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All students are strongly encouraged to have a laptop computer. Students are also recommended to purchase additional warranty and coverage for accidental damage, external storage for secure backups of classwork and personal information, and a security lock.

Adobe Creative Cloud at VPA: Adobe Creative Cloud is available for free on shared computers in ITS labs across campus. VPA students enrolled in specific classes will have access on their personal device during the semester they are enrolled in a participating class. Students in the Department of Film and Media Arts (FMA) receive a personal device license while enrolled in FMA courses.

Below you will find additional recommendations for specific VPA departments, schools and programs.

Additional Recommendations for Specific Schools, Departments, and Programs


Laptops capable of running Adobe Creative Suite are recommended.

Students should own a computer. Computer labs are available for any platform-specific classes.

Printable School of Design Computer Recommendations [Word]

A laptop computer is expected for all students in the School of Design. The School recommends laptops for their easy portability between a residence and studio space. This computing flexibility is paired with access to the Warehouse computer lab for major-specific computer courses.

During the first year, students will be required and expected to have access to Adobe Creative Cloud and Trimble SketchUp Free. We recommend subscribing to Creative Cloud Student Edition. Syracuse University provides students with Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite. These services are ideal for backup, group work and file sharing.

Environmental & Interior Design

Students in the EDI program will need the computing capacity to run Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk AutoCAD, McNeel Rhino 3D (Windows OS), Trimble Sketchup, Autodesk Revit, and rendering plug-ins such as Enscape or Keyshot.

The EDI program and Warehouse Lab are set up to principally support computers with a Microsoft Windows operating system. Although in the past it has been possible to run Windows on Macbooks, Apple’s ARM-based Macs (M1) will not support Boot Camp to install and run Windows 10 on the machines. All incoming EDI freshmen should be equipped with computers with a Microsoft Windows operating system to run Windows apps required by the program.  We DO NOT suggest a Macbook for EDI students.

Minimum Technical Guidelines

  • Laptop Windows 10
  • Intel Core i7 (hex core or better preferred)
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 500 GB+ SSD
  • 4 GB+ dedicated Video Graphics card. (Avoid Intel or integrated graphics) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 or AMD equivalent with 4GB VRAM recommended. RTX for higher performance.
  • 15” Display (Display resolution 2560 x 1440 or higher)
  • External optical mouse

Additional Smart Computing Tools

  • 3 year on-site/at home warranty or AppleCare+Extended Warranty and Support
  • External 1 TB+ USB SSD or hard drive for extra storage and backup

Optional Accessories

  • Protective Case
  • External 24”+ monitor with HDMI port (plus HDMI cable and USB-C to HDMI converter)
  • 128 GB+ USB flash drive
  • Video adapters, VGA or HDMI connection

Communications Design

The Communications Design major— much like the Communications Design industry— uses Apple Macintosh computers as their primary tool platform for getting work done. Based on our experience we offer the following guidelines as a set of minimum requirements for student computers.

Minimum Guidelines

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription (Academic Pricing)
  • Apple MacBook Pro with 13” – 16” Display
  • Minimum 16GB RAM
  • Minimum 512GB Hard Drive (Internal)

Additional Smart Computing Tools

  • AppleCare+Extended Warranty and Support / Buying through SU Bookstore offers extended warranty with longer coverage than AppleCare
  • (2) USB 3.0 Flash drive — 64GB Min
  • USB C to USB Dongle
  • Dedicated, external hard drive for regular, local backups, 5TB

Optional Accessories

  • External Mouse
  • Protective Case

Fashion Design

In the fashion design industry, Apple Macintosh computers are used as a primary tool platform for getting work done. We offer these guidelines for minimum requirements for fashion design student computers.

Minimum Guidelines

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription (Academic Pricing)
  • Apple MacBook Pro with 13” – 16” Display
  • Minimum 16GB RAM
  • Minimum 512GB Hard Drive (Internal)

Additional Smart Computing Tools

  • AppleCare+Extended Warranty and Support / Buying through SU Bookstore offers extended warranty with longer coverage than AppleCare
  • (2) USB 3.0 Flash drive — 64GB Min
  • USB C to USB Dongle
  • Dedicated, external hard drive for regular, local backups, 5TB

A laptop computer is expected for all students in the School of Design. The School recommends laptops for their easy portability between a residence and studio space. This computing flexibility is paired with access to the Warehouse computer lab for major-specific computer courses.

During the first year, students will be required and expected to have access to Adobe Creative Cloud and Trimble SketchUp Free. We recommend subscribing to Creative Cloud Student Edition. Syracuse University provides students with Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite. These services are ideal for backup, group work and file sharing.

Environmental & Interior Design

Students in the EDI program will need the computing capacity to run Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk AutoCAD, McNeel Rhino 3D (Windows OS), Trimble Sketchup, Autodesk Revit, and rendering plug-ins such as Enscape or Keyshot.

The EDI program and Warehouse Lab are set up to principally support computers with a Microsoft Windows operating system. Although in the past it has been possible to run Windows on Macbooks, Apple’s ARM-based Macs (M1) will not support Boot Camp to install and run Windows 10 on the machines. All incoming EDI freshmen should be equipped with computers with a Microsoft Windows operating system to run Windows apps required by the program.  We DO NOT suggest a Macbook for EDI students.

