Admissions FAQ

Who is eligible to apply to NMSA?

Students currently in the 8th, 9th, or 10th 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. 11th grade applicants will be considered on a case by case basis.  Applicants do not need to have any prior formal training in the arts in order to apply. 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 application process like?

NMSA strives to make the application process a positive experience for all applicants. Each discipline has different requirements, but the basic action required is:

  1. Apply using our online application (https://www.nmschoolforthearts.org/admissions-overview/)
  2.  Register for a workshop by emailing Shayla Patton (admissions@nmsa-ai.org).

What are the academic requirements for admission?

Students are admitted solely on the basis of their workshop participation and letter of recommendation. 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 9:10 a.m. and students focus on academics until 2:05 p.m. Daily arts block begins at 2:15 p.m. and runs through 4:55 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, if they are able. The fee is not required, and you may make partial payments, or opt out. You do not need to provide any documentation to opt out of the fee. The fee is 100% voluntary, participation in the arts fee program does not affect your student in any way. 

Where do NMSA students go on to college?

Recent graduates have been accepted to colleges that include The Juilliard School, Standford University, Oberlin College and Conservatory,  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 workshop process. After applying, students can participate in up to two workshops (chosen from the five major departments, Creative Writing & Literature, Dance, Music (Vocal or Instrumental), Theatre, and Visual Arts). Admission is based solely on the results of this process, and students are evaluated on the basis of passion, promise and aptitude.

Can I apply for more than one discipline?

Students can apply 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, and residencies and master classes through the Guest Artist program.

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.