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Online Application

The initial application deadline is January 15, 2023. Applications submitted after this date will be considered on a rolling basis.

Admissions Requirements

EDI students are chosen based on their backgrounds, ability to learn, and their contributions they will make to the overall program experience. As part of their online application, applicants are required to submit a portfolio of their past project work. 

For additional questions about applying to the EDI program, please contact please contact Cate Herscher, Admissions Coordinator, at

The items listed below must be submitted as part of your application to the EDI program.

Completed Online Application

The online application can be completed and submitted through The Graduate School website. The program code for the EDI program is E23MS.

Statement of Purpose

Please submit your Statement of Purpose and respond to one of the design innovation prompts below.

Statement of Purpose   (~250 words)

Tell us about your specific areas of interest within design innovation, your intention and objectives for pursuing the MS, Engineering Design Innovation program at Northwestern specifically, and your vision for how your experience in EDI might drive your future career plans.

Design Innovation Prompts    (~250 words or another appropriate medium of your choice)

Please respond to one of the following prompts and put in the "writing sample" section of the application.

Embracing Ambiguity

We are eager to understand what the human-centered design concept of “embracing ambiguity” means to you in theory and in practice.  Please share your perspective and learnings in the context of a recent specific project or experience.

Humans Centered in Human-Centered Design  

Tell us about your experience designing collaboratively and ways in which participants informed project directions and outcomes - feel welcome to diagram or illustrate your response.  We are interested in learning about your experience and your perspective on collaborative design as well as your thoughts on the responsibilities of designers, like yourself, and design teams to assure representation and engagement from a broad set of stakeholders.   What have you done or will you do to ensure diverse engagement and agency in human-centered design.

Journey Map

Sometimes students are drawn to EDI with specific problems or opportunity spaces in mind.  If there is a problem or opportunity you would address if given the chance, briefly explain the problem/opportunity space.  Map the journey of someone navigating current conditions in that space.  What do you notice about the challenges faced, emotions experienced, or opportunities presented by the status quo?


A copy of your professional resume or CV must be included in your application.

GRE Scores

The GRE is optional.

Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation must be sent through online submission. Email addresses must be provided in the online application for recommenders submitting online.

Unofficial Transcripts

Unofficial transcripts from all post-secondary educational institutions attended must be scanned and uploaded to the online application. We do not require official paper transcripts to be sent through the mail until after an admissions decision is rendered. All admitted applicants are required to send paper transcripts through the mail to The Graduate School at Northwestern before matriculation.

Portfolio of Past Work

Your portfolio should represent your interests, past experiences, approach to problem framing, and provide tangible demonstration of your unique skills and design perspective.  Portfolio projects may represent work completed in an academic context, personal projects, or other efforts that communicate your curiosity, creativity, and bias for action. 

Portfolio submissions should be uploaded through the online application system. Include a link to your web-based portfolio in the “supplemental document 1” section of your application.  If you prefer to upload a PDF, it should not exceed 2.5 MB in size. 

We recognize that applicants’ portfolio materials may take different forms and that not all disciplines lend themselves to traditional design or engineering portfolio formats.  Please feel welcome to include a variety of curated materials that convey your unique skills and POV.  Formats could include project case studies, photographs, blogs, videos or other relevant medium.  

Stand-alone academic publications will not satisfy the above criteria; those submitted should be presented in a context that demonstrates your individual contributions and illustrates the exploration, process, and outcomes through a design lens.

Personal Interview (by invitation)

Candidates may be invited for an interview with an EDI Director or program staff.  These discussions are scheduled by the program admissions team and take place over Zoom or Skype.

TOEFL/IELTS Scores (if necessary)

Applicants whose native language is not English must also supply scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The EDI program requires a minimum TOEFL score of 95 (Internet-based test) and a minimum IELTS score of 7 out of 9. Please see the admissions section of The Graduate School website for more information.

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