Performer-Composer (BFA & MFA)

Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the Performer-Composer specialization, faculty, facilities, and curriculum and listen to student work.

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

Portfolio Guidelines

Please refer generally to the guidelines for both the Composition specialization and your relevant Performance area as you create your portfolio. 

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 audio or video samples demonstrating your performing and composing abilities.

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

  • At least two original compositions. This original work should demonstrate the ways you integrate your performing and composing skills. 

  • If your practice involves improvisation, please include an example either within the above samples or as an additional portfolio selection. 

  • If your composed work involves notation, whether traditional staff notation, text or graphic scoring, or any other visual representation, please include these scores as PDF files. 

  • Additional samples focusing only on your performance or composition skills are welcome. 

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 describe your process for creating the original works included in your portfolio. This should be included as a separate PDF document. 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 Performer-Composer 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 location 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.