If this page doesn’t answer your questions please feel free to email us at pa_artisticreview [at] emerson.edu or call the Department of Performing Arts at 617-824-8780; we’d be happy to email or speak with you.

Application Materials

How do I apply to the Emerson College Department of Performing Arts?

Emerson requires either the Common Application or our own Emerson Application, and a $65 application fee. The Department of Performing Arts also requires an Artistic Review. 

How do I apply to start in the Emerson College Department of Performing Arts in the Spring instead of the Fall?

Because so many of the classes in Performing Arts are sequenced (part 1 in the Fall and part 2 in the Spring), applicants can only apply to start in a Fall semester.

What role does my résumé play in my admission decision?

While your résumé gives us some insight into your background it is not, primarily, something that we use to evaluate your application. It may be used as a way of learning more about you or, in an audition or interview setting, starting a conversation. 

What should I include in my résumé?

Your résumé can include anything connected or related to theatre work: plays, musicals, dance recitals, concerts, commercial or TV work, films, master classes, and workshops you have participated in. It could include stage managing, arts management, directing, design, production, acting, marketing, or playwriting; just give us a sense of your work in the theatre over the past few years. If you have no idea what a theatre resume looks like, that’s ok, just do an internet search, there are plenty of great examples online. 

What is an Artistic Review?

To be considered for admission, all Performing Arts programs require a major-specific componant of the application called an Artistic Review - an audition, a portfolio review & interview, or an additional Performing Arts essay depending on the program. Access to the Artistic Review can be found within the Emerson College Application Portal. Once you access this portal you will see a checklist of items indicating what you’ve completed in the application and what has yet to be completed. If you have applied to a major in Performing Arts, there will be additional items on your application checklist to facilitate your completing the correct Artistic Review. 

When I log in to the Admission Portal I don’t see anything on my checklist that looks like an Artistic Review or I don’t see the Artistic Review that I expected.

The most likely reason for this is that you’ve applied to the wrong major or maybe misunderstood a program or it’s Artistic Review. It’s ok, these things happen! Take a look at the programs that we offer, read their descriptions, and make sure that you’ve applied to the one you want. For example, a common mistake is applying to Theatre (Artistic Review: essay), a program for directors, playwrights, dramaturgs, etc., instead of Theatre & Performance (Artistic Review: audition), a program for actors, actor/directors, actor/playwrights, actor/dramaturgs, etc.

When I log in to the Admission Portal it lists my major incorrectly or I want to change the major on my application; what do I do?

In the upper right-hand corner of your Admission Portal page is a purple box with a big question mark in it that says “Have a question? Need help?” Click on that box and on the next page select changing majors. Fill out the major change request form using the provided link. If you are changing from a major that requires an interview or an audition, you’ll need to cancel that interview or audition before you change majors so that once your major is correct you can complete the Artistic Review that correctly corresponds to your new major. The only exceptions to this are if you are changing between Theatre and Theatre Education (requires an identical essay) or between Theatre & Performance and Theatre Education & Performance (requires an identical audition).

What is my option for an Artistic Review if I am an international applicant?

If you are applying to Theatre or Theatre Education the Artistic Review is an essay which is completed in the Application Portal so you can complete that anywhere that has internet access. If you applying to a major that requires an audition or an interview, we would strongly recommend doing it in person if possible – we want to meet you! We do understand, however, that this isn’t possible for some applicants so we do accept video auditions in lieu of live auditions for applicants living outside of the contiguous 48 United States. For interviews, again, we value the opportunity to meet you if at all possible, but telephone interviews are available for applicants who live outside the Northeast United States and for whom the cost of traveling to a live interview site is prohibitive.

Auditions & Interviews

For the interviews (Stage & Production Management, Theatre Design/Technology), do I mail my portfolio in advance?

No, if you are attending a live interview you do not need to (nor should you) send your portfolio in advance, simply bring it with you to your interview and take it home with you when the interview is complete. If you are doing your interview by telephone you will need to upload your portfolio in the Admission Portal at least 48 hours before your interview time. 

Where do I upload my portfolio for my telephone interview?

Once you book a telephone interview in the Admission Portal, a “digital portfolio” link will appear (within 30 minutes) on your Admission Portal checklist; use that link to upload your portfolio.

What is the interview process like, what are the requirements?

We are most interested in who you are; your portfolio is a way of learning more about you. We also understand that your portfolio is a product of your opportunities so don’t worry about what you don’t have, include what you do have. Your interview will not be a formal presentation of your work, it will be a conversation with teachers about you, what you’ve done, your interests, and your goals. Finally, keep in mind that this is just as much your opportunity to interview us as we interview you.  Four years is a large commitment so please feel free to utilize your time with us to learn about who we are, to ask questions about our programs, the Performing Arts Department, or the College.

What are the monologue requirements in the audition (Musical Theatre, Theatre & Performance, Theatre Education & Performance)?

All of our performance majors require that you prepare two contemporary monologues, Musical Theatre requires that one of the two be comedic. We recommend that you select monologues that you can relate to and are appropriate for your age. We do not recommend pieces from films, television, or original material. If you choose your piece from a monologue book, be conscious that many other actors may have also chosen it. Make sure you have read the whole play from which you chose your monologue; we may wish to discuss it with you. Due to time restrictions, you may only be asked to perform one of your two monologues. However, do fully prepare your second monologue in case the evaluator wishes to see that. 

