VCU and VCUarts – what is the difference?

VCUarts (Virginia Commonwealth University – School of the Arts) is one of many schools within the VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) community. You will be a student within the School of the Arts at VCU.

What is the advantage of attending a school of the arts within a university?

VCU’s School of the Arts is situated within a large research institution made up of more than 32,000 undergraduate, masters, doctoral and professional students pursuing over 200 degree and certificate programs. As a student in the School of the Arts you have access to an array of scholarships, research and technology in humanities, science and health fields. Being part of such an institution affords you many options to minor and double major in areas of study, both within and outside of VCUarts. Being a member of the VCU community also allows you to make connections with students and faculty beyond your specific area of study and participate in a wide range of student activities and opportunities.

What is Art Foundation?

Art Foundation is a two-semester rigorous immersion into the principles of art and design. It is a requirement for entrance into VCUarts’ visual arts departments including Art Education, Communication Arts, Craft/Material Studies, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Kinetic Imaging, Painting and Printmaking, Photography and Film, and Sculpture + Extended Media. This exciting first year at VCUarts provides an intellectually rigorous, studio-based experience in the fundamental issues of art and design. The program exposes students to a vast forum of ideas and concepts preparing them for a wide range of disciplines. To learn more about what to expect during your Art Foundation year, visit the Art Foundation website:

If I am accepted into Art Foundation, when will I enter a major department?

Completion of the Art Foundation Program is a prerequisite for entry into Art Education, Communication Arts, Craft/Material Studies, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Kinetic Imaging, Painting + Printmaking, Photography + Film, and Sculpture + Extended Media. Art Foundation students enter a major department in the fall semester of sophomore year.

What are the curriculum requirements for School of the Arts Majors?

Always refer to VCU Undergraduate Bulletin for curriculum requirements.

As a VCUarts student, can I minor or double major?

Yes. You can declare a secondary major or minor during the first semester of your sophomore year (or later if you choose). Your advisor will help you determine the best path of study for you at VCU. You can learn more about undergraduate degree options on this page.

Are there any art classes available to non-VCUarts students?

There are a variety of arts classes available to non-arts students. They are usually listed on this blog, and some can be found in the Schedule of Classes under the subject “Arts- Cross-Disciplinary.” We also suggest that you contact your local visual art center, museum, and community college for opportunities. In Richmond, great options include the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Studio Two Three, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and John Tyler Community College.

Are there internships available for VCUarts students?

Yes. Many departments highly encourage students to do internships before graduating, and have strong relationships with companies seeking interns. Internships usually take place during the summer between the student’s junior and senior year, and are available all over the United States, many in New York, and some are international. Click here for internship opportunities.

Are there study abroad programs available?

Yes. VCU students have many opportunities to study abroad, and the Global Education Office will help you plan your trip. See their website for more information about education abroad. In addition, VCUarts offers Dean’s International Travel Grants to afford students the opportunity to travel and study independently. VCUarts has a sister school in Doha, Qatar – VCUarts Qatar – and students participate in exchange programs and travel to Doha for conferences. More information about all of our study abroad opportunities can be found here.

If I go to art school, what kind of career will I have after I graduate?

VCUarts graduates pursue careers in many different fields, including professional studio artist, teacher, art consultant, art gallery manager, museum educator, filmmaker, film director, illustrator, graphic novelist, performer, fashion designer, fashion forecaster, product designer, graphic designer, interior designer, animator, video editor, game designer, commercial or freelance photographer, furniture designer, website designer, glassblower, costume designer, stage manager, jewelry designer, and/or exhibiting artist.

Explore Alumni Profiles

Does VCUarts participate in the Guaranteed Admissions Agreement?

VCU has entered into guaranteed admission agreements with the Virginia Community College System and Richard Bland College, as well as a number of program articulation agreements. However, because of the specific requirements to your VCUarts application major, VCUarts does not abide by the Guaranteed Admissions Agreement.


How can I check the status of my application and be sure it was received?

Students can check their application status online to be sure that we have received all required materials by logging in to their VCU VIP page. If this is your first time logging in to your account, please click here to set up your password. Returning users may access their VCU VIP page. Please note that admissions decisions will not be posted online.

