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The admissions process for the DDes program is extremely competitive and requires that applicants hold a graduate level degree in a design related field such as a professional degree in architecture, landscape architecture, planning or urban design. Applicants with a degree in a related discipline such as engineering, geography, computer science, or industrial design also qualify for admission. Applicants are required to present a well thought out research proposal along with other formal elements included in the application packet. There are four critical components to the admissions process for the DDes program: academic record, professional experience, portfolio and a research proposal.

The program seeks applicants who have demonstrated research and analytical skills essential for advanced doctoral study as well as the ability to pursue such work independently. Applicants should submit a proposal describing the research in which they plan to engage during their studies. The proposal will be evaluated on (1) its promise for original contribution to the design professions, (2) the feasibility of its being completed within the time constraints of the program, and (3) its congruence with research interests of at least two GSD faculty members who will eventually serve on the thesis committee. 

Portfolio Requirement

The “portfolio” for DDes applicants should consist of scholarly, academic and/or professional work and may or may not include visual material, at the discretion of the applicant and as related to the proposed research area.


A minimum of four terms (two years) of full-time study in residence is required. A leave of absence of up to two semesters may be approved after the first year of study provided the general examination has been passed. Students should be in good academic standing each semester during the duration of their studies, and normally complete the program in three academic years.


DDes students receive financial support and teaching fellowships that cover a part of their tuition. DDes students receive financial assistance for two years in a combination of grants and teaching/research fellowships.

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