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 10.11 or higher, or Windows 10.  Mac OS X 10.11 and Windows 10 are free upgrades. 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 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, i7
  • Display: 13 in. or larger, min.
  • RAM: 6 to 8 GB. (RAM in Apple MacBook Air and Retina models cannot be upgraded later; Consider buying a model with 8 GB or more of RAM.)
  • Video Card:
    • Good: - built-in video with shared RAM in most models will be adequate
    • Better: built-in Intel HD 6000 included with newer Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs
    • Best: A discrete video card with dedicated RAM is best for video and 3D work.
  • Storage: 250GB minimum; consider 500GB
  • Optical Drive: (optional) DVD +/- R/RW

Studio Art: Graphic Design
Hardware Specification for Mac/Windows

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 or i7
  • Display: 15 in., 1440 x 900 pixels, minimum
  • RAM: 8 GB minimum; more is better. (RAM in Apple MacBook Air and Retina models cannot be upgraded later.)
  • Video Card: A discrete video card with dedicated RAM
  • Storage: 500GB minimum
  • Optical Drive: (optional) DVD +/- R/RW

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. Macintosh computers can run both Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems.  You can purchase Windows 10 for $25 at the UNL Computer Shop.  You can install Windows yourself, using Apple’s free Boot Camp software. 
  3. Data backup:  An external hard drive or/and a subscription to an online backup service. 

Your computer’s hard drive will fail at some point, probably just before your final project is due. And humans will fail to make regular manual backups. An automated method using software and an external drive and/or an online service is necessary.

External Hard 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:  $60-100. Recommended to reformat drive as EXFAT to allow the greatest cross-platform flexibility.

Online Backup Service:  Commercial web-based services run continuously; cost begins at $6/month.            

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 June 15, 2017)