Think critically and grow creatively

A portfolio is required for all programs in the School of Art, School of Design, and Department of Transmedia; select your area of interest below for specific instructions for each individual program.

Students are responsible for submitting their portfolio online. Students are also responsible for meeting Syracuse University's general requirements as well as our deadlines.

PLEASE NOTE: The Common Application is integrated with SlideRoom for online submission of portfolios. You must complete your Common App prior to submitting your portfolio.

TRANSFER STUDENTS: Transfer applicants are responsible for meeting Syracuse University's general requirements and deadlines for transfer students. You are encouraged to complete the application and portfolio review as soon as possible as space is limited in some programs. It is strongly recommended that transfer applicants to VPA follow the first-year application deadlines. Please note:

  • Online submission of transfer portfolios is required as they are usually reviewed by a faculty member in the student's proposed major.
  • If you have experience in the area in which you hope to major, please show examples of work in that area.
  • Please upload an unofficial college transcript to Slideroom with your portfolio. This is in addition to the official college transcript required for your application that is submitted via the Common App.
  • Include a paragraph explaining why you wish to study art, design, or transmedia, what major you hope to pursue and why, what you expect from the major, and your career aspirations.

School of Art

Art Education

  • The portfolio should be a collection of 12-20 images of your most recent work.
  • The collection should represent your interests, highlight your ideas and conceptual abilities, demonstrate your technical skills, your willingness to experiment, and your commitment to visual expression and communication.
  • You should select works that demonstrate the depth and breadth of your experiences.
  • The composition of the portfolio should be balanced to emphasize your strengths and should consist of a variety of media and approaches. This may include examples related to your program of interest; for example, if you’re interested in the studio arts, you may want to include painting, sculpture, printmaking, illustration, ceramics, metalsmithing, etc. If your interest is in our design programs, you may want to include examples of design, typography, textiles, perspective, fashion drawings, product, and furniture.
  • It is strongly suggested that a minimum of six drawings from observation be included if you are applying to illustration or have strong interest in painting and printmaking. Observational drawings can include still lifes, figure drawings, landscapes, etc.
  • You can include examples of assignment-based projects that are the product of instruction, but we also want to see work that reflects your individual ideas and direction outside of the classroom.
  • Please include one of the following writing samples (300 words maximum):
    • Statement of Interest: why you are applying to this particular program of study
    • Artist/Designer Statement: a general introduction of your work as an artist or designer, why you chose particular subject matter, why you work in a certain medium, etc.
    • Identify one piece in your portfolio that you are most passionate about and tell us the story behind it.

Illustration

  • The portfolio should be a collection of 12-20 images of your most recent work.
  • The collection should represent your interests, highlight your ideas and conceptual abilities, demonstrate your technical skills, your willingness to experiment, and your commitment to visual expression and communication.
  • You should select works that demonstrate the depth and breadth of your experiences.
  • The composition of the portfolio should be balanced to emphasize your strengths and should consist of a variety of media and approaches. This may include examples related to your program of interest; for example, if you’re interested in the studio arts, you may want to include painting, sculpture, printmaking, illustration, ceramics, metalsmithing, etc. If your interest is in our design programs, you may want to include examples of design, typography, textiles, perspective, fashion drawings, product, and furniture.
  • It is strongly suggested that a minimum of six drawings from observation be included if you are applying to illustration or have strong interest in painting and printmaking. Observational drawings can include still lifes, figure drawings, landscapes, etc.
  • You can include examples of assignment-based projects that are the product of instruction, but we also want to see work that reflects your individual ideas and direction outside of the classroom.
  • Please include one of the following writing samples (300 words maximum):
    • Statement of Interest: why you are applying to this particular program of study
    • Artist/Designer Statement: a general introduction of your work as an artist or designer, why you chose particular subject matter, why you work in a certain medium, etc.
    • Identify one piece in your portfolio that you are most passionate about and tell us the story behind it.

Studio Arts (B.F.A.)

  • The portfolio should be a collection of 12-20 images of your most recent work.
  • The collection should represent your interests, highlight your ideas and conceptual abilities, demonstrate your technical skills, your willingness to experiment, and your commitment to visual expression and communication.
  • You should select works that demonstrate the depth and breadth of your experiences.
  • The composition of the portfolio should be balanced to emphasize your strengths and should consist of a variety of media and approaches. This may include examples related to your program of interest; for example, if you’re interested in the studio arts, you may want to include painting, sculpture, printmaking, illustration, ceramics, metalsmithing, etc. If your interest is in our design programs, you may want to include examples of design, typography, textiles, perspective, fashion drawings, product, and furniture.
  • It is strongly suggested that a minimum of six drawings from observation be included if you are applying to illustration or have strong interest in painting and printmaking. Observational drawings can include still lifes, figure drawings, landscapes, etc.
  • You can include examples of assignment-based projects that are the product of instruction, but we also want to see work that reflects your individual ideas and direction outside of the classroom.
  • Please include one of the following writing samples (300 words maximum):
    • Statement of Interest: why you are applying to this particular program of study
    • Artist/Designer Statement: a general introduction of your work as an artist or designer, why you chose particular subject matter, why you work in a certain medium, etc.
    • Identify one piece in your portfolio that you are most passionate about and tell us the story behind it.

