BFA/BMus Portfolio and Audition Requirements

Columbia College Chicago's 2022 application is available now. You must complete and submit your application prior to uploading portfolio and audition materials. With the exception of the Interior Architecture BFA, Columbia's BFA and BMus programs are only available to fall applicants. These submissions will also be considered for the Faculty Recognition Award.

On this page, you'll find details on the portfolio and audition submission guidelines for direct entry into Columbia's Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Bachelor of Music (BMus) programs. If you are interested in a Bachleor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) program, you can find those requirements here.

Here’s how to submit your materials.

After submitting your application, send us your work via the submission link in the “Portfolio” section of your Columbia Connect Portal. Your Columbia Connect portal will always be the most up-to-date location for information about what we need from you.

What should I submit?

Submit work that adheres to the guidelines for your intended major. Work in other disciplines will not be considered for the award. You can find detailed guidelines by major below.

When should I submit?

Requirements and deadlines can vary, so please read the section covering your program carefully. The checklist in your Columbia Connect Portal will be your best resource to stay on track with your required materials.

A pre-screening process is in place for the Acting, BFA and Musical Theatre Performance, BFA programs. For students applying to either of those programs, the deadline to submit all materials (application to the college, transcripts, portfolio files, and prescreening items) is 11:59 p.m. (CST) on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

For all other direct entry programs, the deadline to submit all materials (application to the college, transcripts, portfolio files, and scheduling your audition/interview) is 11:59 p.m. (CST) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

An audition/interview is required for students applying to the Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music, BMus; Dance BFA, Fashion Design, BFA; and Music Composition, BMus programs. We will follow up with information on how to schedule your audition or interview.

A note for students applying via the Common App.

Columbia receives data from the Common Application every 24 hours. If you applied through the Common Application, you should receive an email with instructions for activating your Columbia Connect portal within 24 hours of submitting your Common App. You will not be able to upload your portfolio/audition materials until AFTER you activate your Columbia Connect portal. Common App applicants are advised to factor this 24-hour processing period into their Columbia application timeline.

Still undecided about your intended major?

BFA and BMus applicants cannot apply as undecided—you must select a specific major. If you wish to apply as an undecided student, you may choose to submit your work under any of the guidelines listed for BA and BS degrees; please note you can only select one.

BFA/BMus Requirements

  • Acting (BFA)

    All application and prescreening materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

    Learn more about the Acting program at our Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, September 29.

    Prescreening materials

    • Submit a full resume of your theatrical history including name of show, role played, and venue.
    • Submit a full-color headshot.
    • Submit a statement of purpose with no more than 500 words. This statement should include your reasons for pursuing a BFA in Acting.
    • Please prepare, record, and upload two contrasting monologues totaling no more than three minutes.
    • OPTIONAL: Wild Card Video—This media can be ANYTHING you want: a special skill, an interesting story about yourself, a passionate speech, an instrument that you play, etc. “What do you want us to know about you?” and “What makes you unique?”. This submission should be no longer than 90 seconds.

    What happens next?

    Prescreenings will be completed by Tuesday, January 11, 2022. You will be notified by email if you are invited to continue in the audition process.

  • Computer Animation (BFA)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.


    Portfolio Items
    • Write a brief personal reflection essay (approximately 500 words) on your creative process and the work you’ve made so far, whether in film, writing, visual arts, or other areas of creative endeavor. We are most interested in your creative processes, your ideas, and your insights about your own work. In addition, write about your goals, what you hope to learn in school, and how you envision applying that to your future work or career.
    • Submit one portfolio piece (either a short film or video no more than a total of seven minutes, a script, or three to five photographs/drawings) that provides additional perspective on your essay, either by supplementing or illustrating your reflection.
  • Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music (BMus)
  • Dance (BFA)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

    1. Submit a video of 2-3 minutes that contains the following:

    • 1 or 2 solo dances pieces, choreographed or improvised, in any dance style.  We are interested in seeing what you feel best represents you as a dance artist. 
    • All videos should show your entire body.

    2. Submit a one-page essay (200-500 words), that addresses your interest in the Dance program at Columbia.  Specifically discuss your areas of interest (such as performance, teaching, choreography or dance history/dance studies) and the ways you feel prepared to take on the challenges of the program. 

    Virtual Interview

    Using your submitted essay as a jumping-off point, be prepared to discuss with the faculty your interest in being a part of the dance program, your specific interest in the Dance BFA program, and an area of focus you might be interested in such as performance, teaching, choreography, and/or dance history/theory, and the ways in which you feel prepared to take on the challenges of the program. Please plan on your interview lasting about ten minutes. We will follow-up with information on how to schedule your interview after receiving your submission.

