Applications to the Master of Design graduate program are due on January 15th.
Annual admission to the Master of Design graduate program is on a competitive basis. On average, five percent of all applicants are admitted. The University of Washington Graduate School requires a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a 3.0 grade point average for the last 90 quarter credit hours (or last 60 semester credit hours) earned. The GRE is not required. There is no part-time enrollment option. Students who are admitted begin their studies during the Autumn quarter of the UW academic year.
The ideal candidate for graduate study in Design is an individual with:
- An undergraduate BA or BFA degree in Industrial/Product Design, Visual Communication/Graphic Design or Interaction Design or a related design discipline.
- At least 1–2 years of experience in professional design practice. We believe that graduate study is most beneficial for those who have had an opportunity to study and practice in the field. Generally speaking, these are the candidates who have proven to be the best prepared to identify specific areas of interest/focus during the short duration of a master’s program. However, in certain instances, the program will consider students who have more recently completed an undergraduate design program. These students must demonstrate substantial intellectual and form-giving capacity, as well as the ability to work and think beyond the basic tenets of an undergraduate/bachelor’s degree program.
The Design faculty may accept candidates with an undergraduate degree in a field allied with or related to Design—for example, Computer Science, Architecture, Engineering, or Marketing/Advertising/Public Relations/Communication. These candidates have typically experienced specific aspects of design in a professional setting, and wish to expand their knowledge of design while still leveraging a previous academic background. Such students are often considered for an extended 3-year program where they must complete a year of preliminary undergraduate studios (and pass a faculty review) before continuing to graduate-level coursework.
As you prepare your application, feel free to attend one of our information sessions on zoom.
Session 1: Thursday November 3, 4-5pm (Seattle time)
Session 2: Thursday December 1, 9-10am (Seattle time)
Watch the recording of the Dec. 9 2021 session here. →
All application materials are submitted online— anything sent by mail will not be considered.
The online application cycle opens October 1. If you have any questions while submitting your material for review, please write email@example.com. →
Application for Graduate Study at the University of Washington
To finalize your application, please submit the $85 application fee. Once finalized, you will no longer be able to update your online app, however the department can view your complete application and answer questions. Your application is not complete without the fee. Please apply online here. →
Applicants are required to submit an unofficial transcript from each institution from which they have obtained a degree. Applicants who are admitted to the program will be required to submit official transcripts prior to matriculation. Please ensure that the student name and school name appear and that the scan is legible. If you are scanning original transcripts, make sure the pages are oriented upright for screen viewing.
Letters of Recommendation
Applicants will be prompted to provide the name and email address of three (max. four) recommenders. The recommenders will be sent a link to the online evaluation form via email. Each letter of recommendation should be written by someone who is able to comment on your qualifications for graduate study. As part of the application process you will be given the opportunity to voluntarily waive your right to inspect the completed letters.
English Proficiency Test Scores
Proficiency in English is required for graduate study at the University of Washington. Therefore, every applicant whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency. You can reference Graduate School Memo #8 → and English Proficiency Tests → comparison tables for information on the University’s policy. When requesting official TOEFL scores from ETS use institution code 4854 for the University of Washington. TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the test date. The application will also prompt you to self-report your test scores. If you have not yet taken the test, please enter the test date on the form. Official scores must be received by the application deadline.
Statement of Purpose
This statement should clearly articulate your goals and the extent to which the UW MDes program can be expected to prepare you for those objectives. The statement should also describe your background, specifically in the field of Design. This could include a description of your design process, your work experiences, your intentions in relation to the work you have submitted and what you plan to focus on during your graduate study. You should also reference the particular area of Design (industrial design, interaction design or visual communication design) in which you are interested. Your statement of purpose should also include specific areas of interest or topics you might be interested in for your thesis project.
Please organize your statement into three essays, answering the following questions:
1. Why are you interested in doing a Master of Design? Why this year? Why at University of Washington, in the School of Art + Art History + Design?
2. How has your background (professional experience and/or previous studies) sparked an interest in a masters degree? And, what are your career goals after graduation?
