APPLYING TO OCAD U
For your application, most portfolios ask you to submit 8-10 pieces of finished work, alongside a sketchbook and statement of intent. Keep scrolling to find more details on each of these components, including program-specific guidelines. This section outlines portfolio guidelines and the submission process. All applicants are required to submit a digital portfolio online through SlideRoom. You will be notified by email of further details, deadlines and instructions for submitting the portfolio after your application has been received and processed. Apart from the information below, OCAD University offers many opportunities to further develop your portfolio for admission.
Studio and Non-Studio Based Degree Program Requirements
All offers of admission to OCAD U's studio-based degree programs, the Bachelor of Design (BDes) and the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) are based on the strength of the applicant’s portfolio and are conditional upon meeting the minimum academic requirements and supplying all required documentation as outlined below. After you apply, you will be notified by email of the details for submitting your portfolio for assessment.
Admission to the Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies is based on a combination of a review of the written assignment and your academic records. Applicants to the BA in Visual and Critical Studies are required to submit the following to be considered for admission:
- Statement of Intent
- Original writing sample responding to an assigned topic provided by OCAD U
- Official transcripts
After you apply you will be notified by email of the exact dates and deadlines for you to submit your supplemental application materials, the topic for the writing sample and when you will need to meet the academic entrance requirements.
First Year and Upper Year Entry Portfolio Guidelines
Your portfolio is a collection of work that represents your individual creative and technical experiences and accomplishments and should be a visual representation of who you are. You need to demonstrate that you are a visual communicator and that you are well-equipped to succeed in the program you have applied to at OCAD U. This can include experimentation in both traditional and digital media or any combination. Keep in mind that when it comes to your portfolio, some of the most important features we look for are skill, passion, curiosity and your ability to think creatively, shown in a diverse range of mediums. Your portfolio for admission should include:
Statement of Intent:
Your statement of intent should explain your specific interest in the program that you have applied to at OCAD U as well as what or who inspires and influences the work that you do. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself as an artist/designer/maker and provide context so we can better understand your work. It needs to be maximum 300 words, talking about yourself and your specific interest in the program you apply to, as well as what you're looking to explore, what influences you, where your art has come from and where it is going.
Further details are available through SlideRoom and you will submit your statement as part of the SlideRoom submission process.
Process Work: Include your sketchbook, process and concept development skills as part of your portfolio submission. You can document your process work as a sketchbook, creative journal, concept/idea book or a digital document. Your process work should demonstrate a routine of creative process, should link to several of the finished pieces included in the portfolio and include experimentation, photos of development, drawing, mark-making, writing, research and inspirations. You may submit more than one sketchbook but must remember that each counts as one piece in the portfolio submission. Upload your process work to SlideRoom as a multiple page PDF or a brief video.
Finished Work: Include 8 to 10 examples of your original finalized work that demonstrates a variety of your skills and approaches to art, design and media. Be sure to include examples of work that is directly related to the program that you are applying. Also include explorations in traditional, digital, and experimental mediums or any combination. Show us who you are through your work and that you are well equipped to succeed in the program that you have applied to at OCAD U. Be sure to appropriately label your work in SlideRoom using the fields provided.
Descriptions: Explain in 50 words per finished piece the process/making method/media/concept and purpose of each piece. Use the additional details field in SlideRoom as you upload your work.
Please note, there are additional guidelines for some of our programs available through our SlideRoom portal and at the following links:
Creative Writing Portfolio Guidelines
Digital Futures First Year Undergraduate Program Portfolio Guidelines
Faculty of Design Undergraduate Program Portfolio Guidelines
Direct entry to an Upper Year program and the year level placement is based on the strength of the applicant's portfolio and academic standing. To qualify for upper year consideration you must have successfully completed at least one year of studies in a program equivalent to the program you are applying for at OCAD U. Further details about Upper Year entry can be found in Transfer Pathways.
A Statement of Intent of approximately 300 words is a required element of the portfolio. No portfolio will be reviewed without the written statement.
