Who We Are

Who We Are

As a specialized program within the Novato High School, MSA offers students who are passionate about the arts the benefits of a traditional high school with strong academics combined with college-level arts training. MSA students participate in two MSA class periods as part of their Novato High School curriculum; their remaining four to five daily class periods are in academic classes, physical education and other clubs and programs offered at at the school.

Novato High School offers a rich curriculum including Honors and Advanced Placement classes, Latin, French and Spanish, as well as the opportunity to attend college or online classes, as scheduling permits.

The 2017-18 Marin School of the Arts Seniors.

Student Demographics

With close to 500 students enrolled in MSA programs with the potential for growth in coming years, MSA is a thriving community within the Novato High School campus. Over 25 percent of students come from outside of Novato, including communities across Marin and Sonoma counties with some coming from the East Bay and beyond. MSA supports families with carpool arrangements by providing basic MSA family contact information by zip code at the beginning of each school year.

MSA is a specialized program within Novato High School with student enrollment representing 35 percent of the overall Novato High School student body. MSA students attend all NHS regular academic classes and participate in sports, clubs and social events as desired. Limited MSA program areas, including visual arts and dance, are open to NHS student enrollment as an elective course.


The MSA Student Population

Based on 2018-19 MSA enrollment of 514 students.

  • 119 Freshmen
  • 153 Sophomores
  • 112 Juniors
  • 106 Seniors

How was MSA Formed?

MSA opened in 2003 with a Specialized Secondary Program Grant from the State of California, to fund operation of programs serving 100 students. Founded by visionary music teacher Mark Peabody, who wanted to provide a rigorous and supportive arts education program for talented students looking for a strong educational community in which to pursue their artistic dreams.

How MSA Funding Works

While very supportive of MSA programs, the Novato Unified School District is able to fund MSA faculty and facilities. The MSA Foundation (MSAF) was formed to fill the  gap between NUSD funding and program needs—including professional guest teaching artists, computers, software, musical equipment and instruments, costumes and props and more.

The MSA Foundation currently raises $400,000-$450,000 annually to meet this need. MSA families are encouraged to contribute $750 per MSA student each year through the MSAF Annual Giving Campaign to help fund MSA program needs. Participation is voluntary and does not have any impact on a student’s admission.