Requirements by Major

Your portfolio is the single most important aspect of your application. Your portfolio must be oriented specifically to the one major for which you are applying.

Graduate Art

Portfolio


The MFA program in Art is open to candidates working in any medium. Applicants must present 15 to 20 samples of your most current work.

Essay


Applicants should include a letter of intent of 1,000 words or less that includes discussion of the candidate’s work and his or her goals. There should be references to works of art, and ideas about art that he or she has found especially useful, in addition to any other relevant thoughts or information.

Letters of Recommendation


Letters of recommendation are encouraged, but are not required. They can be emailed to admissions@artcenter.edu, faxed to 626 396-4298 or mailed to the Admissions Office.

Graduate Environmental Design

Portfolio


Graduate Environmental Design offers two distinct tracks of study:

  • Spatial Experience Design, MS degree
  • Furniture & Fixtures Design, MS degree

The program’s two tracks have separate portfolio requirements, demonstrating the candidate’s design abilities, outlined below:

The Spatial Experience Design track takes students beyond style to consider the links between the psychological, physical, emotional and sensorial effects of spatial design. This program is for students who are interested in creating and elevating multi-scale spatial designs with an industry focus and application. Applicants often have a prior degree in Environmental Design, Architecture or Interior Architecture. A student should also have a rich background in spatial investigation and be experienced in the exploration of spatial projects in both hand and digital skill sets.

Prospective students need to submit at least three completed spatial projects. These projects should be fully documented with indication of goals, research, hand sketch development, digital and hand model-making. The conceptual design process should include variations on ideas as well as demonstration of the path that led to final solutions. Related artwork can be included if it informs the understanding of the applicant’s background.

The Furniture and Fixtures Design track is focused on innovation, industry standards and the understanding of the manufacturing process for mass production furniture, case goods and fixture design. This is a program for students who want to elevate their understanding of production furniture and its relationship to manufacturing, materials and market. Applicants often have a prior degree in Environmental, Product or Furniture Design or a major with strong 3D making and conceptual skill sets.

Applicants must submit at least three completed full-size prototype furniture or fixture projects, including sketching, model making and documentation of the complete design development process. The latter should include variations on ideas as well as demonstration of the path that led to final solutions. Related artwork can be included if it informs the understanding of the applicant’s background.

Essay


You must provide a written statement that delineates your motivation for pursuing a graduate program. This should include both topics and areas of interest and specific goals to be undertaken in the program. Provide detailed information about your software knowledge and level of competency. In addition, describe specific skills and competencies you want to achieve. The statement should also include goals beyond completion of the program and describe how a design education will relate to your career objectives.

Graduate Film

Portfolio


Submit at least two completed film or video projects that demonstrate your visual narrative storytelling abilities as a filmmaker. The total running time of the work you submit should be at least five minutes but should not exceed 20 minutes.

Submitted work can include short films of any genre, documentaries, or multiple commercials or music videos, but all work must demonstrate your narrative storytelling abilities. Your work should also demonstrate a high level of proficiency in cinematography, lighting, staging, editing and sound. At least one of your projects should employ sync sound.

Submit only projects on which you played a key creative role as director, cinematographer or editor. Be sure to clearly indicate the role you played on each project.

Essay


Write a graduate proposal that defines a filmmaking project that you feel will engage and challenge you during your course of study. While the proposal may be preliminary, it must nevertheless be specific and take the form of a one-page story treatment for a potential film project.

Resume


Please submit a formal resume and bio covering education and relevant prior experience.

Graphic Design

Portfolio


Applicants must submit a portfolio that reflects a range of graphic design work across media and a fluency in typography. Pieces that exhibit an individual point of view, or a unique approach to a problem are encouraged. The portfolio should be edited to highlight the applicant’s best and most relevant work. Include a minimum of 15–20 pieces or projects that show a range of skills. Where applicable, include a brief written description of the project. Collaborative or commercial pieces should clearly state the applicant’s contribution or role.

The following formats are acceptable:

If you would like to include examples of motion and/or interactive work, please list your vimeo.com links in the provided form in your SlideRoom account. Applicants can also provide a nonreturnable DVD in NTSC format. PAL is not accepted. DVDs should be properly authored with working menus for multiple pieces.

