Requirements to Get Into the Royal College of Art

Updated July 20, 2017

The Royal College of Art (RCA) is a postgraduate university of art and design located in London. Applicants are selected based on merit and need not be British citizens. RCA offers a M.A. program as well as a M.Phil. or PhD in research. Once you have submitted an application and a portfolio, they will be assessed. If they are accepted, you will receive an invitation for a formal interview with the appropriate department at RCA.


You must have a command of the English language. If your first language is not English, you will need to provide evidence of your competency by submitting your results from such standardised tests as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). You must have obtained a relevant undergraduate degree or the equivalent qualification. This could be any degree, diploma or certificate awarded by a university or other higher education establishment for the completion of a course of at least three years. You should be over the age of 21 by Sept. 1 of the proposed year of admission.

Department Requirements

There may be specific requirements depending on the department for which you are applying. These can be checked on the Royal College of Art's website. The departments are: Animation, Architecture, Ceramics & Glass, Communication Art & Design, Curating Contemporary Art, Critical Writing in Art & Design, Design Interactions, Design Products, Fashion Menswear, Fashion Womenswear, Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewelry, History of Design, Innovation Design Engineering, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Textiles and Vehicle Design.

Application Process

Applications are made online at the Royal College of Art website. You will first register and be given an Application Reference Number to use on all correspondence. Enter your personal details and academic and work experience. Upload a copy of your degree or diploma. Applicants with overseas undergraduate degrees must also include a transcript of all courses taken. Include a statement explaining why you have chosen a particular department and what you hope to gain from your studies. Provide full contact details of the person you wish to use as a reference. The application fee must be paid online.

Portfolio Submission

Check the portfolio requirements for the particular department for which you are applying on the Royal College of Art website. All drawing and photographs or finished work must be dated, titled, clearly marked with your name and have a brief written explanation. Once you have applied online, you will be able to download an Item List or Image List form and fill out an identifying label for each item in your portfolio as well as "Fragile: Handle With Care" labels if you will not be able to send the portfolio electronically. If sending your portfolio from overseas, you must ensure that the freight charges include delivery from the port of arrival in the UK and cover the cost of the return of the work. The packaging should be marked "For Entrance Examination only; to be returned to the country of origin within three months." If you use a courier company, it must state on the invoice and air waybill that the package is to be returned within three months.

M.Phil./PhD Program

If you are applying for the MPhil/PhD program, first send an e-mail to the Research Office at to let them know of your interest. Contact the Research Coordinator for the department in which you wish to work to see whether your intended project is appropriate and if a supervisor would be available. After discussions with the relevant department, submit your application and research proposal and indicate what resources and type of supervision will be required. In the application, you will also need to describe how you will support yourself financially during that time. Depending on the department, you may or may not be required to submit a portfolio.

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About the Author

Marguerite Gautier has been writing professionally since 1997. Her general interest articles have appeared online at Manidoo and her astrological and historical writings have appeared in “Love Signs and You” and “Your Birthday Sign Through Time.” She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Macalester College and a Master of Arts in library science from the University of Minnesota.