Undergraduate Portfolio


What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a visual record of an individual’s curiosity, explorations, skills and knowledge

Your NSCAD portfolio should be a collection of recent works presented in the form of digital documentation or links to audio or video pieces - all uploaded to your application on


For Foundation Applicants:

  1. 10-20 submissions of completed recent, or previous work from the past three years – any work older than this should be explained in the List of Works as to why you are including it and why you think it’s still relevant.

    Your portfolio must incorporate at least three different mediums. Please see examples of different mediums below. You may include mediums that are not on the list.

  2. Five-to-10 additional sketchbook/notebook/journal entries - these pages should demonstrate your process. How do you plan? How do your ideas come to be? Eg. lists, storyboards, writing, research, scraps, collage, quick sketches.

For Advanced Standing Applicants:

  1. 10-20 completed works:
    Incorporate the medium of interest you have indicated as your major on your application.

    Along with this, you should include works in other mediums that indicate how you have developed experience with foundation art and design fundamentals in your post-secondary experience.

A good Portfolio demonstrates and contains:

  • Original work made by you! You may also submit work that you collaborated on, but please remember to briefly explain the collaboration in your List of Works
  • Work you have confidence in, displaying a diversity of subject matter and medium.
  • A good understanding of what you are interested in.
  • Your general level of curiosity and creativity about how you view your surroundings.
  • Your level of maturity, self-motivation and commitment to a craft, design, or fine art education.
  • Choice and presentation of your work - your ability to edit your creative outcomes to choose the best works that describes your curiosity, interests, explorations, skill and knowledge.
  • Your ability to focus on process - making something from start to finish with the ability to identify all the steps in between.
  • Your ability to communicate the quality of your thoughts and ideas.

Some Helpful Tips

  • You’re encouraged to use personal experience and cultural heritage as possible avenues of exploration for the required projects and other work submitted for review. Tell us your story!
  • You should include work that gives evidence of your ability and willingness to look closely and carefully at a subject.
  • Clear process, procedures, or paths of exploration and experimentation may tell the Admissions Committee as much about you as does the finished work, so use the sketchbook/journal to your advantage (if applicable).
  • The Admissions Committee is particularly interested in seeing work that is carried out independently of classroom assignments and that makes the most of the opportunities available to you as an artist. We want to see what can you create that hasn't been instructed by a teacher.
  • The work you submit should display a wide range of explorations, and use a variety of materials. This shows that you’re open to working with different media in response to observation of a particular situation or subject.

   Disciplines at NSCAD:


Art History and Critical Studies

Craft: Ceramics, Jewellery Design and Metalsmithing, Textiles and Fashion

Design: Interdisciplinary Design

Fine Art: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture  

Media Art: Film, Intermedia, Photography  


Examples of mediums you might include in your Portfolio:

  • Acrylic
  • Animation
  • Cartooning/Anime
    (with preference for
  • Cement
  • Charcoal
  • Circuit Bending
  • Clay
  • Clothing
  • Creative Writing
  • Crochet
  • Documented 
  • Performance Piece
  • Embroidery
  • Essays
  • Film (Digital or Analog)
  • Food
  • Found Materials
  • Graphic Design
  • Graphic novels
  • Illustration
  • Ink
  • Intaglio
  • Interactive Displays
  • Knitting
  • Lithography
  • Metalworking
  • Oil
  • Pastel
  • Pencil/Graphite
  • Photography
    (Film or Digital)
  • Plastics
  • Poetry
  • Printed matter
  • Product Design
  • Programming
  • Recycled Materials
  • Robotics
  • Rug Hooking
  • Screenprinting
  • Scripts
  • Sewing
  • Sound
  • Spoken Word
  • Stone
  • Upholstery
  • Video
  • Watercolour
  • Weaving
  • Wire
  • Wood
  • Woodcuts
  • Zines
  • Projects integrating creative practice with other disciplines: engineering, architecture, chemistry, physics, mathematics etc. If you created something that crosses boundaries, it may be considered as a piece in your portfolio.
  • Excerpts of time-based work (performance, film, sound or video) may be uploaded to Vimeo, YouTube or personal/professional website, with links to specific works provided within the List of Works. Total running time of time-based excerpts should not exceed 15 minutes.

What is a sketchbook?

Your Sketchbook should contain five-to-10 pages of your process toward making art. What do you think about before you make your final images, your research, your ideas, your sketches? This is your visual journal of collections of doodles, lyrics, poems and drawings. You should approach this journal as if no one would see it (except us). Be brave and have fun!

Your List of Works is a list of all your artwork submitted.  
Tell us what each piece of work is and let us know what media it is. 


Having problems uploading your files?  

Please check out our How to Upload page for specific upload procedures

Portfolio Day
NSCAD University hosts information sessions and portfolio previews for foundation applicants and other interested individuals such as parents, guardians and teachers. These sessions are held twice yearly on the third Saturday of February and October. Individuals are welcome to tour the university facilities, discuss visual submissions with members of the Admissions Committee and explore program offerings with university faculty and students. For further details or to sign up for the next Portfolio Day, please visit Upcoming Events.

National Portfolio Day
NSCAD University is a member of the National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA) which was created solely for the organization and planning of National Portfolio Days. Since 1978, NPDA members have been hosting portfolio days and career-in-the-arts events throughout the United States and Canada.

The NPDA consists of accredited art colleges and university art departments which are members of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. It is the only organization of its kind, and its membership represents the highest standard of visual arts education.

NSCAD participates in a number of NPDA events in various cities throughout Canada and the United States each year. Visit National Portfolio Day Association for more information.