The graduate application for entry in fall 2024 is now open. Apply here!
Please open an application to view the most up-to-date, program-specific admissions instructions. The list below is a summary of the components.
For more information, please review Navigating the Application. It is a compilation of questions applicants have asked, and we hope it becomes your go-to resource as you begin the application process.
Deadlines for Fall 2024
|Jan 3, 2024||MArch, MLA, MUP, MAUD, MLAUD, MRE, DDes|
|Jan 8, 2024||MDes|
|Jan 11, 2024||MDE|
Submission time is 11:59pm Eastern Time.
- Review the academic program descriptions and prerequisites, with particular attention to the previous degree required in order to apply.
- You may apply a maximum of three times to the same GSD degree program. If an applicant has been denied admission for the third time, further applications to the same program will not be considered.
- If you’d like to apply to more than one program at the same time (but only wish to enroll in one), you will need to submit a separate application and supporting materials for each program. Please indicate your first choice on the application.
- If you’re looking to concurrently pursue two masters degrees offered by the GSD, you will need to submit a separate application fee and form for each program and must be admitted into each degree program independently.
- If you’re looking to simultaneously pursue degrees offered by the GSD and another Harvard University graduate school, you must apply and be admitted into each school independently.
- If you’re a prospective Ph.D. student, you must apply through the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
- Please note that if you are currently enrolled at another graduate school, the GSD does not accept transfer credits for work completed at another institution.
- Gather Your Transcripts
You are required to upload transcripts from all colleges and universities from which you have earned credit or will or have received a degree. Make sure the scanned version is legible and oriented properly. Uploaded transcripts should include your name, school name, degree name, major, degree date if awarded, and a semester-by-semester course breakdown with corresponding grades. Screenshots of course websites or student self-service sites are not acceptable. Appropriate transcripts are very important for the application review process. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation. Applicants are only required to request official transcripts to be sent directly from their previous institution to the GSD if they are admitted and decide to enroll at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Do not request that official transcripts be sent to the GSD prior to receiving an admissions decision; we do not retain any transcripts received prior to decision release. All previous degrees must be conferred by August 10 in order to enroll in the fall.
- Request Three Letters of Recommendation
Applicants are required to obtain three letters of recommendation, ideally at least two from college or university instructors. If you have been out of school for awhile, you may request letters from employers or other persons in a position to evaluate your professional abilities and academic potential. Pay close attention when selecting your option about waiving your right to see your recommendation. If you wish to change your waiver selection, then you will need to exclude that recommender and add them again. Recommenders will receive instructions via email once the applicant has registered them via the online application; only online recommendations are accepted. Up to five recommendations may be submitted. You can still submit your application even if your recommenders have not sent in their recommendations. MArch II applicants should solicit at least two recommendations from individuals involved in the supervision of at least one project in the applicant’s portfolio. For example, an applicant who includes their thesis in their portfolio might ask their thesis adviser for a recommendation, and ask the adviser to write about the thesis. The same would hold true for an office mentor or supervisor.
If you’ve… Recommendation Letter Requirements Attended Design Discovery Design Discovery evaluations do not count towards the three required recommendation letters. Applicants who include a Design Discovery evaluation are still required to request three additional letters of recommendation. You will be prompted to upload your evaluation in the Program Selection tab if you want it included as part of your application. Recommendation letters from Design Discovery instructors do not count towards the three required recommendation letters. Applied to the GSD before If you applied within the past two years, you may import previous recommendations, though we recommend at least one new recommendation. In order for your application to be as strong as possible, we do not recommend that you use recommendations that are older than two years. In that case we prefer that new or updated recommendations are submitted. Please do not import recommendations used to apply to the Design Discovery/Design Discovery Virtual/Career Discovery program. Applied to multiple programs In the online application, you have two options with regard to recommendations when you are applying to more than one program. You can register your recommenders for each program, in which case they will need to upload a letter separately for each program, even if the letter is the same. Alternatively, you may choose to share recommendation letters across programs by importing them from one program to another after the initial recommendation has been submitted. If you choose this option, it is important to discuss this with your recommender ahead of time so that they can consider it when writing your recommendation.
