Application Fee and Checklist
An application fee of $80 must be submitted by credit card. Once you have completed your application and click on the submit button, you will be directed to a secure payment page where you can enter your credit card information.
Transcripts and Evaluations
US Institutions and Canadian AAU-Affiliated Schools
A scanned transcript from each 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 email@example.com.
Course by Course Evaluation (Non-US Institutions except Canadian AAU-Affiliated Schools)
Applicants completing undergraduate and/or graduate degrees from institutions outside of the United States or who have completed more than one year of study for credit at a non-US institution are required to submit a either a BASIC course-by-course evaluation from World Education Services (WES) or a course-by-course evaluation from CertiFile for each institution. You do not need to send us an official transcript from your school. Our online application offers CertiFile, a service for requesting official international credentials electronically. You are not required to use this service, but may choose to do so during the application process; otherwise, you must submit the course-by-course evaluation from WES. Credentials received via the CertiFile service are considered official as are evaluations from WES. Both services charge a fee to evaluate your credentials.
You do not need to submit a WES or CertiFile evaluation if you have taken courses for one year or less, or if you have attended an AAU-affiliated school (McGill University or University of Toronto); however, you will need to submit an official paper or electronic transcript from that institution.
If you are admitted to your program before you have received your undergraduate degree, you will be required to submit a second evaluation or upgrade showing your conferred degree prior to entering the School of Design in the fall. Note: There is an additional charge for this service.
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.
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.
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. Applicants to the MS in Historic Preservation and the Master of Urban Spatial Analysis have the option to submit a portfolio, although this 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, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Design Portfolios
Every applicant to the Master of Architecture, Master of Science in Design (Advanced Architectural Design, Environmental Building Design, Historic Preservation, and Robotics and Autonomous Systems concentrations), Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Science in Architecture, PhD in Architecture, or Certificate in Urban Design 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 MSD should include at least five fully developed projects done solely by the person submitting the portfolio; other group work can be added. If this is a school project, you must clearly identify the professor who led the project, along with his/her contact information, email, and phone number.
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, MS in Historic Preservation, and MUSA Portfolios
Applicants to the Master of City Planning program with a concentration in Urban Design are strongly encouraged to submit a portfolio, and applicants to the MS in Historic Preservation and MUSA programs have the option 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.
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.
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. Copy and paste the link to your video along with the title, date, running time, and intended format of presentation and save and upload the list as a Word document so that the links are clickable. Please do not save the list as a pdf. 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. For stills, upload an additional PDF document titled "Image List" that lists and describes your images. The list should be headed with your name and list the image number, title, date, medium, and dimensions of each work. For video submissions, list the link, running time, and intended format of presentation (for example video installation, online video, cinema screening, or not specified) for each video. Save and upload the list as a Word document. This will allow the faculty to click and open your links directly from the document during the review.
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, PhD in City and Regional Planning, Master of Fine Arts, MSD: Advanced Architectural Design, MSD in Environmental Building Design, Master of Landscape Architecture and Master of Urban Spatial Analytics 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.
Applicants to Master of Science in Architecture, Master of Science in Historic Preservation, Master of Science in Design (Advanced Architectural Design, Environmental Building Design, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 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.
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.
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 as we look at all of your supporting material when evaluating your application.
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.