Graduate Admissions

This information pertains to graduate and professional programs at PennDesign. Applications for Undergraduate Architecture and Undergraduate Fine Arts are processed by the undergraduate admissions office.

How To Apply

Our online application can be accessed here. Once you begin your application, you may fill out portions of the application, save your information, and go back in at a later date as long as you submit the application before the deadline. Directions for uploading supporting material are included in the application, as well as in our FAQ section.

If you are a current PennDesign student wishing to apply to a certificate program, the certificate application form, including instructions for required materials, can be found here.

Certificate Programs

PennDesign students wishing to apply to a certificate program after they matriculate should complete the Certificate Application and submit it to PennDesign's Office of Admission along with a copy of their PennInTouch transcript. The exception to this is for the Certificate in Integrated Product Design. They would apply to this certificate here.

Students enrolled in other Penn graduate programs may pursue certificates at PennDesign and can apply here.

Additionally, our certificates can be taken as stand-alone courses of study. This allows professionals to enhance and expand their knowledge of their fields. The application can be found here.

  • The Certificate in Integrated Product Design is only available to PennDesign, SEAS, and Wharton graduate students.
  • The Certificates in Urban Design and in Real Estate Design and Development are available to PennDesign students only.
  • The Certificate in Environmental Building Design is available to PennDesign Master of Architecture students only.

Required supporting material for each certificate can be found under the individual certificate descriptions here.

Special Instructions for International Applicants

If you are not a US Citizen or Permanent Resident of the United States, please click here to view our guidelines for international applicants. Please note that if you have attended a college or university outside of the US for more than one year, you must submit a course-by-course evaluation through WES (World Educational Services). The BASIC course-by-course evaluation is sufficient. You do NOT need to send us a paper transcript. In addition, if you are admitted to PennDesign before you have received your undergraduate degree, you will be required to submit a second WES evaluation or upgrade showing your conferred degree prior to entering the School of Design in the fall.

Application Deadlines

Students currently enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program at the University of Pennsylvania may apply for Spring 2018 admission to our certificate programs. Spring certificate admission is only available to current University of Pennsylvania students and those interested should submit an application no later than November 1. PennDesign students applying to the Certificate in Integrated Product Design as well as other Penn students applying to PennDesign certificate programs should use our online application. PennDesign students should use our Certificate Application Form with the exception of applicants to the Certificate in Integrated Product Design.

The Certificate in Integrated Product Design has rolling admissions. The deadlines for Fall 2018 application for our other programs are as follows:

December 15

Master of Science in Architecture
Ph.D. in Architecture
Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning

January 4

Master of Architecture Professional Degree
Master of Science in Design with a Concentration in Advanced Architectural Design
Master of Science in Design with a Concentration in Environmental Building Design

January 11

Master of City and Regional Planning
Master of Fine Arts
Master of Science in Design with a Concentration in Historic Preservation
Master of Science in Historic Preservation
Master of Landscape Architecture
Master of Urban Spatial Analytics
All certificate programs

March 14

Notification letters are available online at 12:00 PM (noon, Eastern Daylight Savings Time). To access your current application or to view your notification letter, click here.

Important note: Some departments will send their admitted students an informal notification email prior to March 14. If you do receive such an email, it is essential that you still log in to your application on March 14 to read your official notification letter. Your checklist will contain any financial aid that we are offering.

Supporting Material

The following supporting material should be submitted through the online application.

Application Fee

An application fee of $80 must be submitted by credit card.

Transcripts and Evaluations

US Institutions
A scanned transcript from each US college or university attended for credit must be uploaded into the application. In addition, you must have one official transcript (sealed and stamped) from each college or university attended for credit sent directly to the PennDesign Office of Admissions, 110 Meyerson Hall, 210 South 34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6311. Alternatively, we will accept official electronic transcripts sent directly from the US institution to us at admissions@design.upenn.edu.

Non-US Institutions
Applicants completing undergraduate and/or graduate degrees from institutions outside of the United States or that have completed more than one year of study for credit at a non-US institution are required to submit a BASIC course-by-course evaluation from World Education Services. http://www.wes.org/. You do not need to send us an official transcript from your school. If you are admitted to your program before you have received your undergraduate degree, you will be required to submit a second WES evaluation or upgrade showing your conferred degree prior to entering the School of Design in the fall.

Study Abroad Programs. An applicant receiving a degree from a US college or university who has participated in a study abroad program does not need to submit a WES evaluation for that program IF the course names and grades from the program abroad appear on their main transcript. If the course names and grades from the exchange program do not appear on their main transcript and they attended the program for only one or two semesters, they may have the study abroad institution send us an official (paper) transcript instead of submitting a WES evaluation. However, if the study abroad program was longer than two semesters, they must submit a WES course-by-course evaluation from the study abroad program in addition to their official main transcript.

Letters of Recommendation

You must submit three letters of recommendation with at least two from college instructors. Applicants who have been out of school for several years may submit recommendations from employers or others in a position to evaluate their professional abilities and academic potential. You will need your evaluators’ e-mail addresses when you fill out the recommendation section of the application.

