Preparing your application

Below is a summary of the documents and materials that you will need to prepare and submit for the application process. Please read the instructions found on our online application carefully. Applicants are admitted for Fall term only; there is no mid-year admission. 

Submitting through the online system is required. Application materials received by mail will not be considered. 

All applicants to degree programs must submit the following:

  • Online Application Form.
  • Application Fee of $90 (non-refundable) for each application submitted.
  • Transcripts from all colleges and universities from which you have received credit (please note that official transcripts must be scanned into the online application; official transcripts sent to the GSD are not accepted at the time of application).
  • Letters of Recommendation (three) must be submitted electronically through the online application (instructions on how to do this are included in the application, as well as in the FAQs section).
  • Resume and Essay.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores are required of all applicants, though students applying to the Master in Design Engineering program or the Real Estate and the Built Environment concentration in the Master in Design Studies program may submit the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) in lieu of the GRE. When requesting test scores be sent to Harvard University, please be sure to use the Graduate School of Design's institution code (3455); a department code is not needed.
  • For International Students: Evidence of English Proficiency (TOEFL scores). Reporting codes for TOEFL scores are the same as those for the GRE (3455).
  • Portfolio.  Applicants to degree programs other than the Master in Urban Planning program must submit a portfolio that includes their most important and representative visual arts, design, research, and/or professional work. A portfolio for the Master in Urban Planning degree program is optional.

    Master in Design Studies and Doctor of Design portfolios 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.

    The design portfolio for Master in Design Engineering applicants should provide three to five examples of the candidate’s work, design and/or research, which are most relevant to the MDE program. Examples may be professional or academic and may encompass designed, researched, and/or actualized work. Projects may include, but are not limited to, buildings, mechanical systems, electronic systems, organizational systems, and recommendations regarding processes. Demonstration of technical literacy and innovation is desirable. Projects should be submitted in PDF format and include a description of the project as well as supporting documentation, which may include images or a video (videos must be uploaded separately from the PDF).  Applicants may include a list of additional relevant projects.

    Please see admission instructions for more details on portfolio submittal. 
    Special students may also be required to submit portfolios. All portfolios must be submitted online; hardcopy portfolios will not be accepted. Submission instructions and more details can be found in the online application.  

applying for financial aid

Please see the Financial Aid website for information.

Three-Application Maximum

An applicant may apply a maximum of three times to the same GSD degree program. Once the applicant has been denied admission for the third time, further applications to the same program will not be given consideration. Applicants may apply to a maximum of three programs for fall 2016.

phd applicants

Prospective PhD students must apply through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Admissions: Applying to the GSD: Instructions

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