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Arts Scholar Program

An Arts Scholar ...

  • is passionate about the arts — visual, literary, and performing
  • values creativity and imagination
  • seeks multiple perspectives gained through the arts of cultures from around the world
  • and is engaged with the broader arts community


  • Freshman Arts (graduation requirement)Coursework: 
    • Introduction to Visual and Performing Arts OR
    • Art Foundations OR
    • Dance Company OR
    • Ensemble OR
    • Women's Chorale
  • 4 credits in English (graduation requirement)
  • Specialization in one artistic discipline — elective credits in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade:
    • 3 credits in Dance OR
    • 2 credits in English OR
    • 3 credits in Instrumental Music OR
    • 3 credits in Visual Arts OR
    • 3 credits in Vocal Music
  • 1 additional elective arts credit outside of area of specialization. [Note: all elective courses in the Department of English and the Arts can be used to fulfill this requirement. Courses from other disciplines will be considered on an individual basis.]
  • Students must take at least one AP course in the Arts. Current offerings are: AP Art History, AP English Language, AP English Literature, and AP Studio Art.
  • Students must maintain 3.9 GPA. 

Scope of the term "Arts":  The Arts Scholar Program is meant to embrace all forms of human creative achievement, and it encompasses a broad variety of artistic disciplines: the visual arts of drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design, and other media; the musical arts of vocal and instrumental music, theory, and composition; the art of dance, both performance and choreography; theater arts: performance, dramaturgy, and design (set, costume, lighting, and sound); film; and the literary arts in all genres, including journalism and publishing. This list, of course, is not exhaustive, and students are encouraged to pursue their individual interests through curricular work, co-curricular activities, and experiences beyond the gates of Notre Dame.

Cultural Experiences:  Completion of at least three cultural experiences in the arts. Each experience requires prior approval from Dr. Califf.

  • Arts experiences include:  
    • Attending a live performance: play, musical, concert, recital, etc. 
    • Visiting an art museum. 
    • Leadership and/or active participation in an arts organization. 
    • Volunteering/service with local arts organizations.

Academic Experiences: Participation in a minimum of three academic events in the arts, e.g. lectures, conferences, workshops.

Publication and Performance: Each Arts Scholar is expected to participate in at least one Notre Dame co-curricular activity that involves publication or performance of creative work. This activity should be sustained throughout the student’s high school career. 

  • Suggested activities for literary arts: school newspaper, school literary magazine, ND Theater, Shakespeare competition
  • Suggested activities for visual arts: school newspaper (photography), school literary magazine (which also publishes student art), ND Theater (assistance with set design, costume design, program design) 
  • Suggested activities for performing arts: ND Theater (cast or pit), Liturgical Music

Career Exploration and Senior Research Project: Notre Dame’s senior year Career Exploration Program must be completed at an arts organization. The Senior Research Project assigned in 12th grade English class must focus on an arts-oriented topic. Both must be approved by Dr. Califf.

Progress Meetings: Scholars must meet with program coordinator (Dr. Califf) once in Freshman year, twice in Sophomore and Junior years, and quarterly in Senior year. The student is responsible for scheduling such meetings, which are held to discuss progress made toward completing requirements.

Portfolio: Completion and presentation of an arts portfolio. This portfolio will include examples of the student’s original creative work as well as reflections on all aspects of the scholar program (coursework, experiences, events, etc.). 

  • Prompts for reflections will be provided on program site. Each Senior will present her portfolio to one or more faculty members in her area of specialization. Faculty, staff, administration, parents, and student peers will also be invited.

For a detailed review of Program Requirements, please click here.

The Arts Scholar Program coordinator is Dr. David Califf, English and Arts Department Chair.
Contact: ext. 174

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