Admission to the Department of Art is a two-part process.  Applicants apply to the university using the Common Application, and also submit a portfolio to our department using SlideRoom. The deadlines for these two parts of your application are the same – there is no longer a separate credentials deadline. A link to our Department SlideRoom portal will be provided within the Common Application — please make sure you select the portal for the Department of Art, as there will also be a similar portal for Architecture applicants.  

Deadlines for Application and Portfolio Submission

  • Early Action: November 5
  • Regular Decision: January 15
  • Spring Term Freshmen: October 1 (for new students starting at UMass in spring of the following year)

The portfolio consists of 12-15 digital images of original artwork, submitted via SlideRoom. Please do not send hard-copy portfolios or original artwork to the Department of Art. For students without a portfolio, please refer to the section at the bottom of this page.

Freshman applicants are encouraged to attend the UMass Amherst Fall Visit Days. Our Department also hosts an Open House event for prospective students each October, at which we have faculty on hand to provide feedback on portfolios. Students and families are welcome to attend our department event even if the University Admissions event fills up. Please email the department or call 413-545-1903 for additional information, upcoming event dates, and department tours.

After you have submitted your Common Application, submit your portfolio here:

Early Action BFA/BA in Art for Fall 2024 Admission | Available August 1, 2023–November 5, 2023
Regular Decision BFA/BA Art for Fall 2024 Admission | Available October 24, 2023–January 30, 2024

Portfolio Requirements

The Department of Art seeks to enroll students who have creative vision and a sense of purpose directed toward professional careers in studio art, art education, and design. To assist the department in evaluating the artistic potential and commitment of applicants, an admission portfolio is required of all applicants to the BFA Studio Art program, the BFA program in Art Education, and BA program in Art. 

BFA concentrations in Studio Art (animation, ceramics, intermedia, painting, printmaking, sculpture) or Art Education are not declared at the time of the application process and are declared in consultation with academic advisors after foundational courses are complete. All applicants should choose to apply as either a BFA or BA student.

The Office of Admissions is responsible for determining acceptance to the University. Although students must meet other admission standards, the portfolio evaluation is given priority in determining acceptance as an Art major. The results of the Department of Art's portfolio evaluation are forwarded to the Admission Office and serve an integral part in determining acceptance as an Art major. Admitted students with exceptional portfolios will be recommended for merit-based scholarships, such as the Chancellor's Talent Award (CTA), usually awarded in their first year upon enrolling at the university. CTA’s take the form of either partial (out-of-state) or full (in-state) tuition waivers, and may not usually be combined with other undergraduate tuition awards. All applicants who submit an art portfolio are considered for these awards.

Due to high demand, the Department of Art cannot meet with students or prospective students for portfolio reviews before submission, nor can staff or faculty review portfolios via email. Please attend the Portfolio Review hosted on campus each October or invite a representative to attend an admissions event at a Massachusetts High School or Community College near you. Our last Open House and Portfolio review was on the 22nd of October, 2023. Please keep a look out for our events page to stay updated on upcoming events. 

Portfolio Evaluation Criteria

  • Presentation: Care and concern for preparation, submission, and documentation of work; artwork is presented clearly in all still image and/or time-based documentation with the appropriate editing (e.g. cropped, neat, use of appropriate lighting, in-focus, detailed, and high resolution images)
  • Creativity: Demonstration of innovative thinking and imagination; examples that indicate the development of personal expression.
  • Design and Composition: Consideration for the arrangement of visual elements within the parameters of space or form.
  • Self-Motivation: Portfolios should include work done outside of an academic setting, reflecting the applicant's interest and enthusiasm for the visual arts (e.g. sketchbook, artworks created at home or independently).
  • Exploration of Media: Flexible use of a range of materials and approaches. Experience with more than one of the following is encouraged: wet media - ink, watercolor, oil, tempera, acrylic; dry media - pastels. crayons. colored pencils, markers; varied applications - colored papers and collage, fibers, metals, found objects, clay, ceramics, creative technologies and software.
  • Technical Proficiency and Craft: Concern for the manner and skill with which tools and materials have been used to create art; work is in a stage of completeness and not rushed or messy. 
  • Art from Observation: Portfolio should include subjects drawn and/or constructed from life (not photographs or images of previously created artworks), including but not limited to: life drawing, still life, portraiture, figure drawing, landscape, anatomy, in both color and black and white media. Proficient use of elements such as: line, light, and shade are encouraged; both controlled abstraction and realistic imagery are acceptable.
  • Basic or Intermediate Proficiency in at Least One Visual Arts Medium: Concern for, or ability to work well in at least one visual arts area or medium.

Tips for Submitting your Portfolio:

  • There are no specific requirements for media, style, or content; instead, we hope to see evidence of your thoughtfulness, passion, close attention, and careful execution. We value breadth (a wide range of media and content, an experimental spirit) as well as depth (multi-part projects, focused engagement with one idea, theme, or process). Your portfolio should represent your best work and demonstrate independent thought; please do not submit copies of others’ original artwork.
  • Artworks created, in part or entirely, using digital media are welcome to be included in portfolios, as long as the work is created based on the artist's own unique practice and development of skill with artistic media. Automatically generated images, such as those employing artificial intelligence (ai), are not acceptable in most circumstances.
  • Design projects and commercial art are welcome to be submitted alongside what could be traditionally considered fine art.
  • SlideRoom provides fields for applicants to enter important information about your artwork (including title, media, size, date completed) and a description. The Title field is required; if your piece does not have a title, enter "untitled". The other fields are optional, and are an opportunity to provide information to help us understand your work. If your work was an assignment, use the Description field to describe the assignment and how you interpreted it to arrive at your result.
  • Time-based submissions (video, audio) should be limited to no more than three items and no longer than five minutes total.
  • SlideRoom accepts a broad range of file types and sizes;  
    • Images up to 5 MB each
    • Videos up to 250 MB each; videos may also be linked from YouTube and Vimeo
    • Audio up to 30MB each, audio may also be linked from SoundCloud
    • 3d digital models linked from SketchFab
  • Please do NOT submit your portfolio as a presentation (such as PowerPoint or Keynote) or as a PDF binder.
  • For more help with SlideRoom, including resizing images and video, suggested file types, and other technical questions, please visit the SlideRoom Support page.
  • The Department of Art reserves the right to review actual work if artistic integrity is questioned for any reason.

Our Process

The Department of Art uses an entrance portfolio for direct admission to many of our programs including the BFA in Studio Art, BFA in Art Education, and BA in Art. At UMass Amherst, studying “studio art” encompasses a range of areas, including, animation, ceramics, design and technology, intermedia (photography, digital media, and video), painting, printmaking, and sculpture, as well as professional practices, writing and research, community engagement, creative career experiences, and the theory and practice of teaching art. 

All of our programs utilize image, text, composition, color, form, space, and other visual elements. Our programs all require the creation of unique visual content. Those programs also share a core of foundation courses exploring drawing, design, composition, and creative technologies. Because all students in these programs will be creating original and unique visual content as a core component of their education, we use the portfolio as a measure of the student’s experience and capacity to build visual content and problem solve creatively. We also use the portfolio to aid us in the distribution of talent-based scholarships available to first-year and transfer students majoring in Studio Art or Art Education.

If you decide to submit a portfolio with your university application, faculty will evaluate your portfolio for admissions into the BFA and BA programs. If we decide your portfolio does not yet demonstrate the proficiency to be admitted directly into one of those programs and you have gained admission to the University, we ask that you submit a portfolio through the transfer process once you have taken a few of our classes as a student enrolled in another major or as an undeclared Exploratory Track student. We want to make sure you have the skills and sensibilities to grow and prosper as an artist, designer, or art educator and that you have a strong likelihood of successfully completing your chosen program. Transfer guidelines for the Department of Art can be found here.

Portfolio evaluations apply only to those individuals who have submitted a formal application for admission to UMass Amherst with a declared first or second major in Art. Applicants who fail to submit a portfolio by the published deadline will not be reviewed.

Students Without a Portfolio:

The Department of Art does offer a variety of pathways into all our programs. You do not need to submit a portfolio when you apply to the university. If you would rather, accepted students are welcome to enter the College of Humanities and Fine Arts (HFA) as an Exploratory Track major. If you then would like to transfer into the BFA, BA, or Art Education program, you can create a portfolio of creative works from coursework taken during your first semester or first year for review by the Department of Art. As an Exploratory Track major you would still have access to foundation classes.

Applicants who are interested in becoming Art majors, but who do not currently have a portfolio, can apply to the University with the declared major: Exploratory Track - Humanities and Fine Arts. ET - HFA students who then successfully complete Art 104, as well as Art History 100 and 110, or Art History 115, with a grade of C (2.0) or better, may then apply to become an Art major by submitting a portfolio of work to the Department of Art. For more information please contact The College of Humanities and Fine Arts Advising Center.

Minor and Certificate Programs

The Minor in Art and Certificate in Design and Creative Technologies (applications launching Fall 2023) do not require a portfolio. Freshman year applicants do not apply to the Minor and Certificate programs at the time of applying to UMass and submitting a portfolio. Those admitted and enrolled in an undergraduate program other than art may declare a Minor in the first year at UMass Amherst. The Certificate in Design and Creative Technologies is a competitive limited enrollment program that requires the submission of a secondary application and accepts applicants from current art majors, and undergraduate students from other majors, in their first and second year enrolled at UMass. The Certificate has its own specific set of internal application requirements that will be launched in Fall 2023. Acceptance into the Department of Art does not guarantee acceptance into the Design and Creative Technologies Certificate program. Access to design and digital media courses are available to all art majors looking to complete their studio requirements with such courses.