A Helpful Timeline for the BFA Application Process

The college application process can be overwhelming, especially if you are applying for a BFA in Acting. Your high school counselors likely know a lot about applications for standard undergraduate programs, but unless you attend a school with a strong performing arts focus, they could be lost when it comes to the BFA audition process. Use this article to guide you through each milestone of this special and significant time.


A year or two before you plan to start college, you should begin your research. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What regions am I interested in studying in?
  • Am I okay with a degree in general performance or theatre studies, or do I want to focus only on BFAs in Acting?
  • What are the acceptance rates of the schools I’m interested in?
  • How much does tuition cost, and what kinds of scholarships are available?

We suggest making a list or a spreadsheet with all the information you might need, and adding to it over time.

Junior year is the best time to tour schools you’re interested in. In-person or virtual visits can both narrow down and expand your list. Sometimes, a school looks great on paper, but it doesn’t feel quite right when you see it up close. Alternatively, you might have written a school off for one reason or another, but you could be pleasantly surprised when you visit. Try to tour every school on your list before the time comes to submit your applications.

By the summer before your senior year, you should have a solid list of all the schools to which you’re planning to apply.


The Common Application launches on August 1st, at which point you can see the year’s updated deadlines and essay prompts. First and foremost, choose your Common App essay prompt, which is the longest and potentially the most personal of any essay you will write. The Common App essay is based upon one of seven published prompts, some of which are typically recycled from previous years while others are brand new. Additionally, you will likely have at least one, if not multiple, writing supplements specific to each of your schools. These supplements will ask you questions like:

  • Why do you want to attend this school?
  • Why do you want to study this major?
  • What unique traits do you possess that will add to the school’s community?
  • Define your ‘artist’s statement’ and explain why you want to be an artist.

We recommend starting your written applications in September at the latest, since, unlike your peers applying for traditional majors, you’ll have auditions to complete later on in the fall.

September is also when you should ask teachers and counselors for letters of recommendation. Give them as much lead time as possible; they’ll appreciate it!

Once you’ve gotten your essays out of the way, you can focus on filming your self-tapes and preparing for in-person auditions. This is a great time to bring on an acting coach to help you pick and polish your monologues. You can review the types of coaching that Theater.Academy offers here.


Between October and February, you will likely submit self-tapes, hear back from schools, and attend callbacks, all in a very short time frame. It’s critical that you pay close attention to your school’s provided deadlines. Many list an “early action” or “priority” deadline of November or December and a “regular decision” deadline in January or February, but when you’re auditioning for a BFA, those early action deadlines can be highly recommended or even mandatory for acceptance.

When it comes to choosing material to meet audition requirements, the guidelines can seem impenetrable or even impossible. Classic versus contemporary, 60 versus 90 seconds, published plays versus screenplays or self-written pieces; it might feel overwhelming, but there are ways to simplify the process. Read more about choosing your audition monologues here.

Make your travel plans as soon as you receive in-person callback offers. Especially if you’re traveling a long distance for your callback, the earlier you book accommodations, the better. Remember, National Unified Auditions, which take place in January and February, host 25 major schools. You may be able to see multiple programs at once by attending one of their dates in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles.


Decisions may have been rolling in since December, but certainly, by the end of March, you’ll have heard back from every college to which you’ve applied. In April, consult with your family and your mentors to determine which school is the best fit for you.

Many colleges host events for accepted students during this time. If you’re torn between choices, these events can help you get a better sense of what your classes and classmates would be like.

By National College Decision Day on May 1st, you’ll be registered at your new school!

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