Portfolio Guidelines for Graduate Applications

Please read carefully. If you have questions, please contact the School of Architecture office. 

A PDF of your portfolio or a link to an online portfolio is required of all applicants to the Master of Architecture and Master of Science in Urban Design programs.  Without a portfolio, your application is considered incomplete and will not be processed.

The application will provide a section to upload your PDF or provide a link to your online portfolio.

General Portfolio Guidelines

  • PDF portfolios should be single file format, 2MB max file size
  • Online portfolios: please test all links to ensure you have provided a working link and your portfolio can be viewed.
  • Hard copy portfolios are not required and will not be reviewed.
  • No minimum or maximum number of projects per portfolio
  • Do not add a resume or photograph of yourself
  • Limit text to explain your project and cite group work
  • Clearly annotate your responsibilities for any group work presented
  • Designate clearly between academic, creative, and professional work
  • Show progression of skill
  • If you have re-designed projects, show analysis of your design thinking that led to the changes
  • Include a wide range of drawings, renderings and models. Photography, paintings, ceramics, landscape design, and interior design projects are all accepted and welcome

Portfolio Suggestions for Applicants to the 2-Year Program

In order to give the committee a sense of the trajectory of your previous design studio experience, please include images from at least four academic studio projects, clearly labeled, with one project fully documented. 

Portfolio Suggestions for Applicants to the 3.5-Year Program

Since creative work can take many forms, and previous academic design experience is not assumed or expected for this degree program, please include materials in a range of media that show your approach to creativity and learning; images specifically related to design are not required.

Portfolio Suggestions for Applicants to the MSUD Program

The admissions committee reviews portfolios to look for evidence of 1). the applicant's disciplinary knowledge and skills based on their professional degree and experience, and 2). the ability to communicate such knowledge through drawings, diagrams, and sketches. The committee recommends applicants to:

  • Edit your portfolio to four or five of your best design projects
  • Include brief descriptions of each design project and what your proposal achieved. Clearly distinguish between academic and professional work; individual from team work, indicating your individual responsibilities in the latter
  • Choose enough drawings of each project to represent it well. The committee does not need to see every drawing produced for each project; however, the committee will want to see evidence of context/problem analysis, diagrams that explain design intentions, plans, sections, 3D views, and details that demonstrate the applicant's knowledge of their discipline
  • Recommended but not required: Include additional visual evidence of work or experiences you've had that will help the committee get to know you and why you want to study urban design
  • Consider the composition of your portfolio itself as a design project intended to introduce yourself to the committee. What aspect of the layout do you want to be consistent throughout the portfolio? At the same time, how will you direct the viewer's eye to those drawings or aspects of the design you're most proud of?

Applicants with degrees in planning or engineering are highly valued in the program for the knowledge they bring to the multi-disciplinary urban design teams. They are not expected to have the same level of design work as those with degrees in architecture or landscape architecture. However, success in the MSUD and careers in urban design rely heavily on the ability to communicate visually. Planners and engineers must both desire to improve their design and drawing skills and must submit evidence of their current abilities in their portfolio. This might mean more reliance on technical, policy or artistic work, and more diagrams, posters, and hand drawn sketches than 3D renderings. It might mean thinking more broadly about "design" and what kind of past work you've produced that engaged you in analytical and design thinking, and as such very much belongs in your portfolio. 

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