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 a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). Undergraduate majors are offered in:

  • Fine Arts
  • Graphic Design
  • Interior Design

Admission Overview

In addition to satisfying all undergraduate application requirements, if you wish to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, or Interior Design, you must also demonstrate your visual 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 a BFA major. The path you choose depends on the readiness of your visual skills at the time you apply to Suffolk.

Path 1: Assemble a Portfolio of Existing Artwork

  • Freshman Admission Portfolio
  • Transfer Admission Portfolio

Path 2: Demonstrate Your Visual Skills Through Suffolk Coursework

  • Register for specific BFA courses in your first semester
  • Enroll in the University’s Pre-College Summer Program

Path 1: The Portfolio

If you already have enough artwork to create a portfolio, you may apply for direct admission to one of our BFA programs by submitting a portfolio for consideration along with your admission application. 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).

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 BFA 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.

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 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 follow the guidelines for Assembling the Freshman Admission Portfolio (see above).

Submitting Your Portfolio

Submit your portfolio in ONE of the following ways:

  • Upload to your applicant portal account after submitting your application
  • Email us
  • Mail to the 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 BFA portfolio requirement when you apply to Suffolk University.

Path 2: No Portfolio or Undecided

Register for Specific Studio Courses from the BFA Curriculum

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. Undeclared majors enroll in the same studio coursework in the first semester as a BFA 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 the BFA 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 or Fine Arts only), or
  • ADI S110 Digital Orthographics (for Interior Design only)

If you are an undeclared major, you will have two opportunities in your first semester to have your work assessed for admission to the BFA 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 BFA 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 will be invited to join the BFA 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 BFA 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 for the fall into the BFA major. If not, you will remain enrolled in the three studio courses during the fall semester and have your work assessed for admittance as indicated above.

Information for Pre-Merger Graduates and Students (prior to 1996)

Since the 1996 merger of The New England School of Art & Design and Suffolk University, many pre-merger graduates have returned to complete the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree at Suffolk University. In brief, an applicant's academic, studio, and professional background are considered within the framework of current BFA degree requirements.


In order to earn the degree and meet the residency requirement, all applicants must complete a minimum of 45 credits at Suffolk University's Boston campus. BFA candidates may attend on a full- or part-time basis and may take day or evening classes during the fall, spring, and/or summer semesters.


There is no application deadline. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis after the application form, requisite credentials, and portfolio review results have been received by the Office of Undergraduate Admission.

Request Information

Pre-merger students and graduates considering this opportunity are invited to contact the Office of Undergraduate Admission to request a current catalog and application. A telephone consultation with an Art & Design Department administrator is also strongly encouraged.