Application process

This application process is for the Master of Design or the MDes Prelim Program. If you are interested in the MDes in Graphic Design delivered in Basel, Switzerland, please go to the Basel School of Design website.

If you have specific questions about our MDes programs or would like to be contacted via email with additional information, please fill out our Request for Information form.

How to apply

Plan to begin your online application at least one week prior to the deadline. There are two-parts to the application process:

Part 1: UIC Graduate College application 

This application is reviewed by the University Office of Admissions. There is an application fee of $70. The UIC Graduate College application must be completed online at

Go to the section at the bottom of the above online application portal to select the appropriate link (Domestic or International Degree Seeking). When completing this application, you will additionally need to upload an electronic copy of your unofficial transcript via this portal. An official transcript will be requested only after acceptance to the program.

Part 2: UIC School of Design support materials

Your portfolio, statement of intent, resumé, and three letters of recommendation are all submitted online via These materials are reviewed by UIC Design Graduate Faculty. There is a submission fee of $5.

A complete application and a portfolio review is required for acceptance into any graduate program. It is imperative that all your application materials arrive by the application deadline. Do not mail portfolios or application materials, as they will not be reviewed. There are no exceptions to this policy. Please use the following guidelines when preparing your application packet and your portfolio of work.

Portfolio requirements 
Upload a portfolio containing no more than 20 pages as a single PDF with your resumé and statement as the first pages. You are also able to upload individual image (jpg) and/or video (mov) files. Please reduce your PDF file size to 10 megabytes or less. If your PDF exceeds 10MB, you may upload a second multi-page PDF. Images should be sized no larger than 1280x1280px @72dpi. Video files must be kept under 20MB. Our Slideroom portal offers additional instruction for submitting work online. For technical assistance, contact

Recommendation letters 
Three letters of recommendation from former professors or professional colleagues are required. Your recommenders will submit directly to slideroom. By submitting this information online you have waived the right to inspect confidential letters from your recommenders. It is not necessary to use any forms for letters of recommendation.

Note: Should you be selected for nomination for a fellowship or other award, we will request additional information from your recommenders. 

Additional requirements for international students 
Original results of TOEFL scores are required. Minimum English Competency Test Score: TOEFL 580 (paper-based); 237 (computer-based); 92, with subscores of Reading 19, Listening 17, Speaking 20, and Writing 21 (iBT Internet-based), OR, IELTS 6.5, with subscores of 6.0 for all four subscores.

International students are required to certify that they can provide for their own tuition, fees and living expense for their entire stay here and without proof of your financial support an I-20 cannot not be issued.

Your TOEFL scores and Certified Financial Documentation is required at the same time as all other application materials. Do not wait until the results of the portfolio review are released before sending these documents.

Financial aid
Financial aid is the responsibility of each graduate student and it is encouraged that applicants fill out financial aid forms early to cover tuition, fees, and other school expenses. The UIC School of Design offers several possible avenues for financial support. Hourly design positions for MDes students are available in several campus departments. The UIC Innovation Center offers the possibility for paid engagement in research projects. Second year students who are interested in teaching will be considered for Teaching Assistantships. TAships include a tuition waiver and stipend and are offered on a per-semester basis. Awards without work obligation including scholarship programs and University Fellowships, are highly competitive. For financial aid consideration, we strongly encourage application by our December 15 priority deadline. 

If you are applying for a fellowship, UIC requires the final grades posted from your school. If you attended a school that utilized a pass/fail grading system you must submit grading sheets from your professors indicating letter grade equivalents.

We have no special financial aid designated for international students. International students are required to certify that they can provide for their own tuition, fees and living expense for their entire stay here and without proof of your financial support an I-20 cannot not be issued.

Fellowships and scholarships are not available for the MDes Preliminary Year.