The best architecture programs have competitive enrollment standards, and the most important part of any application is the portfolio. An architecture portfolio showcases the prospective student’s talent, skill, sense of creativity and interest in architecture. Consequently, it's important to keep track of your developing interest in architecture. Top architecture schools analyze candidate’s portfolios first on quality, but also on the evidence of consistent growth.


Paintings are a good way for your portfolio to communicate artistry and creativity.

A candidate’s portfolio can include anything that showcases potential as a creative architecture student. The portfolio should include samples that highlight the student’s sense of design, drawing abilities and examples of arts and crafts. Most architecture schools now require that portfolio submissions be made in a digital format. This means you should take high-quality digital images of your sketches, photographs, paintings, ceramics, sculptures or other pieces. You should also include other media like writing samples and testimonials. All submitted materials should communicate your abilities of creative expression.

Variety and Quantity

The best architecture portfolios demonstrate a wide variety of personal interests, skills and abilities. A well-rounded portfolio with a diverse mixture of projects and media is preferred to one dominated by a single style of work. Your portfolio should showcase creative ingenuity and balance in various mediums, rather than precocity in just one. Most architecture schools want to see nine to a dozen works. Fewer samples fail to offer an accurate depiction of a candidate’s skills, and too many samples can dilute the strength of a portfolio. Regardless of what you choose for inclusion, make sure your portfolio contains your best work.

Displays High Interest

As a demanding and technical field of study, architecture requires dedication for success.

Often the difference between great and mediocre students of architecture is the level of dedicated interest they have in the field. The best schools are wary of students whose only investment comes from the prestige and income associated with architecture. Your portfolio should demonstrate an active interest and engagement with the field or architecture through your submission materials. A portfolio entirely composed of excellent artwork, for example, does not communicate a high level of interest in architecture. Make sure that your portfolio contains writings or other materials that communicate your passion for construction and building design.

Effective Presentation

The greatest paintings suffer from inadequate lighting, and poor presentation can hamper the impact of the most impressive architectural portfolio. Organization and the sequencing of your portfolio should emphasize development and thematic interests. Related projects should be grouped together to maximize their impact, and you'll want to order your portfolio so the final pieces make the greatest impression. Neatness in the design of the portfolio itself shows the attention to detail that architecture programs look for in students. Lastly, make sure that all of your digital images are clearly reproduced in a standard format, like jpg.