Presenting a prototype at Design Week

Choose Your Degree

For applicants with an undergraduate design degree and professional experience:

Master of Design (MDes) in Design for Interactions: This four-semester program enables students with a background in design to deepen their expertise in designing for a range of interactions. Through the study of systems thinking, futuring, speculative design, design technology, and design research, students amass skills and knowledge that enable them to tackle contemporary design challenges in thoughtful ways. The application for admission is available mid-October–January 15 for the following academic year via GradCAS.

For applicants from other disciplines seeking to study design:

Master of Arts (MA) in Design: This two-semester program introduces students with little or no formal design education or experience to designing for interactions. After one year of study, students are poised to integrate design into their native disciplines. MA students who aim to transition their practice into design may apply to continue their studies with the School of Design by completing a light application at the end of their first semester in the MA program for entry into our MPS or MDes programs. The application for admission is available mid-October–January 15 for the following academic year via GradCAS.

Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Design for Interactions: This two-semester program enables MA students to expand on their prior design studies and experience, focusing on design for interactions, services, and social innovation, through coursework that aligns to the first year of the MDes program. Please note that this program is available only to MA students who apply to continue their studies with the School of Design. Currently we are not accepting outside applications to the MPS program.

Educational and Professional Requirements

MDes applicants must:

  • Hold a Baccalaureate degree in design from an accredited institution, with a strong record of academic achievement
  • Hold essential design skills and knowledge, which are evidenced through a portfolio. Examples may highlight effective design processes, strengths in researching problem spaces, critiquing work, and communicating design concepts. Insight into the strengths of applicants is often featured through communication, graphic, industrial, product, environmental, interaction, service, social innovation, user-experience, user-interface, and/or architectural design projects in a portfolio.
  • Have at least one year (two preferred) of full-time professional experience. The School of Design defines one year of full-time professional experience as employment that is conducted after receiving an undergraduate degree, preferably completed during twelve continuous months prior to the start date of the fall program. We do not accept time spent conducting internships as professional experience.

MA applicants must:

  • Hold a Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, with a strong record of academic achievement.
  • Have at least one year (two preferred) of professional experience. The School of Design defines one year of full-time professional experience as employment that is conducted after receiving an undergraduate degree, preferably completed during twelve continuous months prior to the start date of the fall program. We do not accept time spent conducting internships as professional experience.

Application Overview & Requirements

Applicants are responsible for completing and submitting all required materials on time. Applications and all supporting documents, including letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores, must be received by the final deadline of January 15. We strongly advise applicants to start the application process and request letters of recommendation well in advance of the deadline.

The application for Fall admission will be available mid-October. The application system will close at 11:59 EST on January 15th. Applications are reviewed by the Masters Admissions Committee from mid-January through mid-March. Applicants are notified of the Committee’s decision in mid-March. Those who are invited to join our program are given approximately two weeks to accept our offer.

Applicants planning to complete the MA and then planning to apply to the MDes or MPS degree, should apply only to the MA program at this time. Applicants wavering between two of our degree programs, are encouraged to select the one that is believed to be the best fit and indicate gaining acceptance into another program is an option in the application.

If you have any questions about your application, please refer to the School of Design FAQ section or email the Graduate Program Coordinator, Donna Cardiff Frost, at

Application Requirements

  • The application for admission is available mid-October–January 15 for the following academic year via GradCAS.

  • Submit short responses to questions posed via the Questions tab in the Program Materials section. Through your writing, we aim to gain an understanding of your interests in pursuing graduate study in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon.

  • Upload your CV/resume via the application, which should clearly outline the location, nature, and duration of your educational and work experiences, as well as any related noteworthy accolades.

  • Upload a portfolio of your work via the application. Regardless of whether you have a design background or not, you must submit a portfolio that includes 5-9 pieces or projects. Recognizing and appreciating the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our applicants, we welcome the submission of a range of work. Include samples of recent work that represent the strengths of your professional, creative, or academic experience. Your portfolio might be filled with design projects, writing samples, or summaries of other original projects you have undertaken. You may use photography, video, writing, or interactive presentations to demonstrate your work.

    Upload your Portfolio to the GradCAS application as (1) a pdf including 5-9 pieces or projects OR (2) a single pdf that lists a url for your portfolio website and any necessary passcodes. For each piece submitted, provide a brief description of the project’s content, and context, and duration.

    We encourage you to upload pdfs of your process work, where possible, to help us understand your creative and problem-solving approaches and learn about your interests. For long works – theses, book designs, software applications – please select excerpts that best represent your strengths. If you include a collaborative project, be sure to identify your specific role and contributions.

    Your portfolio will be evaluated from multiple viewpoints including visual and/or verbal communication skills, critical/analytical thinking, craftsmanship, and creativity.

  • Upload a one-minute video via Slideroom, which can be accessed through the online application, that answers the question: Imagine that you have completed your masters degree and as you reflect on the experience you are pleased. What makes you deem it a success? You are welcome to include any visuals that support your story. Keep in mind, this piece is intended to provide us with some insight into who you are and what excites you so we encourage you to have fun with it and be yourself. Note, the video will be cut off after one minute. Upload your introductory video to Slideroom from GradCAS. You may link to media from YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud.