What kind of SAT scores and high school GPA should I have?

VCUarts does not have set minimums for SAT scores or GPAs; we examine your overall application (portfolio/audition, test scores, grades, extracurricular activities) to determine your potential for success in the School of the Arts. That being said, you’d probably like to see some numbers. The average SAT of all accepted students in Fall 2017 for Math and Verbal was 1192 (ACT composite = 26). The average GPA was 3.7.

Is a portfolio required for admission?

All visual arts and design applicants, excluding Art History, Cinema and Fashion Merchandising applicants, are required to submit a portfolio with their application. Portfolio requirements can be found by going to and clicking on your major of interest.

I do not have a portfolio. What should I do?

If you wish to apply to one of our visual arts programs, you will need to submit a portfolio with your application. If you do not have a portfolio, we suggest that you review our portfolio guidelines and start creating new artwork immediately. Try experimenting with a variety of media, and don’t be afraid to explore new things. Look for classes at a local visual arts center, museum, or community college. Once you have developed a body of work, get as much feedback as possible (aside from mom). Talk to high school art teachers and artists in your community. Attend a National Portfolio Day, where representatives from art schools from across the country will be available to review your artwork and give you feedback. Check out the list of National Portfolio Days that VCUarts will be attending. Accept constructive criticism and advice — don’t be offended (you’ll need to get used to this if you want to go to art school!).

Is an interview required for admission?

We do not interview applicants or conduct person-to-person portfolio reviews as part of the admissions process for visual arts students. Performing arts majors are, however, required to audition and may be required to interview.

Are there two separate applications for VCU and VCUarts?

No. There is only one application, and you can submit it online. Freshmen applicants should apply using the Common Application. Transfer applicants should apply using the university application found here. Once you indicate on the application that you would like to apply to a department in the School of the Arts, there are additional requirements for arts applicants, such as an audition, portfolio, or essay.

Can I apply to two different majors at the same time?

No. You can only apply to only one major at a time. You can declare a secondary major or minor once you are a current student.

I applied to VCU, but now I want to be considered for VCUarts. What should I do?

Contact VCU’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions at They will ensure that your application is reviewed for admission into a different major. Be sure to submit any additional materials required by the School of the Arts.

What courses should I take in high school to be eligible for admission?

Critical thinking, analytical skills and problem solving abilities are important to the education of an artist or designer. You should pursue a well-rounded high school program; avoid specializing only in art. Develop your math skills, language skills, an understanding of the methods and processes of scientific research and literary analysis. In arts classes, you should spend time developing skills in various media, as well as the ability to draw from observation of the figure, still life, landscape and/or cityscape. You may enroll in VCU’s School of the Arts with a GED, provided you have met admissions requirements.

What if I was homeschooled? Can I still attend VCUarts?

Yes. Homeschooled students are required to either submit full high school transcripts, or take the GED. Homeschooled students are also required to submit SAT or ACT scores unless they are 22 or older, or have completed at least 30 credits from a college or university.

How should I submit recommendation forms?

Recommendations for freshmen applicants should be submitted through the Common Application. Transfer applicants should submit recommendations through the Supplemental Application Materials System. Applicants will receive an email with log-in information to the Supplementals Application Materials System once his or her application is processed. Once you log-in to the system, you will be able to enter the email(s) of your desired recommender(s). The recommender(s) will then receive an email to complete the letter.

I was accepted to VCUarts! What now?

To secure your place at VCUarts and VCU, we need to hear from you! Submit your tuition deposit to ensure your space in our freshman class. Check out more information on these steps here.

I was accepted to VCUarts. Can I defer my admission?

Your offer of acceptance is for the specified incoming semester only. You can request to have your application reconsidered for admission to VCUarts for a later semester. Keep in mind that you will be competing with a different pool of applicants, and acceptance in a later semester is not guaranteed. Students who have been admitted but wish to be considered for a later semester should complete the response form.

I was not accepted to VCUarts. Why was my application unsuccessful?

Admission to VCUarts is very competitive. We receive many more applications than we can accept into the program. When making admission decisions we carefully consider all aspects of an application. GPA, SAT scores, portfolios/auditions, personal statements, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation are all carefully reviewed during the admission process. Successful applicants have a proven academic history and their applications reflect a potential to develop a diverse set of skills and ideas once they enter VCU.

