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Want to Study Performing or Visual Arts in College? Here Are 5 Questions to Ask

Want to Study Performing or Visual Arts in College? Here Are 5 Questions to Ask

  • by
  • Nov 25, 2019
Woman sitting in front of easel

Students who want to study art, theater, music or dance in college have many choices. Use these guiding questions to help determine which option might be best for you.

What are your career goals?

Does the school you are considering offer the program you are looking for? If so, will the program qualify you for the art career you want? Are there licensing or certification requirements you’ll need to meet for professional practice?

Do you want to attend a school of art or a school with art programs?

There are many options: you can opt for a college that has an art, music, theater or dance department, a university that has its own art or music school, or an institution dedicated solely to art, music, theater or dance.

  • A school of art or conservatory: You will spend the majority of your time studying fine or performing arts and much less time taking courses in other subject areas.
  • A college that has an art, music, theater or dance department: You can study many academic interests as well as visual or performing arts classes.

Think about what matters to you and what you enjoy, and if you would prefer a specialized or more general curriculum. This may impact the type of degree you get, such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Bachelor of Music (BM) versus a more general Bachelor of Arts (BA).

Does the school have the right college accreditation?

You may want to consider a college that is nationally accredited for your specific arts discipline, in addition to being regionally accredited. In Oregon, the nationally accredited programs are:

Art & Design Music Theater
  • Pacific Northwest College of Art
  • University of Oregon
  • George Fox University
  • Linfield College
  • Pacific University
  • Portland State University
  • Southern Oregon University
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Portland
  • Western Oregon University
  • Willamette University
  • Portland Actors Conservatory
  • Portland State University
  • University of Portland

Does the school require a portfolio, artist statement, interview or audition?

Schools of art can be quite competitive and these additional materials help schools make their admission selections; research the school’s specific requirements. Some schools may not require additional materials—consider sending a portfolio or work sample anyway but first call or email the admissions office to ask if they will review it. Ask if you can submit a digital copy of your portfolio – it’s much less expensive to create and to send!

How are your grades?

Academics do still matter when applying to schools of art. Each school has its own academic requirements in terms of minimum GPA and average standardized college entrance exam scores. Most schools require the ACT and/or SAT. Even if standardized college entrance exams are optional, you may still want to take them because good grades and high SAT/ACT scores can qualify you for scholarships and other financial aid packages.

Sources: Campus Explorer, USA Today College