We are most interested in seeing who you are in the audition. We want to see you reflected through the characters you play and the pieces you perform. Pick good material for yourself, prepare it, and do it well. We want to see skill and potential, so play to your strengths.

Finally, keep in mind that this is just as much your opportunity to audition us as we audition you. Four years is a large commitment so please feel free to utilize your time with us to learn about who we are, to ask questions about our programs, the Performing Arts Department, or the College.

What about the song requirements in the audition (Musical Theatre)?

For the voice portion you are required to prepare two roughly 1-minute vocal selections, both from musicals, one from pre-1965, the other from post-1965. We recommend you select pieces that will best show your strengths as a musical theater performer. Due to time restrictions, you may only be asked to sing one selection. However, do fully prepare your second song in case the evaluator wishes to hear that. Please make sure to bring easy-to-handle (in a binder, etc.) sheet music in easy-to-read formatting (meaning neat and clean, no stains or messy handwriting on it.

And the dance call (Musical Theatre)?

The focus of the dance component is to assess your ability, potential, and presence. We’ll be teaching you a combination in a classroom setting. Be ready to listen, and be ready to move. 

Do you ever run out of audition or interview time slots?

Yes. Although we rarely run out of time slots for our entire season we may run out of the location, date, or time that works in your schedule or budget. We advise that you do not wait until the last minute to schedule your Artistic Review. This is especially true for the final date(s) in either admission session, Early Action or Regular Decision, and for our Unified Audition days in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. 

Do you ever cancel auditions/interviews for bad weather?

Auditions and interviews in January and February are often threatened by bad weather but historically we do not cancel Artistic Review dates. We recommend allowing yourself extra travel time to and from harsh winter locations. If there is bad winter weather please check the Emerson College web site for updates: www.emerson.edu. If you are unable to attend your Artistic Review because of the weather you can reschedule or cancel it in the Admission Portal or simply inform us by emailing PA_ArtisticReview [at] emerson.edu. We would also recommend choosing dates earlier in the season so that if the weather forces you to cancel you can potentially reschedule to a later date. If rescheduling to an in-person interview or audition is not possible we may be able to replace it with a phone interview or video audition.

What are the National Unified Auditions?

The National Unified Auditions are essentially an agreement between a group of schools to hold college theatre auditions and interviews in the same locations on the same dates; they are attended by many Colleges and Universities although each school offers its own schedule. The Unifieds are held in January and February in NYC, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Emerson participates in the Unifieds at all of those locations. We publish our audition tour schedule in the late summer/early fall.

How should I dress for my audition/interview?

Whatever clothing you wear, we recommend that it be comfortable, professional, and something that you like. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your outfit will not outshine, overshadow, or take away from your audition or interview. If you are auditioning Musical Theatre, please make sure to bring your dance attire.  If you want to bring a change of clothes for your vocal and monologue audition you may do that as well.

For Musical Theatre, do you provide an accompanist (even outside of Boston)? Can I bring my own taped accompaniment?

Yes, we provide live accompaniment at every audition at every location. You may not bring taped accompaniment or sing a cappella.

Do you give feedback at auditions or interviews?

We do not give feedback during or after auditions or interviews.  While we recognize that in some instances it may be beneficial for applicants, we feel that feedback needs to come from a place of trust and, since we are not your teachers at this time, it is not our place to be offering advice on your work.  This policy goes for all applicants who have been accepted, deferred, or rejected.  


What does the essay require/what should the essay look like?

We are most interested in who you are and what you want to do so use this essay to tell us. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers yet, just tell us what you do know. Before writing the essay, make sure that this is the program that you want. We offer many different undergraduate degrees in the theatre that, while they share core classes in Performing Arts, pursue different objectives—make sure this one covers what you want to study.

For the Theatre BFA/Theatre Education BFA, how do I submit my essay?

You upload your essay in the Admission Portal.

Admission Decisions

Will I be considered for more than one program?

Yes, we will consider you flexibly for some of our other programs if they relate to the program you are applying to, especially for the performance majors; but we do this while honoring others’ first choice of program. The most typical example of this is that if you apply to Musical Theatre we will automatically consider you for Theatre & Performance.

How will my admission decision determined?

Your admission decision is a composite decision based on your grades, letters of recommendation, etc., and your Artistic Review. There is not a predetermined formula for this decision that weighs the importance of one of these elements over another. It is also important to note that admission decisions are not made until your application, including your Artistic Review, is complete.

When do I hear my decision?

If you applied Early Action as an incoming first-year applicant, completed your application on time, and completed an Early Action Artistic Review, you’ll get one, unified, decision from Undergraduate Admission in mid-December. 

If you applied Regular Decision as an incoming first-year applicant, completed your application on time, and completed an Artistic Review, you’ll get one, unified, decision from Undergraduate Admission at the beginning of April.

If you applied as a Transfer Applicant and completed every aspect of your application, including your Artistic Review, before February 2, you’ll get one, unified, decision from Undergraduate Admission no later than April 1.

If you applied as a Transfer Applicant and completed every aspect of your application, including your Artistic Review, after February 2, you’ll get one, unified, decision from Undergraduate Admission on a rolling basis.