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How to Apply

  1. Create an account on the Illinois Tech application portal.
  2. Upload all required documents via the application portal. We will contact you via email if we have any questions about the documents you’ve provided. You do not have to upload all documentation at once, you can return to the portal at any time to complete your application.
  3. You will receive an email confirmation when your application is complete and under review. You can also track the status of your application in the portal.
  4. Typically, you will receive an application decision via email within four weeks.

Application Deadlines

Spring 2024 Admission October 27, 2023
Fall 2024 Admission January 19, 2024 (priority admission)
March 1, 2024 (final general admission)

The Institute of Design admits students on a rolling basis. Some programs may be able to accept applications after the deadline. Please contact for more information.

Required Documents

Each program has slightly different required documents. Find your desired degree program below for a detailed list of application requirements.

Please submit an essay of 500–2,000 words explaining your interest in our school. Please address the following questions in your statement:

  • Why are you pursuing a master’s degree in design in particular? And why is now the best time for you?
  • What are you looking to achieve by earning the degree you are applying for?
  • How do you see yourself moving forward after this experience?

We expect applicants to have achieved a certain level of professional experience before entering a program. While the MDes program has no minimum experience requirement, two or more years of professional experience is preferred.

We also consider full-time internships, volunteer work, and paid freelance projects as formal work experience.

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).

The minimum GPA accepted is 3.0/4.0. Lower GPAs may be accepted for extenuating circumstances.

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 the 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

International 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 EvaluatorsOne Earth International Credential Evaluations, or Educational Perspectives professionally evaluate the documents.

Three recommenders are required for all applicants. To expedite letters of recommendation we use a short, 10-minute survey process. To complete this step in the application, please provide contact information for three recommenders who can complete a short recommender survey. After you enter your recommender’s contact information in the application, 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.

Chosen recommenders should be able to comment on your ability to succeed in a highly collaborative and challenging master’s program of study. Recommenders may include professors, employers, or colleagues, but not family or personal friends.

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 GRE or GMAT score you would like to submit, we are happy to include that in your application evaluation.

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.

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). TOEFL is preferred.

The minimum TOEFL score accepted is 100. The minimum IELTS total score accepted is 7.5.  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.
  • Test scores more than two years old at the time your application will not be accepted.
  • Any difference between an applicant’s name in the score report and in the application will delay or prevent Illinois Tech from obtaining scores.
  • 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.

International Applicants

ID is committed to cultivating a global perspective. We welcome applicants from all over the world to our graduate design programs. Typically about half of our Master of Design (MDes) class is made up of international students, and our alumni go on to be global design leaders.

The MDes degree (including the MDes + MBA and MDes + MPA programs) qualifies as a STEM degree. International students who have earned degrees in STEM fields in the US may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT employment for a total of 36 months. For more information, please see the US government’s Study in the States website.

Please review the following information regarding guidelines and requirements for international applicants.

After being notified of admission to the Institute of Design and you have paid your enrollment deposit fee, you will receive access to the ISSS Portal where you will submit your financial support documents. We cannot issue you an I-20 form until we’ve received and verified all of your support documents.

When completing the Financial Affidavit of Responsibility Form, please read all instructions carefully to ensure that you have completed each required section of the form. Submission of this form is not necessary for the review of your admission application.

Please visit the Office of Global Services Financial Documents Guidelines webpage for the full university policy on acceptable financial support documents.

In order to prepare your I-20 form, you are required to submit a copy of your unexpired passport identity page through the ISSS Portal.

If you are an international student currently studying on an F-1 visa (or currently on OPT/STEM OPT work authorization), then you must initiate a transfer of your SEVIS record from your current U.S. institution to the Institute of Design (SEVIS School Code: CHI214F00379002).

To initiate the transfer, submit an online request within the ISSS Portal to release your current I-20, permitting Illinois Tech’s Office of Global Services to create a new transfer I-20 for you. (The ISSS Portal is available only after admission to the Institute of Design.)


The table below details the credentials accepted for admission. Depending on your country of origin, we may require an official transcript evaluation from an independent organization like WES. This is noted in the column on the right. Please note that three-year degrees or diplomas, not issued in the United Kingdom or as part of the Bologna process, must be submitted with a completed master’s program or top-up bachelor’s degree program transcript.


Country Minimum Level Required Evaluation Required?
Australia Four-year bachelor’s degree in any field; three-year bachelor’s degrees must be accompanied by a two-year master’s degree No
Canada Quebec: three-year bachelor’s degree; All other provinces: four-year bachelor’s degree No
China Four-year university degree No
France Diplome d’Ingenier from Grandes Ecoles; Maitrise from universities No
Germany Diplom, Magister Artium, or staatsexamen; three-year Bologna Bachelor’s degree Yes
Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone Four-year university degree; Pre-2000s: three-year bachelor’s degree after GCE A-Levels No

You must present the original academic transcripts, and graduation and degree certificates with the stamp or seal of the university on each page. Transcripts must be submitted in the original language and in English. Translations must come from the institution or from a professional translation service.

If you’ve completed your degree, you must upload your original degree certificate or provisional certificate along with your academic transcripts or mark sheets in both languages through the online Application Portal.

