Portfolio Guidelines

We look for applicants who show creativity and versatility in a variety of mediums and whose portfolios show a willingness to be challenged and an eye for detail—the hallmarks of a true designer.  

Admission to the Bachelor of Design is based on past academic performance and your portfolio, which is a collection of your original work. To apply for the Bachelor of Design, you do not need previous experience or training in design. 

Online portfolio submission

As long as you have already applied for admission to the program, you may submit your portfolio online anytime after the online submission system opens for the year. It is to your advantage to submit your portfolio as soon as possible after you apply as the program has fewer spots after each review date. Following each review date, successful applicants are notified.

important dates and deadlines


Apply early. Top portfolios win a laptop.

Submit your portfolio for the Fall 2019 term before April 30, 2019, and you just might win a new laptop! If the program assesses your portfolio as one of the three best submissions, you will receive a MacBook Pro upon acceptance of the offer of admission and payment of the program deposit.


1. Apply to the Bachelor of Design

Applications are submitted through ApplyAlberta. Check MacEwan's How to Apply page for the steps in the application process.

How to apply


2. Create your portfolio and statement of intent

Review the assessment criteria

Your portfolio will be evaluated by an assessment committee, which is responsible for determining your readiness for the Bachelor of Design program. The committee looks for:

  • Neat, well-organized presentation of pieces

  • Creativity and versatility in a variety of mediums

  • Attention to detail

Your statement of intent is considered an integral part of your portfolio. It will be assessed using these criteria:

  • Your ability to express your ideas in writing

  • Clear and thoughtful formatting/presentation

  • No spelling or grammar errors

Prepare your portfolio pieces

Your portfolio is a collection of original work that shows the assessment committee your creativity and reveals your design interests. You do not need to have prior training in design. We do not expect technical or artistic proficiency. We are examining your creativity and versatility in a variety of mediums, your ability to challenge yourself and your attention to detail — the hallmarks of a designer budding with potential.

Number of pieces

Choose 12 to 15 original pieces for your portfolio. Below are suggestions for the kind of work that can be submitted. There is no requirement for the number of pieces per category; however, we recommend that you demonstrate a range of capabilities in your portfolio by limiting the number of pieces within a category to three unique works. Please organize your work by category.

Image size

All images must be approximately 1200 pixels wide. If the image is under 1200 pixels, you’ll need to either find the original hi-res digital image or you’ll need to retake the image using a better camera that has a higher resolution output. Discover how to find the resolution of your digital image.

There are some good tutorials on youTube on how to photograph your artwork for point-and-shoot cameras or for digital SLR cameras. You can also use a flatbed scanner. We recommend that you do not use your cell phone to photograph your work as it will not produce the best results. Please make sure there are no shadows obscuring your artwork and that the image you submit is the best representation of your original artwork as possible. 


Categorize and label your portfolio pieces


Please use the following category titles in the labels of your pieces.


  • Show your sensitivity to form and attention to detail

  • Must be from direct observation (i.e., looking at an object and drawing it)

  • Any medium, such as charcoal, ink, pencil, pastel or combined media

  • Subjects may be simple objects, figures, portraits or self-portraits, room interiors, architecture, nature

  • Use a variety of tools and techniques (line, texture, composition, light, perspective)

  • Consider using different surfaces and papers


  • In any medium, such as acrylic, oil, encaustic, watercolours, canvas or gouache

  • Subjects may be still life, landscapes, figures, portraits or self-portraits, abstracts


  • Show your sense of composition

  • Black and white or colour

  • Concentrate on framing, angle and light

  • Subjects may be simple objects, figures in landscape, architecture, nature

Mixed media/collage

  • Work with a range of materials and ideas (imagery, text, texture, paper, fabrics, etc.)

  • Treat the collage as a design/art piece; not as a journal or scrapbook

Three-dimensional work

  • Work with a range of materials to show your understanding of three-dimensional form and space, such as wood, clay, paper, fabric

  • Submit good quality photos of these pieces

  • Photograph the piece from several angles/views and put the photos into one document.

Design work

  • Previously completed design projects, such as posters, brochures, CD packages, exhibits, websites, interactive work, videos


The Design Studies program has an emphasis on human-centred design and the interface between people and technology, which requires a strong understanding of human behaviour and technology. The following categories have been created to appeal to students that may not have an art/design background.

Social Science (Psychology, Sociology, Human Factors, Communication, etc.)

  • Research poster or paper in social science focused on understanding humans (cognition, behaviour, emotion, culture, etc.)

Computing Science and Engineering

  • Work may be structural, electrical, or computer engineering (computing science, coding) solutions to everyday problems. Work in this category must show some emphasis on solving human needs.

For the above three categories (Design Work, Social Science, and Computing Science and Engineering), please include a rationale in the Additional Details area of the label and include the following information for each piece:

  • Explain the purpose of the project (Was it a class project? Was it for a real world client?).

  • If there were multiple people working on this project, what was your involvement?

What not to include

Do not include in the portfolio:

  • Fantasy-style imagery — things that do not exist in reality, i.e., dragons, fairies, unicorns, mermaids, animé, etc.; cartoons or comic book illustrations

  • Subject matter that is not suitable for an academic environment

  • Hobbies and crafts, i.e., scrapbooking

  • All pieces using the same technique, i.e., 10 photographs

  • All pieces using the same subject, i.e., a series of drawings and paintings of the same person, still life, etc.

  • Digital work that only adds some unmanipulated digital filters to a photograph or is a tracing of a scanned picture. Digital work must adhere to the above categories and demonstrate the principles described within that category.

Prepare your statement of intent

Your statement of intent is an important part of the portfolio package. It tells us about you, your aspirations and goals and your commitment to pursuing a career in design. Clear and engaging written communication is an important tool for a visual communicator.

Answer these questions in your statement of intent, with no more than 150 words per answer:

  • Why do you want to study design at MacEwan University?

  • What personal attributes and interests do you possess that make you a suitable candidate for a career in design?

  • What are your goals after graduation?


3. Submit your portfolio

Submit your portfolio after you have applied to the program and after the online submission system opens for the year. Portfolios will not be assessed unless you have officially applied through ApplyAlberta and paid the application for admission fee.

Using SlideRoom

The portfolio and statement of intent are submitted through an online application called SlideRoom. When you access SlideRoom, you will need to create a login ID, password and profile. Once you've done that, you can start uploading images. You can upload and save your images as many times as you need to before submitting your portfolio, and your portfolio progress will be saved online until you are ready to submit it. Once you have submitted your portfolio, you will no longer be able to make changes to it.

access SlideRoom: online portfolio submission site

After discussing and assessing your portfolio and statement of intent, the program will make a recommendation. You will receive an admission decision from the Office of the University Registrar.

Learn about admission decisions



Calendar Deadlines Icon Illustration

Start the application process early

You need to meet a number of important deadlines when you apply for admission.

Next steps

After discussing and assessing your portfolio and statement of intent, the program will make a recommendation. You will receive an admission decision from the Office of the University Registrar and a copy of your decision will be added to your portfolio case.

Learn more about admission decisions