The Royal College of Art (RCA) is a name that conveys prestige and excellence in the art and design world. Located in the heart of London, RCA has nurtured countless talents who have gone on to shape the global art scene.
And because of its status as one of the best art schools in the world, RCA is very selective. So, what does it take to get admitted to this iconic institution? Let’s find out:
The journey to RCA is, indeed, a competitive one. The acceptance rate is estimated at 22%, so less than 1-in-4 applications are successful.
That means it will be difficult, but don’t be disheartened. With thorough preparation and a strategic approach, you can significantly increase your chances of securing a seat!
RCA isn’t just another art college. According to the QS ranking for Art & Design, it holds the esteemed title of being the best in the world. Here’s how it stacks up in Europe:
|Rank in Europe
|Royal College of Art
|University of the Arts London
|Politecnico di Milano
|Design Academy Eindhoven
RCA is strictly a postgraduate school that offers Masters, PhDs, and courses for those that already have a previous qualification. That means that this university doesn’t offer any undergraduate programmes. If you are looking for Bachelor’s degrees in Europe, have a look at these other options instead.
While academic achievements are vital, the RCA also deeply values portfolios, side projects, and varied skill sets. The ability to demonstrate critical thinking and self-reflection is one of the most important admissions requirements.
This is why some programmes accept applications from non-artists and designers whose portfolios can be a statement of practice.
Requirements also vary depending on the program and the applicant’s nationality, so it’s important to look into the specifics of the degree of your choice.
A general list includes:
Prior qualifications, often a Bachelor’s degree or proof of equivalent professional experience.
English language proficiency for non-native speakers, proven through completion of IELTS Academic, IELTS for UKVI or IELTS equivalent online tests.
CV detailing professional experience.
A unique and personalized portfolio.
Relevant academic references.
For international students that need a visa, compliance with the Home Office’s requirements for UK entry clearance is also necessary.
RCA offers Graduate Diploma, MA, MRes, MPhil, and PhD programs.
For the September intake, there are usually two (MPhil and PhD courses) or three (MA/MSc, MArch, MDes, MEd, MFA, MRes) application rounds. The first round opens in October the preceding year.
RCA admits students on a “first-come” basis; that means seats in popular programmes can fill up. With this in mind, it would be smart to apply as early as possible to increase your chances. You can expect to be notified about your admissions outcome within around six weeks. However, you will then need to decide quickly: usually within five weeks of receiving the offer for a study place.
The online application form has a “Save” feature, so there’s no need to complete it all in one go and it’s easy to finish it in multiple sessions.
Stage 1: Initial Information Upload
Select your desired programme.
Ensure you meet the entry requirements for your country.
Register on the RCA portal.
Provide all requested documents (scanned).
Submit your application.
Stage 2: Portfolio and Further Details
After the first stage, you’ll be prompted to:
Submit your portfolio via a link you’ll receive from the Office.
Write a statement detailing your motivation for studying your chosen program.
Share a video discussing your personal creative journey. This is a very important step and your chance to stand out from the crowd. Don’t stress, though. Record it as many times as you need, and make sure you start early before the application.
Provide a written reference.
Include supporting documents if required.
Prepare for a potential interview.
Receive an Application Reference Number to track your application.
Remember, early applications can be beneficial. It might mean applying as early as October/November the preceding year to your planned start of education.
Taking time to understand the nuances of the application process can make a huge difference in the success of your enrollment:
Thoroughly research the requirements.
Diversify and strengthen your portfolio. Sometimes, it’s worth postponing your application by a year and focusing on improving your portfolio in the meantime.
Engage in extracurriculars and side projects. Most of the top universities strongly value the volunteering experience of the candidates. It doesn’t have to be art-related.
Study.eu Tip: Connect with RCA alumni through platforms like Reddit, Quora, or LinkedIn for insights. Most of the time, people are happy to offer advice if you approach them with respect, kindness and questions that can’t be answered through online research.
RCA Tip: “We suggest applicants join our open days or online Q&A sessions to find out more about what we look for in a strong application and have their questions answered.”
International students should anticipate tuition fees of up to around £36,000 annually for postgraduate programmes, while domestic (UK) students can enjoy lower rates.
Other charges include:
an application assessment fee of £80.
a deposit payment of £2,000 (required to confirm your spot. It is deducted later from the tuition).
tuition fees need to be paid before starting the degree, but they can also be paid in two equal instalments: one in advance of registration and one at the start of the second term in January.
Moreover, living in London isn’t cheap. For a comfortable experience in the UK, students are advised to allocate a budget ranging from £13,000 to £25,000 annually. This estimation encompasses housing, food, transportation, academic materials, and other personal expenditures.
If you require financial help, RCA offers multiple scholarships.
RCA boasts over 30 Master’s programs! These are some of them:
Dive deeper into these programs here.
In conclusion, while the path to RCA can seem daunting, with the right approach, diligence, and passion, you can increase your chances of earning a spot in this esteemed institution.
Best of luck! 🍀2519 Art, Design & Media Programmes in Europe