Comparative Arts: Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is the comparative arts major? 
The major attracts young artists with multiple skills and interests: creative writing, poetry, music, visual art, acting and dance. Students in the comparative arts major explore cross-disciplinary interests in multiple arts and academic areas and channel their own creative energies through self-directed projects. The art of collaboration is developed during the creative process. Students learn to develop an idea and enhance it through the study of other artforms. Our mantra: To live with curiosity every day and create life-changing art in life and performance.
How do students benefit from the program?  
While studying comparative arts, students cultivate research and communication skills, critical thinking and aesthetic awareness. They develop as self-directed learners and problem-solvers who can confidently navigate the creative process from an original idea to implementation, evaluation and refinement. Comparative artists are interested in exploring connections between unlikely topics, such as science and the arts, humanities and nature, community engagement and health.


What would be a typical week for a comparative arts major?  
Throughout the week, comparative arts majors take between two and five hours of arts courses each day along with their academic courses. (Juniors and senior students typically take more hours of arts courses; freshmen and sophomores place additional emphasis on meeting core academic requirements.) The comparative arts curriculum balances theory classes (The Digital Artist, Psychology of the Artist, Communication Theory, Aesthetics and Seminars) with body-mind training, integrating dance, Yoga, Pilates and the healing arts (Reiki, Ayurveda, BMC, massage).

Outside of classes, comparative arts students dedicate significant time each week toward the completion of their annual project. They also attend a variety of performances, presentations or lectures, and prepare specific assignments based on those events.  

How much involvement do comparative arts students have in each arts discipline? 

Students are encouraged to experience a broad range of arts disciplines. There is no requirement that a student must take courses in all six disciplines at Interlochen, but they have the opportunity to choose from a wide-ranging menu of courses from all arts disciplines at the Arts Academy.

Do comparative arts majors take courses that are exclusively for comparative arts or do they take a mixture of other courses?  
Both. The comparative arts curriculum includes courses that are designated only for comparative arts majors (aesthetics, comparative arts seminar) and courses that are part of other major programs at the Academy. 

Who teaches the comparative arts classes? 
The specially-designed comparative arts classes are led by Nicola Conraths Lange, the director of the program. She draws on the expertise of other faculty members and guests from all arts and academic areas to bring a wide variety of perspectives and knowledge to the classroom. The academic and arts classes that make up the rest of a schedule for a comparative arts major are taught by Academy faculty.

What is the annual project? 
The self-directed projects allow juniors, seniors, and postgraduates to cultivate their own skills and interests while synthesizing multiple arts and academic disciplines. All annual projects contain a written component along with a presentation, which could include a performance or demonstration given to students and faculty. 

Performance and Arts Involvement

Can a student in the comparative arts major participate in performing groups (music ensembles, theater productions, etc.) at Interlochen? 
Performance opportunities are available, but students must audition and meet certain prerequisites, which vary by arts discipline. For orchestra and band, students may audition for a chair. For information regarding participation in other arts ensembles or productions contact the Office of Admission and Financial Aid.

Are private music lessons available to Comparative Arts majors? 
Yes. Private lessons are available for an additional fee because they are provided in addition to the core curriculum. Comparative Arts students who wish to take private instrument or voice lessons may do so in the form of weekly 30 or 60 minute lessons.

Eligibility and Application

What are the selection criteria for admission? 
A student interested in the program must demonstrate high quality academic achievement on his or her transcript as well as a true interest in the arts through the application essay, the interview and any past work done in one or more arts area. The ability of the student to speak convincingly about his or her interest in the arts and the role the arts play in his or her life will be a very important factor taken into consideration during the admission process.

Does a student need experience in all six of Interlochen’s arts areas? 
No. Although students are expected to have a broad interest in the arts, they are not expected to arrive at Interlochen with experience in all six disciplines. Once they begin their studies, however, comparative arts majors will be asked to take classes in a variety of disciplines.

If a student is denied admission to another arts major, may he or she apply to the comparative arts major?
Yes, but the student would need to submit the necessary materials and follow the application steps for the comparative arts major.

What is the rationale for a 3.0 GPA for a one year senior who wishes to be a comparative arts major?

A student who comes to the Academy as a comparative arts major for his or her senior year needs to arrive with a strong academic background. Well-developed intellectual skills will be required for the reading and writing demands of the program.

College and Beyond

How would a college view the curriculum of the comparative arts major? 
The comparative arts major requires students to take a full complement of college-preparatory courses as well as a variety of arts related courses. Throughout their course of study, students will develop the ability to compare and contrast, to synthesize material, to analyze the structure and meaning of different artistic genre and to communicate effectively. This skill set, and the kind of creative thinking it is designed to foster, will be valued by any college. Interdisciplinary and collaborative skills are highly valued in today's college applications. Prestigious institiutions such as MIT and Harvard are leading the way with cross disciplinary research and funding new departments linking the arts and technology.

To what college programs might students apply?
This challenging cross-disciplinary curriculum prepares students for a liberal arts education at any college or university. Like all students at Interlochen Arts Academy, comparative arts majors benefit from a strong academic foundation provided by a college-preparatory curriculum that includes courses in math, science, English, history and foreign language.