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Portfolio Review - 2024-2025

In April a portfolio review is conducted for junior transfers to become art majors effective for the following fall quarter. 

(For frosh, portfolio review is not an option. Portfolio review is only for transfer students.)

The portfolio review is a highly competitive review.  It is advised that students complete all three of their lower division studios at the community college, in addition to studios in their area of interest, to be able to submit a high-level portfolio.  Students who do not pass the portfolio review (even if accepted to UCSC) will not be eligible to take art classes at UCSC during the academic year and must pursue another major.  Applicants will know the results of the portfolio review before they have to submit their Statement of Intent to Register to the Admissions Office.

APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR 2024/2025 ENTERING JUNIOR TRANSFER STUDENTS: April 1, 2024 (Applications must be received by that date). Submit your application via the google form that was emailed to you. If you did not receive the email form by February 1st, 2024, please email 

Application Materials:

  1. 15 to 20 quality images on a web site or file share site (Flickr, Photobucket, etc.).  Please have titles listed on each image. Make sure your site has your name on it.
  2. Portfolio application form, which will be emailed to you in early January.  Please only include the application form, not the instructions.
  3. Image inventory sheet listing all images with titles, media, sizes, and dates.
  4. Written Statement (350 word max)
  5. Copies of transcripts from all colleges you have attended (unofficial is fine). Include UCSC transcripts (if you have taken courses here).

NOTE: Submit your application via the google form that was emailed to you. If you did not receive the email form by February 1st, 2024, please email  All documents should be PDFs.  Do not submit Google Docs.  Please have all images in your file share/web site kept together so they all open up at the same time. Do not put images in separate folders based on media (photographs, paintings, drawings, etc).


The Art major at UCSC is a very popular major. This means that there are too few spaces to accommodate all the UCSC students who wish to study art. Because of this ongoing situation, the Art Department admits junior transfers to its major by way of a portfolio review. Acceptance into the Art Department is not an entitlement that automatically follows acceptance to UCSC, or completion of prerequisite lower division requirements. 

In order to select its students, the Art Department appoints a rotating Portfolio Review Committee. The objective of the committee is to admit students who demonstrate, as evidenced in their portfolio, statement and pre-art academic performance, that their intentions and achievements are most compatible with the mission, standards, goals, and specializations of the Art Department. In general, the presented visual materials are of primary interest to the committee. The Portfolio Review committee expects these materials to be adequately documented and to be carefully and clearly presented. The committee consists of a group of experts in their fields, and their expertise includes an understanding of how to interpret visual materials. They are skilled at "reading" the visual evidence presented in the portfolio and in detecting, for instance, the commitment and accomplishment of the applicant. They have an expertise in understanding how works of art come about both conceptually and in terms of skill, and they have an expertise in understanding where beginning artworks lead in terms of future developments. When disagreements and uncertainties arise in the visual materials, and the potential of the applicant in our program is uncertain, added weight is given to written materials (statement and transcripts/narratives). Thus a determination is made.

What Does the Portfolio Committee Look For?

Your portfolio website introduces your work to the Review Committee. It is in your interest to submit materials of high technical quality; images should be clear and well-presented so as to show your work accurately. Details or close-ups may be helpful when documenting detailed work, or work where the surface is important. Materials submitted on your web site should be organized to show your work in the most favorable way. It is useful to consult with someone else - an art professor, or an art student who has already passed the review - in order to develop the strongest application possible. The Portfolio Review Committee is looking for students who demonstrate skill, personal direction, ambition, and commitment.

Students who wish to improve their prospects for acceptance often ask the following: What does the committee wish to see? What presentations make a favorable impression on the committee? What things make an unfavorable impression? The committee is looking for vitality, commitment, and skill, or signs of potential for the development of these things.

VITALITY: By "vitality" the committee means they want to see evidence that the student is excited by the work. They want to see evidence of this quality in the work itself.

COMMITMENT: By "commitment" the committee means that they want to see that students have invested themselves in certain ideas, ways of doing things, or ways of conceptualizing their creative work, and evidence of a willingness to spend time on individual projects and/or on the body of work contained in the portfolio. They also want to sense that students can exert judgment about their own work--that they can tell good from bad in their own work.

SKILL: By "skill" the committee means that the student demonstrates a level of technical ability in one or more areas and that the student does not require remedial work that cannot be provided by the department.

Portfolios Should:

* Show a range of work produced in your art classes

* Focus on quality as opposed to quantity.

* Indicate time spent to achieve a strong resolution.

* Show thought given to the generation and execution of the work.

* Show attention to use of materials and processes.

* Provide evidence of exploration in form and technique.

Portfolios Should Not:

* Show work of low quality along with work of high quality.

* Include high school work unless it is truly exceptional.

Written Statement

Your written statement is considered an important part of the portfolio. Evaluation is based upon signs of a student's potential for joining theory and practice in his or her creative activity.

Written Statements Should:

* Include comments on your reasons for choosing to concentrate in art, some of the ideas in which you are currently interested, and indications of future areas you would like to explore.

* Discuss the work you've submitted in the written statement.

* Address your recent (college) art background (as opposed to your childhood experiences in art). While criteria for evaluation are difficult to measure in art practices, the written statement helps provide a basis for evaluation in each area.

Evaluation Criteria

The Portfolio Review Committee is looking for candidates who give evidence of strong promise in the field of the Fine Arts. When evaluating your portfolio and statement, ask yourself these questions:

* Does the documentation of your work communicate its quality?

* Is your statement clear? Does it touch on all the topics requested above?

* Does your application communicate skill and commitment?

The Art Department is also concerned about each student's professional expectations as they relate to our program. We want our departmental offerings to coincide with each student's expectations and skills in a productive and meaningful way. As we do not teach design, illustration, ceramics, or crafts, we are disinclined to accept students who are clearly committed to these areas. We believe that such students would best be served by entering another program in another college or university that is geared toward these art forms.


For More Information

Contact the Art Department undergraduate advisor Cyrus Howard


Office: E-104 Baskin Visual Arts Studios