I was not accepted to VCUarts. Can I do anything to be reconsidered?

We thoroughly reviewed your application and supporting materials for admission into the Art Foundation Program at VCUarts. The admissions decision is final.

I was not accepted to VCUarts. Can I reapply to VCUarts?

If you are not offered admission into VCU School of the Arts and would like to reapply, you should create new work for your portfolio and maintain a high academic record. We recommend that you receive feedback on this new work through a portfolio review. Your application may be reactivated up to one year by contacting VCU Office of Undergraduate Admissions at

I was not accepted to VCUarts. If I still want to apply to VCU in a non-arts major, what do I do?

If you would like to be considered for another VCU major outside of the School of the Arts, please contact VCU Office of Undergraduate Admissions at They will ensure that your application is reviewed for admission into a different major. Visit to learn more about the academic programs available at VCU. Please keep in mind that admission to VCU programs outside of the School of the Arts does not improve or diminish your chances of future admission into the School of the Arts.

If I am accepted into a non-arts major at VCU, can I take art and design classes?

Most School of the Arts courses are reserved for art and design majors.

If I am accepted into another major at VCU, will I have a better chance of being accepted into VCUarts?

Preference is not given to students enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University. The most important factor for admission is your ability to show a marked improvement in your portfolio and academics. We recommend that you create new work for your portfolio and maintain a high academic record. Since you cannot take arts courses at VCU, we recommend that you consider attending another institution that can offer you courses to help improve your portfolio.

I applied to VCUarts. When will I receive a decision?

Freshman applicants for the Fall semester who submit complete applications by January 15 should receive a decision by April 1. Transfer applicants for the Fall semester who submit complete applications by April 1 should receive a decision by June 1. Applicants for the Spring semester who submit complete applications by November 1 should receive a decision by mid-December.


How Do I Submit My Portfolio?

Your portfolio will be submitted online through the VCUarts SlideRoom website. We cannot accept physical portfolios.We do not accept CDs, thumb drives, physical portfolios, email submissions, or personal websites. 

Your portfolio will not be viewed until you submit it.

When your portfolio is complete, you must click the submit button to finalize your submission. Portfolios cannot be viewed by application review committees until submitted. Once you submit your portfolio, you may not make any changes to it. Be sure that you are completely finished editing your portfolio before you click the submit button. Please note: It will take 24 – 72 hours for your portfolio to show as received on your online application checklist.

How should I format my images and videos?

Images may be submitted in the following formats: .JPEG, .PNG, .GIF, .TIF, .TIFF, .BMP, .TGA

Videos may be submitted in the following formats: .M4V, .MOV, .MP4, .TLV, .ASF, .MPEG, .MPG, .MKV

Images can be up to 5 MB each. Video can be up to 250 MB each and PDFs can be up to 10 MB each.

Your images will upload faster if you export optimized JPEG versions of your images. To do this, open your image in Photoshop and use “Save for Web.” Other programs have some sort of export to JPEG feature that makes a smaller version of your images.

If you have trouble uploading video, open your file in Quicktime (it’s free for Mac and PC) then export it to MPEG using H.264 encoding (this is a checkbox). This greatly reduces the file size and should make uploading easier.

How many images should I submit?

You should submit at least 12 images, and no more than 16. If your artwork is very detailed, or is three dimensional, you may need to submit more than one image of it. However, each image will count toward your maximum of 16.You should make sure that you have at least 12 different artworks in your portfolio.

How should I photograph my work?

Your images should reflect the quality of your actual artwork. Do not submit images that are blurry and out of focus. The image should not be pixelated. Check that the colors of your artwork look the same in the photo as they do in real life. If you are photographing 2 dimensional work, make sure that the image is not distorted. If your camera is not lined up properly with your artwork, your rectangular artwork will look like a trapezoid in your photo. Pay attention to your backgrounds. For 2 dimensional work, you may crop out the background all together. For 3 dimensional work, it is usually best to place a white, black, or medium gray background behind your piece before you photograph it.

