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I don’t have a background in design—can I still apply?
Yes. Our first professional degrees (MArch I, MLA I, MUP) do not require a previous design background, although a four-year bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree, or its equivalent, is required in order to apply. For architecture and landscape architecture you will need to submit a portfolio as part of the admissions process.
Do I need to take specific courses during my undergraduate studies to prepare to apply?
For the first professional degree in Architecture, specific courses are required. The MArch I/MArch I AP program has 4 prerequisite courses: one semester of college-level calculus, one-semester of college-level physics, and two semesters architectural history (covering at least the Renaissance to Modern periods).
For the first professional degree in Landscape Architecture, specific courses are required. The MLA I/MLA I AP program has 3 prerequisite courses: one semester of college-level environmental science, one semester of visual arts, and one semester of history of the built environment.
Prerequisite courses must be a semester long or the equivalent, taken for credit at the college level, and a grade of B- or higher achieved.
What if I haven't met one of the course prerequisites? Can I still apply?
Yes, you can still apply. If you are admitted but have not completed one of the prerequisites, you would be admitted with the requirement to fulfill the prerequisite in order to matriculate in the fall. Keep in mind that it is in your best interest to have completed most of the prerequisites as it may be difficult to enroll in multiple courses during a summer semester.
Prerequisite courses may be taken at any accredited college or university or even online. The courses must be taken for credit, and you must be able to provide us with a transcript showing the course you took and the grade you received. Pass/fail courses are not accepted.
If you wish to take a calculus course online, below is a list of approved online calculus courses:
- San Francisco State University: Calculus I
- University of Illinois: MATH 220
- University of North Dakota: MATH 165
What kind of physics course (for MArch I and MArch I AP) are you looking for?
To satisfy the physics prerequisite, the applicant must complete an algebra-based physics course that covers basic mechanics topics, specifically: linear, circular, and projectile motion, vectors, forces, inertia, torque, energy, impulse, and momentum. Ideally, the course would also cover waves and thermodynamics. A calculus-based physics course is allowable. Typically, introductory physics courses for science majors will fulfill the requirement. The course must be a semester-long or the equivalent, taken for credit at the college level, with a minimum grade of B- or above achieved. A lab component is not required.
If you are in the Cambridge area, the following Harvard Extension School course fulfills the requirement:
What do I need to take to fulfill the history of architecture requirement for MArch I?
Two semesters of the history of architecture (together covering Renaissance through Modern periods at minimum). For example, two semesters of history of architecture survey courses covering Ancient-to-Renaissance and Renaissance-to-Modern would fulfill the prerequisites, 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. Essentially you must have two history of architecture courses, and the Renaissance through Modern periods must be covered. If admitted, students will have the opportunity to take the GSD's online course The Architectural Imagination.
What kind of courses for MLA I are you looking for?
For environmental science, a college-level environmental science course, such as ecology or plant science; for visual arts, a college-level course in drawing (preferred), painting, sculpture, graphics. The history of the built environment could include history of architecture, history of gardens and designed landscapes, environmental history, or urban history.
Pre-approved online environmental science course: Introduction to Environmental Science (StraighterLine Online Courses)
Can I use AP classes to fulfill the prerequisites?
Upon review, scores of 4 or 5 on AP exams will fulfill prerequisites only if your undergraduate school has awarded credit for the relevant courses and the credits appear on your transcript.
For physics, AP Physics 1 or C, or IB Higher Level Physics courses may satisfy the requirement if the course is recognized by the students' undergraduate institution and in accordance with the institutions' requirements. (Test scores from AP Physics 2, the IB Standard Level Physics, and the gaokao university entrance exam do not fulfill the prerequisite.)
I am in my final year of my undergraduate program and will graduate in the spring or summer. Can I still apply for programs?
Yes, you can apply. If you are admitted, you would then need to send us a final transcript from your school once it is available that shows the degree received and the date you received it.
Can I waive the TOEFL exam?
International students, except those from countries where English is the native language, must submit scores from the TOEFL internet-based test (TOEFL-iBT; use institution code 3455 when requesting scores). International students who have studied or lived in English-speaking countries are not exempt from this requirement, with the following exceptions: if you are currently enrolled in a four- or five-year undergraduate institution within the United States, in lieu of a TOEFL score you may submit a letter from a faculty member at your institution attesting that your English language skills are sufficient to successfully pursue studies at the graduate level; or, if you graduated from a four- or five-year undergraduate institution in the U.S. and since graduation have been living and working in the U.S., you may either take a Duolingo test or submit TOEFL scores. Please note that those enrolled in a master's degree program in the U.S. must submit TOEFL scores.
For international students, is there a minimum TOEFL score that must be achieved?
Yes. On the TOEFL iBT, our minimum required score is 92, with minimum section requirements of 23. The preferred TOEFL iBT score is 104, with individual section scores of 26 or above. If your score falls between the minimum and preferred, you will be required to take our English language course the summer before you enroll. The English language course (English for Design) occurs during the month of June. 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.
Can other tests of English proficiency, such as the IELTS, be substituted for the TOEFL?
No. The only test of English proficiency that we accept is the TOEFL