Admissions & Portfolio

Students who choose to major in graphic design, animation, photography & cinematic arts, and print media & intermedia, are required to pass the Portfolio Process and to receive the “visual arts milestone”. This milestone is a pre-requisite for the majority of our courses and official acceptance into the Visual Arts program. Students who major in Art History & Museum Studies do not need to submit a portfolio. If you have any further questions about the portfolio process, please email our Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Kelley Yang:

Step 1: Get to know our Degree Tracks

Take a look at what we offer at UMBC.

All of our B.F.A. tracks are at least 72 credits. All tracks must take 27 credits of foundation courses and an addition 45+ credits of courses relevant to their B.F.A. concentration. We offer the following:

Visual Arts, Animation Concentration, B.F.A.
Visual Arts, Print Media & Intermedia, B.F.A
Design, B.F.A
Visual Arts, Photography, B.F.A
Visual Arts, Cinematic Arts, B.F.A

All of our B.A. tracks are at least 48 credits. We offer the following:

Visual Arts, Art History & Museum Studies, B.A
Visual Arts, Visual & Media Arts, B.A

Look over the laptop and software requirement for all of our programs. After taking the foundation courses, students will be required to abide by our laptop and software requirements. The Visual Arts requirements are in line with the University Technology Guidelines and current market standards for the art field.

Step 2: Start the Portfolio Application

The portfolio application consists of an artist statement, a portfolio including six to eight pieces of the applicant’s creative work** of choice, and an itemization of submitted artwork.

All portfolio applications must be submitted on-line at

Please note: there is a $10 application fee payable during the on-line process.

Portfolio Review Dates

October and January review dates coincide with the Undergraduate Admissions Office important deadlines. Please note there will be a Blackout period from May to August, where no portfolios will be reviewed. This academic year’s deadlines are:

  • October 6, 2023
  • January 5, 2024
  • February 2, 2024
  • March 1, 2024
  • April 5, 2024

Current UMBC Students who plan to pursue the visual arts major should follow the procedures outlined in the Slideroom link, including an upload of transcripts showing all college course work.

New first-year and transfer students must submit a separate UMBC Undergraduate Admission Application at least two weeks before the selected portfolio review date. UMBC Applicants do not need to wait for an Admissions decision before submitting a portfolio application to the department.

Linehan Artist Scholar (first-year students only) applicants must submit their portfolios by the January review date and are encouraged to submit UMBC undergraduate applications by the early action deadline of November 1. In addition to the information supplied on the UMBC Common Application, applicants will also need to complete the Linehan Artist Scholars application to be considered as a candidate for the program. The application and all supplemental materials must be received by January 15.  For more information:

Step 3: Put together your Portfolio and Write an Artist Statement

What is an Artist Statement?

Your Artist Statement is a written document that introduces you as an artist and a chance to explain how and why you make your art. The Artist Statement is a crucial portion of your portfolio application and is a chance to help the department understand just what is driving you to pursue a degree in our program.

Here are some questions to help you get started. There are not set questions that you must answer, but some suggestions to help you shape your Artist Statement.

  • What are your inspirations and/or influences? How can we see these reflected in some of included art in your portfolio? Your influences/inspirations can be current artists, musicians, directors, current issues, personal themes you explore, etc.
  • Why are you applying to this program? What do you hope to gain from the program you are applying too?
  • What are your artistic ambitions and goals for the future? How will our program help you in reaching those goals?
  • What are you trying to communicate to the audience with your art? How can we see this reflected in your portfolio?
  • What will you bring to the visual arts department at UMBC? How will you contribute positively to the student body?

What is a portfolio? 

If you are unfamiliar with the term “portfolio” or the contents of a “portfolio” think of it as a self-curated collection of your work that best displays your creative abilities. Many applicants will build a portfolio of work with projects completed in art, design, and photography courses at their High School or Community College. If your school didn’t afford you these opportunities, don’t let the lack of a formal portfolio dissuade you from applying to UMBC. Most likely, if you are applying to the Visual Arts Department at UMBC and are interested in one of our areas of concentration, you are making creative work on your own.

What should I put in my portfolio? 

What goes into a portfolio will vary from applicant to applicant, but you will need to submit between 6 to 8 images of your artwork. We suggest submitting a combination of work that displays your technical skills as an artists and personal work.

Do’s and Don’t of what to include in a portfolio:

Do include digital or studio based work that demonstrate your technical skills and your understanding of the principles of design. For example, observational drawings, perspective drawings, abstract compositional work, etc. These can be digital or studio work.
Do include personal work that represent what you love creating. We are interested in seeing what you will bring to our program.
Do take clear images of your artwork. Crop extraneous information from the sides.
Do take advantage of the description section. Write a sentence or two about each art piece you submit.

Don’t include non-original artwork or designs. Don’t include copyrighted images or characters, even if you have reworked them in your own style. If you are using copyrighted images in this fashion, clearly state it in your description section of the artwork and provide ample reasoning for this decision.
Don’t use screenshots of your digital work. Please export your files as a JPEG, PDF, or PNG file.
Don’t include photographed work that is blurry and not well lit. Here is a guide on how to photograph your work professionally on a budget.

We accept a varied range of work, including short films, scripts, short animations, figurative drawings, self-portraits, digital drawings, poster and shirt designs, original character sheets, 3D work, landscape and architectural artwork, design work or projects made for/or with clubs, and much more. Many students have successfully been accepted into the Visual Arts Department based on the strength of their self-initiated creative works. This work has been quite varied, but has included such work as:

  • Self-Portraits
  • Collages
  • T-Shirt designs
  • Drawings
  • Paintings
  • Photographs
  • Designs for yearbook and school newspapers
  • Fliers for community and school functions
  • Films posted to YouTube
  • Animations

This is not an exhaustive list of all the creative ways you may be expressing yourself through your work. If you are uncertain if your creative work is suitable for application into the Visual Arts Department, take pictures of your work (photos will your cell phone will do) and send them to

If you are uncertain if your creative work is suitable for application into the Visual Arts Department, take pictures of your work (photos with your cell phone will do) and send them to

Step 4. Optionally take a tour and consider our scholarship options

Scholarships & Financial Aid

Students may explore a number of resources to help pay for their education and to gain invaluable work experience to build up their vitas before graduation. Scholarships, employment, student loans, and fellowships provide these opportunities to Visual Arts undergraduates.

The Linehan Artist Scholar Program offers competitive awards to freshmen ranging from $5,000 – $15,000 per academic year for in-state students, and from $10,000 – $22,000 per academic year for out-of-state students, to assist in covering tuition, mandatory, fees, and another expenses. Out-of-state students are encouraged to apply.
Fine Arts Scholarships range from $500 to $1,000.

To be considered for either award, new applicants must submit on-line portfolios by the January review date.  Go to UMBC Undergraduate Admissions for other financial aid information.

Visit the Department
Come see for yourself! Tours of the Visual Arts Department are held bi-weekly on Friday mornings. To see a list of tour dates and to register, please follow this link or call the Visual & Performing Arts Admissions Counselor at 410-455-3745. An interactive map of the campus and surrounding area, with driving directions is available at the UMBC Campus Map.

Visual & Performing Arts at UMBC
Check out all of the Visual & Performing Arts programs at UMBC by visiting the Visual & Performing Arts webpage.



University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Visual Arts Department
Fine Arts 111A
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, Maryland USA 21250

Click here for directions

tel: 1(410)455-2150
fax: 1(410)455-1053