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Laptop and Software Recommendations

Each first-year or transfer student with a major housed in the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of Interactive Multimedia, the Department of Music, or the Department of Communication Studies is strongly recommended to own a personal laptop that meets a minimum specification established by those departments annually. In addition to a laptop, students will need the necessary software for coursework. Please note that all software needs will be listed in the course syllabus.

Having a personal laptop with all of the necessary software gives students the benefit of 24/7 access to complete their coursework, homework, and the ability to create high caliber portfolios. Students benefit from having more flexibility in working with professional workflow, file management, project archiving, and troubleshooting under deadlines. Students are strongly encouraged to bring their personal laptops to class. Doing so will provide workspace flexibility during studios and grant the student the opportunity to work with hardware and software that is more personally accessible.

While the provided minimum specifications in a laptop are essential to your academic computing experience, a higher performance standard may prove beneficial. Increasing the speed and the number of processors, the amount of RAM, the size of the hard drive, and the speed of the video card will result in a computer that is more likely to serve you for the duration of you program. Furthermore, while some prefer to own a Windows based computer, an Apple Computer allows for both operating systems to reside within the computer. This will provide more choices in software packages.

The Department of Art and Art History use Apple computers in their classrooms. For Visual Arts Majors in the Department of Art and Art History, Apple computers are highly recommended. The Department of Interactive Multimedia does not have a preferred platform, but the applications used in the curriculum demand a high-performance laptop workstation. The Department of Communication Studies use a combination of PC and Mac hardware and software and recommends using an Apple laptop with windows installed.

2016-2017 Minimum Hardware Specification Guidelines

Apple Spec Minimum

15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
2.2GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz
256GB PCIe-based Flash Storage
Intel Iris Pro Graphics
Backlit Keyboard (English) & User’s Guide Accessory Kit
Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

Windows Spec Minimum

Dell XPS 15 Non-Touch

  • 6th Generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core (6M Cache, up to 3.5 GHz)
  • 16GB DDR4-2133MHz
  • 512GB Solid State Drive
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5
All students enrolled in courses in the previously named programs should maintain a high quality, large storage capacity external hard drive, which either connects via Thunderbolt or USB 3.0. An external storage drive will be your long-term storage device for your course projects and will allow you to have a workflow between your laptop and any lab computers that you may use.

Recommended External Hard Drive Spec Minimum

LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt Professional All-Terrain Storage

  • 2TB
  • Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 connectivity Mobile BUS powered
  • Shock, dust, and water resistant Compatible with Apple and Windows


In the age of disruptive technology and rapid-prototyping, industry software needs and use change very quickly. Today, nearly every software package in the creative industries is either free to students or lower cost with educational pricing for students and is available as a month-to-month subscription. As a way of responding to the ever-shifting landscape of creative software, instructors will list software that will be needed for their courses in the syllabus as they do with required textbooks and supplies.

Visual Art

The following are examples of software that students in Visual Art courses might use to complete coursework: Photoshop, Premiere, InDesign, After Effects, Illustrator, Audition, and Dreamweaver. These applications collectively are known as the Adobe Creative Cloud Applications.

Interactive Multimedia

The following are examples of software that students in Interactive Multimedia courses might use to complete coursework: Adobe Creative Cloud Applications, Processing, P5, Logic Pro X, Max, Xcode, and Titanium Studio.


The following are examples of software that students in Music courses might use to complete coursework: Max, Logic Pro X, Audacity, and Finale.

Communication Studies

The following are examples of software that students in Communication Studies courses might use to complete coursework: Avid Media Composer, Avid Pro Tools, and Final Draft.

Non-studio intensive programs within the Departments may have less specialized software needs and may be able to meet their classroom expectations with standard productivity software such as Microsoft Office.

How to Use Your Financial Aid Package to Purchase a Laptop

Because hardware and software needs within the School are highly recommended, financial aid packages will be able to be adjusted accordingly. However, each student will need to meet with the Office of Financial Aid to have this equipment and software included in their package.