After your application has been received and processed, details will be emailed to you about dates, deadlines and SlideRoom access. Portfolio submissions for upper year applicants who apply by Update dates
Upper Year Entry Faculty of Art Portfolio (PDF)
Upper Year Entry Faculty of Design Portfolio (PDF)
Upper Year Entry Digital Futures Portfolio (PDF)
Important Reminder: We would like to remind you that plagiarism or misrepresenting the work of others as your own is an offense against intellectual property rights and is a serious breach of academic misconduct. The work you are presenting in your portfolio must be of your own creation.
SlideRoom Portfolio Submissions
It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that application information and all supporting documentation is truthful, complete and correct. OCAD University reserves the right to verify any information provided as part of the application. It is an act of serious academic misconduct to provide any false or misleading information (either by omission or commission) in an application. If it is proven, or if the University has reasonable grounds to conclude, that any information in the application, or in any of the material submitted in support of the application, is determined to be false or misleading, or written by a third party, the application may be invalidated at the absolute and sole discretion of OCAD University. This could result in immediate rejection of the application, or, in the revocation of an offer of admission, or, in the termination of registration at OCAD University. Any such information may be shared by OCAD University with other universities and colleges across Canada.
- What do we look for in a portfolio?
We look at skill, fit for program (at least half relevant to the program) and variety/exploration (style/medium/direction).
Think about what each finished work is bringing to the portfolio. Are you showcasing technical skill, exploring/trying something new, and/or conveying an engaging idea/concept?
You can use the description of your work to highlight what you’re showing and explain how it connects to the program you are applying for.
- What do we look for in a sketchbook/process work/rough work?
Your sketchbook / process work, will be a multi-page PDF or video that you can upload as one document. This is where we get to see your thinking/ ideation/ process. We recommend including some process related to your finished works, you can also include unrelated process.
Please note: While we do say sketchbook, sketches are just one type of process. Feel free to include research, creative journaling, notes, rough drafts, experiments, doodles, photos and more! If you’re working digitally, you may also want to screenshot your process or draft layers.
- How much work (process + finished) should I include?
For your portfolio, you will be submitting 8-10 pieces of finished work, and 1 multi-page PDF or video of your process work. We recommend submitting roughly 15 - 25 pages of rough work or sketchbook work. Feel free to include more, but always remember not to overwhelm the faculty reviewing your portfolio.
- What are some alternative digital software programs?
There are alternatives to some programs such as Gimp and Google Sketchup if you're concerned about digital software. You can do free trials of working with the 3D building software and you can also have access to Google Sketchup's 2D blue print drafting / drawing template that is similar to AUTO-CAD
Also, it’s important that you can show planning. For 3D show, concept sketches for products/buildings. For animation/video you can show drawing out frames by using your phone to take videos or stop motion and mapping out animatics
- What are some tips for how to improve your portfolio?
Pick a program of interest and try to focus most of your portfolio on that.
Ask yourself: What inspires you? What parts of your portfolio do you feel need more development?
- Is each finished work in the portfolio going to be its own file?
Yes - your portfolio will not be one big file. Each work of the 8 - 10 works in the portfolio will be uploaded as individual file, please do not submit your entire portfolio of 8 - 10 works as one PDF / file.
If you have a series of works that you consider to be one piece, edit them together onto one page before you upload them (a collage) or upload the series of works as a multi-page PDF to be considered one piece in the portfolio.
- Can I have multiple shots/angles of my work?
Yes! Detail shots or perspective shots (3D work) are a great way for reviewers to get a better sense of the work you are showing . You can edit the images all onto one page or create a multi-page PDF to submit. We recommend highlighting the best overall image first.
- Will I have room in SlideRoom to add my title, medium, size?
Yes! Within your portfolio submission to OCAD U, you will have the opportunity to add this information. Slideroom will have a space for these details along with space for a description. You can also use this 50-word description to tell us why you are uploading the work you have in your portfolio, anything you think we should know about your work, etc.
- I'm really interested in a program, but I don't have access to the materials and equipment needed, how do I show this?
While you may not have the exact materials, consider how you can showcase related skills using what equipment you do have. There are always ways to be creative. Try using alternate materials, play with scale, experiment combining different process’ and techniques together, challenge yourself and have fun!
OCAD University reserves the right to be the sole arbiter of what it will accept on an academic and equivalency basis. Academic entrance requirements and portfolio requirements are subject to change.
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