Sunday was the Glee Club pops concert featuring hits from ABBA and Queen.  Mid-week featured a cluster of senior screenwriting presentations. Then there’ll be gallery exhibits and opening night of The Drowsy Chaperone, our spring musical, this weekend. It’s a typical week in April at Occidental College, a time to showcase and celebrate the talents of our students. Many of them are seniors in the departments of Music, Theater, or Art History & the Visual Arts presenting their required comprehensive projects (or “comps,” as we call them). But most are not creative or performing arts majors; they’re students who chose to attend a liberal arts college like Occidental knowing they could continue to hone their creative talents and pursue their passions while studying other academic disciplines.

With the encouragement and support of their performance or practicum faculty, our arts students regularly pursue double majors or minors, and often in departments as disparate as physics, psychology or economics. They also engage in faculty mentored or independent research opportunities—often with funding from the College – that examine historical, cultural, and critical relevance of the arts. About three-quarters of all Occidental students participate in programs abroad, with destinations including the London Dramatic Academy and the Prague Film and Television School of the Academy of the Performing Arts (FAMU).

So it’s understandable why our selective admission process requires the same academic preparation of our arts majors as we do of all our students. But in addition to the required components of the Common Application, students intending to major in the arts may also submit a variety of supplemental material that will be reviewed by the Admission staff or faculty in appropriate departments. These options include:

  • A fine arts resume that can be submitted along with the application. Students with significant creative and performing arts experience (even if they do not intend to major in music, theater or visual arts) are welcome to include a resume which will be considered by application readers in conjunction with the extracurricular activities section of the Common Application.
  • Portfolio submissions via Slideroom that will be shared with faculty reviewers in our Music and Theater departments. They will evaluate students’ work based on talent as well as potential to contribute to the Occidental community. While the traditional, required components of the application will have the most impact on admission decisions, Admission staff will factor the portfolio rating into the overall evaluation.
  • Attending the Theater Department’s fall workshop day where students can tour Keck Theater, meet faculty and current students, audition or interview, take a master class, and see one of our fall productions. Participation is not mandatory nor is an audition or interview ever required for admission to the theater department, but this is an opportunity for prospective students to gauge whether the study of theater in a liberal arts context is a desirable option.

Occidental does not offer a conservatory. But if the prospect of pursuing the creative and performing arts within a liberal arts college in a vibrant city like Los Angeles sounds appealing, you can always contact us at

By Erika Yamasaki
Associate Dean of Admission
Occidental College