Program Fees & Funding
Program Fee Schedule
MDes program fees are charged on a per unit basis. The per unit fee for each cohort remains the same for the duration of time they are in the program.
The program fee is inclusive of the per unit program fee, campus fee, document management fee, IREF (Instructional Resilience and Enhancement Fee), and class pass. It does not include SHIP (Student Health Insurance Fee).
The table below displays the total degree program cost for the duration of the program, based on the minimum number of units for the degree, and before any financial aid is applied.
|Per Unit Fee
|Minimum Required Units
|Total Program Fees*
* Some or all instruction for all or part of the Academic Year may be delivered remotely. Tuition and fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction and will not be refunded in the event instruction occurs remotely for any part of the Academic Year. Figures for tuition and fees represent currently approved amounts and may not be final. Actual tuition and fees are subject to change by the University of California as determined to be necessary or appropriate. Final approved tuition and fee levels may differ from the amounts presented.
In addition to degree program fees, students should expect to pay for course materials, health insurance*, housing, transportation, and other personal costs.
*The University requires that all students have major medical insurance, and provides the Berkeley Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) to meet this requirement. All MDes students are automatically enrolled in SHIP for the three academic terms of the degree program, but students can request a SHIP waiver with proof of eligible outside insurance. For complete information, please visit the SHIP page on the University Health Services website.
For estimates on additional expenses beyond your MDes program fees, please visit the UC Berkeley Financial Aid and Scholarships Office Cost of Attendance page; note that it is a general university resource and some of the costs displayed (in particular the tuition and fees) do not apply to the MDes program. Additionally, actual expenses will vary from individual to individual.
Fee Payment Plan
UC Berkeley’s Fee Payment Plan allows for qualified semester fees to be paid in five monthly installments. Interested applicants can learn more about the program here.
Financing Your Education
The MDes program is committed to offering all admitted students some amount of financial aid. However, the responsibility of financing the MDes program usually rests primarily with the student and we strongly suggest that applicants investigate all available financing options. We have highlighted a select number of funding sources on this page, but it is not an exhaustive list and applicants are encouraged to conduct their own research.
MDes Distinguished Scholar Award
The MDes Distinguished Scholar Award is a merit-based award extended only to candidates of the highest caliber. Decisions are based on the overall strength of required materials submitted as a part of the standard MDes application; no separate application is needed.
Recipients of the MDes Distinguished Scholar Award are notified as part of their admissions offer letter.
MDes Opportunity Grant
The MDes invites students seeking financial assistance to apply for a need-based MDes Opportunity Grant. It is awarded to applicants whose lives, experiences, and knowledge contribute to the educational diversity of the cohort, who have had limited access to educational resources, who have persevered over economic disadvantage, and/or who bring unique perspectives not widely represented in the program due to their backgrounds, experiences, or geographic locations.
Applicants may apply for an MDes Opportunity Grant by submitting an optional essay as a part of their application. For more information and essay guidelines, visit the Apply page.
Recipients of the MDes Opportunity Grant are notified as part of their admissions offer letter. The amount of funding provided by the MDes Opportunity Grant varies, but averages around several thousand dollars per recipient.
Other Financial Support from MDes
In addition to the departmental aid provided during admissions, the MDes Program provides other supplementary funding support to students during their time in the program, including materials stipends ($500/student/semester) and Professional Development Funds ($500/student during the program).
Arcus Social Justice Corps Fellowship
The Arcus Social Justice Corps (ASJC) Fellowship offers significant tuition support (ranging from to $20,500 to $45,000 per year) to master’s students in the College of Environmental Design who intend to focus on social justice work after graduation. The fellowship is open to students applying into any of CED’s master’s-level degree programs, including the MDes.
Eligible MDes applicants (U.S. citizen, has permanent residency, or has DACA or refugee status) are encouraged to apply to the ASJC Fellowship, by submitting a separate application. Please visit the ASJC website for more information about the Fellowship and application process.
The application for the 2023–2024 Arcus Fellowship is now open. The deadline for complete this application and fill out the FAFSA is Tuesday, January 16, 2024, by 5 p.m. PST.
GEM Fellowship Program
MDes applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and from under-represented groups in science and engineering, as defined by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, are eligible to apply for a GEM Fellowship. This includes American Indian/Native, African American/Black, or Hispanic American/Latino students.
GEM Fellows receive practical engineering summer work experiences through an employer sponsor and a portable academic year fellowship of tuition, fees, and a stipend which may be used at any participating GEM Member University including UC Berkeley. Participants of the National GEM Consortium are also eligible for a Berkeley Graduate Division application fee waiver.
Please visit the GEM Fellowship website for more information about the Fellowship and application process.
Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program
MDes applicants who are citizens of Sub-Saharan African countries are encouraged to apply for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. The program supports students from Sub-Saharan African countries who are academically talented and committed to transformative change on the continent. The Program recruits widely across Sub-Saharan Africa and encourages applications particularly from women, people with disabilities, and those who are refugees or displaced.
Master’s degree applicants must first apply to a graduate program before they will be considered for the Mastercard Foundations Scholars Program. For more information about the program and application process, please review the program website.
Academic Student Employment (ASE)
MDes students may apply for ASE appointments in any of the three semesters during which they are enrolled. ASE appointments that are 25% FTE may be eligible for fee remission, i.e. a reduction of some tuition (up to the total cost of in-state tuition) and student fees.
MDes students who are fully sponsored, meaning all fees are paid by a third party or outside agency, may choose to work as ASEs. However, if you are eligible for a fee remission from UC Berkeley, you will only receive it if your sponsoring agency reduces the sponsorship by that amount. Fee remissions will not be paid to the student as a refund if fees are being covered by an outside source.
Current MDes students, please also refer to the ASE resources page on the MDes Student Portal for more detailed information about ASE appointments.
Federal Student Loans
MDes students may qualify for a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan or Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan to help cover program costs. Please consult these links for more information:
- Eligibility for Financial Aid at UC Berkeley
- Financial Aid Award Guide
- General Loan Information
- Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
- Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan
- Student Loan Checklist
Other Fellowship & Awards Resources
- The UC Berkeley Graduate Division offers a number of fellowships and awards. While many awards listed are for students pursuing doctoral studies, we encourage MDes applicants to review their provided Graduate Fellowships and Awards list for potential funding resources.
- The U.S. Department of Labor Scholarship Search Tool is another resource for finding and identifying potential scholarship opportunities.
- International students are encouraged to explore funding opportunities in their home countries, as well review the resources provided on the Berkeley International Office’s page on Financial Aid for International Students.