Statement of Intent


Applications must include a personal statement of focus and intent. The essay should outline the applicant’s motivation for pursuing graduate study in Graphic Design at Art Center and identify a specific goal and focus of study. The statement of intent should be clear and concise, between 500–1,500 words in length.

Personal Essay


Provide detailed information about your relevant personal, educational and professional experience. Include your skill level with software, typography, and any media-specific skills (coding, spatial design, etc.). The statement should also include goals beyond completion of the program and describe how a graduate degree from ArtCenter will relate to your career objectives. Personal statements can range in content: The goal is to discover your relevant life experience, goals, and personal passion. 750–1,000 words

Resume


Include a resume that outlines your educational and professional background and relevant experiences and activities, including community work.

Letters of Recommendation


Letters of recommendation (one to three) from academic and professional references are strongly encouraged. They can be emailed to admissions@artcenter.edu or mailed to the Admissions Office. References should be from people who are familiar with the applicant’s work and experience, and should speak to an ability to conceptualize, execute and communicate design.

Interview


Personal, Skype or telephone interviews may be requested.

Industrial Design

The Industrial Design program is looking for bright, articulate, intellectual, literate and social individuals.

Our student body typically includes a majority of students with Industrial Design undergraduate degrees and various levels of professional experience in that arena.

Candidates with a wide variety of undergraduate degrees and professional experience are also considered. Diversity and breadth of background plays an important role in defining the cross-disciplinary culture of the program.

Applicants to the dual-degree MS/MBA program should submit all admissions materials to the ArtCenter Admissions office. They should be prepared to meet the admissions standards outlined by ArtCenter for the Industrial Design program, and in addition will submit GRE or GMAT scores. Candidates will receive a joint decision letter.

Portfolio


Submit a portfolio of work demonstrating your design abilities. Especially important to emphasize are the abilities to:

  • think and operate in terms of projects
  • take a systems approach to resolve design solutions
  • write and communicate effectively
  • envision and produce broadly desirable three-dimensional objects and spaces
  • produce a high level of aesthetic sensibility in production; e.g., style, proportion, shape, material, color, etc.
  • draw and/or otherwise visualize new ideas
  • identify important opportunities and needs
  • research, investigate and analyze design topics
  • experiment, think laterally and engage in creative idea generation activities
  • develop desirable solutions for real needs and problems that create value for the human condition
  • consider and plan for related business dynamics
  • exploit and employ appropriate technologies
  • profess expertise and depth in specific areas or disciplines

Essays


All applications must include two essays about the following topics:

a) Personal Goals

In 1,000 words or less please describe: a) your motivations for pursuing study in GradID, b) why you think it is a good fit for you, and c) what you envision you would ideally be doing 5 to 10 years after successful completion of the program.

b) 2 years and $10 million

In an essay of 2,000 words or less please answer the following: If you were given a budget of $10 million and an uninterrupted time period of two years to work creatively on anything that you wanted to, what would you pursue and why?

Materials may be uploaded to the application, sent by mail or emailed to admissions@artcenter.edu

Resume


Please submit a formal resume and bio covering educational and relevant prior experience.

Media Design Practices

Media Design Practices (MDP) seeks individuals who want to use design to understand and change the world. We are looking for risk-takers with varied interests who pursue design and critical inquiry with depth, intelligence, empathy and passion. Applicants must have earned, or be in the process of completing a bachelor’s degree.

Media Design Practices offers two tracks: Lab and Field.

In the Lab track, students work in a studio context, using design to pose questions through applied and speculative projects that engage with emerging communication technologies and cultural practices.

In the Field track, students’ work takes place at the intersection of social justice, public policy, media infrastructure and communications technology. A unique feature is that each year all field students spend at least nine weeks in immersive learning and research in an international setting. The track is run in collaboration with Designmatters, ArtCenter’s social impact department.

For either track, students can apply for either a two- or three-year course of study. MDP selects applicants for the two-year option who are designers with exceptional training and experience in the visual, spatial and interaction design fields. A degree in design is preferred but is not required. Applicants should have a substantial body of work and be ready to realize high-level concepts.

For three-year applicants, we accept both accomplished and nascent designers from a broad range of backgrounds who bring valuable perspectives to the practice of design. The development year provides a design curriculum that prepares the applicants to integrate their past experiences into a design approach that is fully realized in their concept year and thesis work.