  • You must provide your original individual mark sheets from each institution from which you have earned or will earn a degree.
  • If you have received a three-year degree, or are part of a sandwich program, you must provide any and all mark sheets from your pre-diploma courses or masters; three-year degrees by themselves are not considered adequate for graduate admission.
  • Postgraduate diplomas or professional programs completed after a three-year bachelor’s degree are also considered insufficient for admission purposes.
  • A master’s degree, or AIU-deemed master’s equivalent diploma, in addition to the three-year bachelor’s programs, are the minimum requirement for access to Illinois Tech graduate programs.
  • All mark sheets must contain all marks for all attempts at each examination. Any failures must be shown.

Consolidated transcripts cannot be accepted. If the statements of marks include abbreviated paper titles or numbered papers without titles, please provide complete course titles. Please note we require a minimum of the first six semesters for admission consideration. Exceptions for consolidated transcripts are for any Indian Institute of Technology institution and Anna University.

If the degree is completed, please provide your original degree certificate or provisional certificate along with your mark sheets.

  • Original, official transcripts and degree certificates in Farsi, stamped and signed by the issuing institution and accompanied by word-for-word English translations, must be provided.
  • Translations must be made by a professional translator, but may be stamped by the Ministry of Education. For English translation services we recommend ATA Translator. If your original transcripts are issued by the institution in English a corresponding Farsi version is not required.
  • You must provide your original individual mark sheets or transcripts from all institutions attended and must contain all marks for each attempt at each examination. Any failures must be shown; consolidated transcripts cannot be accepted. If the statements of marks include abbreviated paper titles, or numbered papers without titles, please provide complete course titles.
  • If the degree is completed you must provide your original degree certificate or provisional certificate along with your mark sheets. For any documents in the original language (non-English) please include a professional English translation. For English translation services we recommend ATA Translator.

Official, original transcripts issued by your institution must be provided. All graduation certificates or diplomas issued in original language or English by the institutions attended must be provided along with your transcripts.

For any documents in the original language (non-English) please include a professional English translation. For English translation services we recommend ATA Translator.

Please note: Illinois Institute of Technology reserves the right to rescind any offer of admission if any discrepancies are found with your official transcript(s).

Professional evaluations are required for credentials from the following countries (students from Illinois Tech partner schools are exempt from this requirement): Afghanistan, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, French West Africa, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Macedonia, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, South America, Spain, Switzerland, Yemen.

Financial Assistance

ID regularly provides fellowships and scholarships to offset the cost of tuition. All newly admitted MDes and PhD students are automatically considered for fellowships and scholarships, with early admissions considered first.

All awards are based on merit and are typically announced at the time of admission. No additional materials beyond the application are required.

Fellowships are funded by generous patrons who share in our commitment to improving the world through advanced design theory and practice. Fellowships are awarded to newly admitted MDes, MDes+MBA, MDes+MPA, and PhD students.

ID Alumni Graduate Fellowships
Funded by the contributions from the ID alumni network, this fellowship aims to continue to build the community of design leaders by supporting students of outstanding promise. Awards vary.

Grace Colby Fellowship
Funded by ID alumna and former board member Grace Colby (BS 1985), this fellowship supports a PhD student of outstanding promise.

Sam Farber Fellowship
Created by friends and family to honor the legacy of Sam Farber, the former CEO of Copco, who brought human-centered design to food preparation by launching the OXO brand of kitchen implements, this fellowship provides partial tuition to a student of outstanding promise.

Charles Harrison Fellowship
Funded by ID Board of Advisors Chair Emeritus Robert C. Pew and Susan Taylor in honor of the contributions of ID alum Charles Harrison to the field of design, this fellowship provides financial support to US residents from underrepresented backgrounds who bring distinct intellectual and creative perspectives to ID.

Carole and Gordon Segal Fellowship
Endowed by Carole and Gordon Segal, the Segal fellowship supports an ID student of outstanding promise.

Robert Skyer Fellowship
Funded by Susannah Skyer Gupta in honor of her late father, Robert Skyer (BS 1958), the Skyer Fellowship provides financial support to an ID student with a preference for underrepresented students in the design community.

ID Scholarships
Tuition scholarships are funded by ID to recognize students of particular merit. All admitted MDes, MDes+MBA, MDes+MPA, and PhD students are considered.

Nate Thomas Public Service Scholarship 
The Nate Thomas Public Service Award is a partial-tuition scholarship for domestic degree-seeking graduate-level students at Illinois Tech. In pursuit of its mission to diversity and inclusion, Illinois Tech has a limited number of merit-based and need-based scholarships available to financially disadvantaged graduate students who are committed to leveraging their careers in focusing the advancement of socio-economically underrepresented or disadvantaged populations. To be considered for the Nate Thomas Public Service Scholarship, a separate scholarship application must be submitted after admission is granted by ID. Learn more about the award and application process.

Please visit Illinois Tech’s financial aid website for additional guidance on financing your education. They can be reached at 312-567-7219 or To expedite the process, all domestic students should complete a FAFSA application. Alternate funding options are available for international students. Download this guide for a list of financial aid resources.

Frequently Asked Questions