Application Information

How to Apply to the Institute of Design (ID)

  1. Once you have decided to apply, submit required documentation for your application in PDF format. You can submit documents as you have them available. See below for complete lists of requirements by program.
  2. Create an account on the Illinois Tech application website and submit your documentation. We will contact you via email if we have any questions.
  3. We will send an email confirmation to you once your application is under review.
  4. To check the status of your application, use the Illinois Tech App Tracker for current information.

Typically, ID will send you an application decision via email within four weeks.

Quick links to documentation needed to apply:

Recommendation Letters
Statement of Interest (MDes, MDM only)
Research Proposal (PhD only)
Resume or Curriculum Vitae
TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo Scores
Final Transcript Validation
Application Timing and Fees

The Documents You Need to Apply to ID

Please note: All documents (including portfolios) uploaded in your application must be in PDF format. Please convert any images (JPG, TIFF, etc.), documents, or portfolio website links to PDF format before submitting them.

Recommendation Letters (survey)

Three recommenders are required for all applicants. To expedite letters of recommendation we use a short survey process. To complete this step in the application, please provide contact information for three recommenders who can complete a short recommender survey. The survey should not take more than 10 minutes to complete.

  • Chosen recommenders should be able to comment on your ability to succeed in a highly collaborative and challenging masters or PhD program of study.
  • Recommenders may include professors, employers, or colleagues, but not family or personal friends.
  • After you enter your recommender's contact information in the application and hit “continue,” the recommender will receive an email invitation with a link to complete the survey. There is no additional action needed by you once that step is completed.


For MDes applicantsplease ensure your portfolio meets the formal criteria below.

Please note: If you have not completed a previous degree in design, you are not required to submit a portfolio. However, if you have work you would like to share, we are happy to see it.

  • Include three to eight projects of five to fifteen pages in total 
  • Your work should demonstrate critical thinking, problem/concept exploration, and proposed solutions.
  • The work should also demonstrate your skills in 2D layout, 3D modeling, or environments, as well as in interaction and storytelling.
  • The portfolio file must be a PDF file no larger than 25 MB (a PDF with a link to your website is also acceptable).

For MDM applicants, your portfolio should focus on your skills in leading innovation projects and teams. All MDM applicants, regardless of previous education or experience, are required to submit a portfolio.

  • Include three to eight projects of five to fifteen pages in total.  
  • Original artwork and commercially produced pieces are not necessary.
  • Work should demonstrate critical thinking, problem framing, and communication skills.
  • The portfolio file must be a PDF file no larger than 25 MB (a PDF with a link to your website is also acceptable).

Statement of Interest (MDes and MDM only)

Please submit an essay of 500-2000 words explaining your interest in our school. In particular, please address the following questions:

  1. Why are you pursuing a Masters degree in design in particular? And why is now the best time for you?
  2. What are you looking to achieve by earning the degree you are applying for?
  3. How do you see yourself moving forward after this experience?

Research Proposal (PhD only)

Your research proposal will help us understand how you might approach a significant project and frame research questions. It is not considered a final plan. It is normal for the approach to evolve as the student goes through the program. With that in mind, please address the following in your research proposal:

  • A proposed topic related to faculty interests; ID professors currently accepting new students are listed here.
  • References to the work of specific theorists and how your proposed project might contribute to or reflect upon their work.
  • Display familiarity with relevant research literature.
  • Two or three research goals, each with three or four related research questions.
  • Two or three use cases and data collection methods you might use to provide evidence related to those questions.
  • Why you believe ID is the right place for you to pursue this work; include discussion about the particular faculty member with whom you would work.

Resume or Curriculum Vitae

We expect applicants to have achieved a certain level of professional experience before entering a program:   

  • MDes has no minimum experience requirement, although two to four years of professional experience is preferred.
  • MDM requires at least five years of professional experience.  

ID also considers full-time internships, volunteer work, and freelance projects as formal work experience.


We do not require a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score for the MDes program.  However, if you have a score you would like to submit we are happy to include that in your application evaluation. We will accept either the GRE or the GMAT.

We do require the GRE or GMAT score for the PhD program.

If you would like to submit a score, please note: 

  • Please send official scores directly to Illinois Tech through the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).
  • Illinois Tech cannot accept GRE and GMAT scores that are more than five years old at the time you apply.
  • Any difference between an applicant’s name in the score report and in the application will delay or prevent Illinois Tech from obtaining scores.

TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo Scores

Any applicant with an undergraduate degree from an institution where the primary language of instruction is not English must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores. If you are unable to take the IELTS or TOEFL test due to exam cancellations, you may submit Duolingo English Test results instead. We also accept TOEFL IBT Home Edition scores and MyBest scores.

The minimum TOEFL score accepted is 100. The minimum IELTS total score accepted is 7.5. The minimum Duolingo English Test total score accepted is 125. All applicants with lower scores may be admitted with additional English + Design requirements.

Instructions for score submission:

  • All scores should be sent directly to Illinois Tech by the testing service. Please request that your scores be sent to institution code 1318. No department code is required.
  • TOEFL and IELTS scores more than two years old at the time your application will not be accepted.

Please note: Any difference between an applicant’s name in the score report and in the application will delay or prevent ID from obtaining scores.


We require official transcript(s), full mark sheets, and degree/diploma certificates from each institution you attended, regardless of whether or not you earned a degree. If you are an international applicant, please check for specific considerations on transcript documentation.

Instructions for transcript submissions:

  1. Provide a PDF copy of your official and original paper transcripts, individual mark sheets, or electronic transcript. These are available from the institution’s registrar. Do not upload your institution’s web-based academic record or a document stating it is not an official transcript.
  2. Include a PDF of an official English translation if your official transcripts are not issued in English. We recommend an ATA translator.
  3. Make sure that all critical and identifying marks on the front and back of each page have been scanned and are completely legible.
  4. If you completed the degree, include a PDF of your original degree certificate. Please note attested copies are not acceptable and will delay processing time.

Final Transcript Validation

If you are joining ID directly after your undergraduate program and do not have a final official transcript at time of admission, you will be required to have your transcripts officially validated during the first semester of your enrollment. Please follow the steps below.

US Transcripts

The institution conferring the degree will need to directly submit an official transcript, either through our online application portal or by emailing a scan

Foreign Transcripts

  • If your prior institution does not issue transcripts in English, both the original and a professional English translation are required.
  • If your prior institution does not use the 4.0 scale grading system, the Office of Graduate Admission will evaluate your grades with respect to that system.

In the case we are unable to evaluate and interpret credentials, you must have Educational Credential Evaluators, One Earth International Credential Evaluations, or Educational Perspectives professionally evaluate the documents.

Application Timing and Fees

  • Please note that admission to the MDes program with Foundation is offered for the fall semester only.
  • You must submit your application by 5 pm (CST/Chicago time) on the due date in order to be considered for each application round. Applications submitted after the due date will automatically be added to the next cycle.
  • Admission decisions will be communicated roughly four weeks after each due date.
  • The application fee for ID programs is $100.
  • The application fee may be paid by credit card at the end of the online application process. Please email with any questions.

For more information see Frequently Asked Questions

Join our Graduate Program

For more information see Frequently Asked Questions

Application Deadlines

Spring 2023 admission
October 26, 2022
Fall 2023 admission
January 20, 2023 (early round)
March 3, 2023 (final round)


Have a Question?

Visit our FAQ page for more information. If you have additional questions regarding our application process or requirements, please send an email or call us at 312-595-4900.

Applying from outside the US?

Visit the International Applicants page to view specific information for your situation.