     

  • Fashion Design (BFA)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

    Learn more about the Fashion program at our Virtual Town Hall on Monday, September 27.

    Portfolio Requirements

    • Submit a portfolio of 10-15 pieces (captions and commentary with images are encouraged).
    • Submit an essay (300 words minimum, 500 words maximum) answering the following question: How do you approach problem-solving through a critical design practice?
    • Conduct a 15-minute conversation with faculty. Be prepared to talk about your portfolio, who you are, why you want to study fashion design, what you like about Columbia and the program, and how you want to grow as a designer.
    • We will follow-up with information on how to schedule this conversation after receiving your submission.
  • Film and Television (BFA)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

    The BFA in Film and Television is a program of study with an emphasis on one particular concentration; Producing, Directing, Cinematography, Production Design, Editing and Post-production, Sound for Cinema, Screenwriting. This focused study, culminating in capstone work, allows for limited exploration in other areas of CTVA, and demands a commitment to your chosen concentration. BFA is differentiated from the BA in Film and Television which allows for a more general program of study across disciplines.

     

    Portfolio Items

    Write a brief essay (approximately 500 words) discussing your creative and professional goals and why you wish to pursue a BFA in Cinema and Television Arts. Please speak to your commitment to the specific concentration you are interested in, include insights on your creative process, and discuss the role collaboration has played or will play in your work.

  • Fine Arts (BFA)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

    Portfolio Items
    • Submit an artist statement.
    • Submit 15–20 work samples that incorporate a variety of media and subjects. Samples may include drawings, prints, paintings, digital media, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, furniture, and 3D objects. Whenever possible, drawing and painting work samples should demonstrate observation from life or imagination, rather than from photographs. Special emphasis should be given to work that reflects your imagination and a consistent, original vision, or independent project. Please include a brief description of materials and dimensions of your work.
  • Graphic Design (BFA)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.


    Portfolio Items

    • Submit an artist/designer statement.
    • Submit 15–20 work samples that showcase your interest and skills in design through typography, applied drawing, information design, branding identity, web graphics, packaging, advertising design, and publication design. Work submitted may include drawings, digital, web, motion graphics, and experimental design. Your work samples may represent classroom assignments as well as independent projects. Please include a brief description of materials and dimensions of your work.
  • Illustration (BFA)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

    Portfolio Items
    • Submit an artist/designer statement.
    • Submit 15–20 samples of your best work in a variety of media and subjects that may include drawings, prints, digital, web, and motion graphics. Work samples should represent classroom assignments as well as independent projects. Whenever possible, work samples should demonstrate drawing from life or imagination, rather than from photographs. Please be sure to include dimensions of your work and a one- to three-sentence description for each image.
  • Interior Architecture (BFA)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

    Portfolio Items
    Submit 10-15 images of your best creative work that evidences your abilities and interest, particularly in interior spaces; please be sure to include dimensions of your work and a short description for each image. You are invited to submit past projects or images that you have collected, showing evidence of thought regarding spaces, human interactions, materials, graphics/signage, furniture, lighting, etc. If you have worked on interior projects in the past, please include images of perspectives, drawings/sketches, and examples of materials.
  • Music Composition (BMus)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

    Learn more about the Music program at our Virtual Town Hall on Monday, October 4.

    Portfolio Items

    • Present two samples of your own original compositions, demonstrating work in varying styles and/or instrumentations. Provide a copy of scores and/or recordings (both, if possible; however, scores are encouraged). Handwritten scores and MIDI realizations are acceptable.
    • Perform two pieces of your choice (one of which must be written by a composer other than yourself) that best showcase your abilities in your primary performance area(s), either voice or instrumental. The two pieces should be in contrasting styles or tempos.
    • Submit a brief musical resume, listing experience in musical settings. This resume can include private lessons; school, church, and community ensembles; recordings; professional work; and other relevant formal or informal study and performance experiences.
    • Submit a Music Personal Statement that expresses your goals and your reasons for pursuing professional studies in Music Composition.


    Audition Expectations

    • During the interview there will be a brief conversation about your resume, and you will be asked to discuss your compositional practice. You may also be asked to perform repertoire (which can include work you wrote) and exercises in your discipline (vocal or instrumental) and demonstrate your technical and musical preparation for BMus level studies.
    • The interviewing faculty will ask you to discuss or perform prepared work (this may be either the same work or different work than you submitted for your portfolio), and assess your level in sight-reading (sheet music and lead sheets) and improvisation. Due to the time limitation of the interview slot, the interviewing faculty may only be able to hear parts of work submitted or prepared. Please bear in mind that an important aspect of the interview process is to ensure that you are recommended to music courses that are best matched with your level.
    • Virtual auditions will be identical. Sight reading material will be sent in .PDF format using the Chat function on Zoom.
    • We will follow-up with information on how to schedule your audition after receiving your submission.
  • Musical Theatre Performance (BFA)

    All application and prescreening materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

    Learn more about the Musical Theatre Performance program at our Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, September 29. 

