The Digital Production Arts program requires students to become proficient in both computer science and art. While few students initially possess equal skills in both areas, you should be able to provide evidence of ability, or at least potential, in each field. Additionally, the MFA program requires every student to complete a master's thesis (thesis and non-thesis options are available for the MS); therefore, you must submit a writing sample so that your writing skills can be assessed.

Students can choose to study in either Clemson or Charleston, SC. When preparing to apply online, you may indicate your location of choice. The Graduate School online application may be found here. You may access tuition and fee information here (Premier program).


In addition to the standard application required by Clemson Graduate School, the DPA MFA program requires a portfolio containing three parts:

  • computer programming samples;
  • art samples; and
  • a writing sample

Additional information on each part of the portfolio is given below. You may also refer to the FAQ on our Resources page on answers to admission/application questions.

Submission Dates:

Applications are accepted throughout the year on a rolling admission basis for the nearest term (Spring or Fall), however, our standard deadline for full consideration for funding is January 15. Funding is offered on a first-come, first-served basis from that deadline each year. Applicants can choose to study in Clemson or Charleston, SC.

Submission Methods:

Please submit electronically by following these guidelines:

  • create a website that contains all of your portfolio materials
  • provide links for coding samples, which should be text only so that they can be compiled (if necessary) and executed
  • format one or more webpages that categorize your artwork; provide both small and large samples of scanned work
  • include the writing sample in pdf format
  • send the link to your portfolio to, as well as inserting it where indicated on the online Graduate School application


Computer Programming Samples:
In addition to possessing basic computer skills, you must be able to understand and produce computer code. This code can take the form of high-level programming languages (e.g., C, C++, and Java), or scripting languages (e.g., Python, MEL, and JavaScript). If your strengths lie mostly on the art side, you need not be an expert coder; however, you must be able to show that you understand basic coding logic (i.e., conditionals and unary/binary operators), control flow (i.e., loops and functions), data structures, and problem decomposition. Please submit two coding samples in any language, each containing at least 200 lines of code. Provide comments in the code header or within the code explaining what your code does and how it works. Also, include directions on how to compile (if necessary) and execute your code.

Art Samples:
The art portion is an important part of your application to the DPA program. We are primarily interested in visual arts skills (drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, 3D modeling, animation, and film making), which should be reflected in your portfolio work. If you are strong in technical (computer science) skills, you need not be an expert artist; however, some artistic promise should be evident. We encourage you to show us your best work, in whatever medium you have the most proficiency.

The following guidelines will help you in preparing and submitting your work. You must limit yourself to no more than 20 individual art pieces. If you are submitting video, please limit yourself to no more than 3 minutes of video in total. The first rule of thumb is to be highly selective. It would be much better to submit only five carefully crafted pieces than to submit 20 weaker pieces.

Examples of work that students have submitted in the past have included:

  • Gesture drawings: Fast sketches of people and animals from life.
  • Perspective drawings: Exterior or interior scenes done from life.
  • Narrative Storyboard: Storyboards that depict a narrative sequence with a beginning (introduction), middle (conflict), and end (happy or sad resolution).
  • Figure Drawing: Human figures, male or female, done from life.
  • Photography: Color or black-and-white, with emphasis on strong composition and lighting.
  • Drawing: Still life, characters (no copyrighted characters please), landscapes.
  • Painting: Emphasis on color, composition, and drawing.
  • Sculpture: 3D forms in clay, wood, or other physical media.
  • 3D modeling: Characters or scene elements built in a 3D modeling package like Maya, Max, or Blender.
  • Short film (2 minutes maximum): Possibly edited down from a longer film. Animated or live action.
  • Demo reel (1 minute maximum): Showing 3D modeling and animation work.

Writing Sample:
Please include a short report (two pages maximum, single-spaced) that critiques your own artwork. Select a limited number of works and explain how you created them and how they could be improved. Include both aesthetic and technical considerations concerning your work, how this work is new or challenging, and what the work, individually or as a body, means to you. This critique should be written in a formal style and demonstrate your ability to communicate clearly in the English language.

PORTFOLIO Guidelines and Suggestions

The following suggestions have been developed to allow us to more carefully assess your qualifications for the program:

Gestural (Suggested for all students):
It is strongly encouraged that you include a "Gestures" sample set. Namely, producing gestural sketches of people and animals from life. These drawings can originate from everyday places (the mall, the park, coffee shop, etc.). Observe people in various attitudes and poses: walking, running, and talking; observe animals, such as dogs, cats, horses, and birds, in motion when possible. We suggest you include one webpage of sketches of people in active poses (walking, running, playing), and a second page of sketches of various animals moving and playing.

With photography, please include a written statement that pertains to the work and communicate what you are studying and/or wanting to convey. For example, to more easily seat your work in narrative and/or animation, we suggest sequential images where each image relates to the next, e.g. Beginning, Middle and End. The artist's statement can be used to highlight how these photos unfold in progression. Single photographic imagery can also be inspired by photojournalism and/or cinematic staging where the image evokes, what, where, when, why and how, within the foundation of visual design described in the statement. Also consider: Points of interest, Line of action, Spatial, Shape, Scale, Contrast/Affinity, Color and Value (Dark/Light).

Other possibilities:
You should include what you feel is important to represent yourself as an artist. For perspective design, provide sketches of both exterior and interior scenes. For example, exterior perspective with designs of city and/or landscape or interior design with your designs of an interior space. Try to design the space to evoke the idea or mood for the story behind it. Also, for narrative, you can create storyboards that depict a narrative sequence based on a life experience. Adding an artist's statement can help position your work for review.

Application Process

For more information regarding the supporting materials required by The Clemson Graduate School, please visit The Graduate School website. During the application process, you will also be able to indicate your location of choice (Clemson or Charleston, SC) to study DPA MFA or MS. There is also no GRE requirement for the MFA program.

Required documents for Clemson University:

  • Online Application
  • Official TOEFL/IELTS scores for International Students
  • Unofficial Transcripts
  • Official Transcripts (only required of those applicants who are offered admission.)
  • Letters of Recommendation

Required documents for DPA (refer to portfolio contents section above):

  • Computer programming samples
  • Art samples
  • A writing sample


We offer reduced tuition through multi-year, merit-based financial packages!

We offer financial support for MFA and MS in both Charleston and Clemson locations. The level of support will be dependent on the student's application materials, however, we will strive to make costs competitive and affordable to all qualified students.

We accept applications throughout the year on a rolling admission basis for the nearest term (Spring or Fall), however, our standard deadline for full consideration is January 15.

Hourly positions are typically available in many departments across the university--graduate students can work up to 28 hours per week.

Additionally, students may refer to the Clemson University Center for Career and Professional Development website for more career related information, or the Financial Aid Office.


DPA MFA and MS graduate students may pursue hourly-based employment from on-campus units. However, all assistantships for the DPA MFA and MS students must be approved through the DPA Director prior to accepting employment.