Can I submit sketchbooks in my portfolio?

You may submit sketchbooks, artists’ books, and altered books in your portfolio. Here are some suggestions on a few different ways that you can document this type of work for digital submission:

  • Take a picture of or scan your favorite page.
  • Take pictures or scan many of your favorite pages and compile them into one image.
  • Film the book as you turn the pages.

How should I organize my portfolio?

You may order your images in any way that is appropriate for your artwork. It may make sense for your work to be in chronological order, or grouped by media or subject matter.

What do you mean by “We prefer to see a diverse range of 2D and 3D media?”

If you work with lots of different materials, techniques, and/or subject matter, that’s great. We want to see all of your best work, even if it doesn’t “go together.” If you only work with one material, that’s okay too – don’t submit work that you are not proud of just for the sake of having variety. We cannot give specific instructions on what to submit because all artists work in different ways, with many different materials. Here are just a few examples of the many different types of media and techniques that students use: graphite, charcoal, oil paint, acrylic paint, oil pastels, watercolors, pen and ink, screenprints, etchings, digital photography, film photography, collage, fashion designs, handmade clothing, knit sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, weavings, found object and mixed media sculpture, embroidery, digital artworks, videos and films.

What information should I include with each piece in my portfolio?

When you upload an image in your portfolio, you will be asked for more information about each piece. Here is a breakdown of what you can include. Items marked with * require an answer.

  • *Title: Name your work. This could be something that is related to the concept of the work, or it could be simply descriptive.
  • Medium: What is the work made of? Examples include (but are not limited to): graphite pencil, linoleum block print, digital photography, or Photoshop drawing. Be specific! We want to know what you are working with. Instead of writing “mixed media,” list the materials that you used. For example, you could write: “cardboard, wire, found bottle caps, hot glue and used coffee grounds.”
  • Unit of Measure: Is it a physical object you can touch and measure? Choose “inches, feet, centimetres, or metres.” If it is a digital work, choose “pixels.” If it is time-based media, such a film or animation, you can leave this blank.
  • Dimensions: If it’s a physical object, measure it. If it’s a digital object, list the pixel dimensions. If it is time-based media, you can leave this blank.
  • *Year of Completion: We prefer that you include works made within the last two years.
  • Time: If you are submitting time-based media, such as a film or animation, list the length of the piece in minutes and seconds, e.g., 04:33 (4 minutes and 33 seconds). All videos must be less than 3 minutes. The total maximum time for all moving images cannot exceed 5 minutes.
  • Description: The most important thing here is to keep it brief! If your work should be accompanied by an explanation of your concept or process, this is your chance to tell us. If the work is self-explanatory, no description is necessary.

How can I get feedback on my portfolio?

We highly recommend that you get feedback on your portfolio before you submit it. There are many ways to do this:

  • Attend a VCU Open House or a National Portfolio Day, where you can receive feedback on your portfolio from VCUarts faculty.
  • Ask your art teachers or local artists in your community to give you a review.

I do not have a portfolio. What should I do?

If you wish to apply to one of our visual arts programs, you will need to submit a portfolio with your application. If you do not have a portfolio, we suggest that you review our portfolio guidelines and start creating new artwork immediately. Try experimenting with a variety of media, and don’t be afraid to explore new things. Look for classes at a local visual arts center, museum, or community college. Once you have developed a body of work, get as much feedback as possible (aside from mom). Talk to high school art teachers and artists in your community. Attend a Portfolio Review Day. Accept constructive criticism and advice — don’t be offended (you’ll need to get used to this if you want to go to art school!).

So What’s The Bottom Line?

Submit your best work, the work that you are the most proud of. We prefer to see finished works of art, although you may submit some unfinished pieces (figure sketches, gesture drawings, etc.). Editing a portfolio is an important part of the admission process. Consequently, we cannot give specific advice in terms of what to submit. However, we do recommend that your portfolio should not be geared toward a specific major, that you submit your strongest work, and we encourage including a diverse range of media in your portfolio.


How much is tuition?

For the most up-to-date information on university base tuition and fees, visit the Student Accounting website. You can see how VCU tuition compares to other top art schools here.

What about financial aid?

