Preparing a Portfolio

Your portfolio is an important part of your application for admission to all studio-based programs. This section outlines portfolio guidelines and the submission process. Apart from the information below, OCAD University offers many opportunities to further develop your portfolio for admission. Check out our Portfolio Clinics, Summer Workshops, and National Portfolio Day

All applicants are required to submit a digital portfolio online through SlideRoom. You will be notified by email of further details, deadlines and instructions for submitting the portfolio after your application has been received and processed. Portfolio submissions for first year applicants who apply by February 1, 2019 are due on February 15, 2019.

NOTE: A $25 fee, payable in advance through the OUAC, is required to cover the costs involved with portfolio assessment.

Important Reminder: We would like to remind you that plagiarism or misrepresenting the work of others as your own is an offense against intellectual property rights and is a serious breach of academic misconduct. The work you are presenting in your portfolio must be of your own creation.

Submitting through SlideRoom
First Year Guidelines
Upper Year Guidelines
General Tips for your Portfolio

SlideRoom Portfolio Submissions 

To submit your portfolio through OCAD University's SlideRoom portal please visit the following link to create an account, Access to SlideRoom will be made available on January 14, 2019.

  • Before you use SlideRoom please make sure that you have applied for admission online through the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre,, and that you have received an email from OCAD U acknowledging receipt of your application
  • Use the same name and email address in your SlideRoom account as on your application
  • OCAD U will provide you with an OCAD University ID# which must be included in your SlideRoom submission
  • You may upload images (jpg, png, gif), video (mov, wmv, flv, mp4), music (mp3) and PDF documents. Please ensure video clip files are from 2 to 3 minutes in length
  • SlideRoom offers additional instructions at and technical assistance by email
  • In SlideRoom you can log in and edit your portfolio as much as you like; however, once you click on the submit button, you will no longer be able to make changes
  • Remember, you must click the submit button if you want us to review your portfolio, un-submitted or pending portfolios will not be reviewed
  • Please note that there are several programs listed at our SlideRoom portal; it is very important that you upload your work to the same program that you have applied to
  • A $12 USD fee will be charged at the time of submission by SlideRoom, this fee is not included in the general application fee through the OUAC

First Year Portfolio Guidelines

Your portfolio is a collection of work that represents your individual creative and technical experiences and accomplishments and should be a visual representation of who you are. You need to demonstrate that you are a visual communicator and that you are well-equipped to succeed in the program you have applied to at OCAD U. This can include experimentation in both traditional and digital media or any combination. Keep in mind that when it comes to your portfolio, some of the most important features we look for are skill, passion, curiosity and your ability to think creatively, shown in a diverse range of mediums. Your portfolio for admission should include:

Statement of Intent: To support your application to OCAD U, we ask that you tell us about yourself through a statement of intent (300 words maximum). Your statement of intent should explain your specific interest in the program that you have applied to at OCAD U as well as what or who inspires and influences the work that you do. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself as an artist/designer/maker and provide context so we can better understand your work. Further details are available through SlideRoom and you will submit your statement as part of the SlideRoom submission process.

Process Work: Include your sketchbook, process and concept development skills as part of your portfolio submission. You can document your process work as a sketchbook, creative journal, concept/idea book or a digital document. Your process work should demonstrate a routine of creative process, should link to several of the finished pieces included in the portfolio and include experimentation, photos of development, drawing, mark-making, writing, research and inspirations. You may submit more than one sketchbook but must remember that each counts as one piece in the portfolio submission. Upload your process work to SlideRoom as a multiple page PDF or a brief video.

Finished Work: Include 8 to 10 examples of your original work that demonstrates a variety of your skills and approaches to art, design and media. Be sure to include examples of work that is directly related to the program that you are applying. Also include explorations in traditional, digital, and experimental mediums or any combination. Show us who you are through your work and that you are well equipped to succeed in the program that you have applied to at OCAD U. Be sure to appropriately label your work in SlideRoom using the fields provided.

Descriptions: Explain in 50 words per finished piece the process/making method/media/concept and purpose of each piece. Use the additional details field in SlideRoom as you upload your work.

Please note, there are additional guidelines for some of our programs available through our SlideRoom portal and at the following links:    

Upper Year Entry Portfolio Guidelines

Direct entry to an Upper Year program and the year level placement is based on the strength of the applicant's portfolio and academic standing. To qualify for upper year consideration you must have successfully completed at least one year of studies in a program equivalent to the program you are applying for at OCAD U. Further details about Upper Year entry can be found in Transfer Pathways.

A Statement of Intent of approximately 300 words is a required element of the portfolio. No portfolio will be reviewed without the written statement.

After your application has been received and processed, details will be emailed to you about dates, deadlines and SlideRoom access. Portfolio submissions for upper year applicants who apply by February 1, 2019 are due on February 15, 2019.

Upper Year Entry Faculty of Art Portfolio (PDF)
Upper Year Entry Faculty of Design Portfolio (PDF)
Upper Year Entry Digital Futures Portfolio (PDF)

Important Reminder: We would like to remind you that plagiarism or misrepresenting the work of others as your own is an offense against intellectual property rights and is a serious breach of academic misconduct. The work you are presenting in your portfolio must be of your own creation.

Tips for your portfolio submission:

  • Generate interest and excitement with the first piece in your submission
  • Leave a lasting impression with your final piece in your submission
  • Know that your most recent work, completed within the past two years, best demonstrates your current skill level
  • Explain why a particular work was selected for inclusion in your portfolio, what it means to you and what you were trying to achieve
  • Reference research and preparation you did for your final work
  • Include work that directly relates to the program that you are applying to
  • Demonstrate a variety of your skills and approaches to art, design and media
  • Include examples of drawing from direct observation, such as figure drawing, still life, interiors and landscapes
  • Include work in 2D, 3D, time-based, lens-based, new genres, digital or traditional media; all forms of work are acceptable
  • Demonstrate your ability to work with a wide range of techniques, materials and subject matter
  • Ensure that photographs of your work are well-lit on plain backgrounds
  • Include multiple images, if required, for 3D work, series, or site-specific work
  • Include your process work/sketchbook(s) as a multiple page PDF or a brief video
  • Research OCAD U ahead of time to show your level of interest and commitment to studying here

Statement on Application Fraud: It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that application information and all supporting documentation is truthful, complete and correct. OCAD University reserves the right to verify any information provided as part of the application. It is an act of serious academic misconduct to provide any false or misleading information (either by omission or commission) in an application. If it is proven, or if the University has reasonable grounds to conclude, that any information in the application, or in any of the material submitted in support of the application, is determined to be false or misleading, or written by a third party, the application may be invalidated at the absolute and sole discretion of OCAD University. This could result in immediate rejection of the application, or, in the revocation of an offer of admission, or, in the termination of registration at OCAD University. Any such information may be shared by OCAD University with other universities and colleges across Canada.

OCAD University reserves the right to be the sole arbiter of what it will accept on an academic and equivalency basis. Academic entrance requirements and portfolio requirements are subject to change. 

Undergraduate programs

Graduate programs