General 2022 Application Information

MArch, MLA, MAUD/MLAUD, MUP & DDes deadline: January 4th
MDes deadline: January 10th
MDE deadline: January 13th

Applications are due by 11:59 PM ET on deadline day.

Payment of Application Fee
The application fee must be paid in order for your application to be reviewed. Once you submit the application, you will be directed to the application status page. Click ‘Application Fee – Submit Payment’ then follow instructions for payment. Payment must be paid by credit card only. When entering your card information, please be sure that your address matches the billing address on your credit card account. If your payment gets rejected more than once, please use a different credit card. 

Application Status Page
If after submitting your application, the status page shows that a document you submitted is missing, do not worry. This simply means our system has not refreshed since your application was submitted. Please allow several minutes to an hour for this refresh to occur. At that time, your document will appear as received. Please monitor your application checklist for an update.  

Financial Aid Information
Please make sure that is on your safe sender list so that the financial aid email sent upon submitting your application does not go into your spam folder. This email will include instructions on how to complete the GSD Financial Aid Application. Be sure to open and read the message carefully so that you don’t miss any deadlines! Information on financial aid packages is released at the same time as your admissions decision. Please note that admissions committees do not consider financial status when making admission decisions. 

Admission decisions will be communicated by email only in early March. We do not share decisions over the phone.  You will receive an email with “Harvard GSD Decision Update” in the subject line when decisions are available. 


Recommendation Letters


Test Scores


Prerequisites (MArch I/AP & MLA I/AP only)

Recommendation Letters Q&A

My recommender is not able to find the email link to upload their letter. What should I do? 

Please have your recommender check their spam and junk folders. The email will be sent by If they still can’t find our message, please ask them to add to their safe-senders list. It is possible that our email is being caught by their firewall. If that still doesn’t resolve the problem, send us an email with the subject line “URGENT: Recommender Issue” that includes your application reference number and your recommender’s name. We will resend manually.   It is also possible that there is a typo in the email address you entered in the application. See below for more information on how to update your recommender’s contact information.

The link my recommender received in the email is not working correctly. How can I help them?   

If the link is not functioning properly or your recommender is receiving an error message, please ask them to clear their cookies and cache, restart their browser, and try again. It may be necessary for them to restart their computer after clearing the cookies and cache. Trying a different browser should also resolve the issue.   

What should I do if my recommender is not comfortable submitting a letter in English?   

In the case that your letter writer is not able to submit their letter in English, it will need to be translated by an official and certified service. As the applicant, you can choose and pay for the translation service, but the recommender must send them the letter themselves so that you do not see it. The recommender will then need to upload both the original and English translations of the letter. There is a questionnaire in English that is required, so they may also need to seek help from an outside party for that area.   

I need to change my recommender’s email address. How can I do this?    

If you have not yet submitted the application, please “exclude” your recommender and re-add them with the updated contact information. Excluded recommendations will not be reviewed. The old link will expire and a new link will be sent to your recommender. Please be sure they are aware that they should use the newest version of the link. If you have already submitted the application, you will not be able to modify your recommender’s email address. If this is the case, please send us an email with the subject line “URGENT: Recommender Issue.” We are not able to accommodate all requests, but will assess the situation and see what can be done. Be sure to include your reference number and your recommender’s name.

My recommender doesn’t use their institutional email address. Can I enter their personal email (Gmail/Yahoo/AOL)?   

We strongly prefer that you use your recommender’s current institutional email address. If that is not possible, a personal address can be used. We ask that all recommenders submit their letter on institutional letterhead, but this is even more important if your recommender is using an unofficial email address to upload their letter. Note that letters submitted via personal email addresses may face additional scrutiny.   

I accidentally checked the wrong box and waived/did not waive my right to see the letter like I intended. What should I do?   

If you have not submitted the application, you will need to exclude the recommender and re-add them, being sure to check the correct box. If they have already submitted their letter, they will need to resubmit, so we recommend reaching out to them ahead of time to let them know. Once you re-add them, they will receive a new link to upload their letter again. If you have already submitted your application, it is too late to make this change.    

Can I submit my application before my recommendation letters have been submitted?    

Yes, you should submit your application by the deadline even if we haven’t received your letters of recommendation. Recommendation letters can still be received after you submit. You can monitor the status of your letters through the Application Status Page. You can also send your recommenders reminders from this page.    

What is the deadline for recommendation letters? What do I do if I can’t get in touch with my recommender?    

All application materials, including recommendation letters, are due by the deadline. Letters received more than five days after the deadline may not be reviewed by the admissions committee. If you are only submitting three letters of recommendation and you can’t reach a recommender, you may want to consider adding an additional recommender to your application as a backup keeping in mind that you can submit up to 5 letters of recommendation.    

