The MDes has been designed for early to mid-career professionals with an interest in pursuing graduate work at the intersection of design and technology, with applications that might include artistic production, technological innovations, product design, and design interventions in cities.

Competitive applicants will have some prior technical preparation and an interest in design as a creative, goal-oriented activity that can contribute to the emergence of innovative new technologies and environments.

Applicants to the MDes program must have an undergraduate degree at a minimum. While post-baccalaureate work experience is not required for this program, prospective students are encouraged to have 1-3 years of work experience before applying. Strong candidates will have an interest and prior experience in human-centered design of technologies and/or environments. Preparation can be a degree in an engineering discipline, business, or a design field such as architecture, landscape architecture, art practice, theatre performance and dance or information design.

All applicants must have requisite technical preparation, for example a technical minor or certificate, or equivalent professional experience. All students in the MDes will be expected to independently learn new software tools and programming languages, and to quickly deploy these tools and skills in courses and projects. Applicants without clear technical preparation from their academic or professional background should, at a minimum, develop intermediate programming experience prior to the start of the program, and have sufficient knowledge of some technical subject area at the level required to take two courses from the list of technical electives.

Outstanding undergraduates with professional experience, such as internships, may also be considered. Desirable but non-required qualifications include experience in technology, entrepreneurship, social or environmental policy, and/or community engagement.

As with all approved graduate-level programs at UC Berkeley, applicants will be held to rigorous academic criteria in order to be admitted to this program. A bachelor’s degree, or recognized equivalent, from an accredited institution is required. For additional information on basic qualifications for admission to UC Berkeley graduate programs for both domestic and international applicants, please visit the Graduate Division website.

How to Apply

The application for the 2020-21 academic year is now closed. We’ll be inviting applications for 2021-22 in fall 2020.

Application Deadlines

The application for the 2020-21 academic year is now closed. We’ll be inviting applications for 2021-22 in fall 2020.

Application Criteria

  • Online Application
  • Application Fee
  • University Transcripts
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume, showing relevant work and/or research experience
  • Two Essays (personal statement and statement of purpose)
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • Project portfolio, showing previous design work
  • English Language Proficiency Requirement (if required)
  • GRE Exam (recommended but not required)

In addition, students may be invited for an interview, either in-person or remote, and should be prepared to explain their qualifications, motivations to apply to the program, and goals for the program.

Portfolio Requirements

All applicants are required to submit a portfolio that demonstrates their creative and technical proficiency. Depending on your individual practice, this may include examples of visual design work, 3D models, software systems, interactive electronics, videos, paintings, ceramics, performances, musical compositions, social practices, or many other creative or technical pursuit.

Your portfolio should be legible to a general audience of designers and should present accounts of design process and samples of early design iterations, as well as representations of final outcomes / designs in their intended contexts. Portfolios are expected to include both images and text, and should convey the context from which the project arose, and the lens through which to understand and critique the work. Collaborative work is encouraged, but please highlight your specific contribution. Similarly, academic, professional, and personal work are all welcome, but please differentiate these distinct types of work.

Strong portfolios often highlight 3-5 of the designer’s most compelling exemplars of creative work. Keep in mind that the most important role of a portfolio is to clearly communicate your skills, experience, and perspective. These might be equally well conveyed through a numerous series of vignettes as they are through an in-depth exploration of a single substantial project.

There are no hard rules for the format of your portfolio, except that it must include your name and contact information and be submitted as a stand-alone PDF formatted document (up to 16MB). As an optional supplement, up to two minutes of additional time-based media (audio/video) may be provided. No other uploaded or external materials will be considered; URLs or separately uploaded content will not be reviewed.