How to Get Into an Art School
Applying to art school can be a stressful process, but you can make it easier by breaking it into sections. Once you decide where you want to submit your application, you can focus on building a portfolio and application that showcases your skills and abilities. Whether you want to be a painter, a designer, or an art teacher, you can compile a great application for the school of your dreams.
Deciding Where to Apply
Look for schools that offer programs that you’re interested in.When you’re applying to schools, you’ll likely have to pick a specific program that you want to apply to, such as graphic design, drawing, painting, industrial design, or video game design. Do some research on jobs in that field and what kind of work you can expect to do after graduation, and look at schools that have that program.
- If you’ve had a lot of experience with drawing and painting, but want to go into industrial design or graphic design, remember that many of your artistic skills will be transferable. However, you will have to explain how your portfolio demonstrates that you have the skills for the program.
Attend “Open Days” at the schools where you’re interested in applying.Once you’ve decided what field of art you want to go into, go to the websites of the schools that you’re interested in, and find the dates of their open houses. On these days, you can walk around campus, meet with professors and students, and get a better idea of the program.
- Attending these events will also give you an idea of the other students who might be submitting their applications.
- If you aren’t able to physically go to the open house, consider attending online “open houses,” where admissions counselors organize a group chat and can answer questions from prospective students.
Ask about financial aid, scholarships, grants, and awards.Many students are afraid to go to art school because they fear they won’t be able to pay for it. Be proactive about the situation and make an appointment to talk to the financial aid department. Learn about the type of funding available, and do some math to see how much money you’d be spending to get your degree.
- If the school doesn’t have much available funding, it might be a sign that their programs aren’t very reputable.
- Try to submit your application to as many scholarships and grants as you qualify for.
Contact faculty members in your desired department to discuss the school.When you’re researching potential schools, take a look at the faculty list for the department that you’d be applying to. Check to see what the faculty members are researching or creating, and send a quick, polite email to 1-2 of them to discuss the school.
- For example, you might say something like, “Good Morning Professor Smith, My name is Jennifer, and I’m a senior at McKinley High School in Connecticut. I’m considering submitting my application to RISD for the upcoming fall semester. Would you be able to answer some questions that I have about applying to the industrial design major?”
View works created by graduates of the school.One of the best ways to decide if a school is right for you is by seeing what former students have accomplished. Simply look up the name of the school and the word “alumni” to see what people who have graduated are working on and doing with their degree.
- If you’re having trouble finding information about graduates of the program, it may be a sign that the former students aren’t working in the art field.
Assembling a Portfolio
Make a folder with your strongest work that you’ve completed recently.Pick completed pieces that highlight your most important and unique skills. Ensure that each work of art demonstrates something that is unique to that medium, and showcases your mastery of the technical skills required for a good artist.
- For instance, you might submit a variety of pieces, including pencil and paper drawings, charcoal drawings, oil paintings, photography, and sculpture. This showcases your ability to make eye-catching and unique art using different mediums.
- Make sure your pieces are unique and aren’t copying styles from popular artists. Try to pick pieces that push boundaries and do something completely new.
Take clear pictures of your art if the school requires a digital portfolio.Use a good camera to take clear pictures or make scans of your work. Then, upload them to the computer to see if they’re clear enough to view all of the important details. Once you have the images on your computer, depending on the school, you will either attach them to your application through the school’s website or email them to the admissions office.
- Depending on the school requirements, you may need to put all of the images in a single PDF or upload the .JPG/.PNG files separately with your application.
Include any school-specific pieces in your portfolio.Some schools require students to draw, sculpt, or paint a specific item or items to demonstrate their mastery of the basic technical skills required for art school. Be sure to add the right piece for each school that you’re applying to.
- For instance, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) requires that all students include a pencil and paper drawing of a bicycle in their portfolio. You can get as creative as you want with the assignment, but you have to have the bicycle drawing in your portfolio to be considered.
- Similarly, Parsons the New School for Design asks students to complete a “Parsons Challenge” that involves creating a certain number of original pieces and corresponding essays in response to a prompt.
Work on art outside of school if you need more pieces for your portfolio.If you aren’t happy with the work that you have or you don’t think you have enough, start a new project outside of class. Plan ahead to give yourself ample time to finish it before the portfolio is due, and make sure it is a unique piece that isn’t like anything else you’ve made before.
- If you want more guidance when you’re making your art, consider taking additional classes at a local community college or recreation center.
- You can even try new medium that you’ve never worked with before, such as pottery, mixed media, or painting, to show that you’re willing to try something new.
Create a portfolio website to make your submission stand out.Many established artists display their work on a personal website. Use a website creator like WordPress, Wix, or Blogger to upload pictures or scans of your artwork, short descriptions of each piece, and some information about yourself, and submit the website along with your portfolio. This will help you to seem more professional and serious about art.
- This is an especially good idea if you’re applying to a graphic design or web design program, since the website itself can act as a part of your portfolio where you can show off your skills and abilities.
Attend National Portfolio Day to get feedback on your portfolio.National Portfolio Day is held in 42 different cities across the United States between September and January. Search for the nearest city and “National Portfolio Day” to see if there’s one near you. Then, bring your portfolio and take it to various booths with representatives from art and design schools to get feedback on how you can improve.
- If you can’t make it in person, they also hold an online Portfolio Day where you can chat online with representatives and get feedback on your work.
Completing and Submitting Your Application
Write a personal statement that focuses on your strengths.Most schools require some type of personal statement or statement of purpose to go along with your art portfolio and application. Be sure to answer all of the questions that they ask, and focus on convincing the admissions panel that you’re the best candidate for the school.
- If you’re having trouble coming up with a response, talk about how you created some of the works in your portfolio. This will help you to focus on your goals and strengths as an artist, rather than your life story.
Submit your standardized test scores and transcripts.Almost all higher education institutions require a standardized test score, like the SAT, ACT, or TOEFL. When you take the test and get your score, go online to select the colleges where you want to send your scores. Additionally, remember to contact your high school and request that they forward your transcripts to the college.
- If you haven’t received confirmation that the school received your scores or grades, call the admissions office to confirm with them. If they haven’t, go online and send the test scores again, or visit your guidance counselor for help with forwarding your transcripts.
Send your portfolio along with the rest of your application.Once you’ve answered all of the questions on the application and attached all of the required materials, you can submit your online application. Remember to include your portfolio images and supplemental materials, as well.
- Depending on the school, you may be required to send your portfolio separately to a specific email address. Some more traditional schools might require you to mail your portfolio or present it in person. Be sure to check the school’s website to get the right information.
Schedule an in-person interview.For some schools, the interview is the deciding factor for many candidates’ applications. Be sure to schedule as soon as you’re invited to do so, and prepare by talking about the works in your portfolio and what makes you a good candidate.
- In most cases, you’ll schedule the interview online or through an administrator at the school.
Stay positive as you wait for a response from the school.After you submit your application and complete your interviews, be patient while you hear back from the school. It can take up to 4 months before the school contacts you with their admission decision.
- If you’re accepted, remember to pay your deposit to reserve your space as soon as possible.
- Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get accepted into your top schools. Go to the best school possible, or continue working on your art and reapply the following year.
QuestionHow do I make an art portfolio?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake a collection of your favorite/best/creative artwork, no matter how old. Try talking about your art and what inspired you to make it and why you did it a certain way.Thanks!
QuestionWhat subjects do you have to be good at to enroll in an art school?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou need to show talent and aptitude in the art you are pursuing. You also need to have good overall grades and test scores to get into a good school.Thanks!
QuestionWhat grades do I need to get to go to art school?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTo get into more esteemed colleges having between a 3.7-4.2 GPA can be really helpful, but the first thing the schools are going to look at is your portfolio. If your portfolio is really outstanding, your grades don't need to be perfect. Having higher grades can sometimes also help with getting scholarships, though.Thanks!
QuestionDo I need specific high school classes to get into an art college?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost art schools want you to take 4 years of English and 3-4 years of art classes. Of course, this doesn't apply to every school.Thanks!
QuestionDo I need to be good at drawing to enter an art college?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot necessarily. Art is very inclusive, so being good at singing, dancing, sculpting, or acting could all theoretically get you admission to an art college.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are the qualifications to get into fine arts school?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEvery school is different, but most require portfolios of recent work. You can find the requirements for a school on the school's website.Thanks!
Do I need to have taken Art Classes to get into an art college/class?
What grade do I need to get into to an art school?
Will art school have any music programs for me if I play guitar?
Do I need university credits for help financially in art schools?
How do I make a portfolio specifically for an architecture program?
- Remember that art school can be extremely competitive, and it’s up to you to make your work stand out from the crowd. If you’re making unique works, demonstrate a good understanding of artistic skills, and have a good idea of what your future goals are, you have a great chance of getting into your top school.
- Beware of for-profit art schools that are not regionally accredited, which means you won’t be able to transfer your credits to a different art school. Often times, these schools aren’t able to accept Federal Financial Aid and don’t require a portfolio.
Video: ART SCHOOL APPLICATIONS // Q&A RISD & Parsons
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