Sophomore Major Advancement Interview

The Department of Art and Design requires each studio and art education student to complete an individual review, the Sophomore Major Advancement Interview (SMAI), early in their program. Advancement to an art degree program is based in part on this review. This review is to provide the serious art student with an opportunity to present a portfolio of work for discussion and comment by members of the art faculty, and to explain and assist the student in developing goals and objectives which center on an education in the visual arts. The interview enables you to demonstrate ability to address the fundamental concerns of the visual arts at the university level. In addition, you will have an opportunity to discuss your work and explain your educational and career objectives. A Faculty committee will make one of the following decisions regarding your review: (1) to provide a positive recommendation for advancement through one of the degree programs in art; (2) to provide a recommendation that indicates sections noted for improvement and must resubmit portfolio in one year, according to the guidelines set by the faculty panel, or (3) to provide a negative recommendation that indicates critical need for improvement, and student is required to resubmit a portfolio in one year, that satisfactorily addresses all issues noted in the first review.


Applicants are best prepared for the interview if they have completed all foundation courses prior to enrollment in Portfolio I the semester in which the interview is being conducted. A minimum of 12 hours of art are required to participate. The schedule for the interview will be announced in Portfolio I. You will be able to sign up for a time that best fits your schedule. You should be on time and should be prepared to discuss your educational objectives. Incomplete portfolios, or portfolios of students not available for an interview, will not be considered.

The Interview

Works presented for evaluation may have been produced in any college or university art class or on your own time. Work completed in high school is not eligible.

The materials that you are asked to present will be evaluated in terms of quality, breadth, and your ability to verbally articulate your responses. Both sections are important in the review process, but you are not necessarily expected to perform equally well in both of them. You are required to submit entries for each section. It is important that you read the description of each section carefully and submit works or digital images of works that are good representations of what you have accomplished.

Work submitted may be of any size. It is understood that students may have larger works of exceptional quality that may be difficult to present; these can be submitted in digital form. When including digital images as part of the interview, more than one view of 3-D work is required. Appropriate presentation methods are discussed in Portfolio I, and it is suggested that display methods be discussed with the most relevant studio instructor. Materials that may become easily smeared should be protected. The works may be titled, although titles are not required. The works need not be framed.

During the interview, a panel of at least three art faculty members will review your work, ask questions, and listen to your responses, with regard for your ability to verbally articulate those responses. The interview lasts approximately 45 minutes. You will receive the recommendation of the faculty panel and their typed comments the week after the interview.

The Portfolio

Section A: Quality     

Quality refers to the total work of art – the concept, the composition, and the realization of the artist’s intentions.

For this section of the portfolio, select four (4) examples of your work that you think are of good quality and which reflect your intentions, both in concept and execution. Quality is more readily seen in original works than in reproductions. Therefore, the four examples should be original works in one or more media. These may be two- or three-dimensional pieces. You may present four individual and separate works or four works in a related series.

Section B: Breadth 

In this section of the portfolio you are given the opportunity to show a broad range of problems, ideas, media, and approaches. The faculty will be interested in your intellectual and perceptual experiences.

The examples to be submitted under the breadth section may be in any media but should, except for the drawing portion, include examples that demonstrate your successful understanding of the six categories (Technique, Composition/Design, Space, Content, 3-D, and Presentation). Any work in the Breadth section can be used as an example for more than one category. The Presentation category is exemplified in the method and means by which you exhibit your entire portfolio.

A minimum of 11 works are required for this section, six of which need to be drawings and two of which need to be three-dimensional.

Drawing. At least six completed works, two of which must be figure drawings, which demonstrate quality of expressiveness, formalistic development, and technical skill. As a group, the six drawings should demonstrate a range of expression as well as a creative use of materials. You are not restricted as to size of original, subject, material, or interest.

Technique. Work that demonstrates a sensitive and personal use of specific materials and techniques, exhibiting understanding and control of the technical components or characteristics of the medium or media selected.

Composition/Design. Work that demonstrates an understanding and application of formal design components (elements and principles) to achieve a desired artistic result.

