Curatorial Research Bureau
Curatorial Research Bureau

Pedagogy / CCA Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice

Curatorial Research Bureau at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is the hub of learning for California College of the Arts Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice. The graduate seminars are held at YBCA inside the CRB, a combined bookshop, exhibition, and public program where students intersect with rotating book inventories, participate in academic and public programs, and meet visiting practitioners. Students are integrated into the institutional infrastructure at YBCA by sitting in on planning meetings, bearing witness to conversations among curators and administrators about upcoming exhibitions, programs, and marketing.

In addition to the learning site of YBCA, the graduate program focuses on the intellectual, creative, and analytic qualities needed to participate in and contribute to the discourse of contemporary art. Drawing in part from the history of art and design, the program provides students academic resources and direction needed for engaging critically with contemporary culture. The program strives to provide students a broad perspective of the curator as a productive agent and mediator, a researcher who sees context as a valuable asset, building connections among artists, ideas, institutions, public space, online technologies, and their audiences.

Pedagogy / Fall 2019 Seminars

Pedagogy / Curriculum

The program’s first year offers courses focused on exhibitions—history, forms, and design—combined with courses in contemporary and global art history, theory, and criticism, alongside engagements with artworks and artists. The second year concentrates on research-driven and project-based learning with collaboration and mentorship of the faculty, resulting in a written thesis project (pursued individually) and a collectively authored exhibition at CCA’s renown Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.

Meanwhile, the practice of developing conversations and relationships with artists, curators, writers, designers, archivists, and arts administrators is fostered through regular interaction with guests in both classroom settings and public programs at the Curatorial Research Bureau at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Students have opportunities to gain professional experiences in a required internship at cultural institutions in the Bay Area or beyond. Overall, students learn how to conceive and produce exhibitions, public programs, written texts, and artist commissions, in addition to how to connect and distribute curated content to audiences nearby and further afield.

Pedagogy / This is an Exhibition

This Is an Exhibition provides students insight into the complexities of institutions, from organizing exhibitions, public programs, and artist commissions, to fundraising, marketing, and communications through a series of strategically organized meetings with curators and administrators at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and CCA’s Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. 

Pedagogy / Internships and Assistantships

Work experiences providing financial support and professional training are available for students enrolled in the program. A publishing internship is available with the college’s journal, Art Practical, while CCA’s Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts offers a curatorial fellowship. In addition to these opportunities, each graduate student receives an annual teaching assistantship to work with faculty in the Visual and Critical Studies, Fine Arts, and Curatorial Practice graduate programs.

Pedagogy / Fellowship

KADIST San Francisco offers each year a research fellowship to a second-year student or recent alum of CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice. The fellowship provides a stipend and an opportunity to work with KADIST curators and director on research related to artists in the collection as part of a new initiative relating to the research and presentation of video artworks. Fellows are required to generate original pieces of writing connected to their research.

Pedagogy / Institution Access

Each student in the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice receives a free membership to YBCA.


Apply to CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice.

Questions? Write to James Voorhies, Chair of the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice.