Application and Selection Processes – Design Colleges

Design Colleges

by Viraj Joshi

Design colleges have almost a standard procedure of applications and selection. It primarily involves a portfolio of work in some form and a selection interview. The secondary criteria involve:

1 – Essays for Statements of Purpose or any of its iterations,

2 – A baseline score in an English test and

3 – Up to three Letters of Recommendation from people who know you.



Preferred Formats: Web links (like / PDF / individual images.

A design portfolio is a document that is a representation and manifestation of one’s body of work. It ideally is image heavy and has crisp and useful text to support images. It shows many skills of an individual – technical (engineering drawings, drafting, CAD modeling), creative (sketching, visual representations, iterative ideation), and marketing (how successfully has a project you did made it to market, what strategies were employed to do so).

There are many people who wish to take up industrial design or any other design course after their engineering and find it hard to put together the content for it. In that case, it has been my observation that a genuine representation of engineering process and output through CAD models, drawings and renders can prove to be very useful.

One can take up small weekend projects in design to show willingness and ability to learn in the design disciplines to ensure content for the portfolio. People generally use software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign or even Powerpoint and Keynote to come up with portfolios.



The interview for any design college generally involves a small creative test. For my Skype Interview with the RCA+Imperial, I was given a creative exercise which set the following scenario: “Imagine you live in a lonely house between the woods, with nothing at your disposal, but a workshop with seemingly unlimited materials and tools. The woods you are in are infested with carnivorous trees, and you have run out of weekly rations. How would you cross the woods to get to the city with what you have?”

I was given 30 minutes to come up with 20 solutions for this, and sketch them out on sheets of paper and send them back before starting the interview. In the interview, they asked me to talk about the best of my 20 designs. My solution was a split mechanical typewriter, with the typing end in my house between the woods and the printing end in the city across to inform them what I need and ensure drone delivery/airdrop service.

The actual interview had questions like why design, why London, and why this course amongst others.

An interview for a design college is level 2 of the selection process: meaning you are selected for an interview after you get through the portfolio round.

Viraj Joshi


Viraj Joshi is a Double Masters Candidate at Imperial College, London and Royal College of Art. Check out some of his great work at

To speak to Viraj or any other mentor for admission overseas, click here.

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