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Studying arts in college

Woman of color sculpting a head at Southwestern Oregon Community College


You have many choices if you want to study art, theater, music or dance in college.

Consider the following key points to determine which option might be best for you.

Think about 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?

Learn about your options

Your options include a college that:

  • is dedicated only to art, music, theater or dance.
  • has its own art or music school.
  • has an art, music, theater or dance department. This will let you study many different things, including visual or performing arts.

Think about what matters to you and what you enjoy. You may prefer focusing on one specialized area or you may prefer a more general curriculum.

This also may impact the type of degree you get. For example, a Bachelor's of Fine Arts (BFA) or Bachelor's of Music (BM) is more specific than a general Bachelor's of Arts (BA).

Consider accreditation

You should always look for a college to be regionally accredited. You also may want a college that is nationally accredited for your specific arts discipline.

Oregon colleges with nationally accredited programs in the arts

Art & design Music Theater
University of Oregon George Fox University Portland Actors Conservatory
  Linfield University Portland State University
  Pacific University University of Portland
  Portland State University  
  Southern Oregon University  
  University of Oregon  
  University of Portland  
  Willamette University  

Research application requirements

Schools of art can be quite competitive. You may be required to submit a portfolio or artist statement or to interview or audition. These additional materials help schools make their admission selections. You will need to research the school’s specific requirements.

Some schools may not require additional materials. You can still send a portfolio or work sample, 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!

Prioritize academic success

Academics matter when applying to schools of art. Each school has its own requirements; you may need a minimum GPA and/or test score.

Even if a college is test optional, you may still want to take them. Good grades and high SAT/ACT scores can qualify you for scholarships and other financial aid.

Sources: Campus Explorer, USA Today College