Minimum Technical Guidelines

  • Laptop Windows 10
  • Intel Core i7 (hex core or better preferred)
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 500 GB+ SSD
  • 4 GB+ dedicated Video Graphics card. (Avoid Intel or integrated graphics) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 or AMD equivalent with 4GB VRAM recommended. RTX for higher performance.
  • 15” Display (Display resolution 2560 x 1440 or higher)
  • External optical mouse

Additional Smart Computing Tools

  • 3 year on-site/at home warranty or AppleCare+Extended Warranty and Support
  • External 1 TB+ USB SSD or hard drive for extra storage and backup

Optional Accessories

  • Protective Case
  • External 24”+ monitor with HDMI port (plus HDMI cable and USB-C to HDMI converter)
  • 128 GB+ USB flash drive
  • Video adapters, VGA or HDMI connection

Communications Design

The Communications Design major— much like the Communications Design industry— uses Apple Macintosh computers as their primary tool platform for getting work done. Based on our experience we offer the following guidelines as a set of minimum requirements for student computers.

Minimum Guidelines

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription (Academic Pricing)
  • Apple MacBook Pro with 13” – 16” Display
  • Minimum 16GB RAM
  • Minimum 512GB Hard Drive (Internal)

Additional Smart Computing Tools

  • AppleCare+Extended Warranty and Support / Buying through SU Bookstore offers extended warranty with longer coverage than AppleCare
  • (2) USB 3.0 Flash drive — 64GB Min
  • USB C to USB Dongle
  • Dedicated, external hard drive for regular, local backups, 5TB

Optional Accessories

  • External Mouse
  • Protective Case

Fashion Design

In the fashion design industry, Apple Macintosh computers are used as a primary tool platform for getting work done. We offer these guidelines for minimum requirements for fashion design student computers.

Minimum Guidelines

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription (Academic Pricing)
  • Apple MacBook Pro with 13” – 16” Display
  • Minimum 16GB RAM
  • Minimum 512GB Hard Drive (Internal)

Additional Smart Computing Tools

  • AppleCare+Extended Warranty and Support / Buying through SU Bookstore offers extended warranty with longer coverage than AppleCare
  • (2) USB 3.0 Flash drive — 64GB Min
  • USB C to USB Dongle
  • Dedicated, external hard drive for regular, local backups, 5TB

Optional Accessories

  • External Mouse
  • Protective Case

Industrial & Interaction Design

Students in the IID program will need computing capacity to run Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk products, SolidWorks, Rhino 3D and KeyShot.

Minimum Guidelines

  • Laptop Running Microsoft Windows 10
  • 15” Display or larger (Display resolution 2560 x 1440 or higher)
  • VR ready (Intel Core I7, 16 GB RAM, Nvidia GT 1060 (recommended: RTX)
  • 500 GB SSD

For digital sketching, it is recommended that students purchase either a Wacom or Huion digital pen tablet to use with their laptop or an iPad. For students that desire a comprehensive all in one solution, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 is the recommended laptop solution that also supports digital sketching.

  • External Mouse
  • Protective Case

Industrial & Interaction Design

Students in the IID program will need computing capacity to run Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk products, SolidWorks, Rhino 3D and KeyShot.

Minimum Guidelines

  • Laptop Running Microsoft Windows 10
  • 15” Display or larger (Display resolution 2560 x 1440 or higher)
  • VR ready (Intel Core I7, 16 GB RAM, Nvidia GT 1060 (recommended: RTX)
  • 500 GB SSD

For digital sketching, it is recommended that students purchase either a Wacom or Huion digital pen tablet to use with their laptop or an iPad. For students that desire a comprehensive all in one solution, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 is the recommended laptop solution that also supports digital sketching.


Acting or musical theater majors

  • Personal computers are strongly recommended but not required.

Theater design and technology or stage management majors

  • Students are required to have: a laptop (Windows or Mac) with good wireless capability (dual-band 802.11n), Microsoft Office, an external portable drive for file transfer and backup, and a security lock.

Students in the Setnor School of Music use computers to access course materials, research music concepts, strengthen music theory and aural skills, collaborate with classmates, and communicate with faculty. Student computers should be capable of word processing, e-mail, internet browsing, music notation, and audio/midi/video editing. The Setnor School of Music supports student use of both Macintosh and PC platforms. It is strongly recommended that students consider purchasing a 15 inch MacBook Pro laptop computer model tailored for use at Syracuse University. Detailed information, including specifications and ordering information for the preferred laptops, is available online at the SU Bookstore or SU IT Services. The Setnor School of Music also strongly recommends students purchase Microsoft Office and Sibelius music notation software (version 7 or later) for use on their computer.

All Film and Media Arts majors receive a personal-device license of AdobeCreative Cloud to install and use the Creative Cloud software on a personally-owned computer while enrolled in FMA courses. Based on the current licensing agreement with Adobe, which is subject to change, enrolled students have year-round subscriptions. 

After the first year, some additional software purchases may be required based on course of study and are included in course syllabi. Apple and Adobe products are available at academic discounts from the SU Bookstore

The following are the minimum required computer specifications.

Art Photography Majors

  • Required computer (minimum): Apple 14” or 16” MacBook Pro, 8 or 10-Core CPU
  • Recommended external hard drive: 1 TB 

Computer Art and Animation Majors

  • Required computer (minimum): Dell Alienware, G-Series or other PC gaming laptop with 16GB RAM, 1 TB internal storage, and NVidia GeForce RTX 3050 graphics as minimum specs. 
  • Autodesk Maya. Autodesk offers free software downloads to members of their Education Community.

Film Majors

  • Required computer (minimum): Apple 14” or 16” MacBook Pro 8 or 10-Core CPU
  • Recommended External Hard Drives: Rugged 1 TB Type-C interface
  • Recommended Editing Hard Drive: 1 TB 7200 RPM Type-C interface 
  • Additional Recommended Software: DaVinci Resolve (free download)