Admission to the graduate program requires a formal application consisting of the following:
- Application form and $50 fee.
- Transcripts showing a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 3.0 GPA. Any previous graduate study should meet a minimum of 3.25 GPA.
- A portfolio of film work, which demonstrates skills in one or more of five areas: producing, directing, writing, cinematography,
and editing. While recognizing the collaborative nature of filmmaking, applicants must have been the lead person in one of these areas. Screenwriters may submit a screenplay in lieu of a produced film for which they are the author. Film projects should be a minimum of 15 minutes in length (multiple examples may be used) and a maximum of 30 minutes (longer projects should be excerpted). Scripts should be a minimum of 30 pages and a maximum of 120 pages.
- A written essay defining the aesthetic approach and artistic influences of the portfolio submission. This essay should also include an explanation of the reason for application and detail post graduate goals.
- 3 letters of recommendation
- Personal Interview
Application materials will be reviewed by a committee comprised of full-time faculty. A review of the applicant’s portfolio will evaluate the ability of the student to progress successfully through the curriculum. Technical skills, aesthetic sensibilities, critical thinking, and writing skills will be assessed.
Finalists will be interviewed in person or via an online portal.
National Portfolio Day
Encourage your students to attend a National Portfolio Day event nearby. This is a significant scholarship opportunity for seniors and a learning experience for underclassmen. Watkins hosts the Nashville NPD event and attends numerous NPDs nationwide. For more information check out our National Portfolio Day page and portfolioday.net
Check out the Portfolio Prep & Development section of our website to get an idea of what we are looking for in student portfolios. The Advanced Placement website also has excellent examples of student work for portfolio preparation.
This 3-week intensive program offers high school students the chance to learn skills and build their portfolio in a college environment. Students completing the program earn 3 credit-hours of college credit and a $4,000 scholarship to Watkins (based on acceptance). On campus housing is not available at this time. For more information check out the Pre-College page.
Scholarships Your Students May Qualify For:
Students applying to Watkins are automatically considered for merit scholarships based on their application materials including portfolio, essay, and academics. Additionally, seniors who receive portfolio reviews at National Portfolio Day may be awarded preliminary scholarships, so please encourage your students to attend these events.
Watkins accepts the Tennessee HOPE scholarship and matches other regional lottery scholarships, such as KEES in Kentucky and the Georgia HOPE, for up to $2,500 a year.
Sponsored Art and Film Competitions:
Watkins awards scholarships to winners of Scholastic Art Awards and other regional art competitions. See this PDF for a list of sponsored competitions:
Members of the Tennessee Art Education Association (TAEA) may nominate one student a year for a one-time Watkins scholarship of $1,000. A letter of recognition from the TAEA member should be submitted to the Director of Admissions on or before May 1 of each year. The award will only be granted to a high school senior planning to attend Watkins as a full-time student in the fall immediately following graduation.
Want to learn more about what Watkins has to offer your students? Request information and materials- such as catalogs, view books and posters for your classroom.
Click here to Request A Teacher Packet
Meet a Representative
Watkins representatives attend National Portfolio Days around the US and a number of college fairs in the Southeast region each year. We also host Preview Days on our campus twice a year, and welcome you to schedule a tour with us at your convenience. Additionally, we visit many advanced art and design classes around the country. Email us to check availability – email@example.com
The Community Education department at Watkins offers programs that provide professional development opportunities for K-12 art educators to engage in hands-on art making activities and develop strategies for incorporating thematic and contemporary art-driven ideas, projects, and techniques into curricula. These programs are a chance for educators to rejuvenate their creative juices in a community of peers while developing new art skills for themselves and ideas for the classroom. Check out the Community Education page for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Reference Form for student applications
Are you writing a reference for a student who is applying to Watkins? Download the form here- Watkins Reference Form
Alternately, you can email a letter recommending the student to email@example.com
Recommend a Student
Do you have a student that you think would be a good fit for Watkins? Share their information with us below so that we can keep them on our radar.
Jan 1, 2016
FAFSA processing begins
March 1, 2016
Priority application and scholarship deadline
July 15, 2016
Final application deadline
What is National Portfolio Day?
