Rui Tang G'16 | Aging Studies Institute Presentation

Information for applying to the master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degree program in design is listed below.

If you are a current Syracuse University student, or if you recently completed a graduate program at SU, you may qualify for the internal admission process.

Application deadline: February 1 for summer admission

  • Design currently does not offer fall or spring admission.
  • Students will begin their studies in the summer. A background in design is required for admission to this program. Students may also gain basic technical skills and design methodology prior to beginning the program through a series of courses identified with your graduate advisor. All students will attend a summer orientation to gain an understanding of the many opportunities for focused research on our campus. They are also required to take DES 648 Intro to Design Communication along with DES 601 Design Thinking and Strategies in preparation for the fall semester.
  • To be considered for merit-based awards, please submit your application by February 1.

Completed applications must include:

  • Online application.
  • Sample of work. Submit either a portfolio of design work or artwork (please include three to five projects with a concept statement for each project and a description of your contribution to the project) or an academic or professional writing sample (please include one to two examples, no longer than 20 pages each, with a briefly written statement to describe each item). Sample of work should be uploaded at The cost to submit by uploading to SlideRoom is $12.
  • Three letters of recommendation. Consult online application for details.
  • Academic transcript. Unofficial transcript uploaded to the online application. If you are admitted, an official, degree-bearing transcript must be mailed to the University. Applicants must complete a U.S. bachelor's degree (or its equivalent in another country) before starting a graduate program.
  • Personal statement/essay. Describe in approximately 500 words your main academic interests, why you wish to study for the degree you have chosen, why you wish to study at Syracuse University, how you expect to finance your studies, and your plans for the future after you receive your degree. Upload directly to the online application.
  • Resume. Upload directly to the online application.
  • Application fee. A non-refundable application fee of $75. See online application for details.
  • Test scores. The GRE is not required, but scores will be reviewed if submitted.

For international students:

English proficiency

All graduate international applicants to Syracuse University whose first language is not English must prove they are proficient in the English language. The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is required of all graduate applicants whose native language is not English.

Use DI code 2823 when requesting your TOEFL scores to be sent to Syracuse University.

  • The recommended minimum TOEFL score required on the internet-based (iBT) test is 90 for all programs except the M.A. in audio arts and the M.F.A. in design, which require a score of 100 on the iBT.
  • The minimum IELTS score is 6.5 for all programs.
  • A student may be admitted with scores lower than those listed above as determined by the individual departments/school in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Under those circumstances students will be admitted provisionally with the need for developmental English language education. Students may satisfy the English language proficiency requirement by attending our English Language Institute (ELI) and completing Level 4 at the institute. Find out more information on the ELI website. If students are conditionally admitted for English proficiency, it is not mandatory for them to attend the ELI. The ELI is an alternative option for students who do not wish to retake the TOEFL or IELTS.

The TOEFL or IELTS requirement may be waived in certain situations:

  • An applicant who has attended an undergraduate institution in the U.S. or one outside the U.S. that is based on the American system of education where the language of instruction for a student's entire schooling has been the English language.

The decision to waive the standard requirement is at the discretion of the department to which you are applying. Email to see if you may qualify.

Financial documents

International students must show proof of sufficient funding for the first year of graduate study in order to have a student visa authorized. For detailed requirements and instructions, see the instructions in our online application and the instructions on the Graduate School website.