- Have your GRE Scores Sent to the GSD
The GRE will be either ‘optional‘ or ‘not required or accepted’ for our degree programs for the fall 2024 application. The requirement will be re-evaluated for subsequent years. Please see the chart below for the GRE requirement by program.
Optional: If you have taken the GRE and would like to submit scores in support of your application, you are welcome to do so. If you have not taken the GRE and have not submitted scores, the weight of other components of your application will be spread out across your materials during the review process. Your application will not be disadvantaged if you choose not to submit GRE scores.
Not required or accepted: GRE scores are not required. If submitted, GRE test scores will not be considered when applications are reviewed.
If you are applying to more than one degree program and choose to submit scores for the ‘optional’ programs, submitted scores will not be considered for the ‘not required or accepted’ programs.
Program Optional Not Required or Accepted MArch I x MArch II x MLA I x MLA I AP x MLA II x MUP x MAUD x MLAUD x MRE x MDE x MDes x DDes x
- Have your TOEFL Scores Sent to the GSD
International Students Only
International students, except those from countries where English is the native language, must submit scores from the TOEFL internet-based test (TOEFL iBT). When requesting that scores be sent to Harvard University, applicants should use the institution code for the Graduate School of Design (3455); a department code is not needed. However, if you are required to enter a department code, choose the department that best aligns with the program you are applying to. Note that we will receive the scores regardless of the department code you submitted. Applicants required to take the TOEFL should schedule their test in time to receive at least their unofficial scores prior to submitting their application. Overall and individual section scores should be reported on the application form.Official TOEFL scores are due by the application deadline for your program. Scores are usually delivered to the GSD 8-10 business days after your test date. To account for weekends and winter holidays, we recommend taking the test no later than December 21, 2023.In cases where you are applying to two or more programs with different deadlines (ex. MArch II and MDes), your official TOEFL score is due by the earlier application deadline. Scores received after the deadline will be added to your application, but we cannot guarantee that the admissions committee will see late materials during the review process.TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the date of the test, and we are not able to accept test scores for expired tests.Please note that we do not accept the IELTS. Read our TOEFL FAQ in Navigating the Application for more details. (Please note we do not accept MyBest TOEFL score reports.)
- Edit your Resume
Upload a resume that includes: employment; education; extracurricular collegiate and community activities (note whether an office held was elected or appointed); honors, awards, professional registration, professional societies, publications; avocations, hobbies, travel; if you served in the military, indicate rank on entry and rank on separation.
- Write Your Essay
All applicants must submit responses to both the general GSD community essay and program-specific essays. The essay prompts differ depending on the program to which you are applying. For essay prompts for the current application cycle, please refer to the instructions provided within the application.
- Prepare Your Portfolio (when required or optional)
Portfolios must be uploaded as a single PDF and include your most important and representative visual arts, design, research, and/or professional work. Projects should include a description as well as any supporting documentation, which may include images or a video. All work must indicate the date of the project and whether the project was academic, office-related, or personal. In the case of collaborative work, the contribution by the applicant must be described precisely. If any part of an image or process is not your own work, the source must be cited. Embedded links are deactivated when you upload your portfolio. We do not have any sample portfolios; a wide variety of design work and portfolio styles are submitted, and there is not one type of correct or successful portfolio. Please note, we do not accept materials from third party services such as Interfolio. Website portfolios are not accepted and will not be reviewed.
Recommended File Set-up:
Portfolios should be formatted as a PDF for screen viewing and uploaded as a document in the Portfolio (PDF) section (if 32 MB or less) or the Portfolio (Video) section (if over 32 MB).
– File type: PDF (One combined file. No other file types are accepted.)
– Max file size: 40 MB
– Max page limit: 30 PDF pages, excluding cover and table of contents page which do not count towards this limit.
– Max resolution: 150dpi for all images or entire PDF. RGB is the recommended format for color management on computer monitors. When importing line drawings into PDF format, please check that line weights are properly reproduced or adjusted.
– Recommended page size for screen viewing: 12″ x 18″ (A3). We recommend converting spreads into single pages because it is unlikely that the committee will view the portfolio as spreads. If you wish certain pieces of content to be viewed at the same time, we suggest putting that content on the same page, which would count as one page
– Optional Video Supplement: Applicants have the option of submitting one video as a supplement to the PDF portfolio. Videos should be in MOV or WMV format and no more than 60 seconds in length. Videos should be sized for 640 x 480 px. Note: Videos can serve as a supplement to the PDF portfolio requirement but cannot replace or waive it.