Portfolio


The design portfolio is the cornerstone of the application. The portfolio should be a curated body of work that demonstrates the applicant’s expertise in the conception and creation of sophisticated design and other relevant works (e.g., creative or critical writing, business plans, software, curriculum, research, grants, etc.).

The portfolio must demonstrate versatility, criticality, rigor, point of view, willingness to discover, and accomplishment working with graphic, visual, interactive, spatial or experiential media. Projects can be professional, self-initiated and/or class assignments. Applicants are encouraged to include work that demonstrates process, research, experimentation and a spirit of inquiry. We encourage applicants from other fields, but projects from outside of media design must demonstrate the applicant’s ability to cross boundaries and think about issues in the realm of communication and media.

The portfolio should be edited to highlight the applicant’s best and most relevant work. Brief written descriptions of the projects should accompany each piece. Collaborative or commercial pieces should clearly state the applicant’s contribution or role.

All projects in the portfolio should be presented through SlideRoom. No physical portfolios will be accepted. Media Design Practices prefers all portfolios in the form of either a PDF or a website. The PDF or website should include stills, screen shots or photo documentation for all projects including print, interactive, motion or video. Where possible, dynamic media projects should be accompanied by links to working examples to ensure the full depth of the project is experienced. This content can be on a personal website or third-party service such as Vimeo or YouTube.

Essay


Applications must include a personal statement of intent. The essay should outline the applicant’s motivation for pursuing graduate study in Media Design Practices at Art Center, discuss personal goals for the future, along with areas of interest and relevant experience. Applicants also need to answer the writing assignment listed below for their chosen track only. The statement of intent should be clear and concise, between 500–1,500 words in length.

Applicants to the Lab track should address the following:

Choose two inquiry-led design projects (projects designed to pose questions) and discuss each project in terms of its questions, process, rigor, creative iterations, success and/or interesting failures. Which aspects would you take forward and which would you leave behind as you pursue new critical questions of your own? What would those questions be? We encourage you to include one of your own projects, especially if you have a self-initiated project in which you determined the process and critical direction.

Applicants to the Field track should address the following:

Choose two socially engaged design projects and discuss each project in terms of its process, engagement, orientation, scalability, sustainability, ethics and politics. Which aspects would you take forward and which would you leave behind as you pursue new critical questions of your own? What would those questions be? We encourage you to include one of your own projects, especially if you have a self-initiated project in which you determined the process and critical direction.

Resume


A CV summarizing the applicant’s educational and professional background. It should highlight relevant academic studies, project work, awards and achievements, and work experience.

Letters of Recommendation


Letters of recommendation (one to three) from academic and professional references are strongly encouraged. They can be emailed to admissions@artcenter.edu or mailed to the Admissions Office.

References should be from people who are familiar with the applicant’s work and experience, and should speak to an ability to conceptualize, execute and communicate design.

Transportation Systems and Design

Portfolio


All Transportation Systems and Design applications must include a portfolio of work demonstrating design abilities. You may include vehicular projects that demonstrate high levels of transportation design competency. These should demonstrate creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, originality of solutions, excellent visualization/drawing skills, 3D exploration, good organizational ability, the ability to research, and a sense of curiosity and inquiry. Evidence of previous study of transportation design and competency will be expected. If your primary interest is in systems, you can incorporate a variety of projects, but should include some samples of transportation system concepts. Demonstration of critical thinking, problem solving, originality and organizational ability are important. Concepts should be demonstrated through drawing.

Essay


Provide a written statement that delineates your motivation for pursuing a graduate program. This should include topics and areas of interest to be undertaken in the program as well as personal goals. Also describe specific skills and competencies you want to achieve. The statement should also articulate goals beyond completion of the program and describe how a design education will relate to career objectives. You may also indicate your particular interest in the future of transportation. This should make reference to the types of transportation systems that are of special interest and an explanation of their potential social impact.

Resume


Please submit a formal resume and bio covering educational and relevant prior experience.

Interview


An in-person or phone interview may be required of applicants. This will allow for a dialogue between the applicant and the chair or faculty to assure that the candidate’s goals and interests are in alignment with the program.

In addition, students who are able to visit in person are strongly urged to do so. You are welcome to contact the Admissions Office at admissions@artcenter.edu to make arrangements to visit.

Take the next step toward a career in art and design