Master's Program Admissions

We’re delighted that you're interested in applying to one of our graduate programs. In this section, you'll find important application information, along with links to general university information about finances, benefits, and housing. 

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. 

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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.

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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. 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.  We do not accept time spent conducting internships as professional experience.

Before applying, be sure to review the detailed information about our MA and MDes programs, the application steps listed below, and the FAQ section of our website.


Application Overview:

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 2023 admission will be available mid-October 2022. The application system will close at 11:59 EST on January 15th, 2023. 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 pursue an MDes or MPS degree, should apply only to the MA program at this time, and indicate plans for continued study in the statement of intent. Applicants wavering between two of our degree programs, are encouraged to select the one that is believed to be the best fit and note any concerns or flexibility in the statement of intent.

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 grad-info@design.cmu.edu. 


Application Requirements:

APPLICATION FORM

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PERSONAL STATEMENT

Submit a personal statement of intent via the application. Describe your reasons for pursuing graduate studies, your educational and professional objectives, your specific interest in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, and any other information that you believe will aid the admissions committee in reaching a decision. For applicants planning a sequence of degree combinations, for example MA+MPS/MDes or PhD, please indicate this in your statement. 750 words maximum.

CV/RESUME

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. 

PORTFOLIO

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. Please read Preparing and Submitting a Portfolio carefully as it aims to support you in assembling your portfolio. 

INTRODUCTORY VIDEO

Upload a one-minute video via Slideroom, which can be accessed through the application. The video should describe your interests in design and your fit in our program. 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.

TRANSCRIPTS

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: https://help.liaisonedu.com/GradCAS_Applicant_Help_Center. GradCAS accepts electronic transcripts from Credentials Solutions, Parchment, and National Student Clearinghouse. 

International transcript(s) that cannot be sent electronically must include a certified statement of the academic record. They 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
PO Box 9217
Watertown, MA 02471 

RECOMMENDATIONS

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. 

ACADEMIC TEST

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.  

LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY TEST

If English is not your native language and you are not a U.S. citizen or a 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 Duolingo. 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 interested in the Duolingo test, which can be taken online, please verify that you are administered a 2020 or later version.

  • TOEFL - Please self-report your scores via the application and send official scores to GradCAS using code: B886. Our minimum TOEFL total score is 102, 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. A minimum score of 7.5 is required.
  • DuoLingo - Please upload an unofficial score report via the application and the official scores will be sent electronically to "Carnegie Mellon University – School of Design" by Duolingo. Our recommended Duolingo score is 120 total. Subscore minimums: Literacy: 115, Conversation: 105, Comprehension: 125, Production: 100.

APPLICATION FEE

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


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.

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