Art & Design Students

Suffolk University’s Art & Design Department offers the best of both worlds—an outstanding art school education and a comprehensive university experience. Our dedicated 42,000-square-foot visual arts facility features traditional and digital studios, a fabrication lab, a gallery, and a materials library.

Graduates of Suffolk's Art & Design Department earn their degree with a major or minor in:

In addition to satisfying all undergraduate application requirements, if you wish to pursue a degree at Suffolk University in Studio Art, Graphic Design, or Interior Design, you must also demonstrate your visual arts potential before you can be admitted to these majors. Typically, this is done by submitting a portfolio of the work you have already completed in art classes or by producing the portfolio equivalent through studio coursework at Suffolk.

There are two paths you can take to admission into an Art & Design major. The path you choose depends on the readiness of your visual skills at the time you apply to Suffolk.

Art & Design Admission Overview & Portfolio Requirements

If you already have enough artwork to create a portfolio, you may apply for direct admission to one of our Art & Design degree programs by submitting a portfolio for consideration along with your admission application. This could be either an undergraduate or transfer portfolio. Portfolios can also be presented for review to a Suffolk representative at National Portfolio Day Events, which are held throughout the country (see details below).

Assemble a Portfolio of Existing Artwork

Portfolio Content Guidelines
  • 12-15 examples of recent, original, finished work
  • Work should demonstrate experience in observational drawing/painting (still life studies, self-portraits, figure studies). You may also include abstract and design-based pieces in drawing, paint or collage.
  • A variety of work that demonstrates a range of media and techniques
  • Limit the number of computer-generated pieces and photographs
  • Do not include pieces copied from an artist’s original work
Assembling the Freshman Admission Portfolio

Your portfolio should contain your best and most recent work. It should also demonstrate your versatility. Showing your understanding of basic design elements indicates you’re prepared for the diverse and rigorous Foundation Studies courses required of all Art & Design majors in the first year. Artwork you include in your portfolio may be pieces produced in high school art classes or on your own. You may also build portfolio pieces by taking courses at art schools, museums, or through adult education programs.

Assembling the Transfer Admission Portfolio

If you are a transfer applicant who has completed studio courses at a regionally accredited college or university, you will need to submit a course-based portfolio. To create a course-based portfolio (minimum of 15 pieces), you will select a representation of the work from each course (3-5 pieces) for which you are seeking transfer credit. Transfer portfolios will be reviewed once all your admission credentials have been received by the Office of Undergraduate Admission.

If you are a transfer applicant but you are not seeking transfer credit for studio coursework, please refer to and follow the guidelines for Assembling the Freshman Admission Portfolio.

Submitting Your Portfolio

Suffolk University offers multiple ways for you to submit your portfolio along with your admission application:

  • Upload to your applicant portal account after submitting your application
  • Send your portfolio by email to our office
  • Mail your portfolio to our office
    • Suffolk University
      Office of Undergraduate Admission
      8 Ashburton Place, Boston, MA, 02108

National Portfolio Days & Portfolio Waivers

National Portfolio Days are designed to help further the artistic development of young artists by bringing together experienced college representatives from across the country to review prospective students' artwork and offer feedback. These representatives are from regionally accredited colleges and universities that are members of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). As a NASAD member, Suffolk University participates in several of the Portfolio Day events each year.

If you’re able to attend a Portfolio Day event, a Suffolk representative will be on hand to review your portfolio and provide feedback that will help you as you prepare your admissions materials. If your portfolio already shows us that you have strong visual skills, we will issue you a portfolio waiver that can be used to satisfy the Art & Design portfolio requirement when you apply to Suffolk University.

Demonstrate Your Visual Skills Through Suffolk Coursework

If you need to build a portfolio—or are not certain about your major path but are interested in the visual arts—you may apply to Suffolk University as an undeclared major with an interest in art and design.

Register for Specific Studio Courses from the Art & Design Curriculum

Undeclared majors enroll in the same studio coursework in the first semester as an Art & Design major. This means that you can explore your interest in the creative disciplines while building a body of work that can be assessed for admission to your preferred Art & Design degree program. Undeclared majors typically enroll in the three studios during their first semester of coursework, which vary slightly depending on your intended program:

  • ADF S101 Foundation Drawing I
  • ADF S166 2D/Color
  • ADF S171 Integrated Studio I (for Graphic Design; optional for Studio Art)
  • ADI S110 Digital Orthographics (for Interior Design)

If you are an undeclared major, you will have two opportunities in your first semester to have your work assessed for admission to a program. The first opportunity is at the mid-point when your studio faculty review work you have produced in the first half of the semester and make recommendations to the Foundation Program Director about your candidacy. If your work successfully demonstrates your readiness for entry into the Art & Design program, you will be invited to the major at this time.

If your studio work needs further development, you will have another opportunity to be assessed at the end of the first semester based on your studio course grades. If you earn a 2.7 GPA in the three studio courses (ADF S101, ADF S166 and ADF S171 or ADI S110) with no grade lower than a C+, you may be invited to join an Art & Design program. If you do not meet the GPA requirements in these studio courses, you may petition the Foundation Program Director to review samples of your work. You may also solicit letters of recommendation from your studio faculty to further support your candidacy.

If you are not admitted into the program after completion of the three studio courses, you may apply completed studio courses towards an Art Minor in Foundation Studies. In some cases, these studios might also be used as elective credits in another major, depending on the program.

Enroll in the Pre-College Summer Program

If you have been accepted into Suffolk University as an undeclared major with an interest in art and design, you may also produce an admission portfolio from pieces created during our Pre-College Summer Program. If, at the end of this program, the faculty find that your pre-college work is strong enough to satisfy the portfolio requirement, you will be admitted into one of our Art & Design majors for the fall. If not, you will remain enrolled in the three studio courses during the fall semester and have your work assessed for admittance as indicated.