Program Portfolio Requirements MUP Submitting a portfolio is optional, not required. MRE Do not submit a portfolio. MArch I MArch I portfolios should show work in the visual arts or design executed by the applicant. Candidates without previous training in architecture, landscape architecture, or related fields may demonstrate design aptitude by submitting examples of freehand drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design, furniture, product design, etc. The purpose of the portfolio is to demonstrate creativity, aptitude for design, and a capacity to think and design in three dimensions. Those who have participated in Career Discovery/Design Discovery/Design Discovery Virtual (or similar programs at other schools) are encouraged to include this work in their portfolios.
MArch I portfolios should include an applicant’s recent creative work. The admissions committee strongly prefers to see a majority of individual projects rather than collaborative group work and if possible, not more than one group project and not more than one office project. Should such group work be presented (either academic collaborations or from a professional office), candidates should clearly identify their role in the project.
For applicants wishing to be considered for Advanced Placement, please see the AP Guidelines accessible through the application or read the portfolio FAQ within the Navigating the Application page.
MLA I MLA I portfolios should show work in the visual arts or design executed by the applicant. Candidates without previous training in architecture, landscape architecture, or related fields may demonstrate design aptitude by submitting examples of freehand drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design, furniture, product design, etc. The purpose of the portfolio is to demonstrate creativity, aptitude for design, and a capacity to think and design in three dimensions. Those who have participated in Career Discovery/Design Discovery/Design Discovery Virtual (or similar programs at other schools) are encouraged to include this work in their portfolios. MLA I AP For advanced placement in Landscape Architecture, particular importance is placed on portfolio review. Applicants are expected to submit examples of work documenting design projects, particularly from advanced studios. Complete documentation should include two-dimensional drawings and three-dimensional views, including hand drawings, computer renderings, and models. Conceptual clarity at each scale of a design proposal is an important goal of the graphic layout. Any professional projects should be labeled clearly, and the applicant’s role in collaborative projects precisely described. MArch II, MLA II, MAUD, MLAUD For post-professional degree programs, applicants are expected to submit examples of work demonstrating their ability to pursue study at an advanced level.
Portfolios should include as many individually authored projects as possible. Group projects and projects completed in professional offices should be clearly identified as such.
MDE Applicants should provide three to five examples of your work, design, and/or research that 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, products, mechanical systems, buildings, functional materials, 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 consist of images or a video (uploaded separately from the portfolio PDF). Applicants may also include a list of additional relevant projects. If the submitted work was produced as part of a team or group, a clear explanation of your individual contributions should also be provided. MDes Portfolios should consist of scholarly, academic, and/or professional work, and at your discretion, may or may not include visual material as related to the proposed research.
MDes portfolios should specifically reference methods, media, and models (physical and intellectual, digital and analog, historic and contemporary, built and proposed) that demonstrate spatial fluency and intellectual depth in contemporary research questions and critical areas of inquiry.
DDes Portfolios should consist of scholarly, academic, and/or professional work, and at your discretion, may or may not include visual material as related to the proposed research.
Compile your Prerequisite Information
Two to three years of experience in professional practice is strongly recommended. You will be asked to provide information about your work experience on the resume tab in the application.
The MRE program prefers that its applicants have two or more years of experience in real estate or related fields (related fields include, for example, planning and design professions). On the resume tab in the application, you will be asked to list the dates of your real estate or related experience, the name of the organization for which you worked, your title, and the name and email address of a supervisor who could confirm your employment if needed. Note that you should list only those positions that are either directly related to or adjacent to real estate. The relevant positions should also be listed in your resume alongside any other work experience.
MArch I /AP and MLA I /AP
The MArch I /AP and MLA I/AP degree programs require several prerequisite courses, which are detailed in the text and chart below.
