Admissions FAQ

Who is eligible to apply to NMSA?

Students currently in the 8th or 9th grades who are passionate about their art and eager to meet the challenges of a pre-professional arts mastery education are excellent candidates to apply to NMSA. Applicants do not need to have any prior formal training in the arts in order to audition. Students come from across New Mexico state, and must be able to prove state residency for at least 30 days prior to the first day of school.

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 audition process like?

NMSA strives to make the audition process a positive experience for all applicants and offers an annual Audition Workshop to help students prepare. Each discipline has different requirements, but each performing arts audition requires one or two solo pieces/monologues while the visual arts department requires a portfolio consisting of 10-15 pieces of artwork and the Creative Writing and Literature department requires a portfolio consisting of 5-7 pages of work. The audition selection committee also interviews panelists to find out more about them personally and assess their interest and motivation in pursuing advanced arts studies.

What are the academic requirements for admission?

Students are admitted solely on the basis of their audition and interview. Student grades are not a part of the selection process. Students who are accepted to NMSA are required to take academic placement tests before the school year begins in order to ensure they are placed in the appropriate classes.

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 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.

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 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, Creative Writing & Literature, Theatre, 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.

How do I apply for an audition?

The application period for the 2019-2020 school year is now open and application forms are available online (please call 505.629.9245 to request forms by mail). Students must submit an application and letter of recommendation before February 5, 2019, and will be notified by email of the date/time of their audition/portfolio review and interview.

NMSA offers an Application Workshop yearly for students who need help preparing and submitting their application.

Can I audition for more than one discipline?

Students can audition in up to two of the five major departments (Visual Arts, Theatre, Dance, Creative Writing & Literature or Music (Voice, Jazz or Instrumental), but can only major in one.

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.

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 don’t necessarily want 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 and resilience, are beneficial in any field. Whether students want to pursue arts after graduation or not, NMSA provides rigorous college entrance preparation, recruiting opportunities and programs.