BFA/BMus Portfolio and Audition Requirements

With the exception of the Interior Architecture BFA, applications for BFA and BMus programs are closed for Fall 2024. Each of our BFA and BMus programs offers a corresponding BA program. We encourage you to apply for the one that is most suited to your academic and professional goals.

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.

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 account 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 account. 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.

Submitting Materials

  • How do I submit my materials?

    After submitting your application, send us your work via the submission link in the “Portfolio” section of Columbia Connect. Columbia Connect 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 Columbia Connect will be your best resource to stay on track with your required materials.

    A pre-screening process is required for the Acting, BFA; Musical Theatre Performance, BFA; Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music, BMus; and Music Composition, BMus programs. For students applying to these programs, the deadline to submit all materials (application to the college, transcripts, portfolio files, and prescreening items) is 11:59 p.m. (CST) on Friday, December 1, 2023. Selected students will be invited to continue in the audition process in January. We will follow up with those students with information on how to schedule their auditions at that time.

    For all other BFA 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 17, 2024.

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

 

BFA/BMus Requirements

  • Acting (BFA)

    All application and prescreening materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Friday, December 1, 2023.

    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?

    All BFA applicants selected through pre-screening will be invited to participate in an on-campus audition. If you are selected and are unable to come to campus, please reach out to your admissions representative to discuss virtual options - virtual options are limited.

    Interview Expectations

    • Conduct a short conversation with faculty: Be prepared to talk about who you are, why you want to study acting, what you like about Columbia and the program, and how you want to grow as an actor. 
    • Work briefly on ONE of the two monologues you submitted with your portfolio. This is a ‘no pressure’ exploration of your work, but please be prepared to do either of the two monologues you submitted.  
  • Computer Animation (BFA)

    All application and portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.


    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, Jazz, and Popular Music (BMus)
  • Dance (BFA)

    All application and portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024. 

    Portfolio Pieces

    Submit the following two items for scholarship consideration: 

    1. A 1–2-minute video of one solo dance piece, choreographed or improvised, in any dance style.  We are interested in seeing what you feel best represents you as a dance artist. Please frame the video so that it shows your entire body.
    2. 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.

     

    Audition Process

    All BFA applicants are required to participate in the audition process. Auditions will consist of ten-minute individual appointments and a one-hour group audition class.

    For the appointment, please plan on using your submitted essay as a jumping-off point and be prepared to discuss with the faculty your interest in the Dance BFA and how you feel prepared to take on the challenges of the program.

    The audition class can be in-person on our campus or virtual for those who cannot travel to Chicago. Please reach out to your admissions counselor if you are unable to come to campus to audition. Please join the audition class prepared to dance in a variety of styles—including Ballet, Hip-Hop, Modern, and West African. We will be in touch about scheduling your audition after your application is complete.

     

    An important note about the auditions: Columbia’s Dance curriculum includes leveled-courses in Ballet, Hip-Hop, Modern, and West-African styles of dance. Should you choose to attend Columbia, we will need to determine the appropriate level for your first-semester courses in these styles. If you would like for us to use your audition for placement in your first-semester courses, there is nothing additional to do. If you would like an alternate method of level-placement, please continue reading for an additional video to submit.

     

    Course Placement Video

    Submit a 2–3-minute video demonstrating your technical skill in Ballet, Hip-Hop, Modern, and West African styles. Please frame the video so that it shows your entire body. Only include videos for the forms for which you wish to have your technique level evaluated.  Don’t worry if you do not have experience in all of the forms:

    BALLET: include an adagio, a pirouette and a petit allegro

    HIP-HOP: Include a set combination and/or a freestyle. Any of the following skills are encouraged: waving, gliding/floats, isolations, tutting, dime-stopping/robot, animation, freezes, popping/hitting, footwork, and/or power-moves.

    MODERN: include 1 center combination that demonstrates your ability to use your spine, such as in a contraction/release and 1 across the floor combination that demonstrates use of space, as well as moving in and out of the floor.  

    WEST-AFRICAN: Include a combination or freestyle that showcases an understanding of grounded movement, flexibility of the spine, and rhythm based in West African traditions. 

  • Fashion Design (BFA)

    All application and portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024. 

     

    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? 

    Interviews 

    All BFA applicants will be required to participate in a virtual interview. We encourage applicants to visit campus for an Admitted Student Day (taking place in February through April) or a Campus Tour. 

    Virtual Interview Process  

    Virtual interview events will take place via Zoom. A link to the event will be emailed shortly before the event begins. Visit zoom.us to set up an account prior to the event.  

    Interview Expectations  

    • 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.  
  • Film and Television (BFA)

    All application and portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

    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 area of focus you are interested in within film production, 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 portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

     

    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 portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.


    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 portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

    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)

    For scholarship consideration, all application and portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

    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.

    A minimum 2.75 high school GPA is required for all freshman applicants to the Interior Architecture BFA program.

    NOTE: Portfolio submission is not required for admission into the Interior Architecture program. It is only required for students who wish to be considered for the Faculty Recognition Award scholarship.

  • Music Composition (BMus)

    All application and portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Friday, December 1, 2023.

    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. 

     

    Auditions 

    Selected BMus applicants will be required to participate in an on-campus audition. If you are selected and are unable to come to campus, please reach out to your admissions representative to discuss virtual options - virtual options are limited.

     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. 
  • Musical Theatre Performance (BFA)

    All application and prescreening materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Friday, December 1, 2023.
     

    Prescreen Materials

    Overall
    Each piece can be filmed/uploaded as a separate piece of media or a continuous video. Please do not exceed five (5) minutes total.

    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 & Monologues Options
    1 song and monologue OR 2 songs (total of: 2 contrasting songs from the musical theater canon OR 1 song and 1 monologue)

    Songs
    When submitting two (2) songs: these should be 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
    When submitting one song and one 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 record and submit two (2) short dance combinations. Choose between:

    1. BOTH of the combinations linked below.

    -or-

    2. One of the combinations linked below and an additional combination showcasing & celebrating your special style, technique: Hip-Hop, Tap, Acrobatics, West African, African-Caribbean, Latin, 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.


    Statement Video
    Thirty (30) second personal artistic statement video. It may address areas of interest (such as performance, teaching, choreography, and/or actor/musicianship) or what makes you unique as an artist that would flourish at Columbia. ANYTHING you want: a special skill, a passionate speech, “What do you want us to know about you?” and “What makes you unique?”

    Musical Theatre 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 Thursday, December 1, 2022)

    • A full resume of theatrical history including name of show, role played, and venue.
    • A full-color headshot.

    What happens next?

    All BFA applicants selected through pre-screening will be invited to participate in an on-campus audition. If you are selected and are unable to come to campus, please reach out to your admissions representative to discuss virtual options - virtual options are limited.

    These will be group auditions, which will include brief acting, music, and dance sections, plus a group discussion. Be prepared to move in clothes you feel comfortable in. The vocal portion of the event will be a group vocal exercise. Please have your sheet music handy in case you are asked to sing. 

  • Photography (BFA)

    All application and portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

    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 portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.


    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 portfolio materials (including transcripts) must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Central U.S.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.


    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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