Parent FAQ

What arts disciplines does NMSA teach?

NMSA currently offers pre-professional instruction in the fields of:

Music (Instrumental, Jazz and Vocal)
Visual Arts
Creative Writing & Literature

What are the school’s entrance requirements?

Students qualify for entrance to NMSA through a blind, competitive audition and portfolio admissions process held every February for admission the following school year. Students can audition in up to two of the five major departments, Visual Arts, Theatre, Creative Writing & Literature, Dance or Music (Voice, Jazz or Instrumental). After applying, students then audition and interview with instructors from their field of interest. Admission is based solely on the results of this process, and students are evaluated on the basis of passion, promise and aptitude.

What is the school day like?

The school day begins at 9:20 a.m. and students focus on academics until 2:00 p.m. Daily arts block begins at 2:00 p.m. and runs through 4:45 p.m., with rehearsals and evening activities occasionally taking place. Visual artists have the option of participating in Studio twice a week, until 7:00 p.m. Academic teachers hold office hours from 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. to provide extra support for all students.

What does the rest of the curriculum consist of?

NMSA provides a well-rounded curriculum that embeds social-emotional learning strategies into the framework while teaching life skills, health and leadership. The school also offers honors courses, and many clubs and co-curriculars.

What is it like to be a part of the NMSA community?

NMSA fosters a climate of respect and acceptance in a community that is diverse and culturally rich. We work hard to make sure this is an environment where students feel safe, supported and inspired to take risks and stretch themselves creatively. Our teachers and faculty are dedicated to ensuring every student is seen and heard.

How will an arts education prepare me for life beyond high school?

Data shows that arts education gives students a stronger academic foundation and greater chance for long-term success. It teaches 21st century skills, such as discipline, time management, resilience, critical thinking and creative problem-solving, that enable students to pursue disciplines within the arts and beyond.

Where do NMSA students go on to college?

Recent graduates have been accepted to colleges that include The Juilliard School, Penn State, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of New Mexico, CalArts, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Berklee College of Music and Rhode Island School of Design.

What is NMSA’s academic record?

NMSA puts as much focus on student academics as it does the arts, and as a result, the school has one of the strongest academic records in the state. It was one of only three schools in the state in 2016 to be designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School and has been rated grade “A” by the New Mexico Public Education Department every year since 2012. In 2018, U.S. News & World Report named it one of New Mexico’s top ten high schools.

What if I haven’t had any arts training before?

Not all students accepted to NMSA have had formal training, and some are self-taught. NMSA primarily considers for admission a student’s promise, passion and aptitude.

What is the cost to attend?

As a public, charter high school, NMSA’s academic programming is funded by the State, and attendance is free. However, because its arts programming is only partially State-funded, and therefore must be supplemented by private donations, NMSA asks student families to pay a $1,000 annual arts fee. No student is denied access if the fee cannot be paid and NMSA does not verify or qualify students for a waiver. The fee is 100% volunteer.

Who are the teachers I would be working with?

NMSA’s instructors are master teachers and professional artists. The school regularly features guest speakers from a wide range of academic disciplines, while its Artist-in-Residence and Guest Critics programs augment art studio instruction.

What if I live outside of Santa Fe?

NMSA students come from 29 communities, pueblos and reservations across the state. Students who live within distance of a reasonable daily commute get to school by Rail Runner Express, NM Park and Ride and Santa Fe public transportation or other, private means. Those who live too far for a daily commute can apply through the school’s Residential Program to live in the school dormitories Monday through Friday. The dorms are located about a mile-and-a-half from campus, and transportation to and from school is provided daily. Residential fees are based on a sliding scale, and scholarships are available based on proven economic need and availability of funds.

Is there transportation to NMSA if I live in Santa Fe?

Students who live in or around Santa Fe have to make their own arrangements for transportation, either through the City of Santa Fe’s public bus system or other, private means.

Where do NMSA students come from?

NMSA students come from all walks of life, and currently represent over 29 communities, pueblos and reservations across the state.

What if I decide not to major in the arts in college?

Many students who attend NMSA go on to study disciplines outside of the arts, including medicine, science, engineering and education. The skills that students acquire at NMSA, including discipline, time management, resilience, critical thinking and creative problem-solving, are beneficial in any field. Whether students want to pursue arts after graduation or not, NMSA provides students with rigorous college entrance preparation, recruiting opportunities and programs. Such support helped students in 2018 secure over $6 million in scholarships/aid.