As of fall 2011, all students entering any of the art + design programs are required to purchase a laptop and software for use in their courses starting their freshman year.

We recognize that laptops are a considerable expense. However, we strongly believe they are essential tools for professional artists. To help defray the cost, students can purchase hardware and software using educational pricing. Students can also fold the cost of the laptop into their financial aid package.

What kind should I get?

An Apple Macintosh laptop is highly recommended for the Fine Arts, Graphic + Media Design, and Photography areas. Although Windows laptops can work in these areas, we teach from Macs and our systems are set up to support Macs. Students who wish to use Windows computers should understand that they will be responsible for any configuration issues that may arise.

For Interior + Spatial Design students, a Windows laptop with a dual core processor and a NVIDIA graphics driver is required.

Based on your program and area of interest, we recommend one of the following. In general, the fifteen-inch Macbook Pro will provide the most powerful, flexible choice, although it is the most expensive of the three.

Mac Laptops can be purchased online through or locally at the Apple Store. Either way, be sure to get the educational discount, which can save you a hundred dollars or more. If ordering online, you can use Sage’s Apple store at

Program Macbook Pro (13″) Macbook Pro (15″) Windows Laptop
Graphic + Media Design No Recommended OK
Interior + Spatial Design NO NO Recommended
Art + Extended Media OK Recommended OK

Minimum Specifications

We recommend the following minimum specifications for laptops. Many of the applications our students will use, particularly in Graphic + Media Design and Photography, will benefit from having more than the minimum listed below.

Program RAM Hard Drive
Graphic + Media Design 16GB 512GB
Interior + Spatial Design 16GB 512GB
Art + Extended Media 8GB 512GB

Additional Items

In addition to the computer we recommend students purchase the following:

AppleCare Protection Plan

Although extended warranties are generally a bad idea, we do recommend the AppleCare plan highly. Laptops can be subjected to much more wear and tear than a desktop computer, and working in a collaborative environment such as school, accidents can easily happen. Considering the large cost of most laptop repairs, we have found this program to be a worthwhile investment.

External Hard Drive

An external hard drive should be considered an essential purchase along with a laptop. It will allow you to back up all of the data from your laptop and keep it in a secure location. Look for a hard drive that has at least double (preferably triple) the capacity of the hard drive in your laptop. Currently, a 1TB external drive can be found many places for under a hundred dollars.

Laptop Bag

Since you will be carrying your laptop to and from classes all day, look for a bag that will allow you to carry all your peripherals (power supply, cables) and will provide padded protection for the computer.


Adobe Software

All Art + Design students are responsible for purchasing an annual subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. The Adobe Creative Cloud provides access to the entire Adobe software suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, After Effects, Premier, etc.) Students can learn more about educational pricing for the Adobe Creative Cloud by clicking here.

Interior + Spatial Design

In addition to a Creative Cloud subscription, Interior + Spatial Design students will need to download the latest version of AutoCad Architecture and Revit through as well as SketchUp Make, available here.

Purchasing Software

We recommend purchasing software through an educational software vendor, since the cost savings can be enormous. The following companies sell software at educational discount to students:

Journey Ed

Academic Superstore

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you require laptops?

Because the computer is such an important part of our curriculum, we feel it essential for our students to have access to their tools at all times. Laptops literally allow students to carry their studios with them, making it much easier to share ideas, to work collaboratively, and for faculty to consult on specific technical issues. Owning a computer allows students to become proficient with the technology at a level simply not possible working in a shared computer lab. Plus, the laptops give the students the most essential tool they will need to begin work as a professional once they leave the program.

Can Financial Aid be used to help cover the cost of a laptop?

Yes. The cost of a laptop can be folded into your cost of attendance. Talk to the financial aid department for details on how to do this.

I already have a laptop. Do I have to buy a new one?

As long as your laptop meets the basic configurations listed above, you should be all set. If not, it may still be possible to upgrade individual components to meet the specifications.

I have a Windows laptop. Can I use that instead?

Aside from Interior + Spatial Design, programs within the Art + Design department at Sage are Mac-based and we teach from the Mac versions of software. While all the required software is available in identical Windows versions, you may run into difficulties with things like exchanging files across platforms, working with fonts, etc. Please realize that if you choose to work on the Windows platform, all such configuration issues will be your responsibility. If you are an Interior + Spatial Design student and already own a Windows laptop, it will need to meet the basic configurations listed above for Interior + Spatial Design.

Where do I go for support? What if it breaks?

Apple laptops come with a one-year warranty. We recommend you purchase an extended warranty for three years (Apple Care – see above) when you purchase your laptop. Repairs can be handled through the Apple Store at Crossgates Mall in Albany.

What if it gets lost or stolen? Is it covered by insurance?

Most likely your laptop will be covered by your homeowners insurance policy, although you may have to add a separate rider for it. Talk to your insurance agent for details.

Back to top