Established in 1885, Kansas City’s oldest arts institution, Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is a private, independent, four-year college of fine arts and design. KCAI is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Arts and Design (NASAD), the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), and the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The mission of the college is to prepare gifted students to transform the world creatively through art and design.
A Diverse Curriculum
KCAI equips students with a versatile skill set and the fearlessness to pursue their passions. The college offers a diverse curriculum with thirteen majors—Animation, Art History, Ceramics, Creative Writing, Fiber, Graphic Design, Filmmaking, Illustration, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Product Design, and Sculpture.
It also offers minors in Social Practice, Asian Studies, and Entrepreneurial Studies in Art and Design in partnership with the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Henry W. Bloch School of Management. All the faculty at KCAI are practicing artists, designers, and scholars. They are globally recognized and have won prestigious awards including the Pulitzer Prize, the Guggenheim Award, and the Creative Capital Award.
Providing the Necessary Resources
KCAI provides students with the resources they need to be successful at college and beyond. These resources include,
- Academic Counseling: Counselors meet with students to ensure they have everything they need for academic success by offering individual academic counseling, workshops on time management, note-taking, study skills, and more.
- Counseling: Individual counseling and crisis intervention are available both on and off-campus.
- Career Services: Career advising provides students with personal guidance to help them achieve their career goals. Services include resume and cover letter preparation, networking, interview skills, internships, graduate school preparation, fellowship information, career-related workshops, and job listings.
- ESL (English as a Second Language) Services: These services provide specialized help for students who are not fluent in English.
Dynamic Student Life
In the past five years, KCAI has transformed the student experience by providing new spaces to learn, create, and relax. Barbara Marshall Residence Hall (BMRH), Wylie Dining, and Café Nerman give students a home away from home and places to gather, dine, and relax. The double occupancy, semi-private rooms in BMRH have private baths, loft-like ceilings and comfortable places to relax and recharge. Students gather at the Sherman Family Student Union, game room, and exercise studio. Liberal Arts, Art History, Creative Writing, Entrepreneurial Studies, and student services are located in Paul and Linda DeBruce Hall – an award-winning building with a two-story, light-filled atrium. Every classroom has outdoor views, giving it the feel of classrooms in a garden.
The Tony Jones Studios for Animation and Illustration is the home for two of KCAI’s fastest growing majors. Each tower was thoughtfully designed to provide optimal classroom, studio space and common areas for each department’s unique needs.
KCAI’s beautiful 16-acre campus is located in the heart of KC’s art district and nestled between the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art—two renowned art museums. Two campus galleries, H&R Block Artspace and KCAI Gallery offer students places to showcase their work and view exhibitions from world-class artists. KCAI students play active roles in the KC arts scene enjoying events such as First Friday gallery walks, concerts, theaters, and restaurants. Students have the opportunity to intern at some of Kansas City’s most prestigious companies like Hallmark, Garmin, and Innovative Dimension.
The Culture of Inclusion
The Kansas City Art Institute recognizes that a plurality of voices and perspectives is crucial in providing educational excellence that develops visionary creators, artists, and global citizens. KCAI strives towards creating a campus community with the broadest spectrum of representation with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age, socioeconomic status, and first-generation students.
The core concepts of IDEAS (inclusion, diversity, equity, access, and sustainability) are the guiding principles integral to KCAI’s strategic and academic planning, social and studio practices, research, and learning outcomes. In 2020, the college made several significant steps by hiring a Director of Diverse Talent & Inclusion and forming an IDEAS Council. The council consists of students, staff, and faculty who serve as advisors to the President’s Action Council and as ambassadors to the campus to inspire and cause a culture shift.
Virtual Learning Model
The COVID-19 pandemic forced educational institutions around the world to change their strategies and mode of operation. In response to the pandemic, KCAI entered into a hybrid model that allowed for classes that could be taught online –namely liberal arts classes which account for about 1/3 of the college’s curriculum – to move to virtual. This resulted in much less density on campus and provided for a safe avenue for students to access studios and benefit from in-person studio instruction. The model, backed up by robust guidelines and transparent communications, resulted in a successful semester with very few reported COVID-19 cases.
Investing in Technology
KCAI is investing in the best technological solutions for security, workplace productivity, infrastructure modernization, and transformative technologies for its students. The college recently completed a campus-wide network upgrade, laying new 40 GB capable fiber between buildings. KCAI’s faculty, staff, and students use all the tools offered by Google such as Google Drive, Google Classroom, and Google Meet.
Additionally, KCAI has deployed new password management and a single sign-on portal to increase account security and accessibility, making it safer and easier for everyone to access the tools they need. The college also licenses several creative software packages for its users, both in labs and on personal computers. The software packages include Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk offerings, etc.
The David T. Beals III Studios for Art and Technology offers 3D printing, CNC routing, rapid prototyping, and a digital loom, provides KCAI’s students and faculty with the tools to bring their creative projects to life.
Choosing the Right College
When choosing a college, students should consider the following. Seek a college that offers a major or degree you are interested in. KCAI provides a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, the gold standard in the arts.
Evaluate if the college has the space and facilities to set you up for success. KCAI gives all students studio space to create and the new buildings on campus provide the perfect environment for makers.
Lastly, seek a college that is affordable. KCAI provides scholarships to 99% of students to offset the cost of tuition and has established itself as one of the best arts colleges in the region.
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