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Masters Programs

For students who want to earn a first professional degree in a design discipline and students with undergraduate design degrees who want to take their education and professional development to the next level, the College of Design offers Masters Degrees in Art + Design, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning and Architecture.

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Important Dates

  • January 15: Priority application deadline for domestic and international students (fall admission)
    • Late applications will be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
  • October 15: Spring admission – Architecture, Art + Design Track 3, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning only
  • March 1-31: Notification to students regarding admission status (applicants check their status through the online system)
  • March 1: University deadline for international applications for fall admission
  • April 15: Deadline for students notifying the College of Design that they intend to matriculate in fall
  • June: Pre-registration of incoming graduate students for fall courses
  • August: New College of Design graduate student orientation
  • Mid-August: First day of fall classes

Academic Qualifications

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA from all previous study at the college level
  • GRE scores are required for some majors and/or tracks. Please review the appropriate application requirements for selected major. 
  • Acceptable minimum online TOEFL score:
    • Graphic Design: 100
    • Architecture, Art + Design, Industrial Design, and Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning: combined score of 80 and at least 18 on each individual component
      • Note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the School of Architecture has suspended the GRE requirement for spring 2021, summer 2021, and fall 2021 applicants.
  • OR minimum IELTS score for international students
    • Graphic Design: 70
    • Architecture, Art + Design, Industrial Design, and Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning: overall band score of at least 6.5 in each individual component
  • International students with at least one year of full-time study at a four-year US college or university do not have to submit TOEFL and/or IELTS scores.

A fee of $75 for US applicants ($85 for international applicants) is due at the time of application.

No admissions decisions will be made on the basis of email correspondence. All applicants must use the online system and provide the following:

  • Personal Statement stating career objectives, prior experience, intention of graduate study, and their relevance to the selected program at NC State University
  • A portfolio of work as per the requirements of your desired discipline
  • Uploaded unofficial transcripts for each institution attended (official transcripts will be required if admitted)
  • Three uploaded letters of recommendation from people who know your academic record
  • GRE institution code for NC State is 5496
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students only
    • TOEFL institution code for NC State is 5496
  • Residency statement for US citizens only (more info)
  • Personal resume
    • Include under “PDF Documents” in the online system

Got Questions?

Jessica Jackson

Graduate Student Services Coordinator

Program-Specific Admissions Criteria

Architecture-Specific Admission Requirements

The Master of Architecture program requires GRE scores for all Track 3 applicants. GRE scores are optional for Track 1 and Track 2 applicants.

Note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the School of Architecture has suspended the GRE requirement for spring 2021, summer 2021, and fall 2021 applicants.

Portfolio Requirements for Master of Architecture

In architecture, as in all the design professions, portfolios are regarded as the most effective way to communicate their work to others. They typically contain a selection of architectural projects and other pertinent 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional work of artistic or technical interest, presented as reproductions in one of the standard paper formats. Students with an undergraduate degree in architecture applying to a graduate program are expected to present portfolios to illustrate their abilities, their experiences, and their accomplishments, just as graduates looking for a first job or moving from one employer to another would be expected to present a portfolio.

Specific suggestions

  • It is useful to include some information regarding the context in which your work was produced, particularly whether it was done in response to a class assignment, a job-related task, or by your own initiative. It is also good to include the dates of execution as well as the size, materials, and media. If a project was done by a group of persons or in the context of a professional office, please be specific as to the exact nature of your personal involvement and contribution.
  • You should give special attention to the form and craft of your submission. We are not only interested in the quality of what you show, but also in the quality of how you show it.
  • Please be sure to include your name on all items.
  • You can consult references on portfolio design. As an example, Portfolio Design, Second Edition by Harold Linton (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000, ISBN 0-393-73059-X) contains much information and many examples of portfolio design, some by NC State University students. At NC State, this book available at the College of Design Library and the University Career Center. This book or others like it should be available at design and university libraries around the country.
  • Portfolios for applicants with previous architectural degrees are considered as demonstrations in ability to design architectural projects. Other pertinent 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional work of artistic, design, or technical interest may be included as supplementary to this desired purpose.

Portfolio Requirements for Track Three Applicants

Portfolios for applicants to Track 3 have a somewhat different purpose. Because applicants come from a great variety of backgrounds, some have experience in architecture or a related field, while others have none. Our Admissions Committee will look upon your portfolio not so much as a track record, but primarily as an indicator of your promise in the field of architecture. Your portfolio should present some proof to us that your professed interest in architecture, and in becoming an architect, is based on more than the tentative contemplation of a vague possibility. It should show that you have tested the strength of your interests by acting upon them and that these actions have left some traces in the form of products you can present. We are therefore interested in seeing evidence of your curiosities and interests, your perceptual sensibilities and your skills, your initiative, your creativity, and your judgment as you experience, record, represent, analyze, criticize, and — most important of all — transform the environment around you, architecturally or otherwise. Design is making, and it is important for you to demonstrate that you can actively make things, not just passively observe them.

