Applying to the Bachelor of Fine Arts

Current students interested in applying to the BFA should work with an art advisor to determine when the best time is to apply, the courses to take to keep them on track for both the BFA and BA, steps and timeline, and the resources available.

The art advising center will email all Art majors (not pre-art majors) at the beginning of each semester to explain the steps and timeline for application to the BFA for that semester.

All students will be allowed 2 attempts to apply to the BFA. This is total attempts and not per program. If a student submits a portfolio during the admission cycle, this is considered a first attempt.


If applying to the BFA, the following are a list of the minimum requirements needed to be eligible. Keep in mind that although these are the minimum requirements, we highly advise students to have additional preparation (classes) to add to their portfolio when applying.

In order to be eligible for the BFA, all students must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Have earned no more than 96 Timely Graduation Units;
  • Able to complete all degree requirements within 120% of the number of units required for the degree;
  • Have earned a minimum of 2.5 for the following four (4) GPAs:
    1. Overall GPA
    2. CSULB GPA
    3. Major GPA (Graphic Design applicants must have earned a minimum 3.0 Major GPA)
    4. Major Upper Division CSULB GPA
  • Have completed major preparation courses with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and with a grade of "C" or better that include
    • Art History 111A (Foundation Art History I);
    • Art History 111B (Foundation Art History II);
    • Art 130 (Foundation Two-Dimensional);
    • Art 131 (Foundation Three-Dimensional);
    • Graphic Design requires an additional 2 courses:
      • Art 181 (Foundation Drawing)
      • Art 223 (Introduction to Typography)
  • Have completed General Education/Foundation courses with a “C” or better OR earned Credit (“CR”). Required courses include:
    • Oral Communication (A1)
    • Written Communication (A2)
    • Critical Thinking (A3)
    • Mathematics (B4)

You will not be allowed to submit a portfolio if you do not meet all of the eligibility requirements. Speak with an Art advisor to determine the best time to apply to the BFA during your studies.

In order to be competitive when submitting a portfolio, faculty recommend students take at least 1-2 upper division (300/400 level) courses within the program to strengthen their portfolio.

Typically, students who begin as freshmen with the School of Art will apply during their Junior year. Transfers vary in application time, but will typically apply during their second or third semester.

Limitations on Number of BFA Attempts

You may have up to two attempts to qualify for a BFA, provided you meet the criteria and have not exceeded 96 timely graduation units. Please see an advisor to verify your units. If you are a transfer student and you submit a portfolio when you apply to CSULB that will count as your first attempt.

Current CSULB Art and Pre-Art Majors

Current CSULB Art and Pre-Art Majors who wish to submit a portfolio for consideration for any of the BFA degree options, please contact an SOA Advisor. For current CSULB students portfolio reviews take place in the Fall and Spring semesters.

Current students may apply for portfolio review in the School of Art Advising Center from the third through the fifth week of the fall and spring semesters. Students who meet the criteria, have completed a minimum of 60 and no more than 96 timely graduation units, and who can complete the BFA within the maximum allowed units will be invited to submit a portfolio. Faculty will review your portfolio and determine if your work is strong enough for you to be admitted to the BFA.

Instructions for BFA Transfer Applicants

Applicants who meet the minimum major-specific requirements and competitive ranking based on the CSULB Supplemental Application will be invited to submit a portfolio electronically. Instructions for electronic submission of the portfolio and the deadline for submission will be communicated in the invitation. Applicants to the Art BFA Options must receive a positive recommendation from the faculty following review of the portfolio in order to be admitted to a BFA program.

General Instructions

All submissions must adhere to the following guidelines unless otherwise specified in the Progam-Specific Requirements.


  • Uploaded image files may not be larger than 5MB each.
  • The supported image formats are:
    • jpg
    • png
    • gif
    • tif
    • bmp
    • tga
  • Be aware that our online portfolio reviewing service processes all images so they fit within 1280 x 1280 pixel dimensions.
  • Required for each image: Title, dimensions (H x W x L), medium, date, and if the work was done for a class assignment.

Artist Statement

A brief statement of 150 words or less (1000-character limit) is required on the portfolio submission form. This statement should address your portfolio and your interest in the program to which you are applying.


  • Videos, where required, can be embedded from Youtube or Vimeo, or you may upload them.
  • Uploaded videos can be no larger than 60MB.
  • The supported video formats for uploading are:
    • m4v
    • mov
    • mp4
    • wmv
    • flv
    • asf
    • mpeg
    • mpg
    • mkv

3-D Media (Fiber, Metals & Jewelry, Wood)

Your portfolio must include a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 images, with the majority of the works representing your interest in either fiber, metals & jewelry, or wood. Other 3D media may also be submitted.


Your portfolio must include a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 images of your artwork. The majority of these should represent work in the ceramic arts, and may include both class projects and self-directed works. Wheel-thrown, hand-built, or ceramic work made using other processes are acceptable. Applicants may also include work in other media, whether 2D or 3D. No more than two images in your portfolio should represent detail shots or alternate views of work already presented.

