Qualifications & Application


What’s Required for Admission?

The Arts Scholars program at ETSU is limited in class size. Up to 25 students accepted to the program each year. A special application is required that is in addition to applying to ETSU. The deadline for applications is March 1st but you should apply early.

Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements to be considered for the program and for a scholarship:

  • High School GPA = 2.75 on a 4.0 scale
  • Scholastic exam scores, ACT = 22 (composite total without writing) or SAT = 1050 (include total of math and reading scores only).

Be prepared to provide a portfolio or other evidence of your artistry and a narrative of your passion for your art. 

For more information concerning the Scholarship, please fill out this form:

How do I Apply?

1) You must complete the general application for admission to ETSU and submit it to East Tennessee State University Office of Admissions, PO Box 70731, Johnson City, TN  37614.  For more information concerning the application process for admission to ETSU, please visit the Admissions How to Apply web page.

2) Review the minimum requirements for admission to the Arts Scholars Program to make sure you are eligible.

3) Complete the Arts Scholars Program Application. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

Make sure your essay "Why I MUST..." is well written! We're trying to get a feel for how you approach the work that you do, what moves you to do it, what or who inspires you, what is your history with this type of work, and what is most satisfying about the work for you. We’re building a cohort of artists and want to make sure that you’ll be a good fit.

Get letters of recommendation from people who have taught you how to make art! We’re looking for letters from adults that know you and know your art. These are most typically letters from teachers, coaches, ministers, mentors, employers, outside group leaders, or any adult that you’ve worked with in some capacity.

And make sure your résumé is focused on your art. 

4) Follow the guidelines listed below for submitting your portfolio or other evidence of your artistic work.

Send your completed application and all materials in a single packet NO LATER THAN MARCH 1st (every year). The address is on the application form.


Guidelines for Portfolio or Evidence of Artistry (by area)


All portfolios and evidence of artistry must be submitted in a digital format.

We will accept CDs or DVDs, but it is suggested that you submit on an inexpensive USB Flash Drive.

CDs and DVDs will not be returned. USB Flash Drives will be returned only on request by May 1st.

Take your time putting together your portfolio: make sure the photographs of your art are sharp and clear,

make sure you are easily identifiable in any performances and the sound is clear, and organize your folders

on the drive in a logical fashion! This is your art, so make sure it makes you look good!


It’s helpful to us if you can provide some sort of short explanation or description of each of your pieces so we can better understand what you are doing.  For instance, you might tell us that your artwork is a charcoal sketch on paper from a photo, or a music video that you edited in Adobe Premiere, or that you have touched up some of your own digital photography, or that you modeled a high-poly game asset.  You don’t have to be too detailed, but let us know what is important about the piece you are showing us.

You might have worked on projects with a group.  That’s great!  Let us know what part of the project you worked on.  For example, you might have made a video with friends as actors.  Let us know that you were responsible for the shooting the video, or editing the video, or doing the animation, or doing the sound. Or whatever you did. 

  • Bluegrass, Old Time, & Country Music Studies

Submit a digital recording of your vocal or musical performance in audio or video format. Audio files work best in wav or aiff format. Please do not exceed 15 minutes. Please note that admission to the degree programs requires a live audition in addition to your application to the Fine & Performing Arts Scholars program.

Please visit the Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music Studies program website at East Tennessee State University for further information:.

  • Broadcast & Film

Submit three samples of writing from your area of interest (e.g., commercial writing, script writing, news, etc.). These samples are in addition to the narrative requested on the application. Be sure that your resume includes your proficiencies with equipment and software that relates to your area of interest. In addition, submit materials associated with one of the following areas:

Production: Submit a demo reel, no more than 15 minutes in length, with at least three samples of creative productions that showcase your abilities. Each production should show a different area (nonlinear editing, linear editing, camera, directing, graphics, producing, etc.). The student should clearly indicate his/her role in each production.

Performance: Submit a demo reel no more than 15 minutes in length, with at least three samples of talent demonstrations (e.g., acting skits, commercials, hosting, etc.).

News: Submit a demo reel with a three-minute segment presenting news, sports, or weather report.

All video should be in a wav, mp4 or wmv file format.

Please visit the Radio, Television and Film website at East Tennessee State University for further information.

  • Creative Writing

Submit a portfolio of creative writing examples. This can be poetry, short stories, scripts for a theatrical, television or cinematic production, or other forms of creative writing, and should be between 10-15 pages in length.

Please visit the Creative Writing Minor program website at East Tennessee State University for further information.

  • Digital Media & Animation

Submit a portfolio containing 5-10 examples of work that has either been created digitally, or using traditional media. These could include web sites, digitally edited video, motion graphics, animation, 3D models, or digital music, computer illustration, digitally retouched photography, drawings, paintings, sculpture, photographs, prints, graphic design, and other art in traditional media. Links to youtube or vimeo are preferred for videos but mp4, mov, or wmv files work fine.

Please visit the Digital Media at East Tennessee State University website.

  • Music

Submit a recording of your vocal or musical performance. Audio files work best in wav or aiff format. Please do not exceed 15 minutes. Please note that admission to the degree programs in music requires an audition beyond your application to the Fine & Performing Arts Scholars program (for more information on the audition process see Auditions & Scholarships).

Please visit the Department of Music website at East Tennessee State University for further information. 

  • Studio Arts, Graphic Design & Art History

For students interested in Studio Arts (painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, etc.) and Graphic Design (design, illustration, typography, studio photography, commercial art, etc.), submit a portfolio of 10 recent arts works for review. Digital images should be in jpg format, websites can be submitted as links, and video work can be submitted through youtube or vimeo.

For students interested in Art History please provide examples of research, criticism or personal response to art, approximately 8-10 pages. 

Please visit the Department of Art & Design website at East Tennessee State University for further information.

  • Theatre

Submit a 5 to 15 minute performance DVD and a specific letter from your drama mentor/director attesting to your potential as an actor and/or designer. A visit to the campus and an interview would also be considered in your application.

Please visit the Division of Theatre website at East Tennessee State University for further information.


If you have any questions, please contact Scott Contreras-Koterbay, Ph.D., Director (423-502-3734, ), or contact Eva Lynch, Secretary (423-439-7507, ). Assistance will be provided to help you find the information you need.

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