Incoming freshmen and transfer students applying for admission to the BFA degree in the School of Art must submit a portfolio containing 10-15 original works of art. All incoming freshmen applying for scholarship consideration must also submit a portfolio containing 10-15 original works of art. If you are applying for both the BFA and scholarship consideration, only one portfolio is needed.

We host a portfolio review day in which you may meet with our faculty to review your portfolio in person. Or you may submit a digital portfolio by following the steps detailed below.

What to Include

Artwork in the portfolio should represent your current creative and technical abilities.

For high school students, this generally means work completed in your junior or senior years.

All artwork must be original. Copies of published works are unacceptable. Primary consideration will be given to originality and creativity.

If you have taken a number of art courses, try to represent a variety of media. Pick your best work. Selections can come from:

  • classroom assignments
  • sketchbooks
  • workshops
  • pre-college programs
  • work done on your own outside the classroom

When selecting pieces for your portfolio in consider:

  • subject matter
  • technique
  • concept
  • design
  • composition
  • works that demonstrate creative problem solving


Drawings from observation are encouraged but not required. Try to include at least three drawings from direct observation, demonstrating a proficient use of line and value to render space and form.

Drawing from observation means working directly from a real object, environment, or person (not from a photograph, a magazine, or copied from a reproduction of another artist's work).

The best drawings are:

  • familiar objects (still life)
  • self-portraits
  • figure drawings
  • landscapes
  • interior/exterior environments

Observational drawing is an important part of your portfolio and should reflect some diversity in subject matter and media such as graphite, charcoal, conte crayon, pastels, colored pencil, or pen and ink.

A painting from direct observation could take the place of a drawing in your portfolio.

Other Art Forms

  • Designs – This can include any two-dimensional artwork or graphic designs, such as logos, cover designs, and posters. While craftsmanship is important and expected, the concept takes precedence.
  • Digital Media – This could include digital imaging, digital video, computer animation, interactive art, net-based projects, and digital drawings.
  • Paintings – Media that can be considered include oils, acrylics, and watercolor, as well as any mixed-media pieces.
  • Photography – This includes black-and-white, color, or digital photography. When selecting photographs, consider idea, composition, and lighting along with color or value. What makes your composition creative and unique?
  • Printmaking – This could include work done in the processes of intaglio, lithography, relief printmaking, serigraphy (silkscreen), and monoprints.
  • Three-Dimensional Artwork – This could include work done in the areas of ceramics, glass, fibers, metals, and sculpture and may also include functional objects and furniture design.
  • Avoid old artwork. Your most recent work (the past one to three years) is usually the strongest work.
  • More is not always better. In other words, don't include more work for the sake of having a lot to show. Choose your best work.
  • Copies from magazines, comic books, animation, CD covers, or movie posters are not acceptable. Remember, work should be your own. What are you trying to accomplish, convey, or express in a piece or series of pieces?
  • Avoid overused, stereotyped, or timeworn imagery.
  • Remove weak pieces. More is not always better; in other words, do not include more work for the sake of having a lot to show.
  • Be sure to choose your best work.

Digital Portfolios

You must submit a digital portfolio if:

  • you plan to apply for the bachelor of fine arts (BFA) program but did not attend our portfolio review day
  • are applying for School of Art scholarships

All digital portfolios should be presented as a PDF of a PowerPoint presentation, with each work of art presented on its own slide. Do not submit actual artwork (folders, notebooks or binders), printed photographs, flash drives, or links to personal websites.

You may use our PowerPoint template to help you create your presentation. Download the template. Also, the digital portfolio must include a typed inventory sheet (PDF) that lists the works submitted and corresponds to the order of the PowerPoint.


Application materials will not be returned. The portfolio and scholarship materials submitted become a permanent part of your art admission file.


  • Digital images must be formatted as JPEG. Resize the image to 72 DPI, with no more than 1,100 pixels on the longest side, and the final file size being no greater than 20 MB.
  • The PowerPoint slide show should include a title slide labeled with your name and area of interest, followed by JPEG images of your artwork.
  • Each PowerPoint slide should be labeled with the title of the work (or course prefix and number), medium, size, and date or term.
  • Please refrain from using any sound, music, animations, transitions, word art, or graphics in the PowerPoint.
  • You may document three-dimensional artwork from more than one viewpoint to adequately represent the work.
  • Include additional viewpoints or details if you feel you cannot adequately show your work from a single view.
  • We will only consider slide shows in PowerPoint format composed and saved as a single PDF file.

Please save your documents with the following format:

Last Name_First Initial_item you are sending
Example: Smith_A_portfolio, Smith_A_essay

Are you ready for us to review your digital portfolio?

If you haven’t already, review our guidelines on how to prepare and present all of your artwork. Please wait to submit your portfolio after January 1. You may email us your portfolio, as well as any other materials for admission or scholarship consideration. If possible, please use the same email address you used when applying to Ball State.

Submit Your Portfolio

More Information

If you have questions about your portfolio or the admissions process, please feel free to contact our undergraduate coordinator.