Master's Program Admissions

We’re delighted that you're interested in applying to one of our graduate programs. You'll find everything you need here to apply, along with links to general university information about finances, benefits, and housing.

For applicants with an undergraduate design degree and professional experience the School of Design offers:

MDes degree (Master of Design): This two-year degree provides students studio, seminar, and lab coursework in design for interactions, with an emphasis on design for services and social innovation. It is combined with relevant electives and a full year of in-depth research that culminates in a thesis.

MPS degree (Master of Professional Studies):  This one-year degree enables students to expand on their prior design experience, focusing on design for interactions, services, and social innovation, through coursework that is identical to the first year of the MDes program.

For applicants from other disciplines transitioning into design:

MA degree (Master of Arts in Design): This one-year degree introduces students with no previous design experience to design for interactions. It can serve as a pathway to other degrees within the School of Design or other departments in the university.

You can apply to the MDes, MPS, or MA programs through the link at the bottom of this page. If you are interested in the Master of Integrated Innovation for Products & Services degree, please apply through the program's website.

Educational and Professional Requirements

MDes and MPS Degrees:

  • Hold a Baccalaureate degree in design from an accredited institution, with a strong record of academic achievement
  • Hold a design background evident in your portfolio, including, for example, elements of visual design, typography, layout and composition, color, illustration, information design, filmmaking, photography, and experience with design process, iteration, critique and visual communication.
  • Have at least one year (two preferred) of professional or teaching experience

MA Degree:

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

Be sure to review the program details and the following application steps included in 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 2022 admission will be available mid-October 2021. The application system will close at 11:59 EST on January 15th, 2022. 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.

If you plan to complete the MA and then pursue a MDES or MPS, you should apply only to the MA program at this time, and indicate your plans in your statement of intent. If you are wavering between two of our degree programs, please select the one that you believe is the best fit and note any concerns in your 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 

Application Requirements:

GradCAS application will open in October 2022.

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.

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. 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.

Upload a one-minute video via the application that describes 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 cut off after one minute.

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. If your school does not use one of these services, your transcript must be sent by mail from your school’s registrar to:
GradCAS Transcript Processing Center
PO Box 9217
Watertown, MA 02471

Request for official evaluations of transcripts from all foreign colleges or universities must be sent to GradCAS as follows: 

  • Use the World Education Services (WES) or Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) link in the Academic History section of the application to order your official WES evaluation


  • Use the “Download Evaluation Request Form” in the Academic History section of the application to request an evaluation from an evaluation service other than WES or ECE.

Request three letters of recommendation via the application. Choose a variety of individuals, if possible, all who 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 request 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 institution codeInstitutional Code 2074, Departmental Code 2405. 

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 - Please self-report your scores via the application.  Our minimum IELTS score is 7.5, with no score lower than 7. The School of Design is registered to receive official IELTS scores using the IELTS E-Delivery Service. Do not have paper test scores sent to us by mail. Please send scores for E-Delivery to:

    Account Name: Carnegie Mellon University School of Design
    Address: Carnegie Mellon University, School of Design
    5130 Margaret Morrison Street Suite 110
    Pittsburgh, PA 15213
    United States
  • 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 minimum Duolingo score is 128 total. Subscore minimums: Literacy: 125, Conversation: 120, Comprehension: 135, Production: 105

Each applicant must submit a $75 application fee. 


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

GradCAS application will open in October 2022.