Skip to main content
Carnegie Mellon University homepage Carnegie Mellon University Wordmark

Undergraduate Admission

College of Fine Arts Applicants

CMU students drawing art outside on CMU's The Kraus Campo

Arts, Architecture and Design That Impact the World

The College of Fine Arts is comprised of nationally and internationally recognized artists and professionals within five schools, renowned for our comprehensive studio and conservatory-style programs situated within an interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research university.

Our creative community is made up of students and faculty who are audaciously creative trailblazers, pushing boundaries to influence and impact the world around them. As a student in the College of Fine Arts, you’ll be the kind empowered to transform your field through critical inquiry and creative production.

What to know before you apply

Portfolios. Pre-screenings. Auditions. Applying to a school within the College of Fine Arts requires a few extra steps in the application process. Learn more before you submit your application.

(opens in new window)
Student discusses his Architecture project work

Portfolio

A portfolio allows you to showcase your creative works as part of the application process and will be reviewed by faculty in the Fine Arts program you’re applying to. Your admission decision is based on a holistic review of both that portfolio and your other application materials.

At Carnegie Mellon, all visual arts programs and select performing arts programs require a portfolio. Portfolio requirements vary by program, so make sure you review the program-specific information below. If you're applying to multiple programs that require a portfolio, you will need to submit a separate portfolio for each, and the contents of each portfolio should be tailored to the portfolio requirements of each program.

Performing arts students on stage

Pre-screening

A pre-screening is the first part of the audition process for our School of Drama programs. Applicants must complete a pre-screening and then be invited for an audition. Together, the pre-screening and audition are the main basis for your admission decision.

Both the pre-screening and audition are specific to the program you’re applying to, so be sure to review the pre-screening information below for the School of Drama.

Student plays the guitar

Audition

An audition is required for most programs within our Schools of Drama and Music and allows you to showcase your creative talents for the review committee. What’s included in your audition will vary depending on the program you’re applying to, so be sure to carefully review the requirements for your program.

Students discuss project work

Interviews, Essays and More

Some programs may have additional application requirements above and beyond the portfolio or audition, including interviews, essays, video submissions, resumes or additional recommendations. These items provide the review committee more context about who you are and your creative abilities. Because requirements vary by program, be sure to carefully review all additional application requirements.

College of Fine Arts Additional Application Requirements

Each school within the College of Fine Arts has different additional application requirements. Learn more below, and be sure to review the in-depth requirements provided by your program of interest. Please note that these additional application materials are submitted to and reviewed by faculty within your program of interest. If you have questions about the additional requirements, how to submit your materials or the review process, please contact the program directly.

School of Architecture

Early Decision 1:
Apply and submit your portfolio by November 1

Early Decision 2:
Apply and submit your portfolio by January 3

Regular Decision:
Apply by January 3 and submit your portfolio by January 15

If you’re applying to the School of Architecture, you must submit a portfolio of 10 creative works that showcases evidence of your curiosity, critical thinking, innovation, problem-solving, spatial reasoning/visual thinking, ability to synthesize and desire to make and build things. You should carefully curate and arrange your portfolio to tell a compelling story about yourself, your abilities and passions and your commitment and motivation to study architecture.

School of Art

Early Decision 1:
Apply and submit your portfolio by November 1

Regular Decision:
Apply by January 3 and submit your portfolio by January 15

If you’re applying to the School of Art, you must submit a portfolio of 10 to 20 recent creative works that showcase both your imagination and technical skills. We recommend including as many works as possible that were completed independently and outside of the classroom.

School of Design

Early Decision 1:
Apply and submit your portfolio by November 1.

Regular Decision:
Apply by January 3 and submit your portfolio by January 15.

If you’re applying to the School of Design, you must submit a portfolio of up to 18 slides in addition to a short essay and a 90-second video introducing yourself to the Design faculty reviewing your portfolio. For your portfolio, we encourage you to select projects that show a range of media and subject matter, while still emphasizing your strongest work, and to strike a balance between final work and process work.

School of Drama

All Drama applicants must apply to Carnegie Mellon through the Common Application and submit a separate School of Drama application by the posted deadline.

Acting

  • Regular Decision applicants should apply and complete the pre-screening process by December 1.
    • Acting is not available for Early Decision.
  • If selected from the pre-screening process, you’ll be contacted to schedule an audition, which is the main basis of your admission decision.

Design/Production

  • Early Decision 1 applicants should apply and complete the pre-screening process by November 1.
  • Regular Decision applicants should apply to the university, submit the School of Drama application, and complete the pre-screening process by December 1.
  • If selected from the pre-screening process, you’ll be contacted to schedule an interview, which is the main basis of your admission decision.

Directing

  • Regular Decision applicants should apply and complete the pre-screening process by December 1.
    • Directing is not available for Early Decision.

Dramaturgy

  • Regular Decision applicants should apply and complete the pre-screening process by December 1.
    • Dramaturgy is not available for Early Decision.
  • Additional application materials include:
    • A resume
    • A brief (less than 750 word) letter that addresses the question: "Why are you interested in studying dramaturgy, and what experience do you bring to the area of study?"
    • Two (2) letters of recommendation from sources familiar with your research and writing skills
    • Two (2) samples of original argumentative writing that are approximately 1,000 words each

Music Theater

  • Regular Decision applicants should apply and complete the pre-screening process by December 1.
    • Music Theater is not available for Early Decision.
  • If selected from the pre-screening process, you’ll be contacted to schedule an audition, which is the main basis of your admission decision.

School of Music

All Music applicants must apply to Carnegie Mellon through the Common Application and submit a separate School of Music application by the posted deadline.

Regular Decision: Apply by December 1 and submit your audition/portfolio materials by January 3.

The School of Music does not consider applicants for Early Decision.

If you’re applying for Performance (Vocal and Instrumental), you should submit a recorded audition. We recommend that you use the best recording equipment available to you and to focus on reducing distortion.

If you’re applying for Composition, you’ll be required to submit a portfolio composed of three (3) manuscripts of original compositions showing your range in genre, training and ability as well as an audio recording of each of the submitted compositions.

If you’re applying for Music & Technology, you’ll be required to choose a concentration and submit a portfolio. If you’re interested in the music or composition concentrations, you must also complete the required additional portfolio or audition materials for that particular area.

If you’re applying for Electronic Music, you’ll need to submit a portfolio containing samples of your creative work, providing documentation of your electronic music making in the form of high-quality sound and video recordings. Additionally, you’ll be required to schedule an interview with Electronic Music faculty; the School of Music will reach out in January to schedule that interview where applicable.

BXA Intercollege Programs

To be considered for the BXA programs, you’ll first select the College of Fine Arts school that you wish to apply to. You'll then be asked if you’d like to be considered for a BXA program and note your interest in either the Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA), Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA) or Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA). You’ll be considered for both the fine arts school as well as the specific BXA program indicated as part of the admission process.

Students interested in drama may select from three options in the School of Drama: 1) design, 2) dramaturgy or 3) production technology & management. Students interested in music may select from the four options in the School of Music: 1) audio recording & production, 2) composition, 3) music performance or 4) sound theory & practice.

Under Early Decision, BXA is only available for the Schools of Architecture, Art, Design along with the School of Drama option in Design/Production.