The University of Notre Dame, founded in 1842 by the Congregation of Holy Cross, is an independent, national Catholic university located in Notre Dame, Indiana. Any student admitted as an undergraduate to the University of Notre Dame may declare an architecture major. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions regulates all undergraduate admissions to the University. Freshmen are encouraged to enter the five-year program to begin the challenging curriculum as early as possible. The first year of the program is an introduction to architecture and drawing skills in addition to the First Year Curriculum.

Undergraduate students immerse themselves in the principles of traditional and classical architecture and its application in the modern world. That means learning more than the basics of design and construction. It means developing an understanding of society itself and how the buildings where people live, work, and worship facilitate a sense of community. To that end, Notre Dame has developed an extensive five-year program to prepare students to become licensed architects and engaged citizens committed to the greater good of the built and natural environment.


Submission of a Portfolio for Undergraduate Admission to Notre Dame in Architecture:

Undergraduate admission applications are judged by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.  The School of Architecture’s involvement is limited to the evaluation of the portfolio if an applicant chooses to submit one.  Notre Dame is looking primarily at the overall excellence of the prospective student, not at specialized preparation for a particular major.  This is tied to the fact that admission with a stated intent does not require the admitted student to follow that major.  The First Year of Studies program is designed to allow the student to explore possibilities and make a more informed choice as to major.  Accordingly such a specific factor as a portfolio is less important at Notre Dame than it might be at a university which admits its students to a particular division of the university.

In general a strong portfolio evaluation by the School of Architecture can be the deciding factor in a “close call” application, but a strong portfolio will not help a weak application, and the absence of a portfolio will not hurt a strong application, even if architecture is intended.

Portfolio Content:

We are not looking for a particular set of skills.  Basically, show us what you have learned so far.  Free hand drawing and painting are the skills we look for most, but photography, sculpture, ceramics, woodworking and model-building can all be strong elements as well.  Drafting, by hand or computer, is somewhat helpful, especially if it shows a strong understanding of architectural drawing conventions.

Notre Dame accepts the portfolio only by an electronic submission through the service SlideRoom.  The Undergraduate Admissions website gives you access to the application and the link to submit the portfolio via SlideRoom.  The portfolio is limited to 12 images.  Breadth of subject and media strengthens the portfolio as does having some work in black and white, and some in color.  For example, an applicant can receive a strong evaluation with only still life sketches in pencil, but the portfolio will be stronger if some of the works are in color and stronger still if other subjects are shown: landscape, buildings, portraits.  However do not force the issue by turning out weak work just to pad the portfolio.  We can read potential for further learning in what you have learned.

Provide a brief caption for each piece stating:

  • The title (if any)
  • The medium
  • The original size
  • The date (either the calendar date “March 2012,” or the year of school, "Freshman Year," etc.)
  • Conditions of drawing: "drawn from life," "drawn from a photograph," "drawn from imagination," etc.