Crouse College | EST 1889

These are answers to frequently asked questions about the application process, financial information, and studying at the College of Visual and Performing Arts. We have also included questions commonly asked by international applicants. If your question is not on this list, please feel free to contact the VPA Office of Recruitment and Admissions at 315.443.2769 or

Application Process

How long will it take to process my application?

Once complete, the application decision may take anywhere from three to eight weeks, depending on the application review process of each department. Most programs do not begin reviews until January.

How will I find out my decision?

Once a decision has been reached, you may be contacted either by mail or email by the Graduate School. Please make sure the email address and mailing address you list when submitting your application can still be accessed when decisions are submitted. Merit-based financial awards will always be sent out by email.

I have submitted some application documents but have not yet submitted my application. What will happen to my documents?

If you submit your documents in advance of your application, we will retain the documents in our files for one year and reconcile them with your application once you apply. However, your file cannot be reviewed until the application is complete, so materials should be submitted in a timely fashion.

I've missed the application deadline. May I still apply?

Applications received and/or completed after the deadline will be referred to the appropriate department for review if space in the program remains available. Because of enrollment constraints, some departments are unable to review applications after the deadline. If you wish to determine whether your department is still reviewing applications, please contact the VPA Office of Recruitment and Admissions at 315.443.2769 or

If your department is unable to review your application because it was completed after the deadline, you will be given the option of reactivating your application for a future semester. As long as your request for reactivation falls within a year of your initial application, you will not be required to submit a new application nor an additional fee.

Do you have a spring and/or summer admissions cycle?

The master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degree program in design and the master of arts (M.A.) program in audio arts only admits students for the summer (fall and spring admission are not available). All of our other programs generally do not consider applications for the spring or summer. However, sometimes exceptions are made for students with extenuating circumstances, students applying internally from elsewhere in the University, and for programs that have space available. To find out about availability in a specific program, please contact the VPA Office of Recruitment and Admissions at 315.443.2769 or It is important to note that merit-based financial aid is generally not available in the spring. For art education and music education, contact Laurie Deyo in the School of Education for its policies on spring and summer admission at 315.443.2505 or

What do I write about in my personal statement?

The personal statement in the application is where you can write about your general academic plans. In approximately 500 words, please describe your academic interests, why you wish to study for the degree you have chosen, why you wish to study at Syracuse University, how you expect to finance your studies, and your plans for the future after you receive your degree.

How is the artist statement different from the personal statement?

If you are applying to the School of Art or the Department of Transmedia, you will need to submit an artist statement as part of your portfolio. The artist statement should focus on your work, while your personal statement should focus on why you are interested in Syracuse University.

Do I really need to submit transcripts from every university I've attended?

You must submit a transcript from each university you list on the online application. If a transcript is not submitted for every school you list, your application will not be considered complete and will not be reviewed. Please note that the online application only requires you to list schools at which you have received a degree.

If a significant amount of your undergraduate work was done at a separate institution from the one your degree is from, you may still want to submit a transcript from your first institution. This will allow faculty to review all of your undergraduate coursework.

Can my recommenders send letters by mail?

Yes. However, mailed letters do take longer to process, so we prefer the online submission option that is available on the online application. If your recommender is sending a mailed letter, please do not register him/her in the online application system.

I completed my undergraduate degree a long time ago, and I'm unable to acquire recommendations from my former professors. What should I do?

While academic references are generally preferred, we understand that not all applicants may be able to provide them. In that case, you should request recommendations from individuals able to address your qualifications for graduate study. If you have worked in a relevant field, recommendations from your supervisors are acceptable.

Do you require the GREs?

VPA does not require the GRE for admission for most programs. The exception is the master of arts (M.A.) degree program in communication and rhetorical studies, which requires the score for admission. Additionally, both the M.A. program in museum studies and the M.A. program in audio arts will review GRE scores if they are submitted. Programs in art education and music education may require a GRE score. Admission to those programs are through the School of Education. You can contact their office at 315.443.2505 or Syracuse University's institution code for ETS is 2823. No department code is necessary, regardless of the program to which you are applying.

Do I need a bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.) degree to apply to the programs in the School of Art or the Department of Transmedia?

Although we include the B.F.A. among our requirements, faculty will review an applicant’s file if the undergraduate degree is a bachelor of arts (B.A.) or bachelor of science (B.S.) degree or another undergraduate degree that is the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree. The portfolio is key in determining the strength of the application and may override weaknesses in undergraduate background.

Can I transfer as a graduate student? Can I transfer graduate credits from another institution?