MArch I/AP and MLA I/AP prerequisite courses must be taken at the college level, for credit, and be completed with a grade of B- or higher. In the application, you will be asked to indicate how you have fulfilled, are in the process of fulfilling, or will fulfill the prerequisites. You will need to upload a course description, syllabus, and transcript for each course. While it is not a requirement that you complete all prerequisite courses before applying, it is recommended that you complete or are in the process of completing as many as possible at the time of your application.
If admitted, applicants will be notified as to whether the courses they submitted have satisfied the prerequisite requirements. If an admitted applicant has not fulfilled a prerequisite, they will be required to do so before enrolling at the GSD.
Although we provide examples of pre-approved courses below, we accept a wide range of courses, including courses taken at your undergraduate institution, online at an accredited institution, and at community colleges. Note that Coursera and similar programs do not fulfill these requirements because they cannot be taken for credit. Please see our Prerequisite FAQs in the Navigating the Application page for answers to commonly asked questions about the prerequisite requirements.
REQUIRED COURSES PRE-APPROVED COURSES One semester of calculus – Typically satisfied by a college-level calculus course. Straighterline Online General Calculus I One semester of physics – Typically satisfied by introductory algebra-based or calculus-based physics courses for science majors. The course should cover basic mechanics topics, including linear, circular, and projectile motion, vectors, forces, inertia, torque, energy, impulse, and momentum. Ideally, the course would also cover waves and thermodynamics. Straighterline General Physics I Two semesters of architectural history –
Typically satisfied by survey courses covering Ancient-to-Renaissance and Renaissance-to-Modern, or one history of architecture survey course that covers the Renaissance to Modern periods plus a course that focuses on a particular time period or topic in the history of architecture. If admitted, students will have the opportunity to take the GSD’s special section of the online course The Architectural Imagination.
HarvardX: The Architectural Imagination
- (Please note that if you choose to take this course prior to admission you will be required to retake it if admitted to the program. We recommend waiting to see if you are admitted before enrolling.)
REQUIRED COURSES PRE-APPROVED COURSES One semester of environmental science –
May be satisfied by a college-level course in environmental science, biology, ecology, geology, and/or botany.
Straighterline: Introduction to Environmental Science One semester of history of the built environment –
May be satisfied by a college-level course in the history of architecture (preferred), the history of gardens and designed landscapes, environmental history, and/or urban history.
HarvardX: The Architectural Imagination (Please note that if you choose to take this course prior to admission you will be required to retake it if admitted to the program. We recommend waiting to see if you are admitted before enrolling.) One semester of visual arts –
May be satisfied by a college-level course in drawing (preferred), painting, sculpture, and/or graphics.
Academy of Art University: LAN 605 OL, Drawing as Process
- Pay the Application Fee
There is a $90, non-refundable fee for each application submitted. In order for your application(s) to be reviewed, the fee(s) should be paid, by credit card only, immediately after submitting your application. Try again with a different credit card should the system reject your card.If the application fee presents a financial hardship, please see our Navigating the Application for information about the fee waiver request process. Please note that you will need to start an application in order to access the fee waiver request form.
- Apply for Financial Aid
Prospective students interested in receiving aid should complete the Financial Aid application. Read more information about paying for your program.
After You Submit
Once submitted, changes, additions, or any other edits cannot be made to the application and/or portfolio. Application materials, including the portfolio, become the property of the GSD and cannot be returned or forwarded to any other party.
All decisions are released within the first week of March. You will receive an email indicating that there is an update on your Applicant Status Page. We do not give out decisions over the phone. If you have not received notification by April 1, please contact the Admissions Office at [email protected].
Please note that the GSD does not grant deferrals. If you are admitted but unable to attend, you would need to reapply.
In accordance with Harvard University policy, the GSD does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status or handicap in admission to, access to, treatment in, or employment in its programs and activities. Every effort will be made to ensure fairness and consistency in the school’s relations with its students, faculty, and staff.
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 “Harvard University Police Department Annual Security Report,” 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 the “Harvard University Police Department Annual Security Report” may be obtained by contacting the Harvard University Police 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 Environmental Health and Safety Department at 46 Blackstone Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, (617) 496-7168.
The Annual Security Report is available at www.hupd.harvard.edu/annual-security-report.
The Annual Fire Safety Report is available at www.ehs.harvard.edu/programs/higher-education-opportunity-act-heoa.