National Portfolio Days are educational events for young artists held at host colleges throughout the U.S. and Canada. Portfolio Days bring together students and experienced college representatives, who review artwork, offer critique, discuss college plans, and share information about their schools. These events are not an examination or a competition. The reviewers are interested in your development, look forward to seeing your work, and providing you with helpful information for this next important step in your education. So stop by our table and show us your stuff!
Who Should Attend?
Any student interested in studying art and / or design at the college level should attend a National Portfolio Day. Participating in a Portfolio Day will give you a taste of what it would be like to attend a professional art program. Keep in mind you may hear many different opinions about your work. This is your chance to explain your thought process and show us where you want to go with your work.
What Should You Bring?
We want to see your sketch books, works in progress and what you consider your best finished pieces. Always bring original artwork when possible (15 to 20 pieces is fine.) If your work is large, 3-dimensional or otherwise hard to carry, you can bring photographs of the work instead. You may bring your own laptop if you wish but Watkins will have a laptop available to look at work that needs to be viewed on a computer. A portfolio review usually takes approximately 15 minutes.
Got questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about National Portfolio Days and to view the 2015-2016 schedule, visit www.portfolioday.net
How to Prepare and What to Bring Video
Visit Watkins at these National Portfolio Days:
- Attend one of the many National Portfolio Day events that we attend
- Schedule a portfolio review when you visit the Watkins campus
- Get a review from the admissions representative that visits your high school
There are many benefits to getting a review before you apply.
- You will get feedback on what’s working in your portfolio and what areas you can improve on.
- Seniors and transfer students may qualify for scholarships just by getting a review.
- Portfolio reviews, like campus visits, are a good way to learn more about the program that you are interested in.
Prepare for a review by bringing your original artwork. If your original work is unavailable of difficult to carry, bring images of the work. Most importantly, be ready to have a conversation about the art you bring. Bring enough work so that the reviewer can get a good sense of your artistic process and voice. 15-20 pieces seems to be a good amount. Show work that is no more than 2 years old. Bring your finished pieces as well as your current works in progress, and most importantly, your sketchbook!
How To Submit Your Work
Your entire portfolio can be uploaded in the online application in the “Add Media” section.
File types accepted:
Images (jpg, gif, png) up to 5 MB each
Videos (flv, wmv, mov) up to 60 MB each
Audio (mp3) up to 10 MB each
Documents (pdf) up to 10 MB each
Upload your application exercises first. Please label your files with your name and exercise number with no spaces (ex: JoeSmithExercise01.jpg). Make sure that the exercise numbers match up with the numbers of the actual exercises.
Number your portfolio pieces with your name and a number with no spaces beginning at number 1 (ex:JoeSmith01.jpg)
**Remember to add descriptions of your work in the descriptions field when uploading your pieces. This is the only information that we will have about your work and this is the only chance you will get to explain any special idea or process you used in your work.
CD or DVD (Files accepted: .jpg, .tiff, .pdf, .mov, .mpeg and quicktime.) Website urls are also accepted for design or film portfolios.
Label the files on your disc with your name and a number with no spaces (ex: JoeSmith01.jpg).
Print an inventory sheet with corresponding file numbers identifying each file on your disc. Also include the following information for each piece:
- Title of Work
- Completion Date
- Any other relevant information (possibly parameters of a class assignment)
Label the CD/DVD case and the CD/DVD with the following information:
- Your Full Name
- Phone Number
- Term for which you are applying
Photography portfolios may be submitted on CD or DVD (please follow instructions for Digital Portfolios above) or submitted as printed images. Printed images should not exceed 8 x 10. Include a printed inventory sheet describing each piece or work (title, dimensions, completion date, and photo medium).
Film portfolios may be submitted in DVD-R format. A title card must be at the beginning of each film and must include the following:
- The project’s title
- The name and phone number of the applicant
- Term for which you are applying
PORTFOLIO SUBMISSION FOR TRANSFER CREDIT
Applicants seeking to transfer prior studio credits must submit a portfolio of original work from each course to be evaluated. Each work/project
should include: your name, title, a description, the course name, the official course description photocopied from the institution’s catalog the
year the class was taken and a copy of the cover of the pertinent catalog. A copy of the syllabus, if available, is also helpful.
Technical Skill and Experimentation:
Include your strongest work in your portfolio. Some variety of media helps by showing that you have explored more than one mode of working. But if you excel in a particular media or style, your portfolio should reflect this by including more of that work. It’s best to include both work from your art classes and work that you create independently. The more you practice and learn new skills, the more work you will have to choose from. So, if your portfolio consists primarily of drawing, consider experimenting with paint, collage or sculpture!