Personal Statement

You must upload a personal statement, no more than 500 words long, describing your background, interest in your field, and your academic and career objectives. You should be as specific as you can about the area in which you plan to study. If you are an MFA applicant, you should include your ideas, as well as the stylistic and conceptual priorities for your work.

Résumé

You must upload a résumé including employment, activities, community service, education, and academic or professional honors.

Digital Portfolio

A digital portfolio must be submitted for applicants to Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Fine Arts, and Urban Design programs as well as the post-professional MSD: Historic Preservation program. Applicants to the Master of City Planning with a Concentration in Urban Design are strongly encouraged to submit a portfolio of their design work although it is not required. All work in the portfolio, including images and concepts, must be original material created by you, and should be identified as academic, professional, or personal. If professional or team projects are included in the portfolio, you must clearly identify your specific role and responsibility in the production of the project. Labels and writing should clearly explain the work. Paper portfolios are not accepted.

Architecture, MSD, and Landscape Architecture Portfolios
Every applicant to the Master of Architecture, Master of Science in Design (Advanced Architectural Design, Environmental Building Design, and Historic Preservation concentrations), Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Science in Architecture, or PhD in Architecture program is required to submit a digital portfolio. Paper portfolios will NOT be accepted, and if submitted, will not be returned. The portfolio is a synopsis of one's creative work. As a visual essay, it tells a story of a person's interests, skills, and development over time. It should include projects that best express one's visual, spatial, and constructional abilities. These projects might include drawings, paintings, sculpture, or photography; graphic, industrial, or interior design; architectural, landscape, or urban design. The faculty who evaluate the portfolios look less for competence in architectural or landscape architectural design and more for a coherent demonstration of visual and spatial abilities expressed through a basic understanding of material and construction. Applicants to the MEBD and MSD should include at least five fully developed projects done solely by the person submitting the portfolio; other group work can be added.

The digital portfolio should be formatted as one PDF document no larger than 10 MB, with no more than 20 pages (maximum page size 10 x 12") or 10 pages (maximum 10 x 24") if you use spreads. Cover pages or table of contents do not count towards total pages. We suggest that you keep the format consistent. For instance, if you are using spreads, use all spreads. If you are using pages, don't mix in spreads. Once your application is submitted, you will not be able to make changes to your portfolio or upload a new one.

City Planning and Urban Design Portfolios
Applicants to the Certificate in Urban Design program should submit portfolios containing reproductions of their work in the visual arts and design. Applicants to the Master of City Planning program with a concentration in Urban Design are strongly encouraged to submit a portfolio. Applicants with professional experience who wish to include examples of their professional work may do so, but are advised to limit these to projects in which they had principal design roles. If examples of collaborative projects are submitted, the applicant's contribution should be specifically described. The digital portfolio should be formatted as one PDF document no larger than 10 MB, with no more than 20 pages (maximum page size 10 x 12") or 10 pages (maximum 10 x 24") if you use spreads. Cover pages or table of contents do not count towards total pages. We suggest that you keep the format consistent. For instance, if you are using spreads, use all spreads. If you are using pages, don't mix in spreads. Once your application is submitted, you will not be able to make changes to your portfolio or upload a new one.

Fine Arts Portfolios
A portfolio is required of all applicants to Fine Arts, Time-Based and Interactive Media, and Emerging Design and Research programs. The portfolio should indicate your major interest, represent your best work, and demonstrate your abilities. At least half of the portfolio should consist of work completed in the last two years. Applicants may choose to provide still images and/or video. All work in the portfolio, including images and concepts, must be original material created by you, and should be identified as academic, professional, or personal. If professional or team projects are included in the portfolio, you must clearly identify your specific role and responsibility in the production of the project. Labels and writing should clearly explain the work.

Still Images
NOTE: The following instructions are guidelines. You may have to take additional steps to reduce the size of your portfolio if it is larger than 10 MB before you can upload it into your application.

For still images, a total of up to twenty (20) images should be submitted. You will need to combine your images into a single PDF to upload. The portfolio should contain a total of twenty (20) RGB JPEGs. The review panel reviews slides at 1920 x 1080 pixels. If your images are larger than this, please follow these directions:

1. Resize in Photoshop, Image->Image size
2. First set the Resolution to 72 Pixels/Inch
3. Set the Width so it is less than 1920 and the height so it is less than 1080
4. Save a copy of each image as jpeg at 90% quality (or 11/12 quality) for your submission
5. Each file should be just around 1 mb

To create your pdf, in Photoshop, go to File->Automate->PDF Presentation
1. Add your files
2. Check Presentation
3. Make Background Black or White
4. Don't include any text options
5. Leave "Advance Every" unchecked
6. No transitions
7. Click OK
8. Use the "Press Quality" Preset in the next PDF dialog box.