Space. Work emphasizing one or more approaches to creating the illusion of space in two-dimensional format.

Content. Work that demonstrates the ability to express a specific idea, feeling, value, and/or meaning. This may be a response to a specific subject or set of circumstances such as an interpretation of nature, an observed social situation, or a personal experience. Content may be expressed through such means as the use of visual language, narrative, and/or the manipulation of material.

Three-Dimensional. Work that demonstrates the understanding and ability to create three-dimensional works that activate the space they occupy, using the formal elements and design principles; works may be in any media. At least one of the two works must be sculpture in the round.

Presentation. The entire portfolio demonstrates the ability to select a presentation or system-of-delivery that is 1) appropriate to each individual artwork(s) in both content and aesthetics, and 2) appropriate for the viewing of the entire portfolio in the (gallery) space that you are assigned. Typical considerations include lighting, proper basing of three-dimensional objects, appropriate installation for all other sculptural work, mounting of wall pieces at appropriate viewing level, and placement of works in relation to each other that is most suitable for discussion in the interview. Your faculty advisor can help instruct you on any other specific considerations that are unique to the work and the space you are presenting in.

Technical Specifications

The following specifications are to be observed in preparing materials for the portfolio:

  1. All original works should be clearly labeled with the following information: title, medium, course, instructor, term/year; additionally, each of the four works included in the Quality Section should be noted on the label. All labels should be numbered 1-15, to correspond with the inventory sheet. On the inventory sheet, each item (1-15) should include the title and medium. Prepare four copies of the inventory sheet, and present to the reviewing committee prior to the beginning of the review. Examples for proper labeling will be given in Portfolio I.
  2. Careful attention should be given to the required number of materials to be submitted for each section of the evaluation where such requirements are spelled out.
  3. It is important that portfolios be arranged in the assigned review space for convenient viewing by the committee. Organization of and proper preparation for your presentation is required, and a critical factor in receiving the best possible assistance from the committee.
  4. Students should be advised when photographing works of art to use a neutral or non- distracting background. Avoid any surfaces that will produce a glare in the digital image. Good quality photography of the work submitted is required. If texture is important to a particular work, a detail slide should also be included. In the case of three- dimensional pieces, more than one view is expected.

Nature of the Interview.

The intent of the Sophomore Major Advancement Interview is to provide professional guidance to interested students who are considering a degree in art. The interview is not designed to prevent you from continuing your study at UCA. The interview is a component of Art 2140 Portfolio I. Each student participant will have an opportunity to present selected works to a faculty committee for critique and discussion. Your faculty advisor will be available to assist you in preparing for the interview.

The Faculty Committee.

The faculty committee will be composed of at least three members of the art faculty but may include more than three.

Who Should Participate

The review is specifically designed for art majors or potential majors who have completed at least 12 hours of art. Students who are classified as follows are expected to participate: (1) students who have completed a minimum of 12 hours or art; (2) students transferring to UCA with 12 or more hours of art; (3) art education students seeking UCA certification in art who have completed 12 hours of art.

Presentation of Work.

Here are some basic things to consider in preparing your portfolio for presentation. More detailed guidelines are provided in the SMAI GUIDELINES.

  1. Bring representative examples of work completed, usually work done in your lower division (1000-and 2000-level) courses. A minimum of 15 works are required.
  2. You may bring digital images of some, but not all, of your work. Projection equipment will be furnished when requested in advance.
  3. Be selective. Bring examples that exhibit your expertise in a variety of media and with varied subject matter. Bring examples that represent the best of your work.
  4. Present your work effectively. Matting and framing are not required for the interview, unless it is aesthetically appropriate for an individual artwork.

Interview Results.

You will receive a written report from the committee summarizing your interview results the week after the interview. You will be required to sign a copy of your results to confirm that you have received it. This copy of your results is an official recommendation that is required for subsequent activities, such as  you BFA application or your BA panel review. You are required to save this official copy signed by you and the Department Chair for these purposes.

To download the pdf of the above guidelines and application forms, click on:

SMAI Guidelines

SMAI Application

SMAI Inventory Form