ID was the first design school in the US to create a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Design program, and it continues to have the largest doctoral program in design. The PhD in design is a research program for those who wish to teach or conduct fundamental research in design. The program culminates with a dissertation that extends the body of knowledge about design theory and process.

All applicants to the PhD program must have a demonstrated interest in a research area that aligns with research currently being conducted at the Institute of Design. For a list of currently active topics, please see our faculty profiles. Much of our faculty and students’ research work is funded through a variety of grant and fellowship programs.

Admitted doctoral students will be required to submit and obtain approval for a program of study and pass a foreign language requirement. Within two years of being admitted, and after approval of the program of study and passage of the foreign language examination, the student must take a comprehensive examination. This examination is intended as a rigorous review of the level of competence achieved by the student as a result of the entire program of graduate study (except for the dissertation) as approved by the advisory committee and specified in the program of study form. Students are not considered candidates for the PhD degree until after the comprehensive examination is passed.



Download International Student Financial Affidavit
Download International Student Financial Affidavit


Application requirements

  • Master’s degree in design or strongly related programs
  • GPA 3.0/4.0 minimum
  • Official transcripts from institutions where degrees were earned
  • GRE minimum score 310. GRE scores are considered valid for five years from the testing date. If your scores are more than five years old at the time your application is reviewed, new scores will be required
  • TOEFL required for international applicants without a degree from an accredited English-speaking university; minimum score 100
  • Portfolio required in some cases (may include non-design projects)
  • Completed Statement of Research Interests (found in application)
  • Three letters of recommendation from references capable of evaluating the applicant’s academic capability
  • Interview
  • Work experience desirable, typically 2-5 years; should be included in resume for review
  • Must demonstrate peer recognition (e.g., publications, lectures, awards)
  • Application fee of $100