In design, reality is explored with a curious and critical mind-set encouraging positive transformation in society.

The Department of Design and Architecture places an emphasis on students knowing about the ideological premise of design and design history and that they can, on the basis of their knowledge, take an informed stance on the environment and society. Design, in a way, revolves around seeing the possibilities in what is yet to take place. Students are continuously encouraged to seek new solutions and ways and to cultivate originality, imagination and a critical mind-set.

Design always requires consultation and collaboration. A large part of studying at the Department of Design and Architecture entails developing and promoting discourse and collaboration with a diverse group of professionals and non-professionals. All programmes in the Department of Design and Architecture work closely with the professional sector creating a network of professionals and specialists who are participants in a community of design and education. The Department now benefits from the contribution of almost 200 individuals, academic faculty and part-time lecturers, Icelandic and foreign, who create a critical and theoretical framework for students so that they may pursue their interests and passions. The Department’s main emphasis is to encourage students’ development and to enhance their independence so that they are equipped to engage with diverse employment and collaborations in the field.

Bachelor's programmes

Important information for Bachelor's programmes

  • Application deadline April 1st 2016
  • Results of applications end of May
  • Portfolios can be retrieved at the department office in June
  • Application fee is ISK 5000
  • Tution fee is ISK 490.000 for the school-year 2016-2017
  • The Autumn semester begins August 22nd 2016

An application is not valid until the applicant has payed the application fee and IAA has received the following documents.

  • Successfully submitted electronic form
  • Signed print-out of the electronic form
  • Certified copy of degree certificates and school transcripts
  • Portfolio of works

The application process is in three steps, first you submit the application, then you pay the application fee and finally you print the application.

Admission procedures in Bachelor´s programmes

Admission to the Department of Design and Architecture is determined by a special admissions committee, comprised of three practicing professionals, who select students from the body of applicants. At least one member of the admission committee is not a permanent employee of the IAA. Admittance is based on an evaluation of submitted portfolios of works, interviews and an examination. Separate applications must be submitted for each program of study.  To qualify for admission into the department, applicants must have completed a secondary school exam (in Iceland “studentsprof”) and submit a portfolio of their own work. It is recommended that applicants in the field of architecture should have completed a 35 credit program in design or visual arts at the secondary level, but this is not a requirement.

The application form and the portfolio of art works must be received by the IAA before the announced deadline. All enclosed documents, e.g. school transcripts and letters of reference, must be certified copies. Applications and portfolios sent by mail must be postmarked no later than the advertised deadline. Submitted works can be retrieved at the office of the Academy at Thverholt 11, 105 Reykjavik.

The admissions process for bachelor programmes

  • After the applications have been evaluated with respect to formal and specific admission requirements (above), each admissions committee reviews the submitted portfolios. The assessment criteria are professional knowledge and artistic value.
    Special emphasis is placed on evaluating the applicants’ work in which they have worked independently and on their own terms. Applicants who meet the admissions committee’s requirements move on to a selected group.
  • Those who move on to the selected group are invited for an interview. The purpose of the interview is to evaluate the applicants’ interest in the potential study, their views and position towards design, their understanding of the world of design and the ideas that lie behind their works. The applicant should expect to have to express himself/herself about his/her submitted works during the interview.  Applicants must also be prepared for the fact that some interviews take place in English.
  • Finally the admissions committee may ask candidates to complete an examination if necessary. The examination is in two parts: a general knowledge exam as well as an assignment. The general knowledge exam, which is a multiple-choice exam, attempts to explore the applicant’s general knowledge of the arts and its context. The assignment entails tasks which are intended to demonstrate the applicants’ artistic thought.
  • Admissions notifications will be mailed in May 2016. Applicants who are offered admission must confirm to the Department office before the end of May and pay the confirmation fee. The fee is non-refundable.
  • All applicants receive written notification of the admissions results. The decision of the admission committee is final and no justification is required. The decision of the admission committee is an assessment of the applicant’s ability to benefit from the program of study offered by the department, and not a judgment of the applicant’s capability of working in a chosen field of design.


The portfolio is a collection of the applicant’s work to date, presented (on paper) with the formal application papers. The works should give insight into the student’s personality and shed light upon his/her main areas of interest. The collection of works should illustrate the student’s potential for creativity and expression of ideas.
It is not a requirement that all the works be fully developed or completed. On the contrary, it is important that the portfolio be diverse, including sketches and drawings at various stages of development, photographs, texts, and/or audio-works.
In fact, any piece of work or representation of an idea or concept, which the applicant him/herself feels portrays his/her artistic talent and expressive capabilities should be a part of the portfolio.
All portfolios must be in a printed format.  There are no rules regarding  format sizes but electronic  portfolios (CD’s, USB keys, references to websites etc) cannot be submitted, and will not be looked at.  Should the applicant want to present a moving image a printed reference must be submitted supported by a “storyboard” with still-images from the project.

Language of Instruction

Please, notice that the instruction on the Bachelor level at the Iceland Academy of the Arts takes place in ICELANDIC, with the exception of classes taught by foreign guest teachers.