Graduate Program | Carnegie Mellon School of Design (2023)

The School of Design is committed to offering students a world-class graduate-level design education through our three masters programs—Masters of Art in Design, Masters of Design in Design for Interactions, and Masters of Professional Studies in Design for Interactions (for MA students only).

We take a values-centered approach to design.

Design is a highly interactive and transdisciplinary activity that is integral to the success of businesses and organizations worldwide. Leaders in the field increasingly collaborate to develop products, services, and systems that significantly impact ways of life, placing great responsibility on designers. In the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon, we understand the important roles design can and should play in the world. We practice a values-centered approach to designing various types of meaningful interactions. Carefully considering the implications of our actions, we develop thoughtful approaches that strive to improve the quality of life for people and the planet, today and in the future.

We work in the face of ambiguity.

Contemporary challenges and opportunities are often vague and ambiguous. Rather than shy away from unruly situations, our graduate programs face them head-on. As a student, you will learn how to work comfortably among existing uncertainties. You will employ processes that enable you to confidently navigate open-ended challenges and design comprehensive approaches that strive to improve living conditions in thoughtful and meaningful ways.

We leverage design in contexts that matter.

Whether working with worldwide corporate sponsors, local non-profits, or peers in the classroom, you will engage in projects that have the potential to yield positive outcomes for society. Coursework throughout our masters programs in the School of Design intertwines theory and practice, frequently focusing on social, technological, economical, environmental, and political concerns that exist in areas such as healthcare, education, transportation, and business.

“I have been most impressed with the way that design theory and practice have been so seamlessly melded together, stimulating creative ways of thinking and making in tandem.”

—Masters student

We have an eye on the future.

We recognize the importance for the field of design to evolve in alignment with the needs of society and technological advancements. Therefore, we continually strive to develop and integrate the study of emerging tools and practices into our graduate curricula. Several of our courses explore user-experience, user-interface, augmented reality, virtual reality, extended reality, embodied interfaces, and conversational design as a means of developing forward-thinking design concepts. Through required and elective courses you can investigate the important roles that co-design, design strategy, critical and creative thinking, design for learning, speculative design and futures, systems design, transition design, service design, and design for social innovation can play in the world and foster your design expertise. Our program will also help you hone skills that are critical to the advanced practice of design such as reading, writing, presentation, conversation, collaboration, critique, crafting, and iteration.

We are an intentionally small and tight-knit community.

A strong belief in the importance of human connections and the desire to foster individuality grounds our graduate programs. Each cohort is composed of approximately a dozen students each year for a total of less than 50, which enables all of us as faculty, students, and staff to get to know each other well, establish strong professional relationships, and support each other as we carve our unique design paths. We pride ourselves on the kind, caring, and compassionate community that we foster and we do our best to model and encourage a healthy work/life balance.

“I have found that the faculty are incredibly kind and genuinely want to provide students with the support needed.”

—Masters student

We are a diverse group of accomplished individuals who are strongest together.

The faculty in the School of Design hold expertise and are pioneers in diverse areas, such as industrial, communication, environmental, service, and transition design, as well as design for social innovation, design research, fine art, philosophy, psychology, human-computer interaction, architecture, and business. We collectively cast a broad net so you are likely to find people who share your interests. Likewise, students who join our programs are equally distinct, bringing with them diverse backgrounds and professional experiences. As members of our graduate cohort, you will learn how to work effectively in a team by leveraging your connected interests in design, while sharing your unique knowledge and skills with your peers and benefiting from the group’s collective wisdom.

We value and support the diversity of our community.

The School of Design is composed of faculty, students, and staff who chose to relocate to Pittsburgh from locations around the world to live, work, and learn. We appreciate and welcome the diverse cultural practices that members infuse into our community as we believe it deepens everyone’s understanding of the world in which we live, and strengthens us as designers.

We learn in moments that extend beyond conventional classroom contexts.

