Laptop requirement 2022-2023 Academic Year

Cleveland Institute of Art Laptop Policy

Updated April 7, 2022

All CIA students are required to have a laptop. At a minimum, this laptop should support Adobe Creative Cloud*. Specifications for laptops suitable for Adobe Creative Cloud can be found in the table below.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Minimum Hardware Specifications

Operating System Recommendation

Adobe CC System requirements webpage:

  • 13” HD display

  • 16GB RAM

  • 256GB drive or more (solid state recommended)

  • 3-year warranty

macOS or Windows

The majority of first-year digital work is centered around Adobe Creative Cloud*. Once students enter their sophomore year, they are expected to own a laptop which meets major-specific requirements, outlined in the table below.

* All CIA students are provided with FULL Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions. Students do not need to purchase subscriptions.  Information will be distributed to incoming students before the start of the semester.

Minimum Specs Majors
  • 13” HD Display
  • 16GB RAM
  • 256GB Drive or More (solid state recommended)
  • 3-year warranty
Ceramics (macOS or Windows) 
Craft + Design (macOS or Windows) 
Drawing (macOS preferred) 
Graphic Design (macOS preferred) 
Glass (macOS or Windows) 
Illustration (macOS or Windows) 
Interior Architecture (macOS or Windows) 
Jewelry + Metals (macOS or Windows) 
Painting (macOS or Windows) 
Printmaking (macOS or Windows)
  • 15" HD Display 
  • 16GB RAM 
  • 512GB Drive or More (solid state recommended) 
  • 3-year warranty

Industrial Design (Windows preferred)*
Life Sciences Illustration Acceptable Configuration (macOS or Windows)
Photography + Video (macOS preferred)
Sculpture + Expanded Media (macOS or Windows)
  • 15” HD Display (UHD recommended) 
  • I7 processor or Ryzen 7 CPU 
  • 16GB RAM 
  • 512GB Drive or More (solid state recommended) 
  • Recommended Graphics Card: RTX 2060 
  • Minimum Graphics Card: GTX 1070 
  • 3-year warranty
Animation (Windows)
Game Design (Windows)
Life Sciences Illustration Preferred Configuration (Windows)

*If you use macOS, you will be able to accomplish much of what you need in Industrial Design. However, there are certain Windows-based applications that you will use in your Junior and Senior years that will only be available on CIA-owned computers (Solidworks and Alias).


Some students may already own laptops that meet these minimum requirements. Students may continue to use these laptops for as long the device continues to support their curricular needs. In this scenario, students accept the risk that their laptop may not be able to address their needs for their last year(s) at CIA.

The student should select the laptop based on their curricular needs, individual preferences between macOS and Windows, and budget.

Support, and substitutions for the standard recommendations

Personally-owned devices will not be supported by CIA Information Technology, beyond a limited assessment. Hardware issues will need to be supported by the manufacturer, which is why every standard includes a 3-year warranty as part of the requirement. Questions related to how to run software are handled either through faculty or technical specialists, or through online support from vendors.

The Equipment Checkout will continue to provide a limited number of laptops for short term loans. These laptops are not a substitution for students owning their own laptop.

If a student has a question about whether a specific laptop will be suitable for their curricular needs, they are encouraged to check the requirements webpage for the software that they expect to use most heavily. All students should plan to have a laptop that supports the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, at minimum.


View requirements for commonly used software:

Software System Requirements

Operating System

Adobe Creative Cloud

macOS or Windows

Autodesk (includes Maya)

macOS or Windows

Microsoft Office

macOS or Windows


macOS or Windows

Solid Works


Substance Painter

macOS or Windows

Toon Boom

macOS or Windows


macOS or Windows

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of all software packages used at CIA. In addition, some features or plugins for the above-mentioned software may only run on macOS or Windows, respectively. 

As of April 2021, Apple supports Boot Camp Assistant on computers running Intel processors, which allows users to run Windows on their Mac. Note that Apple is in the process of changing their processors to the M1 chip, and computers using the M1 chip cannot use Boot Camp Assistant. While Apple’s M1 chip uses the latest technology, software developers are still in the process of converting their applications to be M1-naitive. In the meantime, some software applications will require a free piece of software called Rosetta in order to run.

If you have any questions, please contact Matthew McKenna, Director of Information Technology, at