Keystone logo
College of Charleston: School of the Arts

College of Charleston: School of the Arts

College of Charleston: School of the Arts


Welcome to the School of the Arts, the artistic heartbeat of Charleston. Our students are taught by world-class artists/scholars in an environment that stresses experiential learning, creative collaborations, rigorous scholarship, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Graduates of our seven academic departments and programs have been accepted to many of the world’s most prestigious graduate programs and conservatories, and many of them are professional artists and scholars working at the very highest level, while others are working in leadership roles at some of the country’s most important cultural institutions. Also, some graduates have successful careers in industries such as business, education, engineering, and government, where they apply the critical thinking and creative skills gained from our School’s training.

Winner of South Carolina's Governor's Award for the Arts – the state's highest award in the arts – the School of the Arts strives to be a pre-eminent center for the study, practice, and management of the performing and creative arts.

In addition to a broad range of courses, our school offers educational and cultural experiences, such as internships, performance opportunities, and experiential work in various fields. The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, administered by the School of the Arts, serves as an extension of the undergraduate curricula at the College and as a cultural resource for the region. The Halsey Institute provides a direct experience with works of art in all media within an environment that fosters creativity, individuality, innovation, and education. Students can submit their visual artwork to an annual juried student exhibition coordinated by the Halsey Institute.

Each semester, the school presents an exciting array of concerts, plays, dance performances, lectures, and gallery exhibitions. (View event info + calendar) And, in the summer, the school produces many events that are part of Charleston's Piccolo Spoleto Festival. In addition, many students are engaged as interns for the City of Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Spoleto Festival USA.

Campus Features

The School of the Arts (SOTA) has reinvented itself, growing from a small fine arts department into one of the fastest-growing, comprehensive art schools in the nation.

SOTA's flagship Albert Simons Center for the Arts was built in 1979 to serve no more than 800 students. Now, more than five times that number use the school's facilities – an indication of SOTA’s continued success in attracting talented and skilled students, faculty, and staff.

SOTA has been working with Liollio Architecture and HGA Design Firm (Minneapolis) on renovation plans for the Simons Center. We look forward to unveiling a space that celebrates the arts through its architecture — with a bright and colorful ambiance that is inviting to students and visitors. Upon completion, our spaces will provide an even more elevated student and patron experience:

  • Grand entrance and expanded lobby, featuring more art exhibition space
  • New seminar classrooms, as well as updated and enlarged classroom spaces
  • New two-story black box theatre; state-of-the-art costume shop, scene shop, and theatre design studio; and updated dressing rooms
  • All-new sculpture, printmaking, and drawing studios; digital lab; and gallery/multipurpose room
  • New music practice rooms and revamped dressing room spaces
  • The entire building will be outfitted with new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and updated technological systems

Starting in fall 2021, SOTA events previously presented inside the Simons Center (at the Recital Hall, Emmett Robinson Theatre, 316 lecture hall, and Theatre 220) will take place temporarily at other campus venues. In addition, our Department of Art & Architectural History and our Arts Management Program relocated to Harbor Walk West, overlooking the picturesque Charleston harbor. Our Department of Studio Art (main office) has moved across the street to the Lightsey Center, which also houses printmaking and drawing studios; the nearby sculpture studio is currently at 136 Saint Philip St. Some classrooms and studios for the Department of Theatre & Dance have temporarily relocated, as listed here.

In 2010, SOTA opened The Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts, a 70,000-square-foot building designed by architects Stevens & Wilkinson. The first floor of the building houses the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, the Hill Student Exhibition Gallery, a catering kitchen, and a state-of-the-art conference room/seminar classroom. The Department of Music is housed on the second floor, which features rehearsal and performance space for ensembles. The Department of Theatre and Dance is on the third floor, with movement and dance studios. The fourth floor includes painting studios for faculty and students, and the fifth floor contains a photography suite. The Cato Center is located at 161 Calhoun St.

The Caroline and Albert Simons, Jr. Center for Historic Preservation are housed at the Hugh P. Cameron House at 12 Bull St. Built c.1851, the graceful antebellum mansion houses classrooms, design studios, exhibit space, and faculty and program offices for our program of Historic Preservation and Community Planning.

The Chapel Theatre is an intimate, 106-seat, proscenium-style space converted from a former church sanctuary, located at 172 Calhoun St.

The Barnet Courtyard is an outdoor space that features a covered performance area, sculpture garden, benches, and a large lawn.

    Scholarships and Funding

    Schoolwide Scholarships

    Crossing the Cistern

    Need help getting your GPA back on track? Crossing the Cistern is a one-year momentum program that helps students improve academic standing as well as support, challenge, and celebrate students along the path to graduation. The primary goals surround the inclusion, retention, and well-being of students, with a particular focus on diverse student populations. The program provides scholarship support, academic advising, professional mentoring, extracurricular programming, and interactive peer communities to help students navigate the academic experience. Duration is the 2021-2022 academic year.

    2021-2022 Academic Year:

    Application Deadline: August 31, 2021, by 11:59 pm

    The Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Scholarship

    Awards from the Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund for the School of the Arts shall be restricted to undergraduate and graduate full-time and part-time students of the College's School of Arts who are pursuing a course of study as a declared major within the School of the Arts leading to an accredited degree and who also have financial need. (Financial need expressly includes students whose income exceeds government assistance criteria, but who can demonstrate a quantifiable need for assistance.) Preference will be shown to students under consideration for a Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Scholarship who show evidence of 1) having worked for pay or who are working for pay at the present time and 2) having worked without pay in some form of community service or who are working without pay in some form of community service at the present time. Learn more and view the application.

    2021-2022 Academic Year:

    Application Deadline: March 31, 2021, by 5:00 pm

    Notification around: April 9, 2021

    School of the Arts Alumni Awards

    In 2011 the School of the Arts established an Alumni Awards program in order to honor those former students who have made significant progress in their careers, the arts, or have given of themselves as donors and/or volunteers. Previous winners include:


    • Achievement: Eric Sean Fogel ’97; Michael Ann Wilson ’00
    • Service: JohnPaul Schutz '00
    • Young Alumnus: Ginger Vallen '05; Lauren Frances Evans '11, Giovanna Quattrone '15


    • Achievement: Robert Condy ’99; Margaret Furniss ’00; Kevin Hamilton ’95
    • Philanthropy: Matthew Kennedy ‘00
    • Service: Gregory Joye ’95
    • Young Alumnus: Ashley Fabian ’13


    • Achievement: Clay Ross ’98
    • Philanthropy: Lisa Roy ’06
    • Young Alumnus: Eliot Dudik’07; William Bennett ’04


    • Achievement: Robert B. Snead ’02; Richard Evan Linder ’04
    • Young Alumnus: George Patrick McLeer ’10; Tanya Garcia '11


    • Achievement: Joseph Burwell '93


    • Charleston

      College of Charleston 66 George Street Charleston, SC 29424 USA, 29424, Charleston


        Institution also offers: