residency will take place on the campus of Colorado College and we look forward to our first residency at CalArts in January 2025.

The Board of Trustees, Administration and academic leadership are absolutely confident that this affiliation will achieve what we have long sought: a VCFA that will have the resources and support to continue to be a shining star among institutions in our field, and a source of amazing practitioners of the arts. Please contact Dean of Students Katie Rasmussen ([email protected]) with any questions.

Thanks and best,

Mike Goldstein, Chair, Board of Trustees
Andrew Ramsammy, Interim President
Mary-Kim Arnold, Dean of Faculty + Academic Affairs
Katie Rasmussen, Dean of Students


To learn more visit the CalArts Partnership page, or read the official press release.