In addition to the general requirements for admission, applicants must also comply with the department requirements outlined here.
The general portfolio and writing sample criteria are listed as follows. Please carefully review these instructions as well as individual department guidelines for other requirements.
Note: All portfolio submissions become the property of the School of Visual Arts and will not be returned. No oversize portfolios, binders, prints or original work will be accepted. Permanent bindings, notebooks and oversized cases will be discarded. The College is not responsible for any media that is received in damaged condition and cannot be viewed.
- MFA Art Writing
Writing Sample: Applicants are required to submit a typed writing sample between 2,500 and 3,000 words long. Content is at the discretion of the applicant. Applicants are encouraged to submit papers or articles that have been published or presented, if applicable.
Interviews: Personal interviews are required.
- MAT Art Education
Portfolio: Applicants must upload their portfolio to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account. To access the portal and find out more information, please click here. SlideRoom will allow you to create an inventory of works with the following information for each file: title, date, medium, dimensions and optional notes.
Please submit 15 - 20 still images in .jpg format at 72 dpi. Portfolios should include painting, drawing, and sculpture, with 5 of the images demonstrating focused accomplishment in one of these areas. If any area is lacking, completion of additional coursework may be required for acceptance into the program.
Required Coursework: Applicants are required to have completed a minimum of 30 credits in studio art, 12 credits in art history and 30 credits in liberal arts and sciences. High school or college credit in a language other than English is also required.
Interviews: Interviews are required. In-person interviews are strongly preferred, but video-conference interviews using Skype may be requested.
- MFA Art Practice
Portfolio: Applicants must upload their portfolio to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account. To access the portal and find out more information, please click here. (Important Note: Portfolios submitted via cd, dvd, url or email will not be reviewed.)
Applicants will have the ability to upload the following to SlideRoom:
- Still imagery: 15 - 20 images. All images should be in .jpg format. Digital images should be no larger than 1500 pixels on the largest dimension, at 72 ppi.
- Video: mov, flv, or wmv files, not to exceed 10 minutes in length, up to 60MB each.
- Audio: mp3 not to exceed 10 minutes in length, up to 10MB each.
Writing Sample: Applicants must also submit a 500 to 750 word -long writing sample. This may take the form of an academic paper or an original essay describing an event in your life that has proven to be central to your artistic development.
Interviews: Select applicants will be invited to interview. All interviews will be conducted via Skype.
- MPS Art Therapy
Portfolio: Applicants must submit a portfolio via the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account or by including a portfolio URL on the online application. To access the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom portal and find out more information, please click here.
- Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a portfolio that reflects a wide range of work.
- In addition to digital images, applicants may submit work on DVD (NTSC format only).
Special Coursework: Applicants must have completed a minimum of 18 credits (or equivalent) in studio art and 12 credits in psychology (developmental and abnormal are required; courses in introduction to psychology and theories of personality are recommended).
Interviews: An admissions interview is required. In-person interviews are preferred, but those unable to travel to New York City will be interviewed by phone or via video-conferencing/Skype.
- MPS Branding
Statement of Purpose: Applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose outlining why they have chosen to apply to this program, what they hope to achieve during their course of study and what the concept of “branding” means to them.
Writing Sample (Essay): Applicants are required to submit a typed short essay (750 words) critiquing a brand of their choice. Subject matter should include the following: Relevance in the market; Historical significance (if any); Assessment of the brand’s positioning; Creative analysis.
Supplemental Materials: Any other material outlining the applicants expertise in this discipline will be accepted but not required, including any or all of the following:
- Design portfolio
- Brand strategy or positioning and/or white paper.
- Any branding work currently in the market that they have contributed to with a statement outlining the challenge, their participation and a rationale for the result.
Interviews: Personal interviews may be required. Prospective students living beyond a 1,000-mile radius of New York City may request to waive the in-person interview. In such instances, a telephone interview is required.
- MFA Computer Art
Statement of Purpose: In the statement of purpose, applicants should indicate their anticipated area of study (animation, motion graphics, fine art or multidisciplinary study).
Portfolio: Applicants must submit one URL for their online portfolio. This site must contain a 2-5 minute sample reel, a 1-minute personal introduction video, and 20 high-quality digital mages. These images should be your best work, and also cover a range of media, i.e., digital images, drawings, paintings, photographs, sculpture, etc. Additional supplemental projects may be included on the online portfolio site to reflect a wide range of work.
Please note: CD or DVDs are not accepted.
