Art Center College Of Design Essay

1. Familiarize yourself with our Programs of Study

At ArtCenter, we offer a specialized education that places students in intensive studio classes specific to their major from their first term of study. We require that students choose a major when they apply and that they submit a portfolio specific to that major (see Step 2 below). So it is important to understand our programs of study and how they align with your creative ambitions.

2. Review the application and portfolio requirements

Admissions to ArtCenter is major-specific. It is important to gain a strong understanding of the specific application requirements and portfolio requirements for the major in which you’re interested.

3. Connect with us

Schedule a time to deepen your knowledge of ArtCenter and our admissions process: Come to campus for a tour, schedule an appointment (in-person or phone) with an Admissions counselor, come to one of our monthly on-campus or live online events, or just call the Admissions Office with your questions. We’ll work with you to define next steps toward applying.

4. Choose a term

Based on the program to which you are interested in applying, there could be as many as three opportunities each year for you to enroll—Fall, Spring and Summer. Construct a timeline to apply that allows enough time to build your portfolio.

5. Order official transcripts and applicable test scores

Transcripts and test scores (if applicable) are important components of your application, but they can take some time to get to us once ordered. We recommend ordering these official documents as soon as you know you are going to apply. If we receive them in advance of your application, we will hold them.

6. Submit your portfolio and an online application

Once your portfolio is ready, you can submit it through SlideRoom and complete an online application.

7. Complete your FAFSA

If you are a domestic student and you want to be considered for financial aid and scholarship, then you should complete your FAFSA. International students will be considered without the FAFSA.

Media Design Practices /Lab+Field (MDP) brings interdisciplinary design practices to a world of cultural and technological change. 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.

Students can apply for either a two-year 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, interactive and graphic design fields, and who can realize high-level concepts with skill in visual communication and interactive design.

For three-year applicants, we accept both accomplished and burgeoning 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 applicants to integrate past experience into a design approach that is fully realized in their concept year and thesis work.


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.

Written Essays

a. Statement of Intent

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 ArtCenter and discuss personal goals for the future, along with areas of interest and relevant experience. Applicants also need to answer the writing assignment listed below. The statement of intent should be clear and concise, between 500–1,500 words in length.

b. Required Essay Question

Applicants should submit an essay that addresses the following:

Choose two design projects and discuss each project in terms of its questions, process, rigor, engagement, theoretical orientation, 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.


Include a resume summarizing your educational and professional background. It should highlight relevant academic studies, project work, awards and achievements, and work experience.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are accepted through Slideroom  as part of your portfolio submission process. You will be prompted to enter the name and email address for one to three persons who will be providing letters of recommendation on your behalf. References should be from people who are familiar with your work and experience, and should speak to an ability to conceptualize, execute and communicate design.

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