The Graduate Admissions Committee feels it is important to allow a fair degree of latitude regarding the format and content of your portfolio. The included items, as well as the manner in which they are presented, are the first important clues to your sensibilities and overall promise in the field. In other words, the committee tends to look at your portfolio as a first “design assignment.”

Track 3 applicants should keep in mind that architecture deals with three-dimensional entities. Whereas two-dimensional work (such as drawing, painting, 2-dimensional design, and photography) is useful to illustrate compositional and graphic abilities, the Admissions Committee will look for some evidence to assess your promise in the conception and manipulation of 3-dimensional form, volume, and space. Samples of elementary mechanical drawing or architectural drafting are not considered pertinent to show potential for architecture. Nor is it essential to include “architectural work” per se. 

Art + Design-Specific Admission Requirements

Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of less than 3.0 are required to submit GRE scores.

Portfolio Requirements for Art + Design

The portfolio submitted to the Department along with the application package is the most critical element in the review for admission. Its purpose is to reveal the creative potential, breadth of experience, and discipline sophistication of the applicant. Review of your past work in conjunction with information gleaned from your essay of intent, allows the Faculty admissions committee to discern your aptitude for art and design work and readiness for graduate level.

The portfolio should be planned carefully to show your talents, interests, skills, and experience. It should specifically show preparedness or predisposition for success in your desired medium (fibers or animation). Include only your strongest work. Attend carefully to the portfolio format and quality of reproductions. Do not send out of focus, unclear images with confusing contexts.

Experimental Media Arts

  • Concentrate your selection on past interactive work, material studies, digital images, and/or illustrations in a proportion that fits your experience.
  • Do not exceed 15 images. Time-based work should take no longer than 10 minutes to review.
  • Please include a short write-up about each piece submitted. These should be included to identify dates of execution, your concepts, and materials (when appropriate).

Graphic Design-Specific Admission Requirements

In addition to Graduate School admission requirements, the MGD program requires:

  • 5 visual examples for initial application review.
  • A portfolio website that extensively represents the full range and depth of applicant visual work beyond the initial review examples. Label each project as professional, student, or self-generated work. List the year that the work was created, and briefly describe the project. Provide the URL link in the resumé.
  • From applicants who do not hold an undergraduate degree in Graphic Design (or a similar visual communication discipline): GRE scores. The program considers the GRE score in relation to all other submitted application information, therefore, there is no threshold score.
  • From international applicants whose first language is not English: TOEFL or IELTS scores. (Minimum scores: TOEFL 100, IELTS 7.)

Industrial Design-Specific Admission Requirements

The Masters of Industrial Design does not require GRE scores.

Portfolio Review Criteria

Specific suggestions

  • Three-dimensional ability
  • Analytical and conceptual skills
  • Drawing and compositional skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Aesthetic sensibility
  • Environmental, technological, social and design awareness
  • Inquisitiveness, inventiveness, and imagination
  • Futuristic perspective
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Leadership qualities

Portfolio may include:

  • 10-15 examples of work
  • Examples of three-dimensional work
  • Development sketches to show process and concepts
  • Photographs, slides or computer output

GRE Scores are not required for Industrial Design candidates. Materials suitable for inclusion in your portfolio may include work samples such as condensed presentations that you have previously made for a project at a conference or to a client, photographs you have taken that highlight your skills in composition or interesting content, development sketches of how you have or would address a problem (think process rather than final solution), documentation/photographs of things that you have made (perhaps from a hobby), materials from previous coursework, and case studies highlighting your thinking and problem solving that are presented as narratives or storyboards. While some writing may be necessary to frame the problem and support the story; however, this is not a research paper. All materials must be your original work. Organize your portfolio in a cohesive manner to convey how you see and tackle problems and convey that you understand how things work. These may or may not be a physical problem with physical solutions.

Portfolio Requirements

  • Portfolio should demonstrate applicant’s intelligence, creative potential, passion for landscape architecture and design, and breadth of experience through a collection of graphic, photographic, and written material.
  • Visual work organized as a Powerpoint or PDF slide show, videos or movies as separate files-no random image files.
  • GRE Scores are not required.

The College of Design offers three Graduate Certificates, the Graduate Certificate in City Design, the Graduate Certificate in Energy + Technology, the Graduate Certificate in Disaster Resilient Policy, Engineering and Design and the Graduate Certificate in Public Interest Design.

These certificates programs require 15 hours of focused study, which can be accommodated within the degree plan without additional coursework. There are two patterns of study for the certificates: studio + three seminars or five seminars.

Certificates are opportunities to add a specialization to a graduate degree in architecture. The areas of specialization offered by the School of Architecture reflect faculty depth in a particular area of inquiry. Interested students should apply to the certificate program before their last semester. The certificates are also available to non-degree seeking students.

Please contact the Graduate Student Service Coordinator for further questions about applying for a graduate certificate.