  • Please request an official electronic transcript from schools you attended when completing your application in GradCAS. Select the appropriate electronic transcript vendor and follow the instructions for Sending Transcripts Electronically found in the GradCAS help center. GradCAS accepts electronic transcripts from Credentials Solutions, Parchment, and National Student Clearinghouse. International transcript(s) must include a basic evaluation of the academic record from WES or ECE. Transcripts and evaluations should be sent directly from the registrar to the GradCAS address below. If the transcript is not in English, there must be an original or certified translation as part of the transcript(s).

    If your school does not use an electronic transcript service, your official transcript must be sent by mail from your school’s registrar to:
    GradCAS Transcript Processing Center c/o Liaison International
    311 Arsenal Street
    STE 5600
    Watertown, MA 02472

  • Request three letters of recommendation via the application. Choose a variety of individuals, if possible, all of whom should be familiar with your work. Ask each of them to write a substantive letter about your qualifications for graduate study in design, mentioning your previous study, research, and professional experience. Once you have saved the recommendation request, an email will be sent to the recommender on your behalf. Please advise your recommender to look for this email in their inbox, as well as their spam or junk-mail folder, as emails do occasionally get filtered out. Please note: All references submitted within this section of your application are program specific. If you choose to remove this program from your application, please understand that your letters will be deleted along with the program. Be sure to keep the admissions timeline in mind and give your contacts plenty of time to write letters and submit them before the deadline.

  • GRE scores are not required, but you are welcome to submit them directly to Carnegie Mellon University. If you wish to provide your GRE score, contact Education Testing Services (ETS) to send your GRE scores directly to Carnegie Mellon University using the Institutional Code 2074, Departmental Code 2405.

  • If English is not your native language and you are not a U.S. citizen of an exempt country you must submit one valid English proficiency score from one of the following administrators: TOEFL ( Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS ( International English Language Testing System), or the Duolingo with individual subscores. All applicants must submit their highest test score by the application deadline. TOEFL/IELTS scores must be less than two years old. If you are submitting the Duolingo test, which can be taken online, please verify that you are administered a 2020 or later version with individual subscores. 

    • TOEFL-Please upload an unofficial score report via the Documents tab in the Program Materials Section and send official scores to GradCAS using code: B886. Our minimum TOEFL composite score is 100, with minimum subscores of 25. In addition to single test date TOEFL iBT scores, the School of Design also accepts MyBest Scores for TOEFL iBT. 
    • IELTS- The School of Design is registered to receive IELTS scores electronically through GradCAS. Applicants must contact the IELTS test center where the IELTS test was taken to request the official Test Report Form be sent electronically to the GradCAS E-Delivery account, thereby granting permission to share test results with CAS services. We do not accept unofficial copies of IELTS Test Report Forms from applicants. An institution code is NOT required. The minimum composite score is 7.5.
    • DuoLingo- Please upload an unofficial individual score report via the Document tab in the Program Materials section. The official scores will be sent electronically to "Carnegie Mellon University- School of Design" by DuoLingo. Our recommended DuoLingo score is 130 total. Individual subscore minimums: Literacy: 115, Conversation: 120, Comprehension: 125, Production: 110. 


  • Each applicant must submit a $75 application fee through GradCAS as well as pay a $5 fee for the use of Slideroom.

The application for admission is available mid-October–January 15 for the following academic year via GradCAS.


As you consider your application to the School of Design Graduate programs, there are several important dates to note:

Applications Open Mid-October
Online applications become available for fall admission.

We accept students once a year, for fall admission only. Because our programs are designed with a specific sequence of intense studios, seminars and courses, it is not possible to start in the spring semester. We do not accept transfer credits.

January 15
All components of your application (online application, statement of intent, letters of recommendation, English verification test scores, transcripts, portfolio, and admissions fee) must be received. Remember to plan ahead so that all components reach us by January 15. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

March 15
We send notification letters to applicants.

Fall semester begins.

Cost to Attend

Tuition for 2024-2025 is $45,000. For full-time graduate students in the MDES, MPS and MA programs, we offer paid assistantships of $2,000 per semester in exchange for approximately six hours of work per week. All applicants are invited to apply for one of these assistantships.

We have a limited number of merit scholarships offering partial tuition support, available to select candidates. Scholarship recipients will be notified as part of their acceptance package, upon review of applications by the admissions committee. You can learn about other potential sources of financial aid from CMU's Student Financial Services.

The university’s fellowship and scholarship office supports Carnegie Mellon students who are interested in pursuing external scholarships and fellowships. The office helps students to develop competitive applications, identifies and supports faculty and staff representatives for a select number of prestigious scholarships and fellowships, maintains a website for external scholarship and fellowship opportunities, and manages campus selection processes.

Note, the School of Design assesses a $75 technology fee each semester in addition to other university fees.For more information about tuition and other costs,please refer to the Cost of Attendance web page or email the HUB at

Your Master's Degree Contact

Donna Cardiff Frost, the Graduate Program Coordinator for the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, will be glad to discuss with you anything relevant to your program(s) of interest and application. Before contacting Donna, please read the FAQ section of the Design School website thoroughly, as many frequently asked questions are answered here.

The application for admission is available mid-October–January 15 for the following academic year via GradCAS.