The Master in Design Engineering (MDE) program prepares the next generation of leaders to create transformative solutions that positively improve society. The integrated fields of design and engineering are uniquely positioned to address the world’s toughest challenges.
Our world faces increasingly complex, often unpredictable dilemmas of consequence to human lives and living environments, including rapid urbanization, climate change, and resource scarcity. These and other problems demand a deep and systems-level understanding of the underlying problem architecture, which in turn enables innovative, multi-faceted solutions that transcend disciplines and scales. The MDE program prepares innovators who operate both creatively and analytically, think strategically, and collaborate broadly. MDE graduates lead change and advance novel, real-world solutions.
The newly integrated fields of design and engineering are uniquely positioned to address challenges that involve interactions of natural, social, and informational systems. The design engineering toolkit encompasses multi-layered, analytical approaches, networked objects and environments, soft and hard infrastructures, and strategic plans, all of which can be applied to address grand challenges and mitigate threats to our built and natural environment.
Never before have two Harvard schools established a collaborative degree of this nature, built from the ground up by design and engineering faculty, and guided by an External Advisory Board of industry leaders. The structure of the program, from its curriculum to community, is designed to foster interaction and critical thinking across disciplines, which in turn means graduates better equipped to face complex problems.
The Master in Design Engineering is a collaborative degree program between the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
To learn more about the curriculum, admissions criteria, resources, student life, and more, visit the Master in Design Engineering website. https://mde.harvard.edu/
Consideration will be given to applicants who are ready to tackle the world’s most complex challenges and:
1.- have at least two years of professional experience in engineering, design, business, government, or other fields;
2.- hold a degree in design, engineering, sciences, social sciences, or a related field; and
3.- have demonstrated technical literacy (see below) and multidisciplinary design interests. Applicants must be prepared to submit a portfolio/set of project descriptions.
Applicants should have a broad set of interests and be ready to embrace studies in a fast-paced, interdisciplinary setting that relies heavily on collaboration. In addition to a portfolio, applicants will be required to submit a brief essay that describes their interest in addressing complex human problems, their particular domain of interest, and how they will utilize this degree to achieve their goals.
Technical literacy might include mathematical skills at the level of calculus, statistics and experience in coding applications and using advanced computer simulation tools. For students without sufficient experience, a small number of electives and/or online courses can be used to “top up” their technical background. All students are required to participate in a preterm workshop that focuses on skills and software central to the Collaborative Design Engineering Studio.
The design portfolio should provide a representative number of examples of the candidate’s work, design, and/or research, which are most relevant to the MDE program. Examples may be professional or academic and may encompass designed, researched, and/or actualized work. Projects may include, but are not limited to, buildings, products, mechanical systems, electronic systems, organizational systems, and recommendations regarding processes. It is understood that portfolios will vary widely in content based on the educational background and work experience of individual applicants. Demonstration of technical literacy and innovation is desirable. Projects should be submitted in PDF format and include a description of the project as well as supporting documentation, which may include images or a video (videos must be uploaded separately from the PDF). Applicants may include a list of additional relevant projects. Please see admission instructions for more details on portfolio submittal.
The application of every applicant will be evaluated by a joint committee of GSD and SEAS faculty, who will evaluate and determine the suitability of applicants based on their demonstrated capabilities, statements of purpose, and design portfolios, with consideration toward creating a well-balanced cohort.
Here you’ll find a summary of the documents and materials that you will need to prepare and submit with your online application.
Jan 16, 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.
Applicants may submit the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) in lieu of the GRE.
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 that describes your interest in addressing complex human problems, your particular domain of interest, and how you will utilize this degree to achieve your goals. Your statement should be concise and should not exceed 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
You should provide three to five examples of your work, design and/or research, which are most relevant to the MDE program. Examples may be professional or academic and may encompass designed, researched, and/or actualized work. Projects may include but are not limited to, buildings, mechanical systems, electronic systems, organizational systems, and recommendations regarding processes. Demonstration of technical literacy and innovation is desirable.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note, the GSD does not grant deferrals. If you are admitted but unable to attend, you would need to reapply.