Instrumental Arts (BFA & MFA)

Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the InstrumentalArts Programs/Specializations, faculty, facilities, curriculum and view student work.

Please note that you must complete all Admissions Requirements as well as the portfolio requirements to be considered for admission.

Portfolio Guidelines

Via the portfolio section of the CalArts Application, you are invited to submit a portfolio containing a minimum of three examples of your artistic work. This artistic portfolio should include:

  • A minimum of three video samples demonstrating your performing abilities.

  • At least one substantial piece chosen from the repertoire for your instrument.

  • A range of styles.

  • If you are an active improviser or composer, you are encouraged to include audio, video, or score submissions that demonstrate these areas of your creative practice.

Please number your examples beginning with what you consider to be your strongest ones—reviewers will examine them in the order that you indicate. Please label each example including: title, composer (if other than yourself), names of other participants (if applicable), and dates recorded. In a separate document describe why you have chosen the particular videos and works in your portfolio. You may link to media hosted on external websites, but please ensure that reviewers will have permission to view this media. 


Applicants applying to the Instrumental Arts BFA and MFA programs are required to participate in an in-person interview and audition OR a virtual interview. This offers you and the panel the opportunity for greater communication and you will be given the opportunity to ask questions about the program during your audition/interview.

After submitting your application, you will receive an email that grants you access to sign up for an audition in one of several cities. We will then contact you with an audition time. More information on the auditions and registration can be found on our Audition Schedule page.

For a live audition, applicants may prepare music from the online portfolio and/or new material, in any combination that fits best. If you cannot attend an in-person interview/audition, you may participate in a virtual interview and we will treat your portfolio as your audition.