3. What area(s) of design or specific topic(s) would you be interested in exploring during your two years of study in the MDes program? Do you have a unique passion or interest that connects to design in some way?
Your resume/CV should summarize your educational background, including institutions and degrees earned. It should also include a summary of professional jobs and academic positions held (e.g. Teaching Assistantships), awards and fellowships, and any relevant publications or recognition. Please keep in mind that the design of your resume should also demonstrate your ability to handle typography, hierarchy and fundamental organizational principles.
The portfolio should demonstrate your knowledge and abilities in the field of Design. You may include up to 20 pages of your design work, saved as one PDF which will largely be viewed on a computer screen. The document should include a cover sheet and an image list. The PDF document should not exceed 30MB in size. You are welcome to include web design, interactive pieces, animation, or video content as part of your portfolio by inserting links to these sources within your portfolio document. Please note, however, that these should be considered supplementary. You will be prompted to upload your pdf portfolio to the University of Washington online graduate student application.
Applicants will be notified of admission decisions through email.
The deadline for all applicants (U.S Citizen, Permanent Resident or International) to submit the online application and corresponding application materials is 11:59 pm (PST) January 15. Late applications will not be accepted and incomplete applications will not be reviewed.
Applicants can track whether application materials have been received by logging back in to their UW Graduate School Application. Faculty typically make admissions decisions in late February and early March. You will be notified of our decision via e-mail.
The School of Art + Art History + Design has a limited number of scholarships, fellowships, graduate assistantships and teaching assistantships.
Cost + Aid
The MDes program is a 2-year (6 quarter) academic program. The estimated average cost of degree in 2021-2022* is $35,508 ($61,824) This estimate is based on 2 years full-time enrollment as a resident (non-resident) student. It does not factor in additional credits, other required fees, textbooks, personal expenses or any additional annual fee increases. More information about costs and UW fees can be found here. → The University of Washington provides estimated student budgets → that address some of these additional costs.
The School of Art + Art History + Design → has a limited number of scholarships, fellowships, graduate assistantships and teaching assistantships available which are used to create recruitment packages to incoming students. No additional application is required for this funding and all applicants to MDes program are automatically considered, including international applicants.
These packages can change annually based on the availability of funding, our goal has been to provide (at minimum) a quarterly fellowship that qualifies our student for resident tuition, regardless of WA state residency. In addition, some students will receive a TA or RA position that includes a tuition waiver, student health insurance and a stipend in the quarter in which it is received.
One of the biggest financial opportunities as an MDes student is to hold a Teaching Assistantship (TA) position. A TA position covers your quarter’s tuition, benefits and includes a stipend. In addition, you have the chance of gaining experience as a design educator and working closely with faculty and design undergraduate students.
Additional funding for the second year of study or beyond is awarded on the basis of funding availability and other factors, including student evaluations and faculty approval. Most students pay for the program using recruitment awards funds, loans (student or private), and perhaps personal savings.
The University of Washington Office of Student Financial Aid administers need-based federal, state and private financial aid programs. The University requires students who are applying for aid to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). → The FAFSA is available from the UW's Office of Student Financial Aid or from other college and university financial aid offices. (For Step 6 the University's code is 003798.) The UW financial aid priority filing date is January 15.
We recommend the FAFSA be submitted by the deadline, even though an applicant will not know whether an offer of admission will be made. For additional information, contact the UW Office of Student Financial Aid → at firstname.lastname@example.org → or at (206)543–6101. →
The Fellowship and Assistantship Division of the Graduate School → offers information on funding resources for graduate students.
The Housing and Food Services Office → provides information on University housing. Contact them at (206)543-4059 → or hfs.washington.edu. →
GO-MAP → provides leadership and advocacy to achieve equitable representation, access and success for graduate students of color at the University of Washington. Graduate students of color may apply for consideration for a Graduate Supplemental Award through UW’s GO-MAP program.
The Graduate Funding Information Service (GFIS) → helps current and admitted UW graduate students learn skills and tools to find funding for graduate school-related expenses.