Application Instructions & Timeline

There are two timelines for undergraduate applications: Regular Submission and Early Decision.

Regular Submission

With regular submission, most application materials are due January 1.  We highly recommend you submit the first part of your Common Application by December 1. The university will send acceptance notices between mid-March and April 1.



Deadlines to Remember
  • Optional informal portfolio critique session on November 13*
  • All Admissions forms due: January 1
  • Examination scores and transcripts due: January 1
  • Teacher recommendations due: January 1
  • Digital portfolio due: January 15
  • Financial aid in place: February 15
  • Registration for optional campus portfolio review: Mid-October
  • Optional campus portfolio review: January 22 or 29; February 5
  • Transfer Portfolio Review: February 10

*If you'd like to get feedback on your portfolio before you submit, you can attend the informal portfolio critique on November 13,2016. Email us to save a spot; you should plan to sign in at 9 am in Margaret Morrison A14.

Application Hints                          
  • Schedule examinations with the testing agency well in advance of your exam dates
  • Document your portfolio pieces well before January 15 to avoid a last minute rush and potential technical problems

You must arrange to have admissions materials mailed so that they arrive at Carnegie Mellon no later than the deadline. You may send your materials early, as long as you've submitted your application and application fee. You'll receive a confirmation notice, along with an identification code so that you can track your application progress.

Early Decision

Early decision is for applicants who want to declare Carnegie Mellon as their first choice. To qualify for early decision, you must complete the application forms by November 1. We highly recommend you submit the first part of your Common Application by early October.

Deadlines to Remember
  • All Admissions forms: November 1
  • Exam scores and transcripts: November 1
  • Teacher recommendations due: November 1
  • Digital portfolios due: November 1
  • Financial aid in place: November 1
  • Portfolio review: November 13 (this is an optional, but recommended, on-campus review for which you must register in mid-October)

You must arrange to have admissions materials mailed so that they arrive at Carnegie Mellon no later than the deadline. You may send your materials early, as long as we've already received your common application and have created a file for you. You'll receive a confirmation notice when your application has been received. 

International Applications

International students may apply for either regular submission or early decision, (as described above) but must comply with two additional requirements:

  • Contact the International Education Office as soon as possible. The office has information about visa and immigration requirements, student associations, and other concerns for international students.
  • For applicants whose native language is not English, submit TOEFL or IELT scores. We require a TOEFL score of 102 or higher or an IELT score of 7.5 or higher. Please arrange to have your scores arrive at the University Admissions Office no later than January 1 (or November 1 for Early Decision) along with your other (ACT/SAT I) test scores.


International applicants should follow the same portfolio guidelines as regular decision applicants. We understand that distance may prevent you from coming to Carnegie Mellon for an on-campus review. The on-campus review is not required.

 To learn more about CMU's commitment to international students, and international applications, please visit the CMU Website

Transfer Applications

Whether you are now enrolled at Carnegie Mellon in another department, or are transferring from another university, you must file an application to the School of Design. External transfer applicants must submit the Common Application through the university admissions office. Internal transfer applicants must submit the School of Design Internal Transfer Application form to the Design office by January 1. Transfer applicants should follow the application instructions and deadlines for regular submission, as shown above. Transfer applicants are not eligible for early decision application.  

Although we welcome transfer applications, you should know that our acceptance rate is low. There are several reasons:

  • We accept transfers for the fall semester only – not spring or summer
  • Due to our low attrition rate, our studio space is limited
  • Transfer applications are processed with the general pool of applications. Even if you are accepted into another program in the College of Fine Arts or elsewhere in the university, there is no guarantee that you will be able to transfer into the School of Design. Each school in the College of Fine Arts sets its own acceptance criteria.
  • Regardless of your prior college experience, the university is likely to assign you freshman status for your first year in the School of Design


The School of Design requires all applicants to submit portfolios online by January 15.  If you wish to show your portfolio in person, you may also register for an on-campus review. If you register for an on-campus review, be sure to schedule it for February 10, which is reserved for transfer students.