How to Apply

Application for Admission

Cranbrook Academy of Art is a graduate school offering Master of Architecture and Master of Fine Arts degrees only. We do not offer bachelor degrees,  associate degrees, or continuing education programs.

Admission Requirements

Completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited educational institution is required for admission to the Master of Fine Arts program. Applicants holding a Bachelor’s degree in a field other than the arts may be considered on an individual basis, based upon a review of the candidate’s portfolio and experience.  International applicants must have earned the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree in order to be considered for admission.

Completion of a Bachelor of Architecture or its equivalent undergraduate degree from an accredited educational institution is required for admission to the Master of Architecture program. Applicants holding a degree in a field other than architecture may be considered on an individual basis, based upon a review of the candidate’s portfolio and experience.  International applicants must have earned the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree in order to be considered for admission.

Students interested for the Master of Fine Arts degree program will apply to one of ten departments (2D Design, 3D Design, 4D Design, Ceramics, Fiber, Metalsmithing, Painting, Photography, Print Media, or Sculpture).  Students interested in the Architecture department will apply for the Master of Architecture degree program.

Online Application Procedure

All application materials are to be submitted online through Slideroom.

  1. Statements – Statement prompts vary by department.
  2. CV / Resume – Submit either a curriculum vitae (CV) or a resume.
  3. Three Letters of Recommendation – Provide email addresses for referees, who will be asked to submit letters through a confidential online link.  Refer below for more information.
  4. Portfolio – Attach up to 20 examples of recent work and provide title, date, materials, and dimension for each image/file uploaded; see individual department application for specific requirements.  Instructions on acceptable file types will be provided during the upload process in Slideroom. See below for “tips for putting together a great portfolio.”
  5. Transcript(s) – Submit an unofficial transcript for your bachelor’s degree.  You are also encouraged to submit transcripts that reflect additional coursework if you would like to have them considered in the application review process.  Refer below for detailed information.
  6. Application fee – $85 application fee is collected directly through Slideroom via credit or debit card ($50 if submitted on or before January 11, 2019). We are unable to grant requests for application fee waivers.


Required statements vary by department; questions are found within the application.  Statements must be inserted as unformatted* text in the Slideroom application. Applicants to the 2D Design department will ALSO be asked to upload formatted and stylized versions of their Statements and CV for review.

Statements should be between 1 and 2 pages in length (or 1200 words or less), unless otherwise specified.

Please read the instructions for statements carefully. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers; your responses provide important insight into your background, interests, influences, etc.  Respond to the questions that are asked in a manner that makes the most sense for you.

*If you need help creating unformatted text please use the guidelines found here.

Letters of Recommendation

You will be asked to list the name, position, and email address for three people who will provide letters of recommendation. An email will be sent to them automatically providing a confidential link where they may upload their letters of recommendation on your behalf.

Hint: Complete the References section earlyThis cannot be stressed enough.  It is in your best interest that all of your references are received when applications go forward for review in early February.  Complete the References section as early as possible to allow your referees more time to complete the letters. Do this even if you are not ready to submit.  You are strongly encouraged to let your referees know that an emailed request for a recommendation will be coming to them from notifications@slideroom.com, so they can watch for it (the email request is sent as soon as you click the Send Request button).  Return to your application often to see if your reference has fulfilled his/her request; if not, you may want to consider reaching out to remind them.

Note: You may submit your application for admission before your letters of reference are received by the Academy. Referees are still able to attach letters to your application even after you have submitted!

After you have submitted your application you can log back in to view the status of your letters. “Complete” means the referee has successfully submitted their letter through the electronic system. If the status is labeled as “Requested,” this means the referee has not yet completed the online submission process. You can choose to resend the request or supply an alternate email in case your referee’s spam filter blocks the original request or has removed the link.

References are required to be submitted electronically through the Slideroom process. In rare instances, your referee may be unable to submit an electronic letter of recommendation. In such a case, please contact the Admissions Office (248-645-3300 or caaadmissions@cranbrook.edu) for guidance.


You  must submit an unofficial transcript for your bachelor’s degree.  If your degree is still in progress, please provide a  transcript that includes the courses you have completed to date (including grades) and the courses in which you are currently enrolled (please note that if you are admitted, you will be required to provide proof that you have been granted your degree before you matriculate in September).

In addition, you are encouraged to provide unofficial transcripts for any other degree or program (master’s, post baccalaureate, certificate, classes) that you would like to have considered as part of the application review process. Information that assists in understanding your relevant background is important to include in your application.

International Students:  Transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you will be required to provide official transcripts from each college or university you have attended (even if you did not earn a degree); degree certificates will also be required if the transcript does not list the degree conferred and degree date.  Official transcripts must be sent directly to the Academy from the school; transcripts issued to students are not considered official.  Instructions will be provided to admitted students.

Note: The Academy reserves the right to determine the validity of any degree submitted as a requirement of admission. The applicant must bear the cost if it is necessary to secure the services of an outside credentials evaluator.

International Applicants

The international applicant  information below applies to students who will study in the U.S. on a student visa (e.g., F-1).