I’m applying to multiple programs. Do my recommenders need to submit separate letters for each program?    

Recommenders should submit separate letters for each program, so you should enter their information in each application.   

I attended Design Discovery/Career Discovery. Can I use my evaluation as a recommendation?   

Design Discovery evaluations should be uploaded in the Additional Documents section of the application, but they do not count as a recommendation letter.   

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Transcript Q&A

When should I request my transcripts from my school?    

As soon as possible! Remember that transcripts must be submitted with your application. Even if you are still in school, you should be thinking about your transcripts now. Schools receive a high number of transcript requests in December due to application deadlines across the world. In addition, many colleges close for winter holidays, especially in the United States.  

If you have already graduated, you should request your transcripts now. If you are currently enrolled in an institution of higher learning and are hoping to include your fall grades in your application, we recommend contacting your Registrar’s Office to see if those grades will be added to your final transcript before the application deadline. If your fall grades won’t be included in your final transcript before the application deadline, you should request your most updated transcripts and upload those to the Education section in the application. You can then add unofficial transcripts or grades from your fall term in the Additional Documents section if they are available before the deadline. We do have many successful applicants each year who are not able to submit their fall semester grades at the time of application. It is not possible to add fall semester transcripts or grades after you submit your application.  

How do I submit my transcripts?    

You should upload transcripts for all degree bearing institutions directly into the Education section of the application. These can either be official physical transcripts that you receive from the school to scan and upload, or official/unofficial digital transcripts uploaded to the application. Uploaded transcripts must include your name, the 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. Please do not send any official physical or digital transcripts to the GSD as these will not be added to your application.   

Should I include any transcripts for certificate programs or non-degree programs in the Education section of the application?   

You should not include transcripts for certificate or non-degree programs into the Education section. These should be included in the Additional Documents section and indicated on your resume.   

I received an official digital transcript from my school but am unable to upload it into the application because it is encrypted. What should I do?    

Some official digital transcripts are encrypted for security purposes, meaning that you may not be able to upload them directly to the application. To bypass the encryption, open the document in Adobe or any PDF reader. You should then select “Print to PDF” or “Microsoft Print to PDF,” save the new copy, and upload. Oftentimes, decrypted digital transcripts will reveal a water-mark that says “unofficial” or “copy.” This is not an issue for the purposes of the application.   

My transcript is not in English. What should I do?    

Transcripts in languages other than English should be accompanied by an official translation. We don’t recommend or require a specific translation service. As long as the translation is official and verified, you can select one of your choice. Be sure to upload both the original and the translated transcripts as a single PDF into your application.    

I attended an international school. Do I need a WES evaluation?    

Not at this time. If admitted, we will require that you submit a WES ICAP evaluation, but it is not required now.   

How should I enter my GPA?    

You should enter your GPA exactly as it appears on your transcript. Please do not convert international GPA’s.    

My school doesn’t use GPA. What should I enter for GPA?    

You should leave the GPA field blank.   

Should I convert an international GPA to the American system?   

No. You should enter your GPA exactly as it is listed in your transcript.    

I am not seeing my major in the list. What should I do?   

In that case, you should select the major that most resembles yours. It is important that applicants with pre-professional degrees in architecture such as a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture or a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies do not select Bachelor of Architecture (BArch). In those cases, you should select Bachelor of Arts with a major in architecture, or Bachelor of Science with a major in architecture. Only those with a 5-year BArch degree should select Bachelor of Architecture in the application.   

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Test Score Q&A 


Do you require the GRE this year?   

To ensure that all those interested in pursuing a graduate degree are not impacted by test center closures or other barriers, the GRE is ‘optional‘ for the MArch I, MArch II, MUP, MAUD, and MLAUD. It is ‘not required or accepted’ for the MLA I, MLA I AP, MLA II, MDes, DDes, and MDE. The requirement will be re-evaluated for subsequent years.    

Can I send GRE scores for a program for which the GRE is not required or accepted (MLA I, MLA I AP, MLA II, MDes, DDes, MDE)?   

You can send your scores to us, but they will not be seen by the admissions committee. In the case that we require the GRE again in the future, we will have your scores on file. GRE scores are valid for five years from the date of the test.  

Will my application be at a disadvantage if I do not submit GRE scores for the score optional programs (MArch I, MArch II, MUP, MAUD, MLAUD)?   

Your application will not be disadvantaged if you choose not to submit GRE scores. 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.   

I am submitting applications to both a GRE optional and a GRE not accepted or required program. Will my GRE be reviewed in both programs?   

In this case, your GRE will only be reviewed in the GRE optional program.   

