Visual Communication Portfolio Admissions Requirements

Visual Communications is excited to announce its new admission procedure, now available to transfer and current students.

The new method of admission is limited to applicants that successfully fulfill the following guidelines.

  • Obtain successful admissions to the university
  • Maintain a minimum overall GPA of 2.50 on a 4.00 scale for all courses including transfer courses
  • Interview with the Visual Communication area faculty selection committee
  • Submit a portfolio of work that meets the admission criteria for the program (for portfolio instructions, please refer to The Portfolio section below for details).

The interview and portfolio will be used to determine which students are admitted.

The Interview Dates and Process

  • Interviews will be held on the following three dates in 2017: Friday March 24, Friday April 28, and Thursday August 10. Interviews will start at 10:00am and go to 6:00pm.
  • During the interview, you will be asked questions to assess your interest, commitment, and level of understanding of a career as a professional designer. Questions will be concerned with general cultural awareness, design fundamentals, and your academic and professional goals.
  • During the interview, you are encouraged to ask the interviewers questions regarding the Visual Communication program.
  • The on-campus interviews will be held at Jack Arends Hall (Art Building) Room 314, of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb Illinois. For directions, see the Google Map link.
  • Applicants will be notified by email within five (5) business days of their interview
  • Please come dressed for an interview

To schedule an interview on one of the above dates, please call 815.753.0291.

The Portfolio

Be prepared to present a digital version of your design portfolio during your interview. Your portfolio should include design work, such as brochures, posters, logos, magazine layouts, typography work, web design, or motion design. All work must be formatted as jpg, PDF, or web html.  

All work MUST be submitted via USB flash drive at the time of your interview. All work must be formatted as jpg, PDF, or web html for web design work. Note that websites or online portfolios are not to be used. All files are to be individual files.

Applicants must have a minimum of 10 individual projects, but no more than 20 are to be presented. The selection of pieces in your portfolio tells us a great deal about you, so thoughtfully and carefully choose those pieces you think best show your design talent and potential for further development.
We recognize that some of the applicants will not have design work that is similar to the above design examples, thus we are open to reviewing drawings, paintings, photography, or other 2d or 3d creative work that we can evaluate for design sensibilities.  
However, we strongly encourage students that do not have design work to develop design projects on their own, if they have not had the opportunities to work on design projects in their schools. 
As a recommendation the book, Graphic Design School by David Dabner, available at, is very informative introducing its audience to graphic design.  You will find that this book is instructive; providing candidates with projects that will assist in building and/or strengthen ones portfolio. 
Please note that the Visual Communication portfolio review process is repeatable. Because portfolios are works in progress, we appreciate the potential for improvement. Students are encouraged to re-apply for admission to the program if initial reviews are not in their favor.

Steve Quinn

Associate Professor, Visual Communication
B. ENVD., University of Colorado
Office: Art Building 314
Office Phone: (815) 753-0291


niu | school of art and design
jack arends building
dekalb, il 60115-2883