One of the remarkable developments in contemporary culture is the convergence of practices that once unambiguously belonged to either art or design, but which today share methods, means and concerns.
Of particular importance are practices that seek to engage with the public and social realm. The phrase “spatial practice” has become a widely-used term to describe a variety of architectural and artistic engagements with the city, society and with aesthetic practice in general. In many ways it defines the new and moving boundary of the design discipline.
The MDes program in Art, Design, and the Public Domain seeks creative and ambitious individuals from all backgrounds and academic disciplines with a keen interest in contemporary urban, aesthetic, political and technological culture with a predilection for intervention, exhibition, and public work. This program also seeks practicing architects, artists, filmmakers and cultural producers wishing to ‘switch gears’ and develop art-related work, with an emphasis on sophisticated thinking, advanced fabrication methodologies and techniques, and aesthetic and social engagement.
This program is designed to both accommodate graduated MFAs or serve in lieu of a traditional MFA program in an orthodox art academy. The GSD has a wide variety of assets in cultural theory, applied computation, fabrication, art-related practice and speculative design. The GSD also shares links with the departments of Visual and Environmental Studies, Film and Literature, and has innovative new collaborations with international programs in the political and experimental arts. The program strongly welcomes unconventional proposals for study that address emerging issues in (the history of) technology, science, performance, industrial design, typography and all aspects of the changing social and cultural environment.
Here you’ll find a summary of the documents and materials that you will need to prepare and submit with your online application.
Jan 9, 2020
1.- Gather Your Transcripts
You are required to submit transcripts from all colleges and universities from which you’ve received credit. 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. Do not mail paper copies of transcripts prior to receiving an admissions decision; we do not retain any transcripts received prior to March 1. All previous degrees must be conferred by August 15 in order to enroll in the fall. 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 to exclude that recommender and add them again. Recommenders will receive instructions via email once the applicant has registered them via the online application; only online recommendations are accepted. Up to five recommendations may be submitted. You can still submit your application even if your recommenders have not sent in their recommendations.
3.- Have your GRE Scores Sent to the GSD
The general test of the Graduate Record Examination is required for all applicants to degree programs (with the exception of the GMAT option below), 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. Test dates no later than November are recommended for January applications. 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.
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. (Please note we do not accept MyBest TOEFL score reports.)
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.
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.
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
If you’re applying for advanced placement in the professional degree program in 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. In order for your application(s) to be reviewed, the fee(s) should be paid, by credit card only, immediately after submitting your application. Try again with a different credit card should the system reject your card.
9.- Apply for Financial Aid
Prospective 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 email@example.com.
Please note, the GSD does not grant deferrals. If you are admitted but unable to attend, you would need to reapply.