Fine artists and designers should include two or more realistic images created primarily from direct observation of real life. Examples include drawings and paintings in modes such as still life, figure study, landscapes, and interiors.
Works created by referring to photographs or one’s imagination are great too, but they don’t demonstrate your ability in direct observation.
Perhaps the most challenging skill to demonstrate is conveying ideas or emotions in your work. Creating a series of related works (as in an AP Art concentration) helps to develop this ability. Brainstorming, researching, and keeping a sketchbook are good methods of planning conceptual artwork. Writing and talking about your finished work is also an important skill for any visual art student or professional.
Photography portfolios can consist mostly or entirely of photographs. Keep in mind that the photography program at Watkins has an emphasis in conceptual work. While it’s great to build your skills by taking all kinds of photos, you want your portfolio to set you apart from the crowd and demonstrate your ability to convey an idea or an emotion through imagery. Photographers often work in series. A series consists of a group of photographs that are dealing with the same idea or subject matter in a few different ways. A series can also be narrative in nature by telling a story- whether it is abstract or straight forward.
A graphic design portfolio should consist of mostly drawings, paintings, prints or other artworks (see the guidelines for “fine art” portfolios above). However, it’s a good idea to begin working with design skills too. Try some projects where you incorporate text and imagery into a finished piece. Some examples might include posters, album covers, and logo designs. Working by hand is a very important aspect of a graphic design portfolio.
If you have taken classes in design, you should include your best digital work. But don’t overlook the importance of drawing skills or the effectiveness of a medium like collage in creating graphic elements. If you have interest in illustration, consider making a series of images that tells a story.
Interior design portfolios can consist largely of fine art work (see the guidelines for “fine art” portfolios above). To help specialize your portfolio toward a major in interior design, add life drawings of interior spaces or architectural structures. Works that emphasize pattern, texture, mood, and color theory in either realistic or abstract compositions are great, too. Even photographs of a space you have designed or decorated could help convey your point of view and design sense.
Film portfolios usually consist of one or more short films, and sometimes include script samples, storyboards, or other supporting materials. When including group productions, make note of your specific role when making the film. Keep your film reel short- 5 to 8 minutes of video is plenty of time to showcase your best work. If your films are longer than that, it is best to combine short excerpts from several projects. Note that it is helpful to include full scenes in your reel so that your sense of storytelling is clearly represented.
Your final portfolio will need to be in the form of digital images of your work, complete with information about each piece (that you will add to the “description” section when uploading your media to the online application).
- Use a camera of scanner to make digital images of your artwork. Frame your work to fill the photograph and use a plain white or black background when documenting Three-Dimensional work. Be sure that you make the photograph in a well-lit area. To ensure even lighting, photograph your work outside on an overcast day or in the shade. Use a tripod and set your work on an easel, chair or bench.
- If available, use photoshop or other imaging software to perform image corrections if necessary. But don’t change the colors or contrast of your actual pieces. Keep your documentation as true to the original pieces as possible.
- Keep a list of title, media, dimensions, and date of each piece in your portfolio. Also, write a short description for each piece to help us better understand your pieces.
Each degree program gives you a choice of either submitting a portfolio of work or submitting specific art, design or film exercises. If you choose to submit a portfolio, it should reflect your individual style as well as your understanding of foundational skills.
Certain programs have a few specific requirements to be included in the portfolio. Beyond that, the balance of your portfolio should include a variety of media and techniques demonstrating drawing ability, composition and color usage (for art or design degrees) or film-related work (for the film degree or certificate). Examples of work created outside of class assignments that show more personal direction are also encouraged. Please limit submissions to no more than 15 examples.
Watkins Admissions representatives and faculty will be happy to assist you in making final choices for your portfolio prior to submission and you are encouraged to meet with them during a National Portfolio Day or on your visit to the Watkins campus.
Your portfolio is the basis for which portfolio-based scholarships are awarded. NOTE: Digital portfolios are preferred. If submitting original material please be aware that although every precaution is taken to protect portfolios, the college cannot be responsible for loss or damage. Original work will be kept in the Admissions Office for three months after the semester to which you are applying. After that time the work will be discarded.