Doctoral Programs

PhD Program

I have a background in a specialized area related to design (illustration, photography, fine art, engineering, fashion, textiles, advertising, etc.). Does experience or a degree in this area meet the design qualification of the PhD?
Candidates who do not have backgrounds in one of the School of Design's area of focus (Communication Design, Product Design, Interaction Design, UX design, Environments Design, Service Design, Design for Social Innovation, design research, design theory) would not be eligible for Teaching Fellowships. They may, however, be considered for the self-funded PhD option. Additional study, such as the School’s MA, MPS or MDes degree could make such candidates eligible for PhD Teaching Fellowships. Please contact us for advice on this matter.

I am an architect/urban planner interested in undertaking research in this area in combination with design. Would I be eligible for a Teaching Fellowship?
Yes. Candidates with expertise on housing, interiors and smaller-scale architecture and an interest in Transition Design may apply and help the School build out its offerings in Environments Design.

I’m interested in undertaking doctoral research in Digital Interaction Design. Should I apply to this program?
No. The Human Computer Interaction Institute offers a PhD with pathways in Interaction Design. Consequently, applicants with research topics and approaches that demand significant amounts of coding or more cognitive science based research methods will be encouraged to apply to HCII.

I have been working as a professional interaction/communication/product/service/social innovation/environments designer for 3+ years but I don’t have a master’s degree in design. Can I apply to the PhD program?
In some cases, 3+ years of high-level professional design experience, demonstrated with a portfolio and a well-formulated research proposal may meet the application requirements. 

I come from a background in business and management but am interested in conducting research in Transition Design. Should I apply?
In some cases, yes. Applicants with backgrounds in Business and Management, but with additional expertise and experience in Design, and who are interested in Transition Design, should apply to this program and will be encouraged to seek faculty advisers from other areas on campus.  We would be particularly interested in candidates with business and management expertise related to Transition Design such as circular economies, sustainable design, and B corps.

What if my areas of research are outside the expertise of the School of Design faculty?
Carnegie Mellon is a highly ranked research university and there are potential advisors from a wide range of disciplines on the campus. We also have a network of potential advisors who are based in other institutions.

I am not a native English speaker, but my English is very good. Can you waive the language requirements for my application to the PhD program?
No. The language requirements for application to the program cannot be waived. Please review these carefully.

Before I put time and energy into the application can I send you some examples of my work and have you tell me if you think I will be accepted into the program?
No. Unfortunately we do not have the ability to review portfolio materials for each inquiry that we receive. To be considered for the program you will need to formally apply. 

Do you offer a part-time PhD or one that I can complete via ‘distance/online learning’?
No. We do not currently offer an online option for our PhD degree. We hope to eventually offer a part time PhD degree but it is not an option at this time. 

Do you offer partial or fully funded scholarships for your PhD program?
No. The only funding opportunity available is the Teaching Fellowship which requires students to teach 1-2 courses during the academic year.

DDes Program

Is the School of Design currently accepting applicants for its DDes program?
Intake for this degree has been paused until further notice. We are currently reviewing our distance-learning offerings as a School and will post updates in the near future.