A portfolio is required in order to be considered to any of our graduate programs.
Your portfolio should demonstrate your interest, experience and approach to design. The projects should highlight the program specific requirements/recommendations to which you are applying.
Program-specific Portfolio Submission Guidelines
- Portfolios should include projects that demonstrate an interest in color, materials and finish (CMF) design, in conjunction with providing insight into your individual approach to design.
- Your portfolio should include a minimum of four projects including academic, personal and professional work. Your design projects should show all phases of the research and design process (research, initial sketches and development of concepts), with use of effective storytelling, attention to detail and quality, and a well-developed design aesthetic.
- Applicants are encouraged to include pieces that show your ability to work in a multidisciplinary team. We understand that often design work is the result of collaborative work in an interdisciplinary environment. Applicants should explain in a brief statement within each project, the specifics of their contribution including individual skill level of software used in the final concept.
- The portfolio should reveal a high level of skill in creativity, originality, investigative skills and open mindedness.
- Your work should demonstrate hand skills including drawing, model making, evidence of construction and making.
- Experience working with typographic space, layout and attention to detail is preferred .
- Portfolios should show use of Adobe Creative Suite, specifically Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Additionally, any rendering software if those skills are established. Applicants are encouraged to include a separate sketchbook/journal that provides insight to observations, ideas and research as a PDF attachment in SlideRoom.
Portfolios may display experience from a range of domains, including but not limited to Fine Arts, Crafts, Textiles, Fashion Design, Industrial or Product Design, Interior Design, Architecture, and Transportation Design.
We will also consider applicants with degrees in non-related subjects who have an interest in Color & Materials Design and who have the desire to explore this developing and exciting field.
Your portfolio should consist of a minimum of 4-6 projects including academic, personal and professional work.
Submit work that demonstrates your innovation abilities and projects that show your process and how you develop your ideas into the project results.
The portfolio must demonstrate versatility, criticality, rigor, point of view, and accomplishment working with graphic, visual, interactive, 3D or experiential media.
We look for abilities to:
- Research, investigate and analyze design topics
- Identify important user needs and desires
- Take a systems approach to design solutions
- Develop solutions for real needs and problems that create value for the human condition
- Be attentive at related business dynamics
- Draw and/or otherwise visualize new ideas
- Write and communicate effectively
You are encouraged to include pieces that show your ability to work in a multidisciplinary team indicating clearly your role and contribution to the project.
The MFA program in Interaction Design seeks students with the maturity and discipline to engage in an intensive, two-year commitment to prepare for a fulfilling career. Candidate’s submissions will be reviewed for clarity of intentions, structure of thinking, and demonstration of discipline and process. Critical thinking, curiosity, and creativity are essential. Point-of-view about interaction design specifically and self-awareness as to career aspirations, which may not be fully formed, are also important.
- Portfolios may display experience from a wide range of domains, including but not limited to interaction design, product design, industrial design, software design, and graphic design; even expertise in engineering, social sciences, and humanities are welcome. However, they must reflect one or more of the following.
- Design skills: conceptual organization, disciplined process, and strong aesthetics
- Systems skills: holistic viewpoints and systemic modeling in order to understand complex situations and needs, and to design for their improvement.
- Making skills: evidence of craft, whether in physical materials, software interfaces, or human interactions, including iteration, refinement, and convergence toward explicit design goals.
- Because of the demands of interaction designers in today’s work contexts, added consideration will be given to applicants who possess one or more of the following optional skills:
- Professional experience with design or implementation teams in any of the domains mentioned above
- Empathy for social, economic, and global challenges, including but not limited to energy, natural resources, income disparity, and social justice
- Implementation of web, app, or other general coding skills for front-end, back-end, platforms, cloud, and APIs
- Proficiency in toolsets for 2D, 3D, animation, and prototyping of all kinds.
Upload items that communicate your technical and design expertise and problem-solving skills. NOTE: It is required that applicants for the Transportation Design program include a significant number of original sketches in their portfolio submission and/or an additional sketchbook.
- Your portfolio should include a minimum of 3-4 design projects including academic, personal and professional.
- All projects must have a clear representation of the phases of the design process - including your project brief, research, target market development, concept ideation, development and final renderings and models - presented in a fluid, clear, systematic manner that is graphically composed.
- Submissions should demonstrate your technical creative skills including freehand sketching in accurate perspective, use of Photoshop and Alias – or other use of 2D/3D modeling and rendering software.
- Include a significant amount of original process sketches and/or a separate sketch book as a PDF attachment in SlideRoom, or if necessary, mailed or e-mailed to the Office of Graduate Admissions.
- The portfolio should reveal a high level of skill in critical thinking, creative conceptualization and visual communication.
Additional Recommendations for Non-Art & Design Applicants
Individuals with non-art or design backgrounds are welcome to apply to any of our programs. We recommend that your portfolio demonstrate that you can communicate complex ideas in a professional manner and that you have ability to work competently in the design discipline to which you are applying. We are looking for your unique approach to design solutions.
Please provide 3 examples of work that demonstrate your ability to:
- Be creative - photographs, illustrations, writing samples, movies, etc.
- Think critically - examples of quantitative and/or qualitative research where you derived meaningful conclusions and insights from your findings
- Synthesize and translate - samples of work that is about finding a solution to a given problem or an opportunity.
We strongly recommend attempting the work noted in the program specific guidelines.
Submission of Collaborative Projects
We understand that design work is often the result of collaborative work in a multidisciplinary environment. Please explain your contribution to the creation and development of the work in a brief statement within each project.
Types of items that can be submitted as part of your portfolio:
Images (up to 10MB each), Video (up to 500MB each), Audio (up to 60MB each), PDFs (up to 20MB each), Models (Sketchfab) and Other Types (.psd) (up to 20MB each) and links to media from YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud.