Graphic Design

Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the Graphic Design Program, faculty, facilities, curriculum and view student work.

Please note that you must complete all Admissions Requirements as well as the portfolio requirements to be considered for admission. Both the BFA and MFA Graphic Design programs require all of the following:

Please review the details of these requirements below.

Portfolio Requirements (BFA, MFA)

BFA and MFA applicants must submit their portfolios online through their application.

Please use the portfolio section of the application to upload your portfolio with digital files. The system allows you to create a corresponding inventory of works, listing for each image the following information: title, date, medium, dimensions, and notes. You may upload still images or video works.

Once your portfolio is uploaded, it can be viewed and rearranged until the final submission is made. No changes can be made following the final submission of your portfolio. Please be advised that CalArts in not able to view your work until the final submission is made and your payment is received. Be sure to submit your portfolio to the correct degree level and program. 

BFA Portfolio Requirements

Submit a portfolio of your current work with a minimum of 20 pieces. Please include examples of the following: graphic design, typography, illustration, motion graphics, web design, photography, and conceptual drawing (examples of conceptual thinking). You may also include drawing, painting, sketchbook pages and collage. Your portfolio should consist of: class assignments, self-initiated projects, and/or professional work. Please select work that shows your proficiency with both digital software and traditional art making materials.

The following project is optional but highly recommended for applicants who lack examples of graphic design in their portfolio.

Optional Graphic Design Project (PDF)

MFA Portfolio Requirements

Submit a portfolio of your current design work with a minimum of 20 pieces. Your artist statement should concisely address your objectives and goals as a designer in the context of current issues in design practice, as well as how these goals serve as a basis for graduate-level study.

Artist Statement

In your statement, please write specifically about your interest and knowledge of graphic design. Describe your design projects, any design related experience(s) you have had and your future design goals. 

Video Introduction

Applicants are required to submit a video introduction. We would very much like to meet you and since this would be impossible in practical terms, we ask that you send a brief video introducing yourself. 

  • Duration: minimum of 30 seconds, maximum of 90 seconds.
  • Speak directly to the camera.
  • No edits.
  • No special effects or on-screen overlays.
  • File should be uploaded or linked directly in your portfolio.
  • Does not require professional-level equipment; cellphone camera or consumer cameras are okay.

MFA Interviews

Applicants who have passed the preliminary selection process will be notified in mid-February. At that time, candidates will be invited to visit CalArts in March for an interview and to meet faculty and students. The interview is required of invited candidates and is an important component of the final selection process. Video chat interviews are available in exceptional cases, however we like to emphasize the importance of having an in person interview as part of the application process for prospective students. Additionally, it gives you an opportunity to see the school and meet and talk to the faculty.