The Doctor of Design (DDes) program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design is a leading doctoral degree program for highly creative and motivated professionals who wish to conduct rigorous, intensive design research.
The three-year program is geared towards applied research that advances design related knowledge in a broad range of scales from product design to buildings and landscapes to urban design and regional planning. Common to the diverse range of DDes research investigations is the belief that design research makes essential contributions to understanding, analyzing and ultimately improving the built environment in our increasingly complex world.
DDes research is often multidisciplinary and encompasses a broad range and combination of theoretical, applied and technological topics that represent the cutting edge of applied design investigation. DDes research is intimately linked to ongoing investigations of the GSD’s research labs and programs that integrate many DDes students both intellectually and operationally as investigators in ongoing research projects.
Research topics are proposed during admission and are decided upon entry into the program. Student research should align with current faculty research interests, allowing for affiliations with faculty and, possibly, the research labs. Applicants are expected to clearly articulate their research topics in the application by submitting a concise and well-structured research proposal. Typical research areas include studies in urban design and theory, landscape urbanism, novel design techniques and technologies including material systems, design computation, and building technologies, planning and real estate studies, and theoretical investigations of emerging trends in digital design culture. Thesis topics investigate more specific issues within individual or combined research areas, and do not necessarily correspond to individual academic disciplines. Instead, they are often interdisciplinary in nature, involving faculty and resources from other graduate schools at Harvard and contribute to expanding the intellectual range of design research.
The DDes program is highly regarded internationally, and DDes alumni have become thought leaders in their respective fields. Their work promotes and advances improvements of the built and the natural environment worldwide. They hold prestigious positions in private practice, industry, government and academia.
We invite you to review the program details at left. Please feel free to contact us for more information. firstname.lastname@example.org
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. Recent GRE scores and, for non-native speakers, TOEFL scores, are required as well.
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.
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.