My GRE is still appearing in my application proof and in my checklist for a program where the GRE is not required or accepted. Should I be worried about this?   

If you have submitted GRE scores at some point, you will likely see your score in the application proof and in your application checklist after submitting. Even so, the admissions committee will not be able to see your GRE when reviewing your application if you are applying to a program where the GRE is not required or accepted.   

I sent my GRE scores but they still haven’t appeared in my application. Should I resend them?    

Please check to make sure that you sent your scores to the correct institutional code. It is a common error to send scores to Harvard College, but they must be sent directly to the GSD. Please resend to institution code 3455 if you discover that you initially sent them to the wrong code.      

If you can confirm that you sent your score to the GSD using institutional code 3455, we likely received them or will receive them shortly. Please continue to monitor your checklist for an update. There is no need to email us to confirm receipt of your scores. If you used different identifying information when you registered for the GRE than you did in the application such as email, address, phone number, or name, they may not appear in your record automatically upon receipt. We will match these scores manually in early January to ensure that they are included in your application.


Can I submit the application even if I have not yet taken the TOEFL?    

Yes! TOEFL scores are due by the application deadline, but you can submit your application before official scores arrive. If you have unofficial, please include them in your application.   

One of my section scores is below the minimum of 23, can I still submit my application? Will it be reviewed?     

Your application will still be reviewed even if one or more sections falls below our minimum. This may make your application less competitive, but it is up to you as to whether you would like to retake the test. Applicants who fall below our minimum or preferred scores may choose to submit Duolingo scores to provide an additional data point to the admissions committee concerning your English language proficiency.   

If you are admitted and any of the individual section scores are below 26, you will be required to take the summer English for Design course prior to enrollment.    

I sent my TOEFL scores but they still haven’t appeared in my application. Should I resend them?    

Please check to make sure that you sent your scores to the correct institutional code. It is a common error to send scores to Harvard College, but they must be sent directly to the GSD. Please resend to institution code 3455 if you discover that you initially sent them to the wrong code.  

If you can confirm that you sent your score to the GSD using institutional code 3455, we likely received them or will receive them shortly. Please continue to monitor your checklist for an update. There is no need to email us to confirm receipt of your scores. If you used different identifying information when you registered for the TOEFL than you did in the application such as email, address, phone number, or name, they may not appear in your record automatically upon receipt. We will match these scores manually in early January to ensure that they are included in your application.

I sent multiple scores to the GSD. Can you delete one?     

Once we receive a score, we are not able to delete it from your application. The admissions committee will review all scores received, including your most recent scores.    

I was able to waive the TOEFL due to my undergraduate degree, but I already sent my scores. Can you delete these from my application?    

Unfortunately, we are not able to delete your scores from your application. However, the admissions committee will consider your previous educational background.    

I am eligible for a TOEFL exemption. How do I indicate this in the application? It is still showing up as a requirement.     

If you meet our requirements for a TOEFL exemption, you need to complete the TOEFL Supplement section of the application and upload your undergraduate transcripts to the Education section. You do not need to contact us to confirm eligibility.     

What is the latest date that I can take the TOEFL for my scores to arrive by the deadline? 

We recommend taking the TOEFL no later than December 16th to ensure that your scores are received by the application deadline. Scores received after the deadline will be added to your application, but we cannot guarantee they will be seen by the admissions committee. If you have unofficial scores, please enter those into the application as a placeholder while we await your official scores. You should also include your scheduled test date in the test scores section of the application before submitting. 

I studied for two years towards my undergraduate degree in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, can I waive the TOEFL?     

No. You must have studied at least three years during your undergraduate degree in an institution in one of those countries.     

I received a masters or PhD degree from a school in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, can I waive the TOEFL?    

No. You must have studied at least three years during your undergraduate degree in an institution in one of those countries.    

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Portfolio Q&A  

What programs require a portfolio?    

Applications for all degree programs except the MUP require a portfolio.    

I am a MUP applicant and don’t have a portfolio. Should I create one?    

Our faculty like to say that if you have a portfolio, include it in your application. If you don’t, there is no need to create one. We admit many students to the MUP program each year who do not include a portfolio in their application.   

Can I submit a website as my portfolio?   

No. Your portfolio should be in the form of a PDF.   

What is the page limit for the portfolio?    

30 pages. The 30-page limit refers to individual pages in your PDF file. Title and cover pages do not count towards the page limit. Our recommended page size is 12×18, or A3. Please note that this is a maximum, not a minimum. It is fine if your portfolio is fewer than 30 pages.   

Can I arrange my portfolio in spreads?   

