Required for students entering the School of Art, Art History & Design

Studio Art & Design majors

Art majors, are required to own a laptop computer that meets or exceeds the requirements below.

Art History majors

For students majoring in Art History, there is no computer requirement for hardware or software. If you are interested in purchasing a computer, consider the specifications below for “Studio Art” as a starting point.

Operating System

Your computer should run either Apple Mac OS X 10.15 or higher, or Windows 10.  Mac OS X 10.15 is a free upgrade. You will find Apple Macintosh computers in the School's computer labs. Most of the faculty and many students will be using Macs, and students are successful with Windows PCs as well. We make no specific recommendation.

Use of Existing Laptops

You may use your existing computer equipment as long as it meets the required specifications. For Apple computers, the computer should be capable of upgrading to macOS X 11, as shown on this Apple list. As noted below, 12” 'MacBooks' and 13” 'MacBook Airs' do not meet the minimum hardware specifications.
For questions please contact the School of Art, Art History & Design at 402-472-5522

Where to Buy

You may purchase a computer from any vendor or store. HuskerTech, the UNL Computer Store, can advise you on appropriate models that meet the recommendations below. HuskerTech is located in the Nebraska Union’s lower level.
Phone: 402-472-5151    Web:


Intensive use of graphic design and digital arts software places high demands on computer hardware. For this reason, the requirement is divided between medium-level specifications for most Studio Art students, and high-level specifications for Graphic Design students.

Studio Art (except Graphic Design)
Hardware Specification for Mac/Windows

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 or i7; or Apple M1 or higher
  • Display: 13 in. or larger. Note for Apple products: the 12 in. 'MacBook' and the 13 in. 'MacBook Air' will not be sufficient.
  • RAM: 8 GB, minimum, 16 GB preferred. Apple note: RAM in Apple laptops cannot be upgraded after purchase.
  • Video Card:
    • Good: - built-in video with shared RAM in most models will be adequate.
    • Better: built-in video included with the newest Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, and the Apple M1 or higher CPU.
    • Best: A discrete video card with dedicated RAM is best for video and 3D work.
  • Storage: 250GB minimum 

Studio Art: Graphic Design
Hardware Specification for Mac/Windows

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 or i7; or Apple M1 or higher.
  • Display: 15 in., FullHD (1920x1080 pixels), minimum.
  • RAM: 8 GB minimum; 16 GB is better. RAM in Apple laptops cannot be upgraded after purchase.
  • Video Card: A discrete video card with dedicated RAM
  • Storage: 250GB minimum

Software Requirements

Standards of software may change during your time at UNL, and additional software may be required for certain courses.  The School of Art, Art History, & Design understands that additional expenses can be a burden for students and makes all efforts to minimize additional costs.  No software, other than what is listed below, will be needed for any required courses. (Studio electives chosen by the student may need different software.)

Campus IT information:

Free software for students

Typical Extras

  1. Extended Warranty, 3 years. Some protection plans cover accidental damage; others do not.
  2. Data backup:  An external drive and/or a subscription to an online backup service.
    1. Why back up? Your computer’s storage drive will fail at some point, probably just before your final project is due. And we humans will fail to manually back up. An automated method using software and an online service and/or an external drive will protect you from data loss.
    2. Online Backup Service:  Commercial web-based backup services run continuously; cost begins at $6/month.       
    3. External Storage Drive:  create a backup using the backup software bundled with your computer:  Time Machine (Mac), or Windows Backup and Restore.  The drive should be 2-3 times the capacity of the computer’s internal drive.  Cost:  $60-150.
  3. Macintosh computers can run both macOS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems (excluding Apple M1 laptops.)   You can purchase Windows 10 for $25 at the UNL Computer Shop.  You can install Windows yourself, using Apple’s free Boot Camp software. For an additional fee, the UNL Computer Help Center will install your Windows purchase.  The UNL Computer Shop can advise you on available options at 402-472-5151.


For additional questions, please contact the School of Art, Art History & Design at 402-472-5522

(Last Updated Dec. 14, 2020)