• Portfolio Help

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  • The portfolio is an essential piece of the application and the scholarship consideration process. Parsons School of Design and Parsons Paris assess portfolios based on the technical and conceptual abilities displayed in the work. This page provides tips to help you prepare your portfolio submission to Parsons. 

    Undergraduate Portfolio Requirements

    Your Portfolio

    • Freshman and transfer BFA applicants must submit a portfolio of eight to twelve slides of images. Transfer students may submit additional slides up to 20s. The portfolio is optional for applicants to the BBA in Strategic Design and Management. BBA students who submit a portfolio may submit as few as two pieces.
    • Portfolios can include various media such as drawing, painting, sculpture, fashion design, animation, performance, graphic design, and sketchbook pages. Although it is notrequired, we encourage you to include video clips or images of your process, the creation and/or making of your work. This documentation can represent up to five additional slides beyond the required eight to twelve. What you submit is entirely up to you.  We recommend that applicants not include Roblox images; Sims housing renderings; UX/UI research; TikTok videos, including Get Ready with Me Videos (GRWM); and fashion styling (using pre-made or purchased garments). 
    • We also recommend that you not submit AutoCAD drawings, anime drawings, or images that directly copy another artist’s work but instead focus on pieces that show us your unique style, point of view, and range. If you submit anime or cartoon drawings, consider full compositions instead of pieces focusing solely on character development and ideas. Applicants for the BBA may include infographics or data visualization pieces. 
    • You may include single or multiple images on each slide. 
    • We encourage high school applicants to show experimentation and breadth; the portfolio can address something other than the major you are applying specifically. Transfer applicants are encouraged to include work examples from studio courses completed.
    • You must complete your portfolio online. Please do not submit links or URLs to personal websites for your portfolio. You must submit individual images of your work. If you want to submit pictures from your website, you may include a screenshot or screen-grab as part of your photo submissions.
    • Once your portfolio is submitted, you may not edit it. After submitting your Common Application, you’ll receive a link to submit your portfolio. You should submit your portfolio as soon as possible after receiving that communication.  
    • Any work supported or created by Artificial Intelligence (AI) in your application or visual portfolio must include a description of your process and the machine learning tools used, including those used for written portions of the application. 

    Tips for Preparing Your Portfolio

    1. The Importance of Self-Expression

    There is no one-size-fits-all portfolio! The portfolio should reflect who you are. Personal and conceptual work is preferred over generic pieces. Like the personal essay, the portfolio is a way to introduce yourself to our committee. 

    Ask yourself:

    • Does this work represent my viewpoint or tell a story?
    • Does the portfolio reflect my process of ideating and creating work?
    • Does the work include areas where I have taken artistic risks or stretched myself to meet a challenge?
    • Does this portfolio look like I made the work, or does it look like a collection of assignments similar to those of my classmates?

    2. Your Process

    Students often mistake the term “process” for the technical execution of a piece of work. When we speak of process, we're referring to your intention: why you made the work, why you made the decisions you made, and what inspired you. While this can sometimes include a description of the actual materials and tools, that only has relevance when it serves the idea of the piece. For example, a student who is thinking about climate change might decide that a time-lapse video would tell a story better than a painting. 

    Each image should include dimensions, titles, and a short narrative about the piece, including any use of AI. We encourage you to write a few sentences about each piece to explain why you made the work and what you hoped to accomplish with the piece. You are required to use the available description/text boxes to give brief descriptions of your process, including your ideas and concepts, sources of inspiration, use of materials, etc., for at least two of your favorite pieces in your portfolio.

    3. Observational Work

    This may differ at some schools, but we do not require purely observational pieces such as still life drawings or figure studies. That means not that technique is something you should not consider but that it is not the only consideration. We recommend incorporating your use of technique in each medium into work that you consider to represent your personal vision in that medium. For example, a drawing that has elements from life but takes thematic risks is more useful to the Admission Committee than a pure life drawing that shows only the level of your technical execution skills. 

    4. Edit and Curate Your Work

    You should take care with documentation to present your work at its best. Consider lighting, cropping, and grouping similar pieces. Our initial read of the work is on a computer screen, and we cannot zoom in or make the image larger. Use each image to highlight the work itself.

    Consider:

    • Each submission may contain one or more works of similar type or content.
    • Not every piece is well served by just one still image. Consider including a short video of 3D work or the pages of a sketchbook being turned. One or two detailed photographs might help us understand the intricacy of a work, in addition to the view of the work in its totality.
    • Emphasize simplicity over complexity. If there is too much going on in one image and we can’t see the details, we may not get the full picture of your skills and thought process.
    • Each image in our portal has a space for details of each piece. We encourage you to write a few sentences about each piece to explain why you made the work and what you hoped to accomplish with the piece. 
    • Don't add text to the image of the work unless it is a part of the work itself. All context and explanation should be included in the additional space provided.
    • If you collaborated on a piece, credit your collaborator in the description of the work and clearly represent your role in the ideation and realization of the work.

    5. The Importance of Documentation

    It's important for each image to be well documented in order for the Admission Committee to assess your work. Invest the time and effort to create accurate images of your work. 

    Consider:

    • What is the best way to highlight this work? Is a still image the best representation, or would a video or other media better display the work? For example, a video showing the pages of a sketchbook being turned can be more effective than still images.
    • Is the work easy to see? Crop out any extraneous imagery that may be distracting.
    • Craftsmanship: Your photography of a piece should be in focus, the work should be presented in the correct aspect ratio and orientation, and the color of the piece should be accurate.
  • We're Here to Help

    Editing a portfolio can be overwhelming. You can ask for advice by email or meet us in person on campus or across the United States and in select countries at events like National Portfolio Days. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your portfolio, email thinkparsons@newschool.edu

  • Reminders

    • This is your exhibit of work: Assemble a selection of pieces that speak to you.
    • Consider experimentation and personal making.
    • Documentation: Take care with how you present your work. Less is more.

    Transfer Students

    Transfer students applying to Parsons must submit a portfolio that meets the guidelines above and should consider including work specific to their intended major. The purpose of the portfolio is not only to enable us to assess a student’s conceptual thinking and technical mastery but also to provide evidence that the work completed at another college prepared the student adequately for the year level they are eligible to begin. We therefore recommend including work from studio courses already completed, if any. Transfers may submit up to 20 slides. 

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Undergraduates

To apply to any of our undergraduate programs (except the Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students and Parsons Associate of Applied Science programs) complete and submit the Common App online.

Undergraduate Adult Learners

To apply to any of our Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students and Parsons Associate of Applied Science programs, complete and submit the New School Online Application.

Graduates

To apply to any of our Master's, Doctoral, Professional Studies Diploma, and Graduate Certificate programs, complete and submit the New School Online Application.

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