Doctoral Program Admissions

A GradCAS Application is required for the School of Design PhD program.
Apply Here. The deadline for applications is February 28, 2024.

All prospective PhD researchers must submit an online application that includes:

  • A Personal Statement
  • Samples of Work
  • CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores where applicable (scores must be less than two years old. Or the Duolingo online English proficiency exam for students (scores from the July 2020 updated version)
  • Application fee

Detailed information about each component of your application is available below:

Personal Statement: Describe your reasons for wishing to undertake a PhD in Transition Design, and how your unique personal and professional experiences have led you to this moment. Explain how your work overlaps with the Transition Design approach, and why this intersection could provide fertile ground for doctoral research. Tell us about what drives your work and the key research questions you are currently grappling with. We are not looking for a “research proposal.” Our program is fairly unique in that we develop this after the first year of study. If you are applying for a Teaching Fellowship indicate this here, and outline any teaching, training, or coaching experience you have. Your statement should be around 2,500 words in length. 

Samples of work: We are interested in seeing examples of your recent work. This could be anything from a design portfolio or curriculum you have developed, to a collection of short articles you have written or descriptions of community-based projects you have been involved with. Whatever you decide to share with us, it should be supported by annotations clearly describing each piece. You can upload samples of your work as a single PDF, or include a link to a personal website. We typically like to see around five or six pieces of work.

CV: This should include your academic qualifications, work experience, and list of notable research and/or professional outputs. 

Letters of Recommendation: Provide names and contact information (including email addresses) for three people you have chosen to write letters of recommendation on your behalf. These are people who can write a compelling, thoughtful letter about your approach to work, and readiness for doctoral study.

Transcripts: In the GradCAS Academic History section, please request an official electronic transcript from U.S. schools you attended. Select the appropriate electronic transcript vendor and follow the instructions for Sending Transcripts Electronically to GradCAS, as found in the GradCAS Help Center: GradCAS accepts electronic transcripts from Credentials Solutions, Parchment, and National Student Clearinghouse.

International transcript(s) that cannot be sent electronically using Credential Solutions, Parchment, and National Student Clearinghouse must include a foreign evaluation of the academic record. WES and ECE can be ordered directly through the application. Original documents should be sent directly to GradCAS at the listed address below. The School of Design does not accept transcripts or evaluations through email or postal service.

GradCAS Transcript Processing Center
PO Box 9217
Watertown, MA 02471

TOEFL/IELT/Duolingo test scores: All applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or the online Duolingo English Test score. All applicants must submit their highest test score by the application deadline.

  • 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.
  • Our minimum IELTS score is 7.5, with no score lower than 7.
  • Our minimum Duolingo score is 128 total. Subscore minimums: Literacy: 125, Conversation: 120, Comprehension: 135, Production: 105

Scores below these minimums will not be considered for admission.

Application Fees: Each applicant must submit a $75 application fee. 

When You May Apply:
The application for Fall 2024 admission is available HERE

Offers are made after all applications have been reviewed, usually around the end of March. The deadline for applications is February 28, 2024.

Further Information
Please feel free to write to with any questions. You can also check out our FAQs page. As this is a relatively new program, insufficient data exists to provide helpful transparency statistics. This will be shared as it becomes available.