Young visual artists learn creative processes and techniques from established artists. 

Emerging visual artists attend this intensive two-year program to build on and develop artistic, conceptual and creative skills, as well as attain the discipline and confidence necessary to investigate their own imagery and self-expression.

With the guidance of teaching artists/mentors, Visual Arts students gain hands-on experience exploring different mediums and techniques in the following studio practices:

Animation and Motion Design | Architecture and 3D Modeling | Ceramics | Drawing | Graphic Design | Metal Work | Painting | Photography | Printmaking | Sculpture

In the Residential High School program, young artists learn to be constructively critical of their own and others' artwork while gaining the tools necessary to be competitive in a creative environment. They also gain experience preparing portfolios, exhibiting artwork in regional exhibitions, and entering local and national competitions. During their senior year, students choose an art concentration, allowing them to dive deep into their medium of choice.

When To Apply

Visual Arts students apply online and audition for the Residential High School program while in the 10th grade to attend in the 11th and 12th grades. 

See additional application and audition information below.

Student painting
Printmaking workshop with instructor
Graphic design students in lab

Visual Arts graduates go on to attend...


Apply Now! 

Here’s what you’ll need to complete the online application.

ID Photo

A passport-style photo of yourself from the shoulders up. This will be used as your student ID photo if you are accepted.


To request recommendations and other necessary forms, you will provide the names and email addresses of the arts teacher(s), academic teacher, school counselor/registrar and other individual for homeschool/virtual school recommendation (if applicable) on the application. 

Personal Essay 

Finished essays will be uploaded to the application.

There is a direct correlation between an understanding of the humanities and an appreciation of the visual arts. Please select a well-known artwork that is important to you. In your essay, write about how your experience of that work was enriched by your understanding of the artist and/or the social context in which the artist was working. 

Your essay should be between 500-800 words. This is an opportunity to give the Admissions Committee a sense of the applicant as an individual. Use 12-point font, double-spaced, and include your name in the top right corner of the page.

Upload the essay in Word or PDF format. Do not upload using the PAGES app.

Art Experience

List any art experience you may have had. Limited experience is not detrimental to your candidacy.

Parent/Guardian Contact Information

General contact information for the individuals who have legal custody.

Mail-In Portfolio

The following three pieces should be mailed to the address below so they are received by January 6, 2021. All work must be 8.5”x11” with your name on the back of each piece.

  • One color-based composition on paper, in any media, using a particular color scheme (complementary, analogous, monochromatic, etc.).
    • Do not submit achromatic work.
    • Your composition should demonstrate familiarity with color theory.
    • Write the name of the color scheme on the back of the work.
    • Be prepared to discuss your choice.
  • Four black paper equilateral triangles of equal size glued onto white paper. Triangles must be securely attached.
    • Create a simple, clear, and concise solution that visually conveys the idea of tension.
    • Be aware of positive and negative spaces as created by the positioning of four equilateral triangles.
    • Do not overlap, alter, or draw on the triangles; do not extend beyond the paper.
  • One drawing of two unrelated objects drawn from direct observation. Do not work from a photograph, memory, or imagination. (The surface on which your objects are placed does not count as one of the two objects and should be included in your drawing.)

​​​​Emailed submissions of these pieces will not be accepted.

Mail the three (3) pieces of artwork to:
SCGSAH - Office of Admissions
15 University Street
Greenville, SC 29601

Note:  All artwork will be returned to you at the audition. You are also expected to bring additional work to the interview portion of the audition. (See “Audition” for more details.)

The Admissions Office will notify you if information is missing from your application. Incomplete applications cannot be processed.


Your audition day will include a drawing workshop and interview.

Bring your art history research, audition portfolio (three required pieces), and your sketchbook(s) to the interview. Be prepared to discuss your work and research, and don’t forget to ask any questions you may have about the program.

Preparing for the Audition


    Select three artists to research, choosing one from each of these periods:

    • The Renaissance
    • 1850-1950
    • 1950-present

    This component is an opportunity to investigate artists and works of different periods. Make use of available resources to develop an understanding of your selections. Bring a printed sample of work by each artist and be prepared to discuss the artists and their works in terms of both your personal interest and their respective times.

    You may use books, magazines, or the Internet for your research. Useful web resources include:

    Audition Portfolio

    Bring your sketchook(s) and the following three (3) components to the interview portion of your audition. Work should be neatly presented – no rips, creases, spiral edges, etc. Be prepared to talk about the formal qualities of your work (e.g., space, balance, texture, etc.). Applicants are responsible for any digital needs in interview.

    1. A self-portrait in pencil, drawn from life using a mirror. Do not work from a photograph. The drawing should not simply float in the middle of the page; use the entire space. This component should be no smaller than 8.5” x 11” and no larger than 18” x 24”.
    2. One three-dimensional piece created specifically for the interview. It should demonstrate an awareness of form and space.
    3. One additional work: Choose one of the following options that best demonstrates your artistic skills.
      • A 2-D or 3-D piece. Your work may be of any reasonable size and material(s) as long as you can easily transport it to your audition.
      • A drawn storyboard. Storyboard sheets should be neatly compiled and in order.  Storyboard Template
      • A motion picture (live-action or animation) no longer than two minutes in length. Work must be in Quicktime-compatible format (.mov, .mp4, etc.) and should be emailed to by January 8, 2020.

    Bring a bound sketchbook (no loose pages) containing 20 or more drawings done from direct observation in the past 12 months. This component is not a portfolio of finished and highly refined work. Your audition sketchbook(s) should demonstrate your interest in art and art ideas as evidenced in the drawings, images, and ideas collected inside.

    Twenty full-page drawings should be considered the minimum; more work will be considered more favorably. Sketchbooks should not have loose pages.

    The Drawing Workshop

    Your workshop will include a discussion of principles of design followed by a still-life drawing session. You will be working with visual arts instructors in an actual class setting. Workshop materials will be provided.

    This may be a new experience. We encourage all students to be open to instruction and feedback during this time! Familiarize yourself with elements such as line quality, positive and negative space, balance, rhythm, scale, etc. We are more interested in students who are highly teachable as opposed to students who simply draw at a very high level.

    The Interview

    Don’t worry! The interview is your chance to speak with instructors in the program and to talk about your interest in the Governor’s School experience. These conversations help our faculty members to determine your commitment to arts training and allow us to get to know you as both an individual and an artist. Be prepared to talk about your own artistic experiences, interest, and aspirations. Your interview is also a good opportunity to ask questions about any aspect of the program.

    Important Dates

    Application Deadlines 

    • November 30, 2020 - Deadline for application fee waiver.

    • January 6, 2021 - Final application deadline. 

    Teacher recommendations must also be submitted by the above deadlines in order for your application to be considered complete.

    Audition Dates

    • Saturday, January 30, 2021 - Upstate
    • Saturday, February 6, 2021 - Lowcountry
    • Saturday, February 20, 2021 - Midlands

    Admission Decision Notification

    Applicants will be notified of decisions via email by early April. Decisions will not be given over the phone.


    Application Fee: $50 for all applications submitted after November 30. For those in need of financial assistance, the Application Fee Waiver on the Submission Confirmation page of the application can be submitted instead of this fee.

    Tuition: Free 

    Residence Hall Fee: $150, non-refundable residence hall fee

    Meal Plan: $3,575 annual food services fee paid directly to Aramark Food Services. Payment plans are available.

    Financial aid is available for residents of South Carolina with validated financial need.

    Fees and Financial Aid