How to apply for the B.A. or B.F.A. in Design

Students collaborate in a class at IBM's design studio in Austin. Photo by Alicia Dietrich.
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Application Deadline: Dec. 1

Looking for information about this program before applying?
Learn about the undergraduate Design program

On this page:

Application Instructions

  1. Begin your ApplyTexas application to UT Austin by following the Office of Admissions instructions.
  2. When prompted in the application, enter your first-choice major as one of the following:
    • B.A. Design (570900)
    • B.F.A. Design (509954)
  3. Submit your portfolio through SlideRoom.
  4. Within SlideRoom, all applicants must submit a short answer to a Design-related prompt. This is in addition to the required three short answers on the ApplyTexas application.
  5. Track the status of your application materials. After you submit your university application, you’ll receive an email that includes your UT EID (university digital identification), allowing you to access the MyStatus website at admissions.utexas.edu/mystatus

Portfolio Guidelines

Your portfolio is an opportunity to show us your ideas, creativity, technical skills and what makes you unique. Submit twelve (12) of your best works in any medium or discipline. These should be projects that you have made yourself using the tools of art, design, or engineering. Portfolio projects can certainly be created with software tools, but at least four submissions should be made by hand (not software-supported in any way). These hand-made submissions should include at least two observational drawings.

Portfolio Steps

  1. Create a SlideRoom Account.
  2. Choose your mode of admission (Freshman) and program (BA or BFA Design). Make sure that your major selection on SlideRoom matches your major on your Apply Texas application.
  3. Answer some basic questions and respond to the design-specific short essay.
  4. Upload your media and include written descriptions for each project.
  5. Submit your portfolio by December 1.
  6. Check your MyStatus page. Portfolios should display as received within 5 business days.

Portfolio Reviews

Want feedback on your portfolio before submitting it? Attend a Portfolio Review.

On-Campus Review Days

Faculty provide prospective undergraduates feedback on the work they’re considering submitting in their admission portfolio. These events are held on-campus in the Art Building and also provide students an opportunity to tour the department, sit in on student panels, and interact directly with faculty, current students and staff.

Fall 2018 dates and location to be announced soon!

Please check our website again in the coming weeks for more information.

National Portfolio Days

National Portfolio Days(link is external) are large-scale events held in cities across the U.S. that offer students a chance to review their portfolio with representatives from a variety of art programs and institutions from all over the country. Faculty and staff from The University of Texas at Austin will attend the following events this year:

Sept. 29, 2018
Dallas, Texas — National Portfolio Day
(no registration required)

Sept. 30, 2018
Houston, Texas — National Portfolio Day
(no registration required)

Valley Portfolio Day

The University of Texas at Austin, along with other Texas colleges and universities, visits Brownsville, Texas each year to meet with prospective art students from south Texas. During this portfolio day, faculty and staff provide feedback on admission portfolios and other information about the application process. This is a free event that is open to the public.

Oct. 27, 2018
Valley Portfolio Review Day (location TBD)

Portfolio FAQ

What makes a portfolio outstanding?

An excellent portfolio is a balance of three important things: your technique/technical ability, your creativity, and what makes you unique. Include whatever you believe to be your strongest work in any or many media. This could include 2D or 3D art or design work, performance art, graphic design projects such as logo-design or yearbook layouts, application development, website design, robotics, coding or other digital concepts you’ve explored. If you have only been able to study a limited number of media, put together a range of work from those for submission. We just want to see what you think represents the work you love to make. Please note that you do not need to have formally studied or practiced design to have a strong portfolio for this program. We are looking for evidence that you like to make things, are a creative thinker, and can solve problems.

Review our design program description and remember that we’re interested in a wide range of ideas and skills. We want to see how you think! Give your works descriptive titles (“poster design,” “prototype for chair,” “wireframe for a productivity app,” etc.) and tell us what materials, techniques, and/or software you used to create it. Feel free to include sketches and process documents as well.

When documenting your work, make sure you are taking photos or scans that have good resolution/clarity to show detail, are well-lit, and are cropped appropriately.

I’ve done a lot of creative things outside of my classes. Can I include those works in my portfolio?

Yes! We are interested in getting to know you and seeing a wide variety of hands-on projects. Have you worked in a woodshop or welded? Are you interested in building virtual worlds? Have you designed a set or costume for a performance? We’re interested in all varieties of work!

What if I have great ideas, but I don’t have the money or resources to bring them to life?

That’s ok! Past applicants have shared their ideas as sketches or plans for future projects. We are excited about these ideas, too!

Are there any things I should consider leaving out of my portfolio?

Avoid a portfolio full of celebrity portraits or copies of popular anime/cartoon characters. We want to see your originality and experience your ideas. School projects are fine as well.

Can I see an example portfolio?

No, because this process should be unique to your background and ideas. There’s no right or wrong way to create a portfolio.

How much can I say about my work?

For our portfolio submission we utilize an online platform called SlideRoom. When you begin uploading your work, you will see that there are text boxes available to provide a description for each piece. This is an opportunity to provide context for your work. Please take advantage of this space and in your words, tell us about each piece that you are submitting. Think of it as a chance to tell us something that might not be evident about the piece from just looking at it (what are the dimensions? What materials did you use? Was this the first time you used this medium? Is this part of a series?) You also want to be economical about your words—tell us the most important details in as few words as you can.

PRO TIPS:
  1. Place your strongest works first.
  2. Submit works that closely relate to design.
  3. Crop out the negative space around the work, or photograph works against a neutral background.
  4. Photograph your work in natural light.

Questions about freshman admissions? Contact Shelton Lewis, Director of Recruitment and Enrollment Management.