Carnegie Mellon University Undergraduate Admission

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- Carnegie Mellon University Undergraduate Admission

Choose Your Program. Change the World.

Choose Your Program. Change the World.
Fine Arts Admission

Portfolio or Design Project Submission & Review

Portfolio or Design Project Submission & Review 

Every applicant for the undergraduate Bachelor of Architecture degree program must use Carnegie Mellon's SlideRoom portal to electronically submit either a portfolio of creative work or the SoA design project, for review by the architecture admission committee. The architecture admission committee values the portfolio and the design project equally, so you should choose the option that best fits your needs and situation. 

About the Portfolio

The portfolio is the best option for applicants who already have a strong body of creative work completed within the past four years. For the purposes of this application, the portfolio submission consists of two forms and ten different creative works. Applicants with limited portfolio-level work may prefer to submit the architecture design project to demonstrate creative problem-solving ability.

In your portfolio, we seek evidence of your curiosity, critical thinking, innovation, problem solving, spatial reasoning/visual thinking, ability to synthesize, and desire to make and build things. The quality of the portfolio’s overall composition is as important as the quality of any individual piece. You should carefully curate and arrange your portfolio to tell a compelling story about yourself, your abilities and passions, and your commitment and motivation to study architecture.

If you choose to submit the portfolio, please keep in mind the following:

  • Acceptable types of work include, but are not limited to: 2-D and 3-D design, drawing, painting, sculpture, performance, digital work, and inventions. All portfolios must be submitted electronically, so prepare high-quality digital scans or photographs of works where necessary. See a full list of specifications and acceptable file types in SlideRoom. You should include as varied a range of projects as possible, while highlighting your strengths.
  • A portfolio cannot contain more than ten works, each uploaded separately. We understand that within these constraints, some larger, more complex pieces cannot be displayed in their entirety. In this case, please choose one representative image of the piece (or combine a maximum of two images in a creative and effective way); do not attempt to represent a complex work with a collage of multiple images.
  • All applicants are encouraged 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. CAD drawings should not be included.
  • Your portfolio must be submitted electronically via Carnegie Mellon’s Architecture Portfolio SlideRoom submission portal, where you must register/create an account before uploading content. Only portfolios submitted through SlideRoom before the published deadline will be reviewed by the architecture admission committee.
  • When uploading, you will be asked to provide a written description of each work. The descriptions should be considered part of the arc of the portfolio and, as such, thoughtfully composed.

About the Design Project

The design project is the best option for applicants with limited or no portfolio work. It is composed of four parts, and applicants must complete and submit all four parts. Applicants who already have a strong body of creative work (completed within the last four years) may prefer to submit the portfolio.

If you choose to submit the design project, you will need to demonstrate an imaginative interpretation of the theme “re-use” and document your process of making something. Additionally, you will write a 200-word narrative describing your process. We are as interested in the process of designing and making it as we are in the final object. 

In order to begin, download the design project instructions. Please read all instructions before beginning. You will submit your Design Project to the Architecture Design Project submission portal on SlideRoom. Be sure to use the design project submission portal—not the portfolio portal—on SlideRoom.  

For instructions and more information about the design project, click here.


About the On-Campus Review of the Portfolio or Design Project

The School of Architecture strongly recommends that each applicant, as part of the application process, attend an on-campus review. An on-campus review involves visiting campus to converse in person with architecture faculty about your portfolio or design project (which you must have submitted before arriving on campus, and a copy of which will be available to you during your review). During an on-campus review, you’re able to ask questions and engage with School of Architecture students, faculty and staff. Please note that School of Architecture faculty does not critique or evaluate portfolios outside of the scheduled on-campus reviews listed below.

Register for an on-campus review!

The School of Architecture requires online submission of your portfolio or design project regardless of whether you attend an on-campus review. Visit SlideRoom to submit your work electronically.

2015-2016 On-Campus Review Dates:

November 1 (Early Decision applicants only)
January 24
January 31

If participating in an on-campus review of your portfolio or design project:

  • Early Decision applicants should attend the November portfolio review day (registering by October 26) and submit their work electronically by October 27.

  • Regular Decision and Transfer applicants can attend either January portfolio review day (registering by January 1) and submit their work electronically by January 15.

Portfolio and Design Project FAQ

How do I submit my portfolio or design project for review?
Submit your architecture portfolio or design project 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 a SlideRoom 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 each applicant one email account. 

Whom do I contact if I'm having a technical issue? 
Once you’ve registered with SlideRoom, 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, which will be answered by a SlideRoom representative. Technical issues with submitting your online portfolio should not be sent to Carnegie Mellon. 

Do I need to submit multiple portfolios or design projects 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/design project requirements. You can indicate the portal of the appropriate school to which you wish to submit your portfolio/design project to upon registering/creating your SlideRoom account. Portfolios or design projects submitted to only one area will not be viewed for other programs.

How much does submitting a portfolio or design project cost? 
Each submission requires a $15.00 fee that is paid online. For example, if you’re submitting portfolios to the School of Architecture and the School of Design, you’ll be charged $15.00 for each school or a total of $30.00. 

The architecture portfolio or design project sections of SlideRoom will only allow me to submit 10 images. Can I submit more? 
No. The architecture portfolio consists of 10 different works—no more, no fewer.  The design project requires you to submit 10 images documenting your process.

For my portfolio, I have a piece of work that consists of more than one picture, like a 20-page illustrated book. Is it possible to submit multiple images of one work?
In this area, our faculty reviewers strongly believe that “less is more;” that is, including more images entails sacrificing the quality, visibility, and impact of any individual image. In the case of a highly complex work, choose a maximum of two representative images of the piece, and arrange those two in a creative and effective way.

Am I able to provide a description of each work in the portfolio or design project? 
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 mail a couple of higher-quality DVDs in addition to the versions uploaded to SlideRoom?
No. The portfolio and design project reviewers do not accept 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 or design project; do I still need to submit them electronically?
Yes. The School of Architecture will only accept portfolios or design projects submitted through SlideRoom. Your electronically submitted portfolio or design project will be made available during your on-campus review.

Transferring to the School of Architecture

Whether transferring from another university or from one of Carnegie Mellon's other programs, architecture transfer students are classified as freshmen and will begin in the first year of the five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree program.

Although we welcome transfer applications to the School of Architecture, transfer admission is limited for several reasons:

  • We only accept transfer students to begin classes in the fall semester (not the spring semester), and we do not offer architecture courses in the summer.
  • Our curriculum is unique to our school’s NAAB-accredited degree program and consists of a specific sequence of co-requisite and pre-requisite coursework. 
  • Regardless of your prior college experience, our unique curriculum doesn't readily correlate with curricula from other NAAB-accredited architecture programs. 

Transfer Application Requirements

In addition to the Office of Admission's transfer application requirements, architecture transfer applicants are required to submit either the portfolio of creative work or the design project, and to schedule a Transfer Interview with the School of Architecture.

Please review our online portfolio or design project submission instructions, keeping in mind that we strongly encourage transfer applicants to attend an on-campus review in addition to submitting their portfolio or design project electronically. During the on-campus review, transfer applicants will interview with a faculty member, visit design studios and speak to current students. If you're unable to attend an on-campus review, you'll need to schedule a phone interview with the School of Architecture by February 1. 

For questions regarding the transfer process or to schedule a phone interview, please contact Alexis McCune Secosky, Coordinator of Student Programs in the School of Architecture, by email or phone, 412-268-6390.

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