Video Submissions
We will accept up to 5 video links. Each video can be up to 10 minutes long. It is acceptable to provide excerpts if videos are longer than 10 minutes. Submit all video work by providing up to five links to your Image List PDF. Copy and paste the link to your video along with the title, date, running time and intended format of presentation. Video hosting sites include (but are not limited to) YouTube and Vimeo.

Image List for Fine Arts Portfolio Submissions
To describe your work, please include a list as follows: upload an additional PDF document titled "Image Lis" describing the images uploaded and link URLs. The list should be headed with your name and list the image number, title, date, medium, and dimensions of each work. For video submissions, copy and paste the link to your video, also including the running time, intended format of presentation (for example video installation, online video, cinema screening, or not specified) for each video.

Interviews

Not all programs require or even allow video interviews; however, some of our programs have optional video or other types of interviews. The Master of City Planning, MSD: Advanced Architectural Design, and Master of Landscape Architecture programs all encourage their applicants to submit an on-line interview through the ApplyWeb system. After you submit your application, you will receive an interview invitation. If you don’t receive an invitation after submitting your application to one of these programs, please check your spam mail before contacting us. You will need a webcam and mic to do the interview, which is recorded and reviewed by the Admissions Committee. For best results, we suggest using a computer with hard-wired internet connection, not wifi. While this interview is optional, we do strongly recommend it so that the faculty can get to know you better. If you encounter any technical problems please contact Help@applyweb.com.

Other programs may contact you for informal interviews, either through telephone, Skype, in person, or other method in order to learn more about your interests and skills.

Writing Sample

Applicants to Master of Science in Architecture, Master of Science in Historic Preservation, Master of Science in Design (Advanced Architectural Design, Environmental Building Design, and Historic Preservation concentrations), and Ph.D. programs must submit a writing sample. M.S. in Architecture and Ph.D. applicants must submit an essay or research report in English on the subject of their field of specialization. M.S. in Historic Preservation applicants must submit an essay or research report related to Historic Preservation and/or the history of the built environment. Applicants to the Master of Science in Design (Advanced Architectural Design and Environmental Building Design concentrations) must submit one sample of writing and a description of their computing skills and software proficiency. The latter can be either a paragraph or a list. Applicants to the Master of Science in Design (Historic Preservation concentration) must submit one professional or scholarly writing sample.

These writing samples can be examples of papers you have already written or they can be prepared new for the application. We suggest that each sample should be no more than 10 pages.

Research Statement

Applicants to the PhD programs must submit a research statement. In a statement of no more than 500 words, describe the area or field of study you propose, and if possible the topic or kinds of topic you would like to research, explaining the importance of such a study, and the ways in which you are prepared to undertake this research and writing.

Test Scores

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required of all but Master of Fine Art applicants regardless of whether they are from the U.S. or abroad. To register for the GRE, go to Educational Testing Service at www.gre.org. Official test scores must be sent by ETS to the School of Design. The correct institution code to use when requesting scores is 2926; you do not need a departmental code.. We suggest a minimum of 160 Verbal, 148 Quantitative, and 4.5 for Analytical Writing. Keep in mind that these are not cut-off scores.

International applicants whose native language is not English and whose undergraduate training of at least 4 years has not been conducted in the English language must submit satisfactory certification of adequate English proficiency sufficient to pursue graduate study, both comprehension and expression in the spoken and written word. Applicants must submit scores of either the International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic), Pearson's PTE Academic, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). We suggest a minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL, 68 for the PTE Academic, and a band score of 7.0 for the IELTS, but these are not cut-off scores and we will review any complete application we receive. If you have spent a minimum of 4 years in an English-speaking institution (for your Bachelor's, for example), you will not be required to submit a TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS score.

Applicants may register for the IELTS at www.ielts.org, for the TOEFL at www.ets.org/toefl, and for the PTE Academic at pearsonpte.com. The correct institution code to use when requesting official TOEFL scores is 2926; you do not need a departmental code. Candidates admitted to the School of Design may be required to successfully complete an English Language Program prior to matriculation. They will be notified of this condition in their letter of admission.

Application Checklist

Download an application checklist here.

MArch Prerequisites

To be admitted without conditions to the three-year Master of Architecture program, an applicant is required to possess the following: an understanding of mechanics, heat, light, sound, and electricity as demonstrated, for example, through the successful completion of not less than one college-level physics course; an understanding of calculus, as demonstrated, for example, through the successful completion of not less than one college-level calculus course; a general knowledge of the history of Western architecture as demonstrated by the successful completion of not less than one college-level course; and the successful completion of a minimum of two semesters of college-level design studio courses. One of these design studios should be an architecture studio. Candidates admitted with deficiencies in any of these prerequisites must fulfill them before matriculation.

Dual Degrees or Degrees Plus Certificates

For a list of dual degrees, click here, and for certificates, click here. To apply to a dual degree program, you must apply to the first degree program (preferably the one with the earliest deadline) and submit that application. Once this application is submitted, you can fill out and submit the second application. The application fee for the second program will be waived. If you are interested in a degree plus certificate program, you will be able to apply for the certificate program in the fall, after you matriculate into your degree program.