Getting into Stanford as an Artist

[fa icon="calendar"] 9/28/17 3:20 PM / by Martha Collins

 Stanford University is often associated with Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, or Engineering. Although Stanford has one of the top STEM programs in the world, the competitive university has begun to expand in another area: the arts.

It may seem counterintiutive to apply to such a tech and science based school if you are passionate about the arts. However, in the past few years, Stanford has made a conscious effort to improve its programs and facilities in dance, music, art practice, and art history.


In 2013, the university finished the contruction of Stanford Bing Concert Hall. Additionally, Stanford built the McMurtry Building, which is home to the school's art and art history department. These state-of-the-art facilities indicate Stanford's growing interest in the arts, and that the school is looking for students to take advantage of these new buildings and programs. 

I personally applied to Stanford as a classically trained ballet dancer who was interested in studying art history. I attended a performing arts high school and had a strong passion for all things artistic. Afer submitting the common app along with an arts supplement, I was beyond thrilled to find out that I was accepted into Stanford.

Here are some ways you can use your artistic talents and aspirations to get into Stanford University and other top colleges:

Excel in your art form

Colleges like Stanford are looking for students who are incredibly skilled in their craft. In other words, they are looking for artists who are training at a pre-professional level. If you are a musician, start taking classes outside of your highschool and join the county orchestra. If you are a dancer, try to take dance classes outside of your local studio and audition for nationally ranked programs.  

Attend summer intensives

 The summer is a wonderful time to enroll in advance programs for your prospective art. Synocate has created a list of top art summer intensives here. Not only will summer art programs take your artistic talent to the next level, but they will also look great on college applications. 

Combine art and charitable work

Use your artistic talent to raise awareness and/or money for a cause you care about. For example, I put together a dance show and donated the money to a shelter for battered women.

Take an art class at the college

When visiting a college such as Stanford, see if you can drop in and take a dance, music, or art class. 

Submit an arts supplement

Sending in an arts supplement can show colleges that you are serious about your art form. Synocate can help you decide how to craft your arts supplement here.


Although Stanford is one of the most competitive schools in the nation, having an impressive background in the arts can be a leg-up during the application process. Stanford's beautiful, new, art-focused buildings demonstrate the university's interest in attracting artists. 

As for myself, I am starting Stanford's brand new Master's program in Art History. I believe that artists have a special place at Stanford, and that if you are interested in the arts, Stanford may be the perfect fit for you. 

Topics: College Applications, College-Specific Info

Martha Collins

Written by Martha Collins

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