- MA Critical Theory and the Arts
Statement of Purpose: Applicants must submit a statement of approximately 500 words explaining the development of their interest in pursuing an MA degree in Critical Theory and the Arts. In the largest sense, what’s on your mind? Where are you now, and where have you been? The statement should touch on your life and education to date, the range of your interests and any experience in the arts. Let us know if your interests are especially social, political, philosophical, or art historical.
Writing Sample: Submit with your application something else you have written, on any topic, that is representative of your work (e.g., an academic essay, a senior thesis, another form of writing). The Writing Sample does not have to be a published piece.
Supplemental Materials (for visual artists only): If it is relevant to your application, include information about your practice and what your contemporary concerns are in your work. We would be interested in viewing your work, but a portfolio is not required.
Interviews: Personal interviews may be requested. Prospective students living beyond a 500-mile radius of New York City may request a telephone interview in place of a visit.
- MA Curatorial Practice
Statement of Purpose: A statement of approximately 800-1,000 words that tells us why you wish to pursue this degree and details of your specific interests in curatorial work. What are your particular fields of interest? What exhibitions or curatorial projects have you experienced lately that were important to you? What texts have you been reading that are especially compelling to you? What are your ambitions for your curatorial studies and subsequent work in the field? Please best describe your knowledge of art history and related cultural studies, as well as previous curatorial work or cultural practice, if any. If the background you bring to the program is specially unique, please tell us about it.
Writing Sample (Proposal): A proposal of no more than four single-side pages for an exhibition or other curatorial project/event you would like to curate, including a concept summary, site, and checklist.
Special Coursework/Experience: Applicants are expected to have a thorough knowledge of 20th-century art history and contemporary art, or equivalent in their cultural field, through their undergraduate education or proven in their subsequent work experience. Applicants with prior curatorial experience who are seeking the next level of advancement for their careers are encouraged. Combining hands-on training and intellectual engagement, we are seeking to interrogate established and new ideas about the intersection of objects, actions, presentation, and knowledge production, exchange and transfer. We are particularly interested in candidates who will contribute to an intellectual community with curatorial work at its center that enriches the program and the larger cultural scene, as we consider the program a professional hub within the art world as a global network.
Interviews: Select applicants will be invited to interview. Interviews will be in person or conducted via Skype
- MFA Design
Portfolio: Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a portfolio that reflects a wide range of design work and a fluency in type and typography. Applicants must upload their portfolio (still images and/or videos) to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account. To access the portal and find out more information, please click here. (Please note: CDs, DVDs or prints are not accepted.
SlideRoom will allow you to create an inventory of works with the following information for each file: title, date, medium, dimensions or running time, and optional notes.
- Please submit a minimum of 15 / maximum of 20 images for your SlideRoom portfolio. These images should be JPEG format (not to exceed 5mb each in file size) and approximately 1920 x 1080 pixels (at a resolution of 150 dpi).
- Application portfolios will be reviewed by the committee on an HD projector.
- Optional: If you would like to include examples of video work, please list your vimeo.com links in the provided form in your SlideRoom account.
- MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism
Statment of Purpose: A written statement (500 words) of the applicant’s reasons for pursuing graduate study in design research.
Writing Sample: A writing sample of published or unpublished writing (1,000–2,000 words). The piece should demonstrate the applicant’s research and analytical skills and facility with language. The published sample can be from any context, including contributions to academic or commercial publications, books, catalogs or exhibition wall texts.
Interviews: Personal interviews are required. Prospective students living beyond a 1,000-mile radius of New York City may request to waive the in-person interview. In such instances, a telephone interview is required.
- MFA Design for Social Innovation
Statement of Purpose Essay: An essay articulating the individual’s vision for how he or she will contribute to the betterment of the world, of up to 500 words in length and submitted in Word or PDF format.
Portfolio: There are two options for portfolio submission. Please submit ONE of the following:
1. Case Studies reflecting initiatives that you have led, and that demonstrate social innovation. Up to three studies of complete campaigns, with written text explaining the problem, solution and results, if available, including thumbnail photos of any visual elements. Format: PDF, no more than 5 pages. Submission: email to email@example.com with subject line: "DSI Case Study" and your name. Graduate Admissions will pair this submission with your online application.
2. Visual Portfolio reflecting a wide range of communication, 3-D and interactive design, data visualization and system design. Format: A URL should be included with the online application, OR a portfolio may be uploaded to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account. To access the portal and find out more information, please click here. Please upload 10-15 still images in .jpg format, not to exceed 5mb each in file size.
Additional Skills: Design skills and mastery of applications are recommended, including all programs in Adobe Creative Suite, After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro, HTML and Flash. Remedial courses for those who do not have mastery of the core design applications can be arranged and should not discourage candidates from applying.
Interviews: Applicants under consideration will be contacted to schedule an interview.
Submission of the following items will be considered supplemental: Writing Sample; Video Essay; Letters of Recommendation.
- MPS Digital Photography; MPS Digital Photography Online/Summer Residency
Portfolio: The Image Portfolio is the most important component of your application. It should represent 1-3 photographically cohesive bodies of work based on style, concept, and execution. Images may be derived from digital or film originals.
Total of 20 images on a CD or via upload* formatted as follows:
- Digital images must be between 2000 to 3000 pixels in either width or height.
- 15 images as flattened JPG files
- 5 images with all Photoshop layers, channels, and paths intact submitted as either TIF or PSD format. If you are using Adobe Lightroom to process your files, please submit the 5 layered files with two layers - the original-before and the processed-after and label the layers accordingly.
- All images must be 8-bit. Please do not submit 16-bit or camera raw files.
- Images should be clean, sharp, color correct, sized and named correctly. We recommend naming the layers of the TIF or PSD files.
- Files must be labeled as follows: First initial, last name, number, e.g., jdoe01.jpg.
Files that disregard the above criteria will not be reviewed. Most importantly, only submit the work you are excited about!
* For complete upload instructions or any questions or concerns regarding portfolio submissions, please contact the department directly via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- MPS Directing
All applicants must submit a sample of work, either visual or written.
- Visual work may consist of video, stills, or mixed-media and should be submitted with an accompanying written description.
- Written work may consist of a short story, treatment, or screenplay. Work should follow a narrative structure and express the concepts of a central theme.
Visual Portfolio: Applicants must upload their portfolio to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account. To access the portal and find out more information, please click here. SlideRoom will allow you to create an inventory of works with the following information for each file: title, date, medium, dimensions or running time, and optional notes. The portfolio requirements for SlideRoom are:
- Videos uploaded as either .mov or mpeg4 files, not to exceed 60mb each in size, and total no more than 10 minutes (no matter how many videos are submitted).
- Up to 20 still images in .jpg format, not to exceed 5mb each in file size.
- SlideRoom also allows you to enter links to Vimeo, YouTube, or SoundCloud.
- Application portfolios will be viewed on a 1920 x 1080 resolution screen. Files should be sized approximately 1920 x 1080 pixels at a resolution of 72 dpi.
- MPS Fashion Photography
Portfolio: Applicants must upload a portfolio of 20 images to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom acccount. To access the portal and find out more information, please click here. Please format images as follows:
- 8-bit, RGB, Adobe RGB
- 3000 pixels on the longest dimension
- 150 DPI
- Saved as .jpg file
- Name files as: lastname firstname imagenumber (0-20).jpg (Ex. Smith Jane 04.jpg)
- Year of image
Essay: The essay is an inherent part of a successful application, and should demonstrate a clarity and depth of thought, as well as an informed point of view. Applicants are required to submit a succinct essay on their work and its defining characteristics and relevance (500 words) that includes an analysis of the current status of fashion photography and how their work relates to or refutes it.
Interviews: Personal interviews may be scheduled only on a case-by-case basis. Departments will contact applicants to schedule in-person or phone interviews.
- MFA Fine Arts
Statement of Purpose (250-500 words): Describe who you are as an artist, and how you think about the art you make. Tell us about the work we’ll see in your portfolio. Ask yourself: What am I trying to do, ask, or say with this work? Are there important life experiences that have influenced you? Why are you particularly interested in the MFA Fine Arts program at SVA? Which of our faculty are you most interested in working with, and why?
Portfolio: Applicants must upload their portfolio to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account. To access the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom portal and find out more information, please click here. (Important Note: Portfolios submitted via cd, dvd, url or email will not be reviewed.)
Applicants will have the ability to upload 10-20 items: Images (up to 5MB each), Video (up to 250MB each), Audio (up to 30 MB each) and PDFs (up to 10 MB each). You may also link to media from YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud.
- MFA Illustration as Visual Essay
Portfolio: Applicants must upload their portfolio to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account. To access the portal and find out more information, please click here. SlideRoom will allow you to create an inventory of works with the following information for each file: title, date, medium, dimensions or running time, and optional notes.
The portfolio requirements for SlideRoom are:
- 15-20 still images in .jpg format, not to exceed 5mb each in file size
- Application portfolios will be viewed on a 1280 x 800 resolution screen. Files should be sized approximately 1280 x 800 pixels at a resolution of 72 dpi.
Writing Sample: Applicants are also required to submit a typed writing sample between 500 and 1,000 words long. Content is at the discretion of the applicant.
Additional Skills: Applicants should be proficient in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
Interviews: Personal interviews are available, but not required.
- MFA Interaction Design
Portfolio: Applicants are required to submit a portfolio of work that demonstrates a point of view about interaction design. Interaction design portfolios are likely visual but need not be, as we look for a broad range of references as parallel influences to the field. Portfolios must include at least five projects. You might consider:
- Design work that demonstrates visual literacy, craft, process, and the corresponding product/service.
- Usability and social science research that emphasizes the concept and ultimate findings.
- Strategy and writing projects that communicate audience, challenge, and outcomes.
- Coding projects that show samples, process, and outcome.
- Project management accomplishments that make clear the responsibilities, challenge, and problem solved.
Applicants are also strongly encouraged to submit one case study. The case study should describe one of your projects from concept through completion, detailing: the project problem, your approach, and outcomes with supporting sketches and images. Emphasize your process and thinking using between one and six pages in PDF format. Case study PDFs may be included with your portfolio, or submitted via a separate link (e.g., via Dropbox or Google Drive).
Applicants are encouraged to consult the MFA Interaction Design department's website for further guidelines on preparing a portfolio submission. To access this information, please click here.
Interviews: Personal interviews may be required. Prospective students living beyond a 1,000-mile radius of New York City may request a Skype interview.
- MFA Photography, Video and Related Media
Portfolio: Applicants must upload their portfolio (still images and/or videos) to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account. To access the portal and find out more information, please click here. SlideRoom will allow you to create an inventory of works with the following information for each file: title, date, medium, dimensions or running time, and optional notes. The portfolio requirements for SlideRoom are:
- 20 still images in .jpg format, not to exceed 5mb each in file size
- Videos uploaded as either .mov or mpeg4 files, not to exceed 60mb each in size, and total no more than 10 minutes (no matter how many videos are submitted)
- Application portfolios will be viewed on a 1920 x 1080 resolution screen. Files should be sized approximately 1920 x 1080 pixels at a resolution of 72 dpi.
Interviews: Candidates may be required to schedule an interview with the Department Chair prior to receiving a decision letter.
- MFA Products of Design
Submission Format: All formats acceptable. URL may be included with online application. CD/DVD or paper documents may be sent by postal mail.
Portfolio: You should conceive of your portfolio as a collection of projects. We are open to projects of varying aesthetic, formal and conceptual types. Whatever their form, projects should:
- Demonstrate an ability to think through a problem
- Articulate the designer’s approach and resolution in compelling ways
- Manifest solutions and offerings that show craft, rigor and delight.
- Please include at least 10 projects in your portfolio. These 10 projects may vary in complexity and kind. The following is a partial list of some possible project types: Research project; Designed object/artifact; Craft/hack/mod; Business venture; Conceptual work; Published work; Pro-bono initiatives; Competition entries.
- Several of your projects should show process along with finished work; we want to see how you came to a resolution, including some of your decision points along the way. Do not be afraid to show broken models, failed attempts, iteration and learning.
- Be sure to include any published work (on the web, in print, or in exhibition), awards or competition submissions, and any other materials that evidence your commitment and passion for the enterprise of problem solving, celebration and design.
For accomplished designers: We will review your portfolios for concept development, sketching, iteration, research, problem solving, analytical thinking, strategy, prototyping, presentation and storytelling.
For qualified candidates entering the world of design: Products of Design welcomes candidates who do not have a formal design degree or experience in professional design practice. While these candidates’ portfolios may not emphasize the specific competencies listed previously for practicing designers, they must convey the applicant’s acute ability to think analytically and strategically, and to harness this thinking toward successful problem solving. Your portfolio projects may be less visual, but please include snapshots of your process, images of the project in its final form, screenshots or PDFs of written documentation, and any documentation or press coverage of results.
Communication design and graphic ability: In addition to strong strategic, research, and three-dimensional abilities, we are especially interested in candidates possessing strong two-dimensional skills who can create visually convincing artifacts. These can include graphic design, typography, motion graphics, branding, advertising, packaging, writing, websites, apps, and other collateral elements.
Optional Video Profile: Applicants are asked to submit an optional, speak-into-the-webcam video profile, 2-3 minutes in length, answering the following questions:
- What is your assessment of the current state of the design industry?
- Where do you see yourself within it, both now and in the future?
- At what scale are you most interested in working? Personal? Interpersonal? Community? Political? Global?
