The admissions process for the DDes program is extremely competitive and requires that applicants hold a graduate level degree in a design related field such as a professional degree in architecture, landscape architecture, planning or urban design. Applicants with a degree in a related discipline such as engineering, geography, computer science, or industrial design also qualify for admission. Applicants are required to present a concise and clearly articulated research proposal as the core element of the application. Other critical elements include documentation of the academic record, a curriculum vitae including professional experience, the portfolio, and letters of recommendation. For non-native speakers, recent TOEFL scores are required.

UPDATE: For the 2023 admissions cycle, the GRE requirement is waived. The GRE is not required for the 2023 application and will not be included in the review process for these programs. At this time, the change to the GRE requirement is for the 2023 application season only.

The program seeks applicants who have demonstrated research and analytical skills essential for advanced doctoral study as well as the ability to pursue such work independently. Applicants should submit a proposal describing the research in which they plan to engage during their studies. The proposal will be evaluated on (1) its promise for original contribution to the design professions, (2) the feasibility of its being completed within the time constraints of the program, and (3) its congruence with research interests of at least two GSD faculty members who will eventually serve on the thesis committee.

Portfolio Requirement

The portfolio for DDes applicants 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 topic.


DDes students receive financial support and teaching fellowships from the GSD to cover a major part of their tuition. Additional support may be available through funded research and other resources at the school.

For more information, please contact the Admissions Office.