Here you'll find a summary of the documents and materials that you will need to prepare and submit with your online application. The application will open in September 2018.

Deadlines

Deadline Program
Jan 2, 2019 MArch, MLA, MUP, MAUD, MLAUD, DDes
Jan 9, 2019 MDes
Jan 17, 2019 MDE

Before Applying

  • Review the academic program descriptions and prerequisites, with particular attention to the previous degree required in order to apply. Read our Prerequisites FAQ for more details.
  • 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 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
  • Interviews are not part of the application process, although you are welcome and encouraged to visit the GSD.

Application Checklist

  1. Gather Your Transcripts
    You are required to submit transcripts from all colleges and universities from which you've received credit. All previous degrees must be conferred by August 15 in order to enroll in the fall.You should request either an official paper transcript or a digital version from your school. You will then upload it to your application. Make sure the scanned version is legible and oriented properly. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation. If the university or college does not issue transcripts, a certified letter and certified English translation must be provided. It should list courses and examinations taken, grades, and degrees and dates of degrees received.Applicants are only required to submit hard copies of official transcripts, sent directly from their previous institution to the GSD, if they are admitted and decide to enroll at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.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.
  2. Collect Three Letters of Recommendation
    Applicants are required to obtain three letters of recommendation: at least two from college or university instructors and, if appropriate, one from an employer. 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 exclude that recommender and add them again. Only online recommendations will be accepted. Recommenders will receive instructions via email once the applicant has registered their them via the online application. Up to five recommendations may be submitted. You can still submit your application even if your recommenders have not sent in their recommendations.

    If you've… Recommendation Letter Requirements
    Been out of school for a while You may request letters from employers or other persons in a position to evaluate your professional abilities and academic potential, although letters from college instructors are preferred.
    Attended Design Discovery You should upload a copy of your evaluation if you want it included as part of your application. If included, you should request three additional letters of recommendation.
    Applied to the GSD before Recommendations can be imported from previous applications, simply go to the Recommendations section and choose the appropriate person from the drop-down menu. We encourage reapplicants to have at least one new letter of recommendation.
    Applied to multiple programs In the online application, you may import submitted letters of recommendation from one application to another.
  3. Have your GRE Scores Sent to the GSD
    The general test of the Graduate Record Examination is required of most applicants to degree programs, including international students. Although recent scores are preferred, tests taken within five years of the test date are acceptable. When requesting that scores be sent to Harvard University, use the institution code for the Graduate School of Design: 3455. Please note, we will store scores in our database until they expire.Applicants are urged to register early to obtain an appropriate test date for the GRE so that scores are received by the application deadline. It takes 10-15 days for the GSD to receive scores after you take the exam.We do not have a cut-off point for GPA or GRE scores, although successful applicants typically have at least a 3.4 GPA. The average GRE scores for incoming students are 157 for the verbal, 159 for the quantitative, and 4.0 for the analytical writing sections. We encourage you to apply whether or not you meet these guidelines, keeping in mind that all components of the application are taken into consideration.

    Program GRE Exception
    MDes Applicants to the Real Estate and the Built Environment concentration may submit the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) in lieu of the GRE.
    MDE Applicants may submit the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) in lieu of the GRE.
  4. Have your TOEFL Scores Sent to the GSD
    International Students Only
    TOEFL scores are required for all international students. Scores are valid for 2 years. When requesting that scores be sent to Harvard University, use the institution code for the Graduate School of Design: 3455. Read our TOEFL FAQ for more details. As with GRE scores, we will save TOEFL scores in our database until they expire.
  5. Edit your Resume
    Upload a resume that includes: employment; education; extra-curricular 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.
  6. Write Your Essay
    The requirements of your essay depend on the program you're applying to.

    Program Essay Requirements
    MArch I, MArch I AP Provide responses for any three of the following prompts. Limit each response to 300 words.

    (1) Please tell us about a work of architecture or an experience in the built environment that you find engaging and why.

    (2) How have your experience and background prepared you for your studies at the GSD?

    (3) What is your reaction to the phrase, “Less is More,” an aphorism found in many disciplines?

    (4) Please tell us about a time when you had to overcome a challenge or difficulty.

    MArchII, MLA, MAUD, MLAUD, MUP Submit an essay that addresses your background as it relates to your academic and professional interests, and why you wish to pursue the GSD degree program to which you are applying. Limit responses to approximately 1,000 words.
    MDes Submit a statement addressing your reasons for pursuing graduate studies, your academic and professional goals, potential research topics, your specific interest in this program, and any other information you feel will assist the committee in evaluating your application. Limit responses to approximately 1,000 words.
    DDes Submit a proposal describing the research that you plan to engage in during your studies. The proposal will be evaluated based on: (1) its promise for original contribution to the design professions; (2) its feasibility to be completed within the time constraints of the program; and (3) its congruence with the research interests of at least two GSD faculty members who may eventually serve on the thesis committee. The research proposal should not exceed 1,500 words.DDes applicants also will be asked to indicate two GSD faculty members with whom they wish to work and/or who will act as their primary academic advisors.
    MDE Submit a statement that describes your interest in addressing complex human problems, your particular domain of interest, and how you will utilize this degree to achieve your goals. Your statement should be concise and should not exceed 1,000 words.
  7. Prepare Your Portfolio
    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. Embedded links are deactivated when you upload your portfolio. Please note, we do not accept materials from third party services such as Interfolio.We do not have any sample portfolios. A wide variety of design work and portfolio styles are submitted; there is no one type of correct or successful portfolio.Recommended File Set-up:
    Pages: 30 max (Cover pages or table of contents don't count)
    File Size: 40MB max
    Page Layout: 12” x 18” or A3, two-page spreads should be combined into one page. (recommended)
    Color Format: RGB (recommended)
    Resolution: 150 dpi (recommended)Video Requirements:
    You have the option of submitting one video as a supplement to the PDF portfolio. In exceptional cases where video has been a primary focus of an applicant’s previous design work, up to three video files may be submitted.
    Format: .MOV or .WMX
    Length: 60s max
    Dimensions: 640px x 480px

    Program Portfolio Requirements
    MUP No portfolio necessary.
    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.
    MDE You should provide three to five examples of your 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.
    MArch I MLA I Portfolios should show work in the visual arts or design you've executed. If you don't have any previous training in architecture, landscape architecture, or related fields you 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. If you have participated in Design Discovery (or similar programs at other schools), you're encouraged to include this work.
    AP & Post Professional Programs If you're applying for advanced placement in the professional degree programs in Architecture or Landscape Architecture or for post-professional degree programs you are expected to submit examples of work demonstrating your ability to pursue study at an advanced level.
  8. Pay the Application Fee
    There is a $90, non-refundable fee for each application submitted. The fee(s) should be paid, by credit card only, immediately after submitting your application. Select a different credit card should the system reject your card. Your application will not be reviewed until the fee is paid.
  9. Apply for Financial AidProspective 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 will not give out decisions over the phone. If you have not received notification by April 1, please contact the Admissions Office at admissions@gsd.harvard.edu.

Please note, the GSD does not grant deferrals. If you are admitted but unable to attend, you would need to reapply.


Nondiscrimination Policy

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.