Future Students How to Prepare Back to top

How to Prepare

Hansel and Gretel, Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, November 2017, Photo by Darrell Hoemann

College can take your talent to the next level. A smart approach to gaining knowledge and building skills before you arrive on campus can help set you up for success.

Start Early

Take classes in high school that challenge you, and get a broad background in lab sciences, math, social sciences, cultures, languages, and communication. Not everyone admitted to a college arts program has a long list of starring roles or a big portfolio. Being curious, dedicated, and enthusiastic about learning are just as important for creative thinkers.

Join in extracurricular activities that intrigue you. You'll meet a diverse range of people, and you may discover other abilities that can help you succeed as an artist. Broaden your perspective by volunteering to help make your neighborhood and community stronger. Seek out an internship to see which specific careers you'd enjoy most.

Enter a Discover FAA High School Competition or attend a campus summer program. Not only will you get to see what it's like on campus but you will also be able to work directly with current faculty, staff, and students.

Think ahead about how you'll pay for your education. Many students in the College of Fine and Applied Arts receive some form of financial aid, but you may need a job during the summer or after school to cover tuition, fees, housing, books, and other expenses.

Talk to your teachers, meet with high school counselors, and ask questions so you can develop an action plan. And don't hesitate to contact us—we're here to help you find your place in the arts.

Admission Requirements

4 years of English

3 years of math (3.5 for architecture)

2 years of social sciences

2 years of lab sciences

2 years of one foreign language

2 years of flexible academic units

The university does not set minimum scores (or cutoffs) for making undergraduate admission decisions. A student's highest composite test score is used when the overall application is evaluated. If an applicant submits scores from more than one test date, the highest subscore(s) will be used in this evaluation.

Are you ready for the next phase in your arts career?

Apply Today!

Transfer Students

Most of our degree programs rely on a series of courses that must be taken in order. We encourage you to contact an FAA advisor as early as possible in your community college career so that you can map out a course plan. You may be able to transfer to Illinois after two years at your community college and then finish your bachelor's degree in two years, or you might benefit most from spending one year at a community college before transferring. All students should complete as many required general education courses as possible before applying for admission. Spots for transfer students are primarily available each school year for the fall semester only, so make sure to plan accordingly.

To make your transition to FAA as simple as possible, we have strong relationships with several community colleges that will enable you to lay a strong foundation for success in our degree programs and transfer your credits.

College of DuPage

Lewis and Clark Community College

Parkland College: Parkland Pathway to Illinois

In this integrated program, students live on the Illinois campus, take courses in their majors, and transfer after four semesters at Parkland College. 

  • Architecture (five-year plan)
  • Art and Art History
  • Art Education
  • Dance
  • Graphic Design
  • Landscape Architecture (five-year plan)
  • Music (BA only)
  • Studio Art—drawing and painting, new media, printmaking, and sculpture
  • Sustainable Design
  • Urban Planning

Parkland College

  • Graphic Design (2 + 2 course plan)

If you don't see your community college on this list, check with our admissions office to discuss transfer possibilities before you enroll: faa-uaa@illinois.edu.

Have you taken world history and a lab science? Is your portfolio or audition piece ready? If so, it's time to start the next part of the admissions process.

Apply Today!

Financing Your Education

Financial guidelines are used to award many scholarships at the university. To be considered, a student must complete a FAFSA free application for federal student aid). The Office of Student Financial Aid has links to specific need-based programs, requirements, and applications.

All students are screened for their eligibility for academic scholarships by the Office of Admissions when they apply to the university. No additional application is needed to be considered for these awards. In addition, merit scholarships are given by FAA to students in specific degree programs. Suitable candidates are selected for talent-based awards during their audition, interview, and/or portfolio review. For programs that require an application and essays only, a student's academic record and demonstrated passion for their major will be assessed. No additional application is required for FAA merit and talent scholarships. Eligible students will be contacted directly about these awards.

For additional information about scholarships offered in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, contact the FAA Office of Undergraduate Affairs at 217.333.6061 or faa-uaa@illinois.edu.

For information about national and independently administered awards, consult with the Office of Student Financial Aid. Links to many private scholarships and tips on where to find other opportunities are available.

These scholarships and competitions are not associated with the University of Illinois or the College of Fine and Applied Arts and are gathered here for your information only. Educate yourself with FinAid's scholarship scam guide before sending any fees. Keep in mind that scholarship rules, requirements, and deadlines can change, so check to be certain that you have the most recent information before you apply.

Annual Create-a-Greeting-Card Scholarship Contest
Submit original artwork for a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship and $1,000 for your school plus a card featuring your design may be available for sale.

BMI Foundation John Lennon Scholarships
Three original songs are chosen each year to share a total of $20,000 in scholarships.

CBC Spouses Performing Arts Scholarship
Each applicant must be an African American or black student currently enrolled in or will be applying to a full-time degree program in the performing arts.

Collegiate Inventors Competition
Entrants must be enrolled in a full-time degree program for at least part of the year prior to submission.

Donna Reed Performing Arts Scholarships
The Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts bestows merit awards and scholarships for Iowa students seeking educations or careers in the performing arts.

Doodle 4 Google
Open to students in grades K–12, the contest offers awards for state and territory winners and a grand prize that includes a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 school technology grant, and millions of pageviews.

Equitable Excellence Scholarship
Students with drive and volunteer service can receive awards of $2,500, $10,000, or $25,000 plus $1,000 for their schools.

Fulbright U.S. Student Program
Seniors and recent college graduates, candidates for advanced degrees, young professionals, and artists may apply for this program that offers personal development and international experience.

Glenn Miller Scholarship Competition
Instrumentalists and vocalists who plan to pursue a career in music may apply for scholarships that range from $1,000 to $3,000. Semifinalists are selected to perform and compete for the awards at the Glenn Miller Festival.

Illustrators of the Future Contest
Amateur science fiction and fantasy artists submit three black-and-white original works illustrating a science fiction or fantasy story for awards ranging from $500 to $5,000.

Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships
The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships are given in conjunction with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival to outstanding student performers interested in additional education in the arts.

Krylon Clear Choice Art Scholarship
Five promising art students receive a $1,000 scholarship and a collection of Krylon artist products plus a $500 grant and additional supplies for their schools.

$1,000 Cappex Easy College Money Scholarship
Currently enrolled high school or college students or those with plans to enroll within 12 months are eligible.

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
Teens submit artwork, entire portfolios, or writing for chances to earn college scholarships, cash prizes, or tuition for summer programs.

Support is offered for students pursuing cinematic arts, classical music, dance, design arts, jazz, photography, theatre, visual arts, voice, and writing.

Youth Free Expression Film Contest
Students must be 19 years old or younger to enter for a chance to win cash prizes and a scholarship to the New York Film Academy.

Are you interested in the environmental arts, performing arts, or visual arts—or all three? See what you can do in the College of Fine and Applied Arts.

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