Studio Arts (B.S.)

  • The portfolio should be a collection of 12-20 images of your most recent work.
  • The collection should represent your interests, highlight your ideas and conceptual abilities, demonstrate your technical skills, your willingness to experiment, and your commitment to visual expression and communication.
  • You should select works that demonstrate the depth and breadth of your experiences.
  • The composition of the portfolio should be balanced to emphasize your strengths and should consist of a variety of media and approaches. This may include examples related to your program of interest; for example, if you’re interested in the studio arts, you may want to include painting, sculpture, printmaking, illustration, ceramics, metalsmithing, etc. If your interest is in our design programs, you may want to include examples of design, typography, textiles, perspective, fashion drawings, product, and furniture.
  • It is strongly suggested that a minimum of six drawings from observation be included if you are applying to illustration or have strong interest in painting and printmaking. Observational drawings can include still lifes, figure drawings, landscapes, etc.
  • You can include examples of assignment-based projects that are the product of instruction, but we also want to see work that reflects your individual ideas and direction outside of the classroom.
  • Please include one of the following writing samples (300 words maximum):
  • Statement of Interest: why you are applying to this particular program of study
  • Artist/Designer Statement: a general introduction of your work as an artist or designer, why you chose particular subject matter, why you work in a certain medium, etc.
  • Identify one piece in your portfolio that you are most passionate about and tell us the story behind it.

School of Design (Communications Design, Environmental and Interior Design, Fashion Design, Industrial and Interaction Design)

Traditional Portfolio

All first-year and transfer applicants to the School of Design must submit either a traditional portfolio or the alternative portfolio. Traditional portfolios must be submitted online; see Submitting Your Portfolio for instructions and deadlines.

  • The portfolio should be a collection of 12-20 images of your most recent work.
  • The collection should represent your interests, highlight your ideas and conceptual abilities, demonstrate your technical skills, your willingness to experiment, and your commitment to visual expression and communication.
  • You should select works that demonstrate the depth and breadth of your experiences.
  • The composition of the portfolio should be balanced to emphasize your strengths and should consist of a variety of media and approaches. This may include examples related to your program of interest; for example, if your interest is in our design programs, you may want to include examples of design, typography, textiles, perspective, fashion drawings, product, and furniture.
  • You can include examples of assignment-based projects that are the product of instruction, but we also want to see work that reflects your individual ideas and direction outside of the classroom.
  • Please include one of the following short answer questions (200 words maximum):
    • Statement of Interest: why you are applying to this particular program of study.
    • Identify one piece in your portfolio that you are most passionate about and tell us the story behind it.
  • Please provide a 500-word writing sample that answers the following questions: What is design? What can it do in the world? What about design inspires you? Upload your essay to SlideRoom.

Alternative Portfolio

​All first-year and transfer applicants to the School of Design must submit either a traditional portfolio or the alternative portfolio. The alternative portfolio may be submitted online only via SlideRoom and must be received by the appropriate deadline.

Please note that an “advise only” review is not available for the alternative portfolio.

The School of Design offers an alternative portfolio option in lieu of the traditional portfolio for incoming candidates and transfer students. The portfolio is one of several factors considered in your application to Syracuse University.

The goal of the alternative portfolio process is to communicate your creative perspective through a written essay and two designed objects. These materials should express your opinions and goals regarding design and the design process.

Note that a lack of formal training in art and design will not impact your ability to complete the alternative portfolio process. The process is intended to reveal your potential as a creative and critical thinker. The School of Design understands that our candidates take many diverse paths toward their formal training in design.

The School of Design alternative portfolio consists of three (3) components, including:

  • Written exercise
  • Two-dimensional exercise
  • Three-dimensional exercise

All work must be original and produced only by the applicant. Submissions that are found to be plagiarized or that demonstrate considerable similarities to work posted on the Internet will not be accepted.

Applicants are required to complete and submit all three components via SlideRoom by the appropriate deadline. In addition, please note:

  • Submit only the materials and specific quantities indicated.
  • Do not submit work on a CD in lieu of submitting to SlideRoom.
  • Physical materials will not be accepted and will not be returned if sent.
  • We are not able to provide work samples to applicants.