In addition to meeting the admission requirements, international students must provide an official TOEFL exam score that meets or exceeds the minimum score requirement; results from other tests are not accepted. The minimum TOEFL score requirement for Fall 2017 is 90Only test scores sent directly to the Academy by ETS will be accepted. The ETS code of Cranbrook for TOEFL reporting is 1156.

We are unable to review applications without evidence of the minimum TOEFL requirement.  Qualifying exam scores received from ETS before applications are reviewed in February allow the applicant to be reviewed.  If a qualifying exam score is received after application review has begun, it is possible the application may be reviewed; however, an application with a late qualifying score will not be reviewed if the admissions process is complete when the score is received.

To be eligible for a TOEFL waiver, you must have:

  • Received (or will receive prior to Fall 2019) a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a college or university where the sole language of instruction is English and in a country where English is the primary spoken language; and
  • Completed your studies within the past two years, if you are not currently enrolled (please contact caaadmissions@cranbrook.edu to discuss your situation, as an exemption may be possible based on your particular circumstances).

Students who have received a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a college or university where the sole language of instruction is English but which is located in a country where English is not the primary spoken language may be, but are not automatically, granted a TOEFL exemption.  If your degree is from such an institution, please contact Leslie Tobakos (ltobakos@cranbrook.edu) to discuss whether you qualify for a TOEFL exemption.

Note:  Native English speakers from countries in which English is the primary spoken language are exempt from the TOEFL requirement.

ESL programs and post-bacc programs do not satisfy the requirement for a TOEFL waiver.  If you have questions about your particular situation, contact Leslie Tobakos (ltobakos@cranbrook.edu).

IELTS scores (academic version only, score of 7.0 or higher) may in rare instances be accepted in lieu of the TOEFL, at the Academy’s discretion and taking other relevant factors into account.   Please contact Leslie Tobakos (ltobakos@cranbrook.edu) to discuss your particular situation.

Please click here for additional information for international applicants.

Re-application for Admission

Students who left the Academy before completing their degree and who now wish to return, or those who wish to re-apply for admission, must begin a new application in Slideroom.  Any re-admission is at the discretion of the Academy.  Letters of recommendation can be re-used; contact the Admissions Office for assistance (248-645-3300 or caaadmissions@cranbrook.edu).

Application Review Timeline

Submitted applications are reviewed simultaneously and competitively after the application deadline of February 1.  All applicants will be notified of their admissions decision by email.  Applicants will generally receive an admissions decision by the end of April, although it is possible that some decisions may be extended beyond April.

Be Prepared in the Event You Are Accepted

Students are encouraged to review the Academic Requirements and the departmental pages on this website to gain an understanding of our program.  Please call or email the Admissions Office to discuss our programs or facilities, or with any questions you may have.  Interviews are done at the discretion of the department heads and are not necessarily part of the application process. Contact the Admissions Office at 248-645-3300 or caaadmissions@cranbrook.edu.

Alternative to Online Applications

Filing an online application is required. If you are unable to complete our online application, please call the Admissions Office ( 248-645-3300 or caaadmissions@cranbrook.edu) to discuss your situation.

Tips for Putting Together a Great Portfolio

  • When putting together your portfolio, remember to include only great images of your work.
  • If you need help photographing your work, get help. Powerful photos showcase powerful work.
  • It always helps to get a second-opinion; a friend or mentor can “see” your work in ways you might not.
  • Think of your portfolio as a creative project of its own – consider sequence, pacing and how one image moves to the next.
  • It’s a good idea to group pieces in a series together. In fact, working serially can help develop an idea or approach fully.
  • When sequencing your images, start with strong work and end with strong work.
  • We recommend that no single video exceed 3 minutes. This is just a recommendation, though, and you can submit a longer video if necessary.

When writing your essays, think of them as two complementary pieces. The Statement of Purpose should address your plans for graduate study – why do you want to go to graduate school and what are the things you want to focus on at Cranbrook? In the Autobiographical Statement, tell us about you and what has shaped you as an artist so far. We’re interested in the whole picture of who you are, so you might include information about your life history, travel experiences, family story, professional life, odd jobs and idiosyncratic details. We’re a small community, so we are always interested to know about the people who may join us!

Unformatted Text

When you save a document in most word processing programs, it will default to the format used by that particular program. Under the list of formats that pop up when you try to save a file, you must select the option to save the document as a plain text formatted file (.txt). After you have closed the document and reopened it, formatting will then be removed from the file. Select all of this text, and copy and paste it into the corresponding essay box within Slideroom. You may also work in a text editor, such as TextEdit (Mac), NotePad (Microsoft), or Note Tab, which is available in freeware and commercial versions. This unformatted text may then be selected, copied, and pasted into Slideroom.

Statement of Non-Discrimination.

Cranbrook Academy of Art is a true community. We value the contributions of all our members, so naturally, the Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, creed, sex, height, weight, marital status, disability, veteran status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, or any other basis prohibited by local, state or federal law in its programs and activities. Inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies may be addressed to: Director, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 39221 Woodward Avenue, P.O. Box 801, Bloomfield Hills, MI  48303-0801.