The faculty will be reviewing portfolios on their laptop screens and are unlikely to review portfolios in spreads. Portfolios laid out in spreads may become more difficult to review, and the finer details may become illegible. If you wish for certain pieces of content to be viewed at the same time, we suggest putting that content on the same 12×18 (A3) page, which would count as one page. See the example below as one possibility.   

Do MDes portfolios have to be design portfolios, strictly speaking?    

Applicants to the MDes program come from a variety of backgrounds and show a spectrum of work as part of the portfolio component. Successful applicants have included relevant design work, academic research projects, data analysis, and other professional projects.   

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.   

I am applying for the MArch I/MLA I, but I don’t have a design background. Do you have any advice?    

The GSD admits numerous non-design background students to our professional programs each year. Through your portfolio, it is important that you demonstrate a creative aptitude for design and the ability to think in both two and three dimensions. Many non-background applicants use fine arts or other creative visual work in their portfolio, such as sketches, ceramics, painting, photography, graphic design, etc.    

For the MArch I portfolio, the application asks that we limit our collaborative work to one project. What do I do if some of my best work was collaborative but exceeds one project?   

This question is most relevant for those applicants with pre-professional experience in architecture. 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.   

It is ultimately your decision to include additional group projects if you think that they will best demonstrate your abilities and potential. It is important that your individual contribution to any group projects is clearly identified.   

Are there any resources available through the GSD to help me craft my portfolio?    

Current GSD students released an InDesign Bootcamp tutorial to help you develop your portfolio. You can view it here. Please note that the link will expire on January 4th.    

Help! I can’t upload my portfolio! What can I do?   

We recommend first checking on the file size to see if it exceeds our 40MG limit. If that still does not resolve the issue, check the file type to be sure it is a PDF. Note that portfolios exceeding 32MG must be uploaded into the portfolio/video section of the application.   

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Prerequisite Q&A (MArch I/AP & MLA I/AP only)

Do I have to have completed all the prerequisite courses before applying?    

While it is to your benefit to complete as many prerequisite courses as possible before applying, we do admit a number of students each year who have not completed one or more of the prerequisite requirements. If admitted, you will be required to complete all prerequisite courses before enrolling.   

Can courses taken online at a community college count towards prerequisite requirements?    

Yes! Classes taken at a community college or other accredited institution may be used to fulfill the prerequisite requirements.    

The Admissions FAQs include a list of pre-approved prerequisite courses. Do I need to take those courses specifically?   

You do not. You can use those courses as examples of the sort of courses that satisfy prerequisite requirements. You are welcome to shop around for courses that fit your budget and timeline.    

For those applying to the MArch I, can advanced placement (AP) courses satisfy the calculus or physics requirements?    

Upon review, scores of 4 or 5 on AP exams can fulfill certain prerequisite requirements if you were granted credit for the course by your undergraduate program. Please see the Admissions FAQs  page for more details.  

I’m not sure if a course will satisfy a prerequisite, what should I do?    

It doesn’t hurt to include a course in your application even if you aren’t sure it will satisfy the requirement. We aren’t able to advise on whether a course will satisfy a requirement at this time. This is something that is determined during application review.    

I no longer have a syllabus for the course in question. Is there any alternative documentation I can upload?   

Syllabi provide important information to the faculty who determine whether a particular course will satisfy a prerequisite. If possible, we recommend trying to locate the syllabus. You might be able to find a copy by contacting the school’s Registrar, an old classmate, or the professor of the course. If this isn’t possible, you should be sure to include your transcript and an official course description along with any other documentation that demonstrates the content of the course.    

My syllabus is in a language other than English. Do I need to include a translation?    

Yes. You should have the syllabus translated by an official translating service. We don’t recommend any specific companies, but the translation should be certified.   

When will I know if my prerequisite courses have satisfied the requirements?    

Once admissions decisions are released, admitted students will be informed at that time if they have any remaining prerequisite requirements to complete before enrolling.    

I am applying to the MArch I program and am interested in being considered for Advanced Placement. The MArch I Supplement asks me to enter my previous studio courses and studio projects. What should I enter into the “Project Description” box?   

You should enter the project descriptions included in the syllabus for the studio course. In some cases, it may be appropriate to include the course description if individual project descriptions are not included in the syllabus.   

The MArch I Supplement asks those interested in Advanced Placement to list all courses I have taken that are equivalent to courses required in the first year of the MArch I at the GSD. What is the best method for making these comparisons?   

We understand that it can be difficult to determine exactly which courses from your undergraduate degree will be considered equivalent to courses in the first year of the MArch I program. We do ask that you give it your best, informed guess by comparing your prior coursework to the first year of the MArch I curriculum. You can find an overview of MArch I curriculum here to find course names. Additionally, most course descriptions can be found here.   

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