Financial aid is available. You must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To learn more, or to download the FAFSA, please visit the Office of Financial Aid or the FAFSA website. The priority deadline is March 1st. Please follow up with our Financial Aid office a few weeks after you complete the FAFSA to ensure you are not missing anything.

What kind of scholarships are available?

To ensure your eligibility for a VCU merit scholarship, make sure you submit your completed application by the early scholarship deadline. To learn more about VCU scholarships, please visit the Undergraduate Admissions webpage. In addition to University scholarships, the School of the Arts and its departments offer a variety of scholarships for current students. You can browse our scholarship database here:


What is the Honors College?

Composed of Virginia Commonwealth University’s most creative, talented and committed students representing virtually every major on campus, the Honors College is an intellectually diverse community that provides a solid foundation for an advanced level of academic success and sets the stage for lifelong learning. The Honors College offers high achieving students at VCU a number of unique opportunities and privileges. Students accepted into the Honors College have access to mentorship programs, honors student organizations and special honors-only residence options at VCU. Honors students may also take advantage of early course registration, honors-only scholarships, special library privileges and access to the honors center’s computer-equipped study rooms and lounge areas. To find out more and apply online, visit the Honors College website.

What is the difference between the Honors College and Arts Honors?

You can earn Arts Honors and University Honors. You must first apply and be accepted into University Honors. Once you are accepted into University Honors, you may automatically be accepted into Arts Honors – your advisor will help you with this. To view the deadlines and apply for University Honors, visit their website.

To earn Arts Honors, an honors student in the School of the Arts must complete 15 credits of Arts honors courses and a senior “capstone” course or experience (this is different for each major). Arts Honors graduates will be recognized with special regalia at graduation. Distinction is noted on the transcript.

Arts Honors courses are offered in Art Foundation and Art History each year. Additionally, 7 other Arts honors courses will be offered annually. These courses change based on course proposals put forward by VCUarts professors. Courses are built around professors’ research interests. This gives arts honors students the opportunity to work with professors in a small group studying topics tied to the professor’s research.

Why should I apply to the Honors College?

If you are a high-achieving student, you should apply to the Honors College because it will enhance your college experience. Your class sizes will be smaller, allowing you more interaction and discussion with your professors and peers. Honors classes do not intend to load you down with more work, but are meant to challenge you and help you develop as a student, thinker, researcher and artist. In addition, there are loads of other benefits (such as early course registration).

My GPA/SAT scores are too low to apply. What should I do?

If you don’t meet the criteria to apply as a high school student, you may apply once you are a current student at VCU. Current VCU students who have achieved at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA in 12 to 53 semester hours of college credit are eligible for admission to the Honors College.


Do I need my associates to transfer to VCUarts?

No, you do not need your Associate’s Degree to transfer.

How many credits should I have before I transfer to VCUarts?

There is no minimum number of earned credits required to apply to VCUarts as a transfer student. We recommend applying when you have a strong GPA and a portfolio that reflects your abilities and potential.

How will my credits transfer into Art Foundation?

One hundred level studio classes are considered for transfer into the Art Foundation Program on a case-by-case basis. After you are accepted, your portfolio and transcripts will be evaluated to determine if you have any equivalent credit. General education courses will also be considered for transfer at this time. Upper level and major specific courses will be reviewed by your major department after you have completed the Art Foundation Program.

How can I be sure that my credits will transfer?

Your credits will be evaluated after you apply and are accepted. You can use our Transfer Guide to look up course equivalencies to check if courses you’ve completed at other institutions will transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University. Arts courses will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.


What is the deadline for applying to VCUarts as an international student?

You should apply by the same deadlines as all other VCUarts applicants. However, please be aware that international applications take longer to process, so you should apply early. You can see the deadlines by going to this website and choosing your major from the drop-down menu:

What are the requirements for international applicants?

You can see the requirements here: If you have additional questions about the application process, you can contact the Office of International Admissions by calling (804) 828-6016 or emailing International applicants who are applying to the School of the Arts must also submit any additional materials required by the intended arts department, such as a portfolio.

If the answer to my question isn’t found here, what do I do?

You may email us at or call us at 1.866.534.3201 or 804.VCU.ARTS.