The Doctor of Philosophy in Transition Design (PhD) is a four-year, full-time, residential program. The PhD is appropriate for candidates who wish to become design academics or applied research leaders in design practice. The PhD in Transition Design aims to generate new knowledge about the nature of design and designing, especially in relation to the role of designers in transitioning our societies toward more sustainable futures.
Year One: is coursework intensive and instructs candidates in design-specific research techniques, explores the intersection of Design and Transition Studies, and helps develop teaching practices.
Years Two thru Four: candidates conduct their research in consultation with a committee of advisors and regular progress reviews are held. All candidates have their final submissions examined by a committee of relevant experts with no prior knowledge of candidate’s research, and defend their research in a public oral presentation.
Residential Intensives: All PhD and DDes candidates attend two intensives each year, the first at the commencement of the Fall semester, and the second around Spring Break, usually in March.
The Fall intensive is a 3 day workshop exploring new forms of applied design research and current issues in design. The Spring Break intensive is similar, but is preceded by progress reviews before panels of experts and peers. There will be invited guest experts leading or participating in the workshops with candidates.
Coursework: The first year of the PhD comprises an intense series of courses. These courses mostly concern different kinds of Design Research: research of designers and the expert design process; contextual research for undertaking designing; and research that can be undertaken through design activities distinctive from social research methods. There are also courses concerning Teaching Design, in studios and seminars as well as courses on Transition Design, the focus of the School’s doctoral research. These courses are based upon understanding and leveraging systems-level design-enabled eco-sociotechnical change.
Each university in the Unites States of America sets its own admission standards so there isn't the same criteria for all the students and the university can decide which applicants meet those standards. The fee for each application is between $35 to $100.
After the selections of the universities you want to attend, the best of all would be to contact each university for an application form and more admission information for the international students. Moreover, for a graduate or postgraduate program it's necessary to verify the admission requirements. Some programs require that you send your application directly to their department.
Admissions decisions are based on students's academic record and different test scores, such as TOEFL, the SAT or ACT (for undergraduate programs) and GRE or GMAT (for graduate programs). Admission decision is based on your academic results and motivation.
GREs are not obligatory but are strongly recommended. We look for GRE scores of 160 and above for verbal, 148 and above for quantitative, and 4.5 or above for analytical writing.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY
All candidates whose native language is not English are required to submit recent TOEFL or IELTS scores. This requirement will not be waived.
A TOEFL score above 102 total, with minimum sub-scores of 25, or an IELTS score of 7.5, with no score lower than 7, is required for admission to the program.
Note: For PhD candidates who receive a stipend in exchange for teaching, there are additional English language requirements in regard to written and verbal capacities. These are required by Pennsylvania State Legislation. All non-native English speakers are required to pass an International Teaching Assistant Test administered by CMU. To ensure that candidates will be likely to pass this, minimum sub-scores of 25 (preferred score of 28 in speaking) in TOEFL and 7 in speaking and writing are required.
1. Biographical Essay
This 2-4 page document should give the Doctoral Selection Committee a sense of who you are and why you are interested in, and appropriate for, a doctoral research degree in Design. We are particularly interested in accounts of your level of design expertise. We want to understand how you think about and practice design, and the place of research in your work. You should indicate to us key figures and approaches in design history, thinking and practice that you have learned about or had experience with. You should also indicate any relevant teaching experience. We use this essay to evaluate your fit for the School in general, given that our focus is primarily Communication Design, Environments Design, Product Design, Interaction Design, Service Design and Design for Social Innovation. Your biographical essay should refer back to projects in your Portfolio of Expertise and connect forward to your Research Topic Proposal.
2. Portfolio of Work
Because this doctoral program involves less coursework in order to accelerate candidates to the research phase, accepted candidates will need to have demonstrated a high level of mastery of design and design studies. Applicants should submit a portfolio of selected design and design-related work (no more than 10 projects). The nature of the projects you select should be determined by your biographical essay and research topic proposal (explained below); choose projects that demonstrate your expertise in research-based designing in the areas that you are interested in furthering through doctoral research. Any design-related teaching experience should also be evidenced in the portfolio. Applicants should host their own digital portfolios and provide a web link in the application.
Each portfolio piece should include:
3. Research Topic Proposal
In 2-4 pages, describe 1 or 2 design research topics. These proposals are not binding – all candidates will develop more extensive research proposals that can vary markedly from their application proposals in the course of the first year of the program. The Research Topic Proposal is used by the Doctoral Selection Committee to determine:
Some guidelines for writing a Research Topic Proposal:
While recognizing that all candidates will undertake a year of coursework in design research, the Doctoral Selection Committee is looking for evidence of an ability to:
There are two financial models for the PhD program:
|Year||Fall||Spring||Cost of Tuition per academic year|
|Year 1||36 units||36 units||$541.66 per unit for 2015/2016|
|Year 2||5 units||5 units||$555.55 per unit for 2016/2017|
|Year 3||5 units||5 units||$569.44 per unit for 2017/2018|
|Year 4||5 units||5 units||$583.33 per unit for 2018/2019|
|Total||102 units||$56,083.20 total for 2015-2019|
Tuition-paying PhD candidates are responsible for all living costs as well as health insurance costs and some University fees. The School of Design does not offer scholarships for the PhD program at this time.