FAQS

Watch and learn: our December MDes webinar.

Can I Apply for Fall or Spring Admission?

The MDes program only starts in the fall and all students must begin then. We do not admit students for spring semesters.

Are There Concurrent Degree or Dual Degree Programs with the MDes?

No concurrent degree programs have been developed for the MDes. UC Berkeley does not offer ad hoc joint degree programs and applicants may only apply to one single degree program per admissions cycle.

How Many Students Will Be Enrolled?

We expect to welcome a cohort of 20-25 students for the first MDes class.

What Core Skills Should Applicants Have Before Starting The MDes, In Order To Ensure Success In The Program?

We expect to admit a cohort of students representing a wide range of backgrounds and skill sets. Not every entering student will have strengths in the same area, and we expect that many of our entering students will want to spend some time before the program begins furthering developing some core skills, in order to prepare themselves for success, and take the most advantage of their time here at UC Berkeley.

The following is a list of skills and tools with which students will want to have some level of proficiency upon entering the program. Applicants without these competencies are strongly encouraged to pursue training in the relevant subject areas before the start of the program. This might be accomplished through enrollment in a formal course, either at a community college or online, or otherwise gaining the necessary experience.

  • The MDes program includes a rigorous technical curriculum. To ensure success, applicants should be comfortable with programming, including the ability to learn new languages and software tools quickly. While there is no official MDes programming language, students should have prior programming experience and be able to readily work with variables, data structures, functions, classes, syntax, and any required compilers for a new language. Throughout the program, students will encounter a variety of different technologies with various APIs and programming environments. Introductory instruction on how to engage with each of these technologies and program them using software code will be provided. However, students will be expected to draw on their existing programming skills to further develop these systems into desired final designs. Some examples of commonly encountered computer languages within the MDes include Python and Java. Students will also need similar programming skills to complete the technical elective requirement.
  • For success in a design program such as the MDes, applicants should possess a fundamental understanding of design processes and methods. This could include familiarity with formal design methods such as human-centered design or user research, as well as experience with tools commonly employed in design such as 2D (Adobe Creative Suite) and 3D (Fusion360, Rhino, etc) software tools.
  • Applicants should have a basic understanding of physical prototyping and fabrication. This could include traditional fabrication techniques in materials such as wood or metal, or digital fabrication techniques such as laser-cutting or 3D printing.

Applicants without these skillsets are strongly encouraged to pursue training through community college or online courses or tutorials before the start of the program. For suggested options, please contact our admissions team at mdes@berkeley.edu.

How Many Hours Do MDes Students Spend on the Program?

The MDes program is a full-time on-campus program with a rigorous course load. Students can expect to spend a minimum of 13 hours of in-class time per week and twice as many hours per week of work outside the classroom. Studio courses will involve extensive on-site studio work.

Can I Apply If my Work Experience is Not In a Design Field?

Students in the MDes program come from diverse academic and professional backgrounds with a range of different levels of experience. Prior work in either design or engineering (or related fields) is strongly encouraged, but is not required. We are interested in how students can apply their existing domain expertise into the scope of a design practice.

Do I Need a Degree in a Specific Field to Apply?

No. We welcome applicants from a variety of prior undergraduate and graduate fields of study.

Is There a Strict Requirement For the Amount of Work Experience One Must Have in Order to Apply?

The MDes curriculum is designed to build upon your overall experience. For some this will draw on specific academic achievements, for others work and industrial successes, and still other personal projects.  As such, we look closely at your body of work across all these dimensions when making admissions decisions. Your portfolio of work should best represent and speak towards your specific achievements, interests, and passions across these career domains.

Who are the Faculty for the MDes Program?

MDes Faculty includes both College of Engineering and College of Environmental Design professors, lecturers and professionals.

Will the MDes Program Sponsor International Student Visas Admitted Program?

Yes. If an offer of admission is extended, then UC Berkeley will assist you in obtaining a student visa.

Is the MDes STEM OPT-eligible?

Yes. The MDes has been classified as a STEM program under CIP code 14.999 – Engineering, Other. Learn more about STEM OPT from the Berkeley International Office.

My GPA Is Not On A 4-Point Scale. How Should I Complete That Section Of The Application?

If your GPA is not on a 4-point scale, please respond “N/A” in that field.

How Do I Apply for Department Admissions Fellowships?

There is no separate application for our competitive fellowships, which are both need-based and merit-based. Submission of the required application materials will automatically qualify you for fellowship eligibility. If awarded a department fellowship, we will notify recipients.