- MFA Social Documentary Film
Writing Sample (Treatment): Applicants must write a concise treatment for a documentary film they might wish to produce (two to three double-spaced pages in length). Be specific in detailing the nature of the issue to be addressed and describe the stylistic approach to be taken. Please be precise about what the audience will see on the screen and what the story will be from beginning to middle to end.
Portfolio: Please submit ONE of the following -
- Video work: must not exceed ten minutes in length.
- Still imagery: 20 images. The images should express the concepts of the central theme, but they do not need to relate to the written treatment submitted within the application. A brief written commentary may accompany the images.
- Applicants without a prior filmmaking or photography experience may submit an online portfolio of work (sculpture, design, writing, etc.)
Applicants have the option to submit their portfolio via website link, CD/DVD or the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account. (To access the portal and find out more information, please click here.)
Interviews: Prospective applicants may be asked to take part in an in-person or telephone interview.
Please contact the department with questions about the application requirements.
- MFA Visual Narrative
The following 3 items should be submitted with the online application or may be sent via postal mail to Graduate Admissions:
(1) Statement of Purpose: Between 500 and 1,000 words, define why you have chosen to apply to this program, what you hope to achieve during your course of study and what “storytelling” personally means to you.
(3) Writing Sample (Department Assignment Essay): In approximately 500 words, tell us which department assignment theme you chose and why you have chosen it. (See assignment section below for a list of themes.)
The submission to the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom account includes 6 parts for a maximum of 20 files:
- Important Note: To access the Graduate Admissions SlideRoom portal and find out more information, please click here. Still images are limited to 5MB each, and video is limited to 60MB each. SlideRoom will allow you to note title, date, medium, dimensions or running time and optional notes for each file. Acceptable file formats are listed within the software. All digital portfolio images and assignment files must be between 1500 and 2500 pixels in width or height at 72 dpi.
PARTS 1, 2, 3:
Upload a copy of your Statement of Purpose, Resume and Writing Sample/Written Statement from your online application. Submit each item as an individual PDF.
PART 4: Portfolio
The Portfolio will consist of a minimum of 10 files of current professional-quality work that best represents your visual storytelling skills. Single page PDFs can be submitted. For each piece created in a series, sequential or narrative form, submit a multi-page PDF or video file*.
PART 5: Visual Narrative Assignment
Create an original short story that showcases your abilities in visual storytelling as both an author and artist. “Visualize” in any medium, format or style, an original narrative utilizing one of three themes: NIGHT and DAY, ORBIT, or SAVAGE.
- Requirements: Minimum of 3 / Maximum of 16 pages or 3 – 5 minute video or animation.* Original content ONLY – No previously created or published work will be accepted.
- Design & Format: The physical/visual format and content is up to you, but must consist of visuals combined with text and/or audio. (Examples: sequential narrative, interactive PDF, illustrated novel, narrative body of work, animated/animatic short. Submit the Assignment as one multi-page PDF or a single video file*.)
* Important Note: If video files surpass the SlideRoom file size limit, please use the provided Vimeo Form in SlideRoom to provide the link info.
PART 6: Creative Writing Assignment
- Create an original written short story or essay incorporating the same theme chosen for the visual narrative assignment, but tell a different and unique story.
- Length requirement is between 1,000–2,500 words. This piece should demonstrate the applicant’s creative writing talent and storytelling skills.
Optional Supplementary Materials:
Any additional samples of work should be shipped separately to the Graduate Admissions department on disk or thumb drive. Any other material outlining the applicant’s expertise in this discipline is encouraged but not required, including any or all of the following:
- Animation/audio/film not to exceed 10 minutes.
- Design portfolio/samples
- Published works of literature or professional writing samples.
- Any published works of visual narrative or sequential samples that the applicant has contributed to or created, along with a written statement describing the accompanying challenges and achievements.
Additional Skills: Applicants should have advanced working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign and own one mobile smart device (tablet or smart phone).
Interviews: Personal interviews will be required during the final stages of the application review process.
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog
PDF [8.50 MB]
Fall 2015-Spring 2016 Undergraduate Application
PDF [257.45 KB]
2015-16 Undergraduate and Graduate Registration Book
PDF [7.38 MB]
Graduate Application Materials Cover Sheet (2015)
PDF [505.86 KB]
Graduate Declaration of Finance Form (2016-2017)
PDF [64.59 KB]
- 2014-2015 Graduate Catalog
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School of Visual Arts’ Chelsea Gallery and Mana Contemporary, in collaboration with the Rail...11/21/2015 - December 22