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

Prospective students interested in receiving aid should complete the Financial Aid application. For more information, please read our Financial Aid FAQs or contact the Finance Aid Office.

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 during each application round.

Applying for Concurrent Degrees within the GSD

Students may concurrently pursue two masters degrees offered by the GSD. If you apply to more than one program, you will need to submit a separate application fee and form for each program and must be admitted into each degree program independently.

For more information, see our page on Concurrent and Joint Degrees.

Applying for Degree Programs with Other Harvard Schools

Students may simultaneously pursue degrees offered by the Graduate School of Design and another Harvard University graduate school. To pursue a GSD degree concurrently with a degree from another Harvard school, you must be admitted into each school independently. For more information, see our page on Concurrent and Joint Degrees.

PhD Applicants

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


Annual Security and Fire Safety Report Availability

The University is required by federal law (The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, 20 U.S.C 1092(f), known as the “Clery Act”) to publish an Annual Security Report and an Annual Fire Safety Report.

The Harvard University Police Department publishes the Annual Security Report, entitled “Playing it Safe,” which includes information about the HUPD, how to report a crime, HUPD's crime prevention programs, substance abuse, sensitive crimes, emergency notifications, and other important information about security and HUPD services on campus. It also contains three years of statistics on reported campus or campus-related crimes. A hard copy of “Playing it Safe” may be obtained by contacting the Harvard University Policy Department at 1033 Massachusetts Avenue, 6th floor, Cambridge, MA 02138, (617) 495-9225.

The Harvard University Environmental Health and Safety Department publishes the Annual Fire Safety Report, which includes fire safety policies, evacuation procedures, and fire statistics. A hard copy of the Annual Fire Safety Report may be obtained by contacting the Environmental Health and Safety Department at 46 Blackstone Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, (617) 496-7168.

Contact Us

Office of Admissions
Harvard Graduate School of Design
48 Quincy Street, Suite 422
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: (617) 495-5453
Fax: (617) 495-8949