Frequent Asked Questions

What kind of students are you looking for?

Artists and designers are an eclectic bunch — none of us are exactly alike, we embrace our differences and celebrate our originality. Yet we all have something in common: a desire to express our creativity and a motivation to succeed. If that sounds good to you, we’d probably like to meet you! And remember that there are no set criteria for portfolio quality, amount of extra-curricular activities, grade point average, or test scores. Our majors represent a diversity of personalities and backgrounds, and hail from urban centers like New York and Washington DC, small towns like Selinsgrove, and even other countries. It’s worth mentioning that students who excel in the SU art department often share some of the following characteristics:

  • are smart and creative.
  • want to be challenged and are willing to work harder than the next person.
  • aren’t afraid to risk failure in order to succeed.
  • embrace criticism and ask lots of questions.
  • aren’t afraid speak their minds or stand out from the crowd.

Do I need a portfolio to get in?

Yes, you do. Prospective Graphic Design and Studio Art (Painting & Drawing and Photography) majors must submit a portfolio, even if they are current SU students hoping to change their major. Art History majors are not required to submit a portfolio. Click here to learn all about the Susquehanna Department of Art’s portfolio process and requirements.

How much art should I have taken in high school?

If you’ve had the chance to take some art classes — great! If not, that’s just fine too. Applicants need to be able to produce a well-executed and diverse portfolio of artwork, but you don’t need to have created all of the work in a formal art class. Some of our best graduates never took high school art! The most important characteristics for any college art student to have coming in the door are desire, discipline, an open mind, and a solid work ethic. If you have those things, the portfolio will take care of itself.

Is it possible to double major?

Absolutely! Many art department students are engaged in multiple disciplines. Studio Art and Art History majors are encouraged to double major! Some of the most capable graphic design students have paired their design degree with one in business, creative writing, history, or even the sciences.

What do art students minor in?

Whatever they are passionate about. At any moment our students are minoring in everything Susquehanna has to offer. Art History majors often minor (or double major) in a foreign language, History, Literature, Philosophy, Religion, or Film. Popular choices among Art and Design students are Advertising, Editing & Publishing, Photography, Film, or Business. One of the best things about a liberal arts education is the ability to choose a minor (or two) in a subject that really interests you.

What is the difference between a BA and a BFA degree?

The difference lies in graduation requirements. In a nutshell, students pursuing a BFA degree are obligated to choose a “second area of concentration” (a minor) from within the department of art, while BA students are free to minor in any subject the university has to offer, including those in art. This means that our graphic design majors can minor in “outside areas” such as Advertising, Editing & Publishing, or Computer Information Systems, instead of being required to spend those credits on departmental offerings such as Photography or Art History (though they are welcome to do so).

We have found that the versatility of our unique Central Curriculum allows good students to take all of the additional art classes they want AND complete a minor outside the department. The freedom to pursue multiple interests and customize your educational experience is the most powerful aspect of a liberal arts institution — and we’ve found that the professional world and graduate programs agree with us.

What kind of computer should I buy?

We have great computer studios and we want our students to take advantage of them. You don't need to go out and buy a shiny new Mac to succeed here. Instead, do that when you are about to graduate! Working in the art building alongside your classmates is the key to learning and getting better. If you have a computer in your dorm for emails and research papers, that’s awesome, but SU art majors are not required to buy a computer.

What computers and software do you use, how much should I already know?

We use Apple Mac Pro towers with 27-inch cinema displays and the Adobe Creative Suite, which includes Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash, and Acrobat. We teach the software from scratch, and don’t mind at all if students have never used it (or a Mac) before.

Can I test out of the Computer Applications in Graphic Design class?

Absolutely not.

What about internships?

We expect all department majors to complete an internship while enrolled at Susquehanna, usually during the summer between the junior and senior year, though it is not a graduation requirement. Most of our students choose to complete an internship, and are usually successful in landing one of their top choices. Art History and Painting & Drawing students have interned at prestigious national galleries and museums, while Photography students have worked alongside professional photographers of every kind, and Graphic Design majors have interned at some of the best agencies and firms in the world.

What kind of graphic design do you teach?

The program revolves around the idea of blending conceptual problem solving with visual style as it relates to print and web design. Our graduates learn to design in a way that allows them to tackle virtually any problem in any format and solve it in the most appropriate and creative way. We are not solely focused on technical design, i.e. web development, computer animation, or video gaming. We certainly offer web design, but our program is about much, much more. Our students create: Logos, Stationery, Packaging, Magazines, Apparel, Book Jackets, Music CDs, Annual Reports, Posters, Point-of-Purchase displays, Interactive, and much more.

Can I apply as a transfer student?

Yes, you can. Simply submit your materials for application to the art department when you apply for transfer to Susquehanna. However, you should be aware that you may not receive credit for the art or design classes you have taken at another institution; and that some students may be asked to start at the beginning of our curriculum. A reasonable expectation is that students who transfer to the graphic design major at Susquehanna, regardless of their current status, should expect to be here for at least three years.

Do I need to enter Susquehanna as an art department major?

Art and design are creative endeavors that become highly competitive job after graduation, whether in the job market or in application to graduate school. We believe this is something that takes most students four years of hard work to properly prepare for, particularly in graphic design. Not only do students need to learn how to solve problems visually, master a variety of art techniques, use evolving technology, understand the nuances of the professional world, and many other things; they need time to mature and actually become professionally viable at those things. Students who have attempted to cram it in to five or six semesters have not fared as well as those who allotted the appropriate amount of time. Therefore, we strongly advise that all majors come in as freshman.