Performer-Composer (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/Audition Guidelines (MFA)

Applicants to the MFA Performer-Composer Specialization should follow all guidelines for both the Composition Specialization and the Specializations in Performance. You are required to submit an online portfolio that showcases your work as a creative artist at this point in your life. Live auditions/interviews are encouraged and audition/interview days are scheduled on campus and in several other cities.

The minimum of three works demonstrating your performance abilities should include at least one substantial piece chosen from traditional repertoire and at least two original compositions. The original works should also demonstrate how you integrate your performing and composing skills. Applicants may fulfill these requirements either through an online submission or a live audition.

  • Please include what you consider to be your 3 strongest submissions first (entries 1, 2, 3)
  • For submissions 1,2 and 3, please include a PDF that details the following:
    • How did you make this? Did you record and produce this yourself or in a professional studio? If you recorded and produced this yourself, please tell us about your process. 
  • For each track/part/instrument, please answer the following questions:
    • Is this a recording of an instrument that you (or someone else) played / a sample or pre-recorded loop / or a midi-generated performance? If it is a sample or pre-recorded loop, did you create it yourself? If so, how?

General Online Submission Guidelines

CalArts uses an online submission system. The online system accepts MP3s, documents, images and video. Once your submission is uploaded, it can be viewed and rearranged until the final submission is made. No changes can be made following the final submission. If applying to more than one program, there is a fee for each submission you make through the online system. Be sure to submit to the correct degree level and program. If you experience technical difficulties, you can send an e-mail to for technical support.

Artist Statement

You must include a detailed Artist Statement that outlines your goals as a music artist, your background in studying music, particular interests in studying music at CalArts, and area of Specialization. In your Artist Statement, be sure to also include the following:

Describe briefly your main interests in music right now.

  • Describe other musical interests you are involved in.
  • Describe the materials you will submit in your digital portfolio and how they demonstrate your musical interests.
  • Describe what you would like to learn at CalArts.
  • List any combinations of Specializations that you might like to create for yourself while at CalArts.