Carnegie Mellon University Undergraduate Admission

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CMU.edu Carnegie Mellon University Undergraduate Admission

Choose Your Program. Change the World.

Choose Your Program. Change the World.
Fine Arts Admission

Portfolio Review Preparation & Tips

Portfolio Preparation Tips

When preparing your portfolio, keep in mind that we're interested in understanding your creativity in all its facets – composition, creation and invention.  As a result, we encourage you to submit a variety of creative works that demonstrate your inquisitive nature, innovative ideas, spatial reasoning, visual thinking and your desire to make and build things. Your portfolio is intended to expose your ability to analyze, problem-solve, think critically and synthesize.

We‘re also interested in determining your commitment and motivation to study architecture. We advise that you consider the process of assembling and submitting your creative/inventive work as a design project:

  • How can you best present your abilities, interests and passions through your creative work?
  • Arrange your work to tell a good story about yourself.
  • Select projects that show a range of media and subject matter while still emphasizing your strongest work.
  • Submit final and completed works for review, not works in progress.

All architecture portfolios are submitted electronically, so please prepare your work for digital submission by photographing and/or scanning high quality images of your work. The School of Architecture allows the submission of ten different works; you'll only be able to upload one image of each work, so please select the image that best represents your work.

Please keep in mind that the architecture admission committee who will be reviewing your portfolio is more interested in understanding your creative intent and design process than your mastery of specific skills or techniques. For this reason, you should avoid submitting drafting work (CAD) as part of your portfolio of creative work.

On-Campus Portfolio Review Tips

•  Architecture applicants should not bring a printed portfolio or original work to your on-campus review. Your previously submitted electronic portfolio submission will be available during your review. 

•  Online portfolios cannot exceed 10 items. If communicating a sketchbook or multiple views of a work, consider creative but effective ways to meaningfully communicate content with a few images.

•  Projects should be as varied as possible, while emphasizing the strongest work.

•  Acceptable works include, but are not limited to, 2-D and 3-D design, drawing, painting, sculpture, digital and inventions.

•  The architecture faculty encourages all applicants to include examples of drawings.

•  Drawings can be from life or from the imagination, but they should not be copied from a photo or other two-dimensional image.

•  Architecture applicants should avoid including CAD drawings as part of their portfolio. 


Portfolio Preparation & Submission FAQ



How do I submit my portfolio for review?
Submit your Architecture portfolio electronically on Carnegie Mellon’s SlideRoom portal. You must first register/create an account in order to upload your portfolio.

What if I've already registered/submitted an online portfolio through another institution's SlideRoom portal?
Many institutions use SlideRoom as their applicant portfolio management system, so if you’ve already created an account, you don’t need to create another one to submit to Carnegie Mellon. You may use the email and password that you’ve already created on SlideRoom to submit a portfolio to Carnegie Mellon. Please note that the SlideRoom system only allows applicants one email account. 

Who do I contact if I'm having a technical issue?
Once you’ve registered, you’ll see a Help tab on the online portal. From this section of the website you’ll be able to submit your technical questions and a representative from SlideRoom will contact you. Technical issues with submitting your online portfolio should not be sent to Carnegie Mellon. 

Do I need to submit multiple portfolios if I'm applying to more than one area at Carnegie Mellon?
Yes. Architecture, Art and Design at Carnegie Mellon are individual schools, with separate majors, faculty and admission processes, and therefore, different portfolio requirements. You can indicate which school you wish to submit your portfolio to upon registering/creating your SlideRoom account. Portfolios submitted to only one area will not be viewed for other programs.

How much does submitting an online portfolio cost?
Each portfolio submission requires a $12.00 fee that is paid online. For example, if you’re submitting your portfolio to the School of Architecture and the School of Design, you’ll be charged $24.00. 

The Architecture submission section of SlideRoom will only allow me to submit 10 images. Can I submit more? 
No. The School of Architecture portfolio consists of 10 different works, no more, no less. 

I have a piece of work that consist of more than one picture, like a 20 page illustrated book. Is it possible to submit multiple images of one work?
We realize that many applicants have works that cannot be shown in their entirety. It’s up to each applicant to edit and present their work in the way that best shows what they’re doing within the limited frame of the application portfolio. What you choose to include and exclude can show reviewers something about what you consider to be important about your own work. Please select one image that best represents each work. 

Am I able to provide a description of each work? 
Yes. SlideRoom allows you to provide a description of each work including a title. 

As there are size limitations to what I can submit, am I permitted to send a couple DVDs of higher quality by mail in addition to the versions uploaded onto slide room?
No. The portfolio reviewers are not accepting any mail-in portfolios or supplements and will only review work submitted electronically through SlideRoom.

I plan to come to campus to show my portfolio, do I still need to submit my portfolio electronically?
Yes. The School of Architecture will only accept portfolios submitted through SlideRoom and your electronically submitted portfolio will be made available during your on campus review.

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