The School of Design has a state-of-the-art graduate suite that sets the context for much of your learning. It consists of four interconnected spaces to support multiple work preferences: an area with individual workspaces, a collaborative space with an enclosed team room, a kitchen and social cafe area, and a distance-learning capable classroom. The graduate suite also features wall-to-wall whiteboards, 50-inch video monitors, dynamic screen-sharing technologies and teleconference abilities. Recognizing that some of the most meaningful learning often happens among peers and faculty through impromptu conversations, we want to encourage those interactions. Therefore, the School of Design strives to provide important resources and a comfortable space that fosters healthy, enjoyable, and effective learning.

We appreciate working with various disciplines to broaden and strengthen specific interests.

The School of Design is situated among many world-class programs that together make Carnegie Mellon a truly remarkable place to learn. There are several ways you can reap the benefits of interacting with faculty and peers across campus, such as working on transdisciplinary research projects that are led by faculty across campus and taking graduate-level elective courses in the Tepper School of Business, the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, the School of Architecture, or the Heinz College for Information Systems, Public Policy, and Management, to name a few. Popular courses include but are not limited to Human Robot Interaction, Design for the Internet of Things, and Telling Stories with Data. Many electives offered through the School of Design also dive deeply into adjacent areas of interests such as Design for Climate Change, Designing Experiences for Learning, Methodologies of Visualization, and HyperSENSE: Augmenting Human Experience in Environments. Design instructors frequently welcome the enrollment of non-design students, serving as great opportunities for you to work on transdisciplinary projects while developing your skills and knowledge in specific areas of interest.

We recognize the value of professional internships.

Given that our MDes program spans four semesters over two years and that many of our MA students continue their studies with the School of Design after completing the one-year program by pursuing a second degree, you may determine that the summer serves as an excellent opportunity for you to participate in an internship. Whether working for a corporate leader, lending a hand to non-profit efforts, or engaging in academic research, many of our students report that internship experiences enrich their graduate education and provide direction for the next steps they will take as alumni. We encourage you to leverage the vast connections of our faculty as you seek opportunities. In addition, the School of Design invites you to participate in Confluence, our annual career event held each spring to support students in their internship and employment searches.

We prepare you for a life in design, wherever it may take you.

Beginning in the mid-1990’s, the School of Design was one of the first programs worldwide to offer a master’s degree in interaction design. Our graduate offerings have grown and evolved over time in alignment with the field and are widely considered among the best in the world. In rankings of design schools based on career outcomes, our graduate programs consistently come out on top. Our alumni acquire some of the most desirable positions in the field, with multinational companies, design firms, and nonprofits. Some of our alumni become design researchers and educators, and others start their own businesses. You might choose to work as an interaction designer, systems designer, user experience designer, design researcher, learning experience designer, service designer, design strategist, information architect, creative director, data visualization expert, startup founder, chief creative officer, or design educator. In addition, if you are an international student who seeks employment in the United States post-graduation, the STEM designation of our masters programs may improve your opportunities. Whatever your focus, we are confident that our graduate programs will prepare you for entry into top jobs at leading companies and organizations, and help you become a leader in the field, developing innovative design approaches to contemporary challenges with future generations in mind. We welcome you to peruse alumni employment statistics online at:


Graduate Program | Carnegie Mellon School of Design? ›

Competition for entrance to Carnegie Mellon is intense, and there are many more qualified applicants than there are positions available. Overall, only a few percent of applicants are admitted.

How hard is it to get into CMU grad school? ›

Competition for entrance to Carnegie Mellon is intense, and there are many more qualified applicants than there are positions available. Overall, only a few percent of applicants are admitted.

What is the acceptance rate for Carnegie Mellon Masters of design? ›

Nonetheless, we typically accept about 40% of our applicant pool.

Is a graduate degree in design worth it? ›

A master's degree in design qualifies you for a wider range of jobs and the potential to earn more money. Many employers are willing to pay more for a designer with higher levels of training, skills, and experience.

What is the acceptance rate for CMU graduate ECE? ›

College of Engineering 17% acceptance rate.

What is the hardest graduate program to get into? ›

The most selective grad schools, with the lowest acceptance rates, include Harvard Graduate School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Columbia Business School. Harvard University has one of the lowest acceptance rates in the United States of America, at 4.6%.

Is CMU very stressful? ›

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood is one of the 10 most stressful colleges in the nation, according to a new list from The Daily Beast. CMU is No. 8 on the list of The 50 Most Stressful Colleges.

Is Duke or Carnegie Mellon harder to get into? ›

Is Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) or Duke University Harder to get into? Which school is easier to get into? If you're looking at acceptance rate alone, then Duke University is more difficult to get into.

What GPA do you need for Carnegie Mellon grad school? ›

A GPA of 3.0 or higher.

What is the average GPA for Carnegie Mellon grad school? ›

The average GPA at Carnegie Mellon is 3.84. This makes Carnegie Mellon Extremely Competitive for GPAs. (Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA. With a GPA of 3.84, Carnegie Mellon requires you to be near the top of your class, and well above average.

How hard is a design degree? ›

Design school, like many other programs, see's itself as the most difficult of all degrees. It is challenging and rewarding- knocking you down with each all-nighter and building you up with each strong design critique. In many ways, it forms you as a person.

Will I make more money with a graduate degree? ›

Master's degree

The earnings increase from the bachelor's level to the master's level is approximately 20%. Specifically, the median income for master's degree holders is $77,844 per year, and the unemployment rate is 2%.

Are design majors hard? ›

Is Graphic Design Hard in College? Generally, a graphic design major isn't difficult. However, it requires passion and aptitude toward art and design as well as creative and innovative thinking. Just like other majors, graphic design also requires time and dedication.

What is the lowest GPA accepted to CMU? ›

You should also have a 3.84 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Carnegie Mellon, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We'll cover those details next.

Why is CMU acceptance rate so high? ›

CMU applicants are very self selecting because they know that CMU is difficult, high stress environment. Students don't just apply to CMU for fun. Applicants are serious students.

What is the minimum GRE score for CMU? ›

There are no minimum score requirements for the GRE. The average GRE scores of admitted applicants are Verbal 153, Quantitative 163, Analytical Writing 4.0. We admit applicants with scores above and below these averages.

Is 3.7 A good GPA for grad school? ›

Yes, a 3.7 is typically considered a strong GPA for grad school admissions. While each school sets its own policies, most programs will at least review the applications of students with a 3.7 GPA.

What is the most stressful graduate degree? ›

College majors in the STEM field tend to be the most stressful, such as engineering and architecture. The same is true for many of those in the medical or healthcare field, including nursing and neuroscience. There are also stressful majors from other fields, such as accounting and related areas.

What is a mediocre GPA for grad school? ›

Is a 2.5 GPA Good Enough for Grad School? On average, nationally, anything lower than a 3.0 GPA is often considered below par academically. There is a small number of schools, though, that pride themselves on taking a more holistic approach to vetting applicants.

Are people at CMU depressed? ›

Of university students who participated in another survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, 61 percent were found to be at risk of clinical depression. That's twice the rate prior to the pandemic.

Why is CMU ranked so low? ›

Rankings (especially USNWR) focus heavily on yield (how many accepted students choose to attend) and acceptance rate. The yield rate and acceptance rate are both low for Carnegie Mellon because they don't try to play the game or rig the rankings like other top institutions.

Why is CMU enrollment so low? ›

CMU Vice President for Student Recruitment and Retention Jennifer DeHaemers told The Detroit News that the university's declining enrollment is partly because the school is behind in recruitment strategies used by competing schools.

Is Carnegie Mellon a little ivy? ›

Q1. Is Carnegie Mellon University an Ivy League school? Answer – Carnegie Mellon is not an Ivy League school. However, it is one of the many New Ivies coined by Newsweek in 2006.

What is the easiest Ivy League school to get into? ›

Cornell is considered the "easiest" Ivy League to get into because it has the highest Ivy League acceptance rate. While it's easier, statistically speaking, to get into Cornell, it's still challenging. It's also important to remember that students apply directly to one of Cornell's eight undergraduate colleges.

Is Carnegie Mellon as good as Ivy League? ›

According to U.S. News, Carnegie Mellon is ranked #22 on its national college rankings list. That's a pretty high ranking, and combined with the low Carnegie Mellon acceptance rate, you may wonder if this elite university is an Ivy League school. Carnegie Mellon is not considered one of the eight Ivy League schools.

Is 3.0 GPA too low for grad school? ›

Most top-ranked graduate programs typically prefer a GPA of 3.5 or better. Exceptions to this rule occur, of course, but many students give up their quest to attend graduate school due to a low (3.0 or less) GPA.

What GPA is good enough for grad school? ›

A good GPA is often considered to be at least a 3.0, although most graduate programs and graduate school require a minimum GPA of 3.5 for admission. The highest GPA you can achieve is a 4.0, so having an overall GPA at or above this level is what's usually considered a good GPA.

Can I get into grad school with a 3.6 GPA? ›

A 3.6 GPA will look good on your graduate school application. Even though your GPA is strong, it's important to further strengthen your application with high GMAT scores and strong letters of recommendation.

Is a 3.81 GPA good for grad school? ›

Always be sure to round out your college resume with good standardized test scores and an array of extra curricular activities to support your high GPA. College Students: A 3.8 GPA will stand out in applications to any graduate program.

What is the middle 50% at Carnegie Mellon University? ›

ACT Scores and Requirements

The middle 50% of students admitted to Carnegie Mellon received a composite ACT score between 33 and 35, while 25% scored above 35 and 25% scored below 33.

What is the average GPA for MIT? ›

Average GPA: 4.17

The average GPA at MIT is 4.17. This makes MIT Extremely Competitive for GPAs. (Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.

What is the hardest design school to get into? ›

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has the lowest acceptance rate of any art and design school in the world, making it the most competitive of its kind. Having been dubbed as the hardest art school to get into, the arts are an essential part of the core curriculum and the research community at MIT.

Is design job stressful? ›

A lot of the stress depends on what kind of job you have and who you are doing it for.” That said, there are a few common sources of stress for graphic designers: Keeping up with deadlines. Navigating conflicting creative opinions.

Are design jobs hard to get? ›

Is it hard to get a graphic design job? Yes, especially if you're a complete beginner. The competition can be very harsh, so you should never stop learning, practicing, and improving yourself.

Is grad school worth it financially? ›

On average, individuals with a graduate degree earn more than those with only a bachelor's degree. The median weekly pay for full-time, year-round workers holding bachelor's degrees was $1,334 in 2021, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

What is the average salary after Masters in USA? ›

The average salary of an MS graduate in the US was reported to be around $94,000 per year according to Yocket, after completing four semesters of study. There are multiple job opportunities for graduates after studying an MS in the United States; here, we outline some common degree and career paths.

Is it better to get a Masters or a PhD? ›

A master's degree is designed to deepen career-oriented knowledge and skills. A doctorate degree is a heavily research-based degree, designed to develop critical research,analytical and writing skills in an effort to fill industry knowledge gaps.

What type of designers make the most money? ›

  • Creative Director Salary: $134,582 per year.
  • Furniture Designer Salary: $61,352 per year.
  • User Experience Designer Salary: $92,666 per year.
  • Architect Salary: $86,514 per year.
  • Advertising Designer Salary: $67,100 per year.
  • Fashion Designer Salary: $60,918 per year.
Mar 6, 2023

How useful is a design degree? ›

Absolutely. In fact, the opportunity to work with, be inspired by and just be around a whole bunch of fellow creatives for a considerable amount of time is one of the biggest benefits of a graphic design degree. You're guaranteed to make friends for life—especially when deadlines are looming.

Is design major a stem? ›

Graphic Design and Animation majors are now eligible to apply for a STEM OPT Extension. You may be eligible to apply for the extension while you are completing your first year of OPT, even if your STEM degree is not your most recent degree.

What is the lowest GPA let into Harvard? ›

You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.

What is the lowest GPA in Ivy? ›

None of the Ivy League schools have a minimum GPA requirement for applications, which means anyone can apply regardless of their GPA.

Can I get into Carnegie Mellon with 3.2 GPA? ›

To get into Carnegie Mellon from India, students are required to meet below criteria: GPA – Should have an average GPA of minimum 3.2 out of 4. SAT/ ACT – An average SAT score of 1460–1560 and 31-34 in the ACT.

Is CMU a Tier 1 university? ›

Carnegie Mellon University is ranked No. 22 among National Universities in the U.S. News & World Report 2022-2023 Best Colleges Rankings(opens in new window) released today. CMU is additionally ranked No. 3 Most Innovative School and received 23 top 10 rankings.

How hard is it to get into CMU Masters? ›

To gain admission to CMU, students need an average GPA score of 3.84 out of 4, which is equivalent to 90%, a score of at least 100 in TOEFL-IBT, and two to three letters of recommendation (LORs).

What is the lowest acceptable GRE score? ›

The lowest score for Analytical Writing is a 0.

The minimum score in GRE terms, then, would be a 260 combined Verbal and Quantitative score with an Analytical Writing score of 0.

How easy is it to get a 150 on the GRE? ›

GRE Score Percentiles

For example, a scaled Verbal score of 150 on the GRE translates to roughly the 47 th percentile, meaning that you scored better than 47 percent of other test takers—and worse than the other 53 percent of test takers. Here are the most recent GRE percentile ranks, released by ETS.

What is the average GRE score accepted grad students? ›

Data Summary. The average GRE scores in 2021-2022 were about 151 (151.3) for verbal reasoning and 157 for quantitative reasoning.

What GPA do you need for CMU grad school? ›

In order to obtain a graduate degree, a student must have at least a 3.0 (B) cumulative graduate grade point average (GPA), and a cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0 (B) in all course work on the student's authorized degree program.

What is the average GPA for CMU grad school? ›

Average GPA: 3.84

The average GPA at Carnegie Mellon is 3.84. This makes Carnegie Mellon Extremely Competitive for GPAs. (Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA. With a GPA of 3.84, Carnegie Mellon requires you to be near the top of your class, and well above average.

How hard is it to get into CMU for Masters in CS? ›

Well, it's extremely hard. For the Class of 2025, just 17.5% of students were admitted out of an applicant pool of 26,189.
Mellon College of Science3.92
School of Computer Science3.95
Tepper School of Business3.88
Intercollege Degree Programs3.90
4 more rows

Is a 3.5 GPA good enough to get into grad school? ›

Most top-ranked graduate programs typically prefer a GPA of 3.5 or better. Exceptions to this rule occur, of course, but many students give up their quest to attend graduate school due to a low (3.0 or less) GPA.

Can a 2.7 GPA get into grad school? ›

There is no universal minimum GPA for grad school. The minimum, when one is specified for admissions requirements, can vary by school and program. At many schools, admissions requirements for masters programs may specify a 3.0 GPA minimum, but some schools may accept applicants with lower GPAs.

Will a 3.7 GPA get me into grad school? ›

Yes, a 3.7 is typically considered a strong GPA for grad school admissions. While each school sets its own policies, most programs will at least review the applications of students with a 3.7 GPA.

Is 3.91 GPA good for grad school? ›

It is often recommended by admissions officers and hiring staff that you don't include your GPA in your resume for graduate school or job applications if it is less than 3.5. GPA requirements for masters programs vary by school and department, but most programs require a GPA of at least 3.0 -- or a B average.

Can I get into CMU with 3.3 GPA? ›

A GPA of 3.0 or higher.

What is the hardest CS class at CMU? ›

As most CMU CS students know, 15-410 is one of the hardest, most time-consuming classes in the entire school of computer science.

What is the average salary of a CMU CS grad? ›

Salary of CompSci Graduates with a Bachelor's Degree

CompSci majors who earn their bachelor's degree from Carnegie Mellon go on to jobs where they make a median salary of $161,723 a year.


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