Written Exercise
Please provide a 500-word writing sample that answers the following questions: What is design? What can it do in the world? What about design inspires you? Upload your essay to SlideRoom.

Two-Dimensional Exercise
Maps are one way to explain a journey from “A” to “B” in a pictorial way. Using pictorial means that is not a map, describe (without words) a journey. This could be a journey that you have undertaken or one that you have been told about or that you have read about. It can be any kind of a journey including, but not limited to, geographic, emotional, political, personal, or economic. Be mindful of compositional principles, including form, space, order, hierarchy, repetition, color, contrast, symmetry, asymmetry, etc. The format of this pictorial representation is 11” x 17” in portrait orientation. The two-dimensional work may be made using ink, paint, collage, a digital program of your choice, or hybrid process. Upload a high-resolution JPEG of your finished collage to SlideRoom.

Three-Dimensional Exercise
Design and build a three-dimensional functional object of some kind that captures a design idea expressed through the uniqueness of its form, assembly, and materiality. These “assemblages” may take an abstract, organic, or a more common shape and should have a clear and recognizable function.  Select a catalyst word that will guide the development of your functional object. Example words that will help you to shape, assemble, and materialize your object include, but are not limited to, bending, warping, torquing, repeating, twisting, shifting, morphing, transitioning, layering, etc.

Your three-dimensional object is not required to conform to specific size restrictions. It may be made from up to three (3) media of your choice, including chipboard, corrugated cardboard, white museum board, black museum board, translucent materials, fabrics, colored matte board, colored papers, newsprint, acrylic, plastic, modeling clay, wood, metal, screens, wax, string, reflective materials, etc.

Produce five (5) digital images that reveal the various aspects of your functional object by visually answering the following questions: How does it work? How is it made? How is it perceived? Your images must depict and describe your idea. Include photos from many views, angles, and scale shifts. Upload the images to SlideRoom.  

Department of Transmedia

Art Photography

Portfolios for applicants to the art photography program in the Department of Transmedia must be submitted online; see Submitting Your Portfolio for instructions and deadlines. Traditional work is also acceptable if the applicant has not worked in the area of interest.

Art photography applicants should:

  • Present a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 images of your best and most recent photography work.
  • Include a one-page statement about your creative ideas.

Art Video

Portfolios for applicants to the art video program in the Department of Transmedia must be submitted online; see Submitting Your Portfolio for instructions and deadlines. Traditional work is also acceptable if the applicant has not worked in the area of interest.

Art video applicants should:

  • Present a series of video works that demonstrate conceptual and aesthetic development, as well as technical competence. Submissions may not exceed a total of 10 minutes. You may include clips of different projects within this 10-minute limit.
  • Include a one-page statement about your creative ideas.
  • Optional inclusion of accomplishments in other media art forms such as photography, film, computer art, audio art, and performance art is encouraged. You may also include work in traditional media, especially those pieces that relate to your work in video and other media art forms.

Computer Art and Animation

Portfolios for applicants to the computer art and animation program in the Department of Transmedia must be submitted online; see Submitting Your Portfolio for instructions and deadlines. Traditional work is also acceptable if the applicant has not worked in the area of interest.

Computer art and animation applicants should:

  • Present a portfolio that represents your artistic interests, exhibits your willingness to experiment, and demonstrates your conceptual abilities and technical skills.
  • Include a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 recent works from last three years; these may include drawings, paintings, prints, sculpture, animation, code art, film, video, photographs, sound art, video games, graphic design, websites, or any combination of the above.
  • A minimum of five drawing samples from the direct observation of life are required and may include figure drawing, still life, and landscape work. Include a one-page statement about your creative ideas.

Please note:

  • Computer-generated images can be included in your portfolio but should be kept to a minimum. Work should show what an artist can do with a computer program, not what a computer program can do.
  • Film, video, animation, and sound work may not exceed a total of five minutes; thus, it may be appropriate to submit excerpts of longer work.
  • Students interested in computer animation should have strong drawing skills. Strong math skills are critical for special effects.

Film

Portfolios for applicants to the film program in the Department of Transmedia must be submitted online; see Submitting Your Portfolio for instructions and deadlines. Traditional work is also acceptable if the applicant has not worked in the area of interest.

Film applicants should:

  • Present a five-minute film. If necessary, it is acceptable to include multiple clips of different projects within this five-minute limit.
  • Include a one-page essay answering one of the following:

    a) Why are you applying to the B.F.A. film program at Syracuse University? Be specific.

    b) Describe why you explore particular subject matter, your artistic goals, and explain the issues and concerns that inform your artistic practice.

    c) Describe the thought processes behind your film submission and why you feel it highlights your strengths as an artist/filmmaker.