    Audition/Prescreen Materials

    Prescreen Video

    Overall

    Each piece can be filmed/uploaded as a separate piece of media or a continuous video. Please do not exceed six minutes total—or seven minutes and thirty seconds if you choose to submit a wild card video.

    Slate
    There should not be a separate “slate” video—slates are to appear at the beginning of each piece. To slate for a song, share your name, the title, and show in which it appears. To slate for a monologue, share your name, the title of the play, and the playwright.

    Songs
    Prepare two (2) contrasting pieces from the musical theatre canon.

    • One song should be a ballad and one song should be up-tempo.
    • One song should be written prior to 1970; the other should be written after 1970 and contrast the style of the first.
    • Each song file should be 60-90 seconds.This time limit includes the slate at the beginning of the piece.
    • Songs should be filmed in a ¾ shot, which means the top of the head to your knees should be visible in the frame.
    Monologue
    Prepare one age-appropriate contemporary monologue from a play or musical (no television shows, movies, or dialects) no longer than 60 seconds.
    • This time limit includes the slate at the beginning of the piece.
    • Monologues should be filmed in a “close-up” shot, which means the top of the head to the middle of your chest should be visible in the frame.

    Dance
    Please choose only one of the two short combinations below that best fits your skill level. Make self-tape using the videos and music linked below. Wear dance attire and appropriate shoes that allow you to do your best, and make sure your entire body is in the frame.

    We have provided both YouTube and Vimeo links for the benefit of students who may live in places where one of those platforms is not accessible. The video and audio at each link is identical and you need only choose one.

    Combination 1 (choreography) - YouTube | Combination 1 (music) - YouTube cue at :15

    Combination 1 (choreography) - Vimeo | Combination 1 (music) - Vimeo cue at :15

    Combination 2 (choreography) - YouTube | Combination 2 (music) - YouTube cue at :15

    Combination 2 (choroegraphy) - Vimeo | Combination 2 (music) - Vimeo cue at :15

    OPTIONAL: You may also include another combination that celebrates any additional style you specialize in: Hip-Hop, Tap, Acrobatics, West African, Ballroom are some examples.No barre work. Please stick to vocabulary and steps you are familiar with and can execute well. We just want to see where you are in your dance training—show us YOU through your dance.  

    Total running time for the dance portion of your video should be 2 minutes maximum.

    Wild Card Video - Optional
    This media can be ANYTHING you want: a special skill, an interesting story about yourself, a passionate speech, an instrument that you play, etc. “What do you want us to know about you?” and “What makes you unique?”. This submission should be no longer than 90 seconds.

    Portfolio Items 
    (to be submitted prior to your virtual audition or along with your uploaded videos—all submissions due by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, December 1, 2021)

    • A full resume of theatrical history including name of show, role played, and venue.
    • A full-color headshot.
    • Write and submit an essay (175-200 words minimum) that addresses your interest in the Musical Theatre Performance BFA, specifically discussing your area of interests (such as performance, teaching, choreography, and/or actor/musicianship), and the ways in which you feel prepared to take on the challenges of the program.

    What happens next?

    Prescreenings will be completed by Tuesday, January 11, 2022. You will be notified by email if you are invited to continue in the audition process.

  • Photography (BFA)

    All application materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

    Portfolio Items 
    Submit ten photographs made within the last twelve months, saved into a single .pdf document.

    Photography Placement Exam
    BFA applicants must complete Columbia's Photography Placement exam with a score of 70% or higher. The exam is administered online. We will follow-up with information on the exam after receiving your submission.

  • Television Writing and Business (BFA)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.


    Portfolio Items
    • Write a brief essay (approximately 500 words) discussing your goals and why you wish to pursue a BFA in Television Writing and Business. Please include any insight on your creative process.
  • Traditional Animation (BFA)

    All application and portfiolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.



    Portfolio Items
    • Write a brief personal reflection essay (approximately 500 words) on your creative process and the work you’ve made so far, whether in film, writing, visual arts, or other creative endeavor. We are most interested in your creative processes, your ideas, and your insights about your own work. In addition, write about your goals, what you hope to learn in school, and how you envision applying that to your future work or career.
    • Submit work samples (such as a short film or video, a script, or three to five photographs/drawings) that provide additional perspective on your essay, either by supplementing or illustrating your reflection.
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