Graduate students interetsed in transferring credits or transferring from another program still need to complete the online application for the program, as well as all other application materials. If you are admitted, then you may petition to transfer credits from your current graduate program, or graduate credits from another institution. You may petition up to 30 percent of the credits required for a program to be counted toward your degree at Syracuse University. Acceptance of transfer credits is at the discretion of the department to which you are applying. For more information, contact the Office of Recruitment and Admissions at 315.443.2769 or

Financial Questions

Are financial awards available?

VPA offers various forms of financial assistance for students admitted into our highly competitive programs. Select a link below to find out more:

Is there a separate application for University fellowships, assistantships, scholarships, and other merit-based awards?

To be considered for a University fellowship/assistantship, you must indicate your interest in the various merit-based awards on the online application. Merit-based awards are open to all applicants, including international students. If you are applying to a program in the Setnor School of Music, you may also need to submit additional information and materials. For all other programs, you will automatically be considered for financial awards when you submit your application for admission.

The deadline for fellowship consideration is often earlier than the admission deadline. Be sure to check the deadlines for your program:

Do you offer application fee waivers?

In general, VPA does not offer fee waivers for applicants, either based on merit or need. However, Syracuse University offers fee waivers for students who are currently McNair scholars at their undergraduate institutions. If you qualify, please contact the VPA Office of Recruitment and Admissions at for details.

Sometimes, exceptional applicants at the Graduate Portfolio Days are awarded application fee waivers. If you are interested, please make sure you visit our table at the Graduate Portfolio Days.

If you are a current graduate student at Syracuse University who is interested in pursuing a concurrent degree or a consecutive degree, or are interested in transferring programs, you may not need to submit a new application fee. Visit the Graduate School website to see if you qualify and to access the internal admission and program transfer application forms.

What is the cost of attendance?

See our section on cost of attendance, which is calculated by credit-hour for graduate students.

Are there other forms of support for graduate students in VPA?

Yes! Read more about the various forms of support that VPA and SU's Graduate School provides to graduate students.

Studying at VPA

What is it like to study at Syracuse University?

Studying in VPA has the benefit of giving you access to an incredible active faculty, extensive resources, and a community of graduate students working in the arts. Additionally, you have access to the resources of a large research university that offers more than 200 graduate programs. Learn more about life at Syracuse or visit us in person.

What opportunities are available if I go to Syracuse?

VPA continues to support students even after they are admitted and arrive in Syracuse. Through Creative Opportunity Grants, the annual M.F.A. show, and other initiatives such as the Future Professoriate Program and the Art School in the Art School, we continue to support graduate students through, and beyond, their time in Syracuse.

International Applicants

Am I eligible for financial awards?

Yes, international applicants are eligible for many of our merit-based awards. There is no separate application, and you will be considered for any awards for which you qualify.

What is the minimum TOEFL score?

We are hesitant to admit students who score below 550 paper, 213 computer, or 90 iBT and may require further assurance (such as a telephone conversation or interview) to ensure that a student’s English proficiency is adequate for successful graduate study. We will also accept an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher.

Please note that for the master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degree in design, the minimum TOEFL score is 100 on the iBT or 7.0 on the IELTS.

Do you offer conditional admission if I have a low TOEFL/IELTS score?

Yes. International students who do not reach our minimum TOEFL or IELTS score may be admitted conditionally. Those students will have the option to either retake the TOEFL or IELTS or to attend our English Language Institute (ELI) and complete Level 4. The ELI is an alternative option for students who do not wish to retake the TOEFL or IELTS.

How do I send my TOEFL scores to Syracuse University?

To have your TOEFL scores reported to us, you must provide the Educational Testing Service (ETS) with the institutional code for SU. This code is 2823.

Do you accept the IELTS?

We accept both the TOEFL and the IELTS.

What is a U.S. bachelor's degree equivalent?

U.S. bachelor's degree equivalents are determined by the University, and must be earned before beginning graduate studies. Current guidelines are available on our international students page.

Will my application be reviewed if it is missing the Financial Certificate?

Yes. This will not delay the application review process. If the faculty recommends your admission, your admission will be conditional based on receipt of the financial documentation. However, because the issuance of student visas is often a time-consuming process, the Financial Certificate and supporting documents should be submitted as soon as possible.

When will I receive my I-20?

Visa eligibility forms are released once a student has been fully admitted to and has submitted appropriate financial documentation.

Where will my I-20 be mailed?

Your I-20 will be mailed to the permanent address listed on your application.