Drawing and Painting

Your portfolio must include 15 images of your artwork. At least five of these images should be of a highly unified body of work that reflect your artistic voice. Ideally, these five works are independently generated, and are not class assignments. 10 images should come from classwork (previous or current).

Graphic Design

You have a maximum of 15 images to represent at least six Graphic Design projects. Recommended projects include:

  • a poster design or series,
  • a book cover or book cover series,
  • a multi-page brochure or magazine article,
  • a motion design or a multiple-page screen-based design,
  • packaging design or branding design,  or an ad campaign series,
  • UX/UI design, web design, screen-based design,

and a free choice to showcase a specific individual interest.

Select one piece of work presented in your submission and discuss its production process in the artist statement section. Explain your conceptual development, choice of images and the typefaces used and/or any unusual production process.


Your portfolio must include a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 images representing your best past or current work in illustration or animation, or other appropriate areas. Choose original work that represents your artistic interests, draws from observation, composition, use of color, use of imagination, and painting. Ten seconds of animation counts as one piece. You must indicate either Illustration, Animation, or Pre-Production track when submitting your portfolio.


Your portfolio must include a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 photographs, mixed media, or video works showcasing one or two bodies of work. The portfolio should explore your unique artistic direction for conceptual and personal themes. Please note that this program provides an art perspective on photographic applications.


Your portfolio must include a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 images, with at least five representing hand-pulled prints, and five representing other 2D media.


Your portfolio must include a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 images or videos. While a wide range of media may be submitted, the portfolio should show the artistic direction of the applicant in relation to their sculptural practice.


During your first 2 years, you will be guided towards taking courses that will fulfill foundation requirements for both General Education and the Art degree. Due to studio courses requiring a lot of in and out of class time, we use general education courses to help alleviate the demand of art courses.

The first year of your education, art advisors will ask which program you are interested in pursuing. Some students might know from the beginning of their interests, while others are interested in exploring. Art advisors will help you with either scenario: exploring or focusing on an art program. Just know that we will make sure you stay on track in fulfilling both general education and major requirements.

Completing your degree in a certain timeframe will vary with each student and the program they intend to graduate in.


Art advisors recommend students use their first semester at CSULB to prepare for the portfolio and apply to the BFA in their second or third semester. Use your first semester to speak with the faculty in your intended program, take upper division courses so you can add that work to your portfolio, attend workshops to help prepare you for the BFA process, and speak with your art advisors. Doing all this will provide you with much needed time to build a strong portfolio and not stress yourself during your 1st semester. If you express interest in applying to the BFA to your art advisor, we provide you with a list of classes that are applied towards both the Studio Art major and BFA major of your intended program. We don't want you off track of the major you are in, but we also want to prepare you for the BFA (if your intention is to apply). The art advisors will keep you on track for the BA and BFA for at least 2 semesters.

There are several steps that students must follow when considering applying to the BFA.

  • Submit an eligibility application. Art advisors will verify your eligibility for application to the BFA. If you are not eligible to apply to the BFA, you will be notified via email with an explanation.
  • An invitation will be sent to eligible applicants
  • Students have approximately 10 days to upload an electronic portfolio
  • Faculty will review portfolios after uploading period is complete
  • Applicants will be emailed their acceptances/denials into the BFA

Fall Semester:

  • Eligibility Application opens early September and closes end of September
  • BFA Portfolio submission opens in early October and closes in mid-October
  • BFA Admission/Denial notifications sent out early November

Spring Semester:

  • Eligibility Application opens early February and closes mid-February
  • BFA Portfolio submission opens in late February and closes early March
  • BFA Admission/Denial notifications sent out end of March

This is a general timeline of the BFA application and may change. Check with the Art advising office for precise dates for the current semester’s BFA timeline.

The School of Art offers many resources to current students in preparation for their application to the BFA.

  • Program Workshops: A few programs have workshops to discuss what they are looking for in a portfolio. Other programs prefer that you make an appointment with a faculty member to provide feedback on your portfolio. Visit the advising office to learn more about which programs offer these workshops, and which faculty you can visit to receive feedback on your portfolio. 
  • BFA Eligibility Workshops: The advising center hosts workshops to discuss eligibility requirements for the BFA, and when is the best time to apply. These are typically held in September and February. 
  • Art Documentation Workshops: These workshops are held by the advising office and focus on showing you how to document your work and display it in Slide Room. 
  • Art Ambassadors: The School of Art employs art peer mentors, whom we call Art Ambassadors. These are current Art CSULB students, who are either in the BFA or BA. Art ambassadors are available to provide BFA timeline information, feedback on portfolios for their respective programs, and BFA resources. 
  • Faculty: Faculty are available to offer you advice on your portfolio. Whether they offer workshops or office hours, they are here to help you. Faculty can also provide you information on student groups holding sessions supporting students through the BFA process.