Your Guide to Art School Resources and Information

Art School Admission

This article presents common art school admission requirements researched and collected from a wide variety of art schools.

Art schools have admission prerequisites for all incoming students. Often they will have different requirements based on the student's academic status: undergraduate and graduate (as well as transfer student / continuing education).

Undergraduate Students
Students coming directly from high school (or GED programs) are "incoming freshmen" at the undergraduate level, and generally have no college credits or have non-transferable credits.

Requirements and prerequisites

  • Completed Admissions application, along with application fee. See our art school application guide.
  • High school diploma and transcript, GED scores, or Home School Program Certification.
  • SAT, ACT, Compass or Asset test scores - Not all art schools require students to have taken one of these tests. Some will accept previous course credit in place of the tests, depending on degree requirements.
  • English Proficiency - Non-US applicants must meet standard English Language Proficiency Requirements.
  • Essay or Statement of Intent - This 250-800 word essay is used to describe your educational and career goals, and how the school can help you achieve those goals.
  • Letter of Recommendation - Recommendations should be given by teachers or other professionals who have a first-hand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential as a student. Some schools require letters of reference be sent directly to the admissions office by the writer (not the student). If this is the case, be sure the letter arrives by the application deadline.
  • Portfolio - This is the most important part of the admissions process. The portfolio will consist of 10-20 pieces that reflect your art background and recent work. See our art portfolio requirements guide.
    *Previous art and design experience is not always required for undergraduate admissions. Many art schools offer foundational level courses to teach core art and design skills, but they may still require drawing samples to show your creative and technical potential.
  • Admissions Interview - This meeting, in-person or over the phone, is used to discuss the student's background and interests related to the programs offered. It is used to help determine the area of study and to provide information about the program's curriculum.

A note about high school grades
You may think that art schools don't take your academic achievements into consideration during the admission process. Quite the contrary. The Art Center College of Design states: "A student's academic record often indicates seriousness of attitude and conceptual ability and motivation."

Even if art is your passion, you need a solid foundation in general education, so don't slack off!

Graduate and Transfer Students

Students transferring from another art school or general education program at college are "transfer students". Students with an undergraduate degree seeking further education are "continuing education" or "graduate level" students.

These students have already acquired credits or have completed degree programs, and their admission requirements differ from first-time students.

Requirements and prerequisites

  • Completed Admissions application, along with application fee. See our art school application guide.
  • College transcripts and Course descriptions - If applying for graduate program, proof of completion of the bachelor's degree (or its equivalent) is required.
  • SAT, ACT, Compass or Asset test scores - Not all art schools require these tests. Some will accept previous course credit in place of the tests.
  • English Proficiency - Non-US applicants must meet standard English Language Proficiency Requirements.
  • Essay or Statement of Intent - This 250-800 word essay is used to describe your educational and career goals, and how the school can help you achieve those goals.
  • Resume / CV describing educational and professional experiences - Not all schools require this for graduate level students.
  • Portfolio - This is the most important part of the admissions process. The portfolio will consist of 10-20 pieces that reflect your art background and recent work. See our art portfolio requirements guide.
  • Admissions Interview - This meeting, in-person or over the phone, is used to discuss the student's educational background and interests related to the programs offered. It is used to help determine the area of study and to provide information about the program's curriculum.

Conclusion
While these admission requirements are common to most art and design schools, it is important to carefully read the requirements and prerequisites for the school to which you will be applying. Following their instructions to the letter will give you a better chance of getting in.

This article also applies to: how to get into art school, how to get into fashion